Teamsters present lawmakers with petitions opposing Turnpike lease
By Brad Bumsted STATE CAPITOL REPORTER Tuesday, September 23, 2008
HARRISBURG -- Leaders of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters today presented state lawmakers with petitions signed by more than 100,000 state residents opposing a long-term lease of the Turnpike.
Despite an apparent lack of support for the lease in the General Assembly, Roy Marshall of Washington County, president of Joint Council 40, said the Teamsters staged a Capitol rally to lobby against any move to bring up the bill. The lease proposal is now bottled up in the Transportation Committee chaired by lease opponent Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville.
"I don't want to wake up some morning and see it (the lease proposal) is attached to another bill," Marshall said. He said the petitions contained far more than union member's signatures and that those signing it came from 67 counties.
Gov. Ed Rendell wants lawmakers to accept a $12.8 billion bid from Abertis Infraestructuras SA and Citigroup to lease the Turnpike for 75 years. Rendell says once the money is invested it would produce enough annual revenue to fund highway, bridge and mass transit needs.
Senate Republican leaders have said they have no intention of bringing the bill up for a vote. But in the House, Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee and Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, are pushing the proposal.
"The proposal before the General Assembly is nothing more than a fire sale," House Majority Whip Keith McCall, D-Carbon County, told about 40 Teamsters attending the rally.
One Teamster held a sign that said, "You can put lipstick on a 75-year lease but it's still a 75-year lease."
"They are entitled to their opinion --wrong as it is," said Johnna Pro, a spokeswoman for Evans.
Chuck Ardo, a Rendell spokesman, said the lease is the "only concrete plan" before the Legislature to fill a $450 million funding gap resulting from the federal government turning down a plan to lease Interstate 80.
"If legislators want to present different options they need to do so," Ardo said. "The governor has said he's willing to consider other options."
PICTURES FROM SEPTEMBER 23, 2008 RALLY AT STATE CAPITOL
PA Turnpike Petition Drive August 2008 with 10,000 more Signatures
PA Turnpike Petition Drive Stack as of July 2008
April 29, 2008 Rally to Save the Turnpike photographs
BREAKING NEWS JUNE 26, 2007
Pennsylvania Turnpike Won't Take Toll on Teamster Jobs
Gov. Rendell Raises White Flag to His Unpopular Plans to Lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Destroy Teamster Jobs
The Teamsters scored a victory over Gov. Ed Rendell's plan to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike as the result of months of lobbying by General President Jim Hoffa, Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, Joint Council 53, Joint Council 40, the affiliated local unions and their members. Read entire PA Conference Press Release
Read Newspaper Articles
PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTECLICK HERE Rendell sacrifices 3 proposals for budget - Turnpike lease...
PATRIOT NEWS (HARRISBURG)CLICK HERE I've pretty much given up" on the leasing plan ..., Rendell said.