Tolling rivals confront leaders

Centre Daily Times on the most recent discussion of tolling I-80. Sounds like it isn’t too popular in that neck of the woods.

Also, Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier is quoted as saying:

“many things that are said really aren’t factual,” and he added that he “did not hire my son” and “did not hire my sisters” to work for the Turnpike Commission.

Contrast that to what he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in April:

Mr. Brimmeier also makes no bones about giving opportunities to members of his own family.

  • He hired a cousin, Edward Schauer, as a turnpike plumber. “He’s an excellent plumber,” Mr. Brimmeier said. “He graduated from a four-year union apprenticeship program. Then he got a master plumber’s license. Then he went to Community College of Allegheny County and got a welding degree. We got a skilled individual who does a hell of job for us.”
  • He hired Shawn Linder, “the son of my godmother,” who had a computer science degree, to work in the Information Technology section, “but I fired him after a couple weeks because he didn’t show up for work and his supervisor complained to me.”
  • A sister, Bonnie, is a lawyer who worked in 2005 for Meyer Darragh, which the turnpike sometimes uses for outside legal work. The firm had worked for the turnpike long before she got there and she didn’t do any turnpike-related legal work while she was there, Mr. Brimmeier said. “The fact that Meyer Darragh did work for us had nothing to do with my sister working there,” he insisted.
  • Another sister, Jan, is an architect who has worked for an engineering company that’s done work for the turnpike. But she doesn’t work directly for the turnpike. “I can’t prevent my family from making a living just because I’m director of the turnpike,” Mr. Brimmeier snapped. “My whole family would have to move out of state.”
  • Mr. Brimmeier also encouraged HMS Host, which has a contract with the turnpike to rebuild all the travel plazas, to use The Doggery as one restaurant at the newly redone Oakmont plaza, which is to open in June.

    It’s owned by his friend, Tom Geanopolous, of Mt. Lebanon, whom he got to know when he was a county official working at the City-County Building Downtown.

Or what Toll Roads News reports:

[Sources] say that in his four years as CEO Brimmeier has engaged in the following nepotism:

  • getting his son Joseph Jr a job as assistant maintenance manager, then maintenance manager, then assistant director of regional operations even though he has no prior experience or qualifications and only a high school education
  • referring Turnpike legal cases through his sister Bonnie B to the Meyer-Darragh law firm
  • creating a job at central office for his cousin Shawn Linder (they say Linder was later fired because he didn’t show up)
  • hiring another cousin Edward Schauer as a plumber in Turnpike’s maintenance division
  • hiring a nephew Kevin Shelleby a communications field technician at Western Regional Office
  • providing work to his sister Jan, an architect, to design service plazas

They accuse Brimmeier of these acts of patronage:

  • creating a new auditor position for daughter of Lawrence County Dem chairman Pete Vasella and placing her in the Fare Collections Office in New Castle
  • directing Host Travel Plazas to use The Doggery as a sub-franchisee at the service plazas to benefit a longtime friend and associate Tom Geanopolaus
  • giving legal work on the Host Travel Plaza franchise to a firm including the son of chairman Mitchell Rubin

Read our Policy Points for more on I-80 tolling and the Turnpike