Thursday, April 22, 2010

If you're driving, look out for Turnpike officials

If you’re involved in a scavenger hunt that has you looking for people who are in trouble with the law in Pennsylvania, the first place to stop might be your county jail. The second place might be the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The AP reports that the chief operating officer of the Turnpike Commission was picked up April 5 for drunken driving after he allegedly crashed into a fence in Hershey and then drove off northbound in the southbound lane of the road. It's been over two weeks, and no disciplinary action has been taken against George Hatalowich, who was driving his own car at the time. Police say he blew a 0.137 on the Breathalyzer. This comes just two months after the vice chairman of the commission, Timothy Carson, resigned after admitting to a pair of drunken driving incidents involving Turnpike Commission vehicles, according to a report in The Patriot-News in Harrisburg. And just days after Hatalowich was allegedly running into stuff while drunk, the former head of the Turnpike Commission, Mitchell Rubin, pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice for trying to hamper an FBI investigation of former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who is now doing five years in prison for corruption. What a crew. It's no wonder that former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburg, in an op-ed piece that ran late last year in the Observer-Reporter, called for the Turnpike Commission to be dissolved and its duties taken over by PennDOT. I'll let Thornburg have the last word: “The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is a haven for those who wish to gorge themselves upon commonwealth tax dollars and load the payroll for political purposes. This type of patronage abuse has no place in Pennsylvania politics. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission should be abolished.”

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