Transportation Policy

Audit: Pennsylvania Turnpike Officials, Employees, and Friends Receiving "Generous Perks"

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Working for the Pennsylvania Turnpike is a pretty sweet deal, according to an audit released last week. Toll payers bought private vehicles worth more than $28,000 for each of the turnpike's five commissioners—and picked up the tab for maintenance and fuel. The turnpike's 2,104 employees don't have to pay at toll booths—nor do 5,000 politicians, bureaucrats, consultants, and contractors.

From The Newspaper:

The free travel amounted to $5.5 million worth of trips, although the auditor believes this is an underestimate because no records are kept of employee use of this perk. The governor's office received 21 free transponders, the lieutenant governor received one, and state department of transportation officials received eight.

… In addition to $26,000 in salaries, the commissioners enjoyed $539,201 in benefits over the audit period [January 2007 to August 2011]. No limits were placed on expense accounts for commissioners traveling to conferences around the world. Commissioners stayed in luxury hotel suites and received free vehicles and electronic devices for personal use, all paid for with toll revenue.

Reason contributor Eric Boehm writes in the PA Independent

In February 2010, one or more commissioners of the Pennsylvania Turnpike walked into a Harrisburg restaurant.

They, perhaps with guests, rang up a bill of nearly $500.

But it's impossible to determine the punch line of that joke because auditors who recently examined the turnpike's expense accounts say there is no way to know much else about what happened at the restaurant.

Like most expenses incurred by the top officials of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, there were no receipts and no information about the number of individuals involved, the content of their orders or the legitimate business purpose for the gathering.

In a written response to the audit, Turnpike Commission CEO Craig Shuey said, "In general terms, we believe the findings in the audit suggest that the Commission is fulfilling its mission."

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  1. Who said there is no such thing as a Free Ride!?!

    1. And I’ll bet they took it easy.

  2. No wonder the roads in PA suck ass. The money collected is split between commissioners and union thugs leaning on shovels all day.

    1. Yup.

      Not only that, but every few years there is a “scandal” where some crony gets caught using sub-spec materials, yet no one is ever prosecuted. And they keep getting contracts*.

      *they’ll put the company in their wife’s name; then, not only do these cheats remain able to operate, they get preference for having a female owned business.

  3. roadz

    /free-association

  4. Well…no shit.

    1. I-O.

      Jesus, they made it interesting.

      1. Bucks offense is just missing some parts. Solid D though.

        1. Agreed. Too much weave before they start looking for something. And Matta needs to get the guys off the ball doing something. I see a lot of standing around on the low block until the play clock is inside 15 seconds. It’s especially mond-boggling because they’re deeper than last year but they’re playing a slower tempo game.

          Either way, it’s nice to beat scUM (even though the basketball rivalry isn’t nearly as big) and get the ranked opponent monkey off the back.

  5. Tom Green is underrated as a comedian.
    That being said, “Road Trip” was awful.

  6. Holy Fuck! Atlanta is 5 yards away from yakking this game away.

    1. Uber Kuhl factoid: In a 1975 name-the-team contest, Seattle chose Seahawks over entries such as Skippers, Pioneers, and Lumberjacks.

      1. Lumberjacks? That would’ve been ok.

  7. I bet Epi just came in his pants. Or in his mom, but probably in his pants.

    1. With that field goal, it may be the last time he can do that until next season

      1. Holy fuck. I’m still alive in the Pick-Em! One game back with 4 to go. It’s a fucking nail-biter.

      2. Do we call Barfman or Teen Girl for that image?

        1. It might call for Teen Barfgirl.*

          *Not to be confused with Tubgirl. (Do not google Tubgirl!)

          1. Do not even think of the white elephant!

  8. Hahahahahaa, fuck you Pete Carroll.

  9. These have been some exciting games, but ugly, stupid, and just poorly played. WTF was with that kick-off?

  10. With a ‘pass defense’ like that, Kaepernick may not bother running.

  11. I hate all things San Francisco, so I’ll be rooting for Atlanta to go to the Super Bowl even though I doubt it after watching this game. Fuck, I can’t believe I’m going to likely have to root for New England to win the Super Bowl.

  12. The free travel amounted to $5.5 million worth of trips, although the auditor believes this is an underestimate because no records are kept of employee use of this perk.

    And the IRS is just fine with this?

  13. In general terms, we hardly have anything to be concerned about.

  14. Well, that was unfortunate. Well played, Atlanta. You are who I support going forward.

    1. I feel like I’ve been emotionally abused. God damn, that would have been a great win

      1. That was a rough game. That timeout bulls…ah, whining is for losers. 30 fucking seconds. The Patriots are demolishing the Texans as expected.

        1. If Houston can get a FG here, they’ll be down by just 4 at halftime in a game that looks pretty lopsided.

    2. For the second time this year, Russell Wilson threw an INT on a Hail Mary pass to end the game.

  15. Come on Houston! You know that these guys do norhing but run flanker screens and pick plays, so get up on their ass and be ready this time dammit.

    1. That game killed you in the pick-em.

      Ghost Boasts will be one game up on me and 2 up on you after the NE-Houston game regardless of the outcome since we all took NE. I’m especially pissed because I didn’t get a Thursday pick in on time in week 10 where everybody took Indy over Jax. I was stuck in the middle of the desert for an entire day and couldn’t get my pick in. So technically I’m tied for the lead.

      BTW, who is Ghost’s Boasts? I know it’s a regular but I can’t remember who it is.

      1. Yeah, I’ve seen him around, but not all the time.

        Mostly I want Houston to win because I can’t stand Belichick and the Cheatriots. But Houston will never win blowing easy touchdown passes like that.

  16. Imagine if there was a real audit of the Mass Pike or the NY/NJ Port Authority?

    1. I see the trees and lampposts adorned with the hanging bodies of civil servants, with dogs and cats eating the disemboweled entrails off the ground underneath them. It is a glorious sight to be sure.

      1. Not my cats! Only the finest entrails for them!

  17. “In general terms, we believe the findings in the audit suggest that the Commission is fulfilling its mission.”

    “We collect tolls, and then we spend the money. What could be simpler than that? What did you people expect?”

  18. I wonder how much money that fucking swindler Hindrey has siphoned out out of Port of NY/NJ for his imaginary F1 race?

    Fuck it pisses me off every time those idiots at Bloomberg invite him on for his “expert” opinions.

    1. Simply multiply the daily traffic (one-way) by the toll price for any NJ / NY bridge. The numbers are staggering but they are always crying poverty. No way that money isn’t being stolen (or misdirected and wasted on level that makes it theft).

      1. No shit. The tolls were recently increased to $13.00 (10.25/8.25 peak/off peak EZPass.) As you’re probably aware, a lot of the money recently is going to the new WTC.

  19. Way to hang in there Houston. Keep this thing close and steal it in the end.

  20. No way that money isn’t being stolen (or misdirected and wasted on level that makes it theft).

    How much has been squandered on the whole WTC dog and pony show?

  21. That was kind of a stupid dance by Spikes there.

  22. 16 degrees. Foot of new snow. Sitting in front of the fire sipping a Harvest Moon, Beltian White. Tying #14 brown body Elk Hair Caddis.

    Good Sunday!

  23. imaginary F1 race

    and how much did he pay Bernie for the opportunity to pay for an F1 race?

  24. It’s well known in the commonwealth that the Turnpike Commission gig is the sweetest gift the governor can hand out. Never mind that the toll on the PA Turnpike was originally supposed to be temporary. Never mind that the Turnpike is constantly under construction but remains the worst highway in Pennsylvania. Never mind that the commission is an unnecessary joke, the punchline of which everyone knows but no one laughs at.

    I can’t believe this comes as a surprise to anyone who lives here.

    1. PA is a good state to be FROM.

      1. Not if you live in MA, NY, or NJ. We envy your freedom and clean government.

        1. But not your liquor laws.

          1. Nope. Buy your fireworks and guns in PA. Buy your booze and gas in NJ.

            1. Also a good idea to use the public shower in NJ.

              1. Are you propositioning him?

            2. Buy your booze and gas in NJ.

              And your cigarettes. Holy crap, now that I work in Jersey City I’m saving five bucks a pack over NY.

  25. Yep, it’s a rematch of last year’s AFC championship. Maybe the Ravens won’t choke so hard this year.

  26. At least we have the Australian Open now.

    1. damn straight

    2. I’d like to see Venus do well ans Serena go home in the next couple of days.

      1. It’s gonna be Federer v Djoker in the Men’s final again isn’t it

        1. I think Federer goes out in the quarters to Tsonga. I’d say Djoker beats Murray in the finals.

          1. Are you insane? Tsonga is damn good, but he can’t beat Federer. That’s crazy talk. Now that Murray has finally won a Grand Slam and the Olympics, I bet his motivation goes to shit and he gets knocked out early. Roddick is retired. That leaves Nadal (who is often injured) and the ascendant Djokovic. Djokovic wins over Federer.

            1. shouldn’t you be watching the premiere of Girls?

              1. Yeah, with his mom at that!

              2. Is the theme song to Girls the song of the same name by the Beastie Boys? That would be pretty cool.

              3. Later. I have tennis team practice first, though I’ve had a few beers and might be a little slow. And I don’t get to see Brady sadface, either, which sucks.

              4. Fuck no I’m not watching Girls. I am recording Californication.

                1. Lena Dunham just won a Golden Globe. You must obey.

            2. Are you insane?

              Do you even need to ask?

              Seriously though, I know you play quite a bit and probably follow tennis a lot more than I do, so I’ll defer to your overall knowledge. I just see Federer getting up there in age and becoming susceptible to a player like Tsonga, who has a great deal of endurance. And from what I hear, Murray has been a training machine the last few months and is gonna be well-prepared to make a run at a title while Nadal is out (since that means there are only two players in any given draw that can make him look foolish).

              1. As a Murray fan, I hope you’re right, but I suspect that his determination might be reduced since he finally achieved his career goals. Maybe it makes him even more determined; that would be awesome. He’s an extremely technical player (which I admire, because I am not, and I get to see tonight how I play on a few beers), so he has a chance. Maybe Mardy Fish can climb too. Or Isner.

                1. Let me be a complete homer and say that Milos Raonic (13 seed) should beat his record of the 4th round.

                  1. Raonic isn’t going anywhere. He’s peaked, and just isn’t top ten material.

            3. He beat Federer in the 2011 Wimbledon QF.

      2. Wait until Serena threates to shove a fucking ball down your fucking throat.

        (And she got punished less than Jeff Tarango ever did.)

  27. This can’t be true. The media constantly tells me that expenses have been cut to the bone. It’s a revenue problem.

    1. That must be why PA turnipike tolls went up another 10% last week!

  28. More evidence that the prosecution of Aaron Swartz – like most everything the government does – was born of malice and ignorance.

    1. This just in: State and federal prosecutors are a terrible combination of ambition and opportunism sans any hint of justice, proportional or otherwise. R?sum?s must be padded.

      1. When the government fumbled the prosecution for Swartz’s PACER hack, he moved to the top of the feds’ shitlist. It didn’t matter if JSTOR or MIT didn’t care; he was a marked man.

        There’s a legitimate IP issue raised in the JSTOR/MIT hack, but the feds’ action smacks of malicious prosecution.

  29. I wonder if the federal DOT knew something about this when they refused PA’s request to turn I-80 into a toll road in 2009.

  30. “As we believe you have correctly pointed out, the Commission must implement an added measure of accountability with regard to non-revenue travel on the Turnpike; and as a simple matter of fact, some data you requested simply does not exist,” Shuey stated. “As a result of this reality, we commit to exploring ways to ensure that this data, where practical, can be generated and that greater accountability is achieved system-wide. “

    Their entire revenue structure is based on tracking where various cars travel on the turnpike. I have a hard time believing it’s that hard to keep track of employees’ and bureaucrats’ cars.

  31. Of course, this shows how a privatized long-distance road will work in practice. As people have no choice but to travel on the Turnpike if they want to go from Pgh to Philly (without going way out of the way), they’ll pay whatever the Turnpike wishes to charge.

    1. Well in a totally deregulated transportation market, you would see much much cheaper prices for airplanes, taxis, rental cars, and mass transit.

      Quite frankly, in Libertopia, it will be much cheaper to take a puddle jumper from Shitsburg to Philly rather than drive.

  32. “In general terms, we believe the findings in the audit suggest that the Commission is fulfilling its mission.”

    “[We] commit to exploring ways to ensure that this data, where practical, can be generated ….”

    Good grief, Shuey, can’t you weasel-word just a *little*?

  33. Chuck Schumer (ASS-NY): Retailers should voluntarily suspend gun sales

    Schumer on Sunday released a letter he sent to major retailers asking for a voluntary moratorium. The New York Democrat says consumer demand for guns has gone up in the weeks since the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Schumer says Congress is debating the issue, and if measures get passed that limit these type of weapons, it won’t help if more of them have recently been sold.

    1. Schumer can go suck a turd.

      1. I’m pretty sure that’s already part of his daily routine.

    2. God, I despise that man! He’s in the top 10 loathsome creatures on this earth.

      1. Pray for Harry Reid’s continued health. Schumer and Durbin are next in line for his position as shadow obstructionist/ filibuster buster.

        1. Why not wish for His Dinginess to have a stroke, Schumie to have an acute, lethal case of breast cancer, and Durbin’s no doubt highly pickled liver to explode?

          I get the logic of “The Devil you know v. the Devil you don’t”, but it’s not persuasive in this case, as all three of them are equally dismal. Though I will say Schumie would probably be the most effective at it; I may despise him, but his proficiency firing a perfectly aimed non sequitur is admittedly remarkable.

          If that scenario were to happen fat chance), who’s next in line? I don’t know offhand.

    3. Chuck Schumer (ASS-NY)

      +1

    4. Schumer says Congress is debating the issue, and if measures get passed that limit these type of weapons, it won’t help if more of them have recently been sold.

      So retailers should voluntarily stop selling them because they might not be able to sell them at all in the future.

      I’m sure they’ll be persuaded by that bit of logic.

  34. BREAKING NEWS: ATTEMPTED GUN BURGLARY TIED TO JOURNAL NEWS GUN MAPS

    Today Senator Greg Ball (Patterson ? R, C, I) announced that a burglary has been reported on Davis Ave. in White Plains, New York that evidently ties into The Journal News gun maps. It is reported that the burglar used The Journal News’ interactive gun map to target a home included on the map. Luckily the gun was locked up and no one was hurt.

    I wonder if the Journal can be corporately charged as an accessory to burglary.

    Gun Grabber DERP anticipated: If these damned bitter-clingerers didn’t own these gun/fake penises, they wouldn’t have had their house broken into. They were clearly asking for it, the gun-sluts.

  35. I don’t care what any of you say, with enough wine, and scotch, and tequila to world doesn’t look quite so evil this evening.

    1. Wine, scotch, AND tequila? Wow. I bet the world mostly just looks blurry to you. I’m drinking Knob Creek single barrel at the moment meself.

      1. W.L. Weller here.

        1. Neat?

  36. Thanks to tOSU, Duke is still #1

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