In the 1980’s, America had a brief love affair with continent of Australia. “Crocodile Dundee” was all the rage. Foster’s Lager capitalized on our new found romance and began aggressively marketing it’s oil can sized beer here with clever ads about the rustic people of Australia ( clearly Australia was the man in this relationship and America was the woman ). And Outback Steakhouses began popping up in strip malls all over the United States.
But like many torrid affairs, this too quickly came to an end. While we remember it fondly, in the end we just weren’t a good match. I see now Australia is flirting with the European Union which makes us a tad jealous, although we’d never admit it.
Well, it sounds like New Jersey and Pennsylvania had a bit of a dalliance through it’s joint venture the DRPA. It’s been stormy at times ( including a 17-month period where the board didn’t meet due to an inter-state squabble ), but for the most part the spoils were split 50-50 between the two states. An equitable distribution, so Everybody won.
Let me give you a great example of what I am talking about. Sources tell me that in the early 2000’s, Governor McGreevey ( ever notice all roads seem to lead back to him??? ) made a a deal with John Matheussen’s predecessor Manuel Stamatakis. In order to purchase insurance, the DRPA would hire a Pennsylvania broker to go find the best rate, and a Jersey broker. The two brokers would get commissions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to find the policy. And at the end of the year, according to the true up, all commissions were split evenly between the two states. This was btw – a verbal agreement ( of course it was ) and there are supposedly no records.
Anyway on the Pennsylvania side, the broker was the Graham Company which actually has contracts all over the country. Three guys then split off from Bill Graham and formed a Jersey company called “The Willis Group.” Kinda like Halliburton created KBR to do all that other contractual work the US government needed for the war in Iraq.
Well, last year was the first year these two companies didn’t automatically get the contracts. An RFQ was sent out and there were all sorts of problems and fights.
And since Graham was doing most of the work…his company was also paid a retainer on top of the commissions. Matheussen has told me he knows nothing about the true up. But from what I understand, Graham was annoyed because his firm did all the hard work and actually had the skills to do it, then they had to hand over half the money to Willis. Could NJ and PA break up over something like this???? Unlikely, since there is too much money to be made.
But in regards to this insurance collusion, one official told me they “don’t understand how this is legal.”
This reminds me of what other sources told me on day one about how legal work is handled at the DRPA. Take a proforma IBEW contract for electrical work. The contract needs to go to outside counsel in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Who gets the legal work in PA? Why, Ballard Spahr of course. Ed Rendell’s old firm.