“The Jersey guys stick together like glue.”
That is a quote from a Pennsylvanian with connections to the DRPA. More on where that came from in a minute, but first I’d like to share a couple of observations about Wednesday’s board meeting.
It appears as though the push for reform on the board is coming mostly from the Pennsylvania side. PA Treasurer Rob McCord pretty much distinguished himself as the most sensible guy in the room. He was echoed by Pennsylvania Auditor-General Jack Wagner, and Commissioner John Dougherty. The PA triumvirate argued, introduced additional reforms and complained about a DRPA structure that has apparently kept them in the dark for years when they sought basic information.
The Jersey Commissioners were far less vocal. Almost like they had an interest in protecting the current structure. For example, Richard Sweeney ( who wears a large pinky ring, which btw – makes him awesome in my book but may not actually go a long way toward debunking the negative stereotypes PA folks have about the Jersey guys ) didn’t say a word during the five hour meeting. In fairness, Jeff Nash made an eloquent opening statement, and John Matheussen chimed in early on…but for the most part the PA Commishes debated the resolutions amongst themselves.
Perhaps there is a problem with the structure of the board. I mean, why does Pennsylvania have it’s Treasurer and Auditor General as ex-officio members and Jersey has nothing like that?? Why doesn’t Matt Boxer have a seat on the board??? So, give Assemblyman Dominick DiCicco some credit for requesting a change to the DRPA governing Compact. He also lamented that no Jersey colleagues have joined him in this effort. He’s got a point.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney ( brother of the aforementioned Commissioner Richard ) blames the PA folks for blocking reforms. He says they opposed eliminating two positions Wednesday which would save the DRPA money. The latter is certainly true. They opposed eliminating the Assistant to the Chairman job because it is currently filled. And they opposed eliminating the Corporate Secretary job which is currently in litigation and should probably be handled delicately.
But I wanna circle back to that True-Up regarding insurance commissions. According to an insider there are $800,000 – $900,000 in commissions paid out by the DRPA each year to insurance brokers. Under a verbal agreement these were to be split between the Graham Company (PA ) and the Willis Group ( NJ ). But Bill Graham was reportedly unhappy because he was doing all the work, then splitting the commissions in a 50-50 arrangement.
Well, here is a little more on that. Apparently, three people did angrily split off from Graham, but they did not go to work for Willis. They went to work for Conner Strong. That is the firm of George Norcross. A source says Michael Joyce ( the former Assistant to the DRPA Vice Chairman Jeff Nash who most recently served as the former Public Safety Director until he got fired last month ) told Graham he had to fork over $60,000 in commissions to the West Agency – a minority broker. Graham supposedly agreed ( albeit reluctantly ) but then Joyce demanded another $60,000 for another firm. When Graham protested, Joyce allegedly threatened to take away the DRPA business from Graham altogether. As it stands right now “the Jersey guys” are supposedly trying to pull the DRPA out of four year contract with Graham. In fact, I am told that since Graham wasn’t willing to play ball, the company already lost work it was getting from the Camden school district.
A source tells me the Willis group is being forced to pay $200,000 of it’s share of commissions to “a very powerful” politician. Not necessarily as a lump sum payment. It may very well get split into smaller sums and then distributed to various candidate campaigns or even non-profit groups that support Democratic candidates.
So, it sounds like those “Jersey guys” really do stick together.
DRPA CEO John Matheussen is said to have told investigators he knew nothing about this arrangement, but sources say an email chain suggests otherwise. And those investigators are apparently none too pleased.
here is last night’s story without comment. If the sync is slightly off just remember…it’s not you, it’s me.