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PA Turnpike Grand Jury Investigation

This topic contains 21 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe 1 yr, 3 mos.

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AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 13 2013 at 1:57pm #

A great read. My favorite passage so far:

“The Turnpike itself remains in existence only so long as it remains in debt. “When all bonds, notes or other obligations and the interest thereon shall have been paid, . . . the Turnpike and the connecting
road, tunnels, and bridges shall become a part of the system of State highways and shall be maintained by the Department of Highways free of tolls; and thereupon, the Commission shall be dissolved . . .”.

The Grand Jury finds this to be of particular note given the practices of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission regarding the expenditure of state dollars discovered during the course of this investigation.”

BOOM! One mo’ time!: “The Turnpike itself remains in existence only so long as it remains in debt.”

Now it all makes sense: The Mon-Fayette, The Southern Beltway… we don’t NEED these roads, they just need to justify their existence by maintaining their indebtedness!

http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/uploadedFiles/Press/Turnpike_Grand_Jury_Presentment.pdf


edmonds59

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Mar 13 2013 at 2:08pm #

HOLY…!


reddan

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:13pm #

Wait, what?

*jawdrop*


Pierce

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:19pm #

Hmm, are they riding the gravy train?


Benzo

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:32pm #

Wasn’t this the first ‘highway’ ever? And it’s still in debt?


Mick

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Mar 13 2013 at 4:30pm #

Thanks for posting this, ALMKLM.

SMDH.


fultonco

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Mar 13 2013 at 8:47pm #

And, our illustrious governor wants to get rid of the state stores, which make money ???


Drewbacca

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Mar 13 2013 at 8:55pm #

+1 what Mick said… thanks for posting this.


rice rocket

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Mar 14 2013 at 12:03pm #

fultonco wrote:And, our illustrious governor wants to get rid of the state stores, which make money ???

They need to overhaul it if they want to remain profitable.

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Liquor_Control_Board#Efforts_to_privatize

Back to the turnpike though (and perhaps I don’t know the full history of the turnpike), this makes more sense than your knee jerk reaction tells you. There will always be roads to overhaul and refurbish, so I don’t see why turning over control to the Dept of Highways is any “better”? The cost to repair and refurbish still remains no matter under whose authority it is, but instead would be coming out of your state taxes rather than tolls. Since the turnpike is a major link between the Midwest and the Northeast, I think it benefits us all as PA taxpayers to place the burden on those who use the roads, not just the people who live near them.


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 15 2013 at 1:20pm #

This is also why we need not to build the MF road. Ultimately, of course, taxpayers will have to maintain it, assuming the Turnpike ceases to be.

I still contend that Perrymont Road in McCandless gets more traffic than PA43 at any given point (or Toll 60 or Toll 66), never mind McKnight or Perry. Someone prove me wrong.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 15 2013 at 1:29pm #

@rice rocket: Tolling a road as a method of finance is a worthy question. However, maintaining the “Commission” structure which so overtly lends itself to political manipulation is unnecessary. PADot could administer a tolled road just as easily.

Having a “commission” expressly constituted by political appointees begs for corruption, and according to this Grand Jury, that is exactly what we have gotten.


Marko82

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Mar 15 2013 at 2:34pm #

Isn’t one of the reasons to create a commission the ability to float bonds that are not tied to the governing body? So the Turnpike creates bonds (borrows money) without putting the state on the hook should the ability to pay off the loans become difficult.


Ahlir

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Mar 15 2013 at 3:34pm #

Hmm.
Maybe we could get bike trails declared part of the Turnpike system (but no toll-able, of course)?


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 15 2013 at 6:14pm #

@marko: Act 44 makes it all kind of murky (murkier, perhaps?):

http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Department/Press/WagnerSaysDebtRiddenPATurnpikeinJeopardy.html


fultonco

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Mar 26 2013 at 4:43pm #

I-80 functions quite well as a cross state road, with heavy truck traffic, no tolls, and no state commission overseeing it.

Regarding the state stores, that is political propaganda that they need overhauled to stay in business. They are convenient, they make money now and will continue to do so. The motive for their dismantling is nothing more than greed.


edmonds59

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Mar 26 2013 at 6:54pm #

I agree about the state stores, and they have gotten much better in the last 5 to 10 years. Their wine availability is wonderful, especially in the premium stores. If you go to Ohio for instance where they don’t have a state system, it’s nothing but cheap-ass nasty private wine and liquor stores with nasty nasty crap wine. I’ll take the PA stores.


fultonco

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Mar 28 2013 at 8:27pm #

@edmonds59 – well-stated :-). What we will end up with is nicer stores in nicer areas and in other areas, either nothing or cheap booze stores with minimum wage workers while some conglomerate ends up with all the money and control. A familiar problem with other aspects of the USA these days (see the thread on the benefit at Hambone’s, which is a great place, btw).


Drewbacca

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Mar 28 2013 at 8:53pm #

While I lived in WA state, the WA state liquor stores still operated and sold both hard-liquor and wine. However, in WA, there were also private merchants that specialized in wine as well as grocery stores that carried wine.

Personally, the ability to walk into a grocery store and pick up my list of dinner supplies along with just about any wine bottle I wanted was a nice convenience. A good number of the grocery stores had a selection that was equally on par with the premium stores.

I don’t argue that the premium PA state stores have a decent selection, but the standard store has a laughable selection. I don’t really care if I can buy my wine from the grocery store (although, it would be convenient)… but I do have a serious objection to the restriction on shipments from other states.

I discovered a lot of wine while living on the West Coast, that I only have access to when I cross PA state lines (either shipped to relatives/friends or bought at a boutique that can order whatever the like… what is available through the PA state store is more or less what you see at the premium stores and that’s it). The desire to overturn the current laws is not just “greed.” I for one strongly favor reform over PA’s dated laws of liquor regulation.


Drewbacca

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Mar 28 2013 at 8:58pm #

I should add that I’m currently in Illinois where anything goes… I can buy vodka, beer, and wine at my neighborhood grocery store. This is one of the few things that I see as a negative about PA, the lack of such an option. The smaller selection at a grocery store is easily equal to the standard PA state store… prices are roughly the same. It’s mostly an issue of convenience. If I want to buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday, there is no outdated law preventing me from doing so.

I’m also familiar with the small, shady, store filled with cheap booze… but those seem to be the exception in my experience and not the norm. Where I currently live, for school, there are three large wine stores within a five mile radius and each rivals the premium PA state store in selection and yet they have a different selection. You don’t know what you are missing if you don’t have access to it.


fultonco

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Mar 28 2013 at 9:14pm #

@Drewbacca – You make some good points. I’ve made the argument before that we could have both, state-run stores and privately operated establishments. However, it seems here, that it has to be one way or the other. Not sure why that is. The party line is that the state shouldn’t be in the liquor business, yet they have no problem intruding into most other aspects of our lives.

If we would end up with some stores that have a better selection of products, that would be great but I don’t believe it would be universally available throughout the state. You’ve, no doubt seen some of the depressed areas in this state.

The other problem that I see is the loss of good jobs that would largely turn into lower wages with limited benefits.

Rather than dismantling the system completely, how about allowing some private enterprise into the picture and see who can compete? If the state stores go under, so be it.


Drewbacca

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Mar 28 2013 at 9:36pm #

It’s always more complex than what is apparent on the surface. I was just trying to give the other perspective and I appreciate that you recognized that.

As for the depressed areas of the state… I grew up ten minutes away from Johnstown. As it is, I have to drive to Altoona or Pittsburgh while I’m home visiting my parents, if I want access to a remotely good selection. You are likely correct, that this wouldn’t change. My primary gripe is that I can’t order a case from CA or WA and have it arrive at a family member’s doorstep.

Considering that, beyond this, it’s mostly an issue of convenience… I don’t really object to going to a state store and paying the same price if it means that someone is going to make a livable wage vs. what a grocery clerk makes; point taken. But seriously, the Sunday thing has to go. Everytime I am home visiting, I forget all about this silly law until I try to buy a bottle of wine to take to my grandmother’s for dinner on a Sunday only to realize that I should have gone shopping on Saturday! I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal if I was home more often (in which case, I’d quit forgetting about the stupid law and remember to run out on Saturday).

I don’t get the all-or-nothing approach in politics, which is a good way of getting back to the real topic of this thread.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 31 2013 at 10:35am #

Regarding state stores, the article I read about the bill the state house passed gives preference to existing BEER distributors in the form of a discount on the cost of a license – $82K instead of $359K for other applicants.

Nothing “classy” about having to go to a beer distributor to get your liquor, is there? Nor convenient.

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