Turnpike commission to get report card
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will be graded with a public report card on how well it does eradicating an entrenched pay-to-play culture that led to an ongoing state corruption case.
The report card will be issued by a newly created advisory committee scheduled to meet for the first time on Aug. 20, said Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton.
The committee is charged with reviewing the turnpike commission's current contracting and business practices and the findings of integrity reviews and outside audits ordered by the commission of current and expired contracts with private companies named in the state grand jury report and testimony that led corruption charges against former Senate Democratic Leader Robert J. Mellow and five other defendants.
The three committee members are former State Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green, M.G. Patel, a former Transportation Department chief engineer and John Gedid, a retired law professor.
Compton and Turnpike chief operating officer Craig Shuey outlined efforts to reform contracting practices at the commission last week during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing.
The effort started in 2011 when Gov. Tom Corbett took office, but went to a new level following the grand jury report in March examining illegal practices involving alleged bid rigging and awarding of contracts to key political supporters at the commission from 2002 to 2010, said Compton.
Compton, a former deputy Transportation Department secretary, was appointed as chief executive officer earlier this year, while Shuey has been at the turnpike commission since 2011.
The current three-step contract review process involves an initial professional review and review by bureau directors followed by consideration at a public meeting of the Turnpike Commission, said Compton.
Meanwhile, the state Ethics Commission is helping to provide code-of-conduct training for all commission employees, he said. The commission created its own Office of Compliance prior to the grand jury report to oversee these efforts.
A Dauphin County district judge ruled last month that prosecutors had shown enough evidence to send the corruption charges against Mellow and five others to county court for trial.
Mellow was recently transferred to a federal prison in Georgia from a federal prison in South Carolina. He is serving a 16-month federal sentence after pleading guilty last year to commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return in a separate case.
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