Penn Pike's retiring chief "went along with" rejoining IBTTA but says still against Pat Jones
By Peter Samuel
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, America's oldest, and one of its largest state toll agencies created a stir in the toll business when chief executive (CEO) Joe Brimmeier took it out of the International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) in February 2009. 21 months later, Nov 2009 it quietly rejoined sending a check to IBTTA for $21,600 to cover annual dues to the industry association.
Neither IBTTA nor the Pennsylvania Turnpike made any public announcement. The subject was not listed on the agenda of the Turnpike Commission's bimonthly meetings, and Turnpike communications staff knew nothing of the move until we told them this morning.
The Turnpike was quietly added back to the IBTTA's membership directory:
But it is just one of a list of several hundred member organizations, and we missed it.
We were told just this morning by Wanda Klayman deputy executive director in an email that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission "rejoined IBTTA last November and are a member in good standing for 2011."
After we got the news this morning we got through to Penn Pike CEO Joe Brimmeier. He told us that rejoining IBTTA was the initiative of a couple of commissioners and some senior staff at the Turnpike. They felt the Turnpike was suffering through not being able to participate in the industry group, and that reforms to the organization could best be advanced by rejoining.
Brimmeier told us he did not agree with this view but he was "just one person," and he was planning to retire, so he "went along" with the desire of others at the Turnpike to rejoin.
Pat Jones "wrong person to be leading IBTTA"
Explaining his own position he restated his criticism of the IBTTA under executive director/CEO Pat Jones: "I still believe what I said when I took the Turnpike out of IBTTA. Pat Jones is the wrong person to be leading IBTTA. I don't like his style of management. And I don't agree with his goals for the organization. I have not changed my mind on that one bit."
Pat Jones style of management has led to the departure of liked and respected staff members and limited the role of directors.
But Brimmeier added: "No one cares about the views of a retiring old CEO."
And he conceded it might indeed prove easier to reform IBTTA from the inside, than from the outside. Others who will be taking over from him, he said, would have the responsibility. He wasn't going to be "difficult" when they were generally of the opinion the Turnpike should belong to IBTTA.
By interesting coincidence Brimmeier's counterpart at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Authority, CEO Frank McCartney is seen as the frontrunner to take over as CEO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and McCartney is President of IBTTA for 2011 (Presidents of IBTTA are appointed for one year terms.)
Brimmeier told us he could think of no one he'd rather see take over his position than McCartney. He said McCartney was very well qualified, and a very talented manager who would do an excellent job as CEO of the Turnpike. He said all his meetings and interactions with McCartney had been excellent, and he had "enormous respect for Frank."
Need a new lobby group
He told us he still thinks the American public toll authorities need a lobby group in Washington DC. He cited bills for renewal of highway funding in the Congress and new rules for tolling and said the American toll industry "just isn't being represented."
IBTTA he said was "playing a very minor role" when "we should be there on everyone's doorstep."
We asked Brimmeier about his proposal of two years ago to form an American Public Toll Association to represent US tollers to the US government.
He said: "I just didn't have time to do that while also being CEO of the Turnpike."
Now's retiring he'd have the time, we suggested.
Brimmeier said he'd certainly "be giving thought to it."
BACKGROUND: Joe Brimmeier in the letter of Feb 11, 2009 withdrawing from the industry group said the PTC's missions and goals and those of IBTTA "no longer coincided."
The industry group was "leaning to the privatization sector."
He also called the dues structure of the association "inequitable."
In an interview at the time he said that the Pennsylvania Turnpike paid $21k in IBTTA dues whereas over 20 Spanish private sector members paid in aggregate only $18k total.
He said: "Abertis, which has been trying to eat us, only pays $340."
Abertis had been selected in a competitive procurement by the administration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to take over the Pennsylvania Turnpike. For a longterm concession to operate the turnpike Abertis would have paid an upfront free of $12b. In the event the Turnpike Commission and its allies in the state legislature prevented the takeover by denying Gov Rendell enabling legislation.
IBTTA report in their latest annual report (2009) give total association revenues of $4.34m, split between operating revenue of $2.03m and meeting revenue of $2.36m. In that report they list ten full-time staff members but of those two have since departed, one suing the association for wrongful dismissal.
The IBTTA website under About Us has a heading People but, tonight anyway, this generates: "We're sorry, the resource you requested is no longer available or has moved to a new location."
report on the Penn Pike departure from IBTTA back in Feb/Mar 2009:
COMMENT: our view is that there's a place for both IBTTA as an international toll industry association and for narrower, more specialized representative groups like Joe Brimmeier's proposed American Public Toll Association and perhaps a North American Toll Concessionaires Association. Important practical work is done through focussed groups like the Alliance for Toll Interoperability and the E-ZPass Interagency Group.