When the Ohio Turnpike Commission meets tomorrow they will be announcing results from the $3.5 Million Turnpike study conducted by KPMG.   We fully expect this will include plans to lease the turnpike to foreign investors or to turn over control of the Turnpike to ODOT so that they can issue bonds against future revenue.

An email sent Friday by Rick Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike, asked employees NOT to attend the meeting and to instead watch the KPMG presentation streamed live at a web address that does not appear to be valid.  The email (shown below) claims employees should not attend because of “limited available seating in the Commission meeting room.”

We call BS.

If the Commission was serious about their stated goal of keeping their employees updated about “new information”, they would have found a bigger room.  Instead, it seems more likely they are trying to keep angry employees from interrupting the presentation when the truth finally comes out.

It goes without saying that whatever KPMG announces tomorrow, to help achieve Kasich’s goal of “unlocking the value” of the Turnpike, it will involve a plan to give the Kasich administration a huge pile of cash they can use for their own pet projects. And it most certainly will not please the absent turnpike employees or Ohioans who have overwhelmingly said they do not want Kasich and his cronies screwing with THEIR turnpike,  risking increased tolls and poor maintenance, simply so John has an extra Billion bucks to blow on stuff he thinks will help him win reelection next year.

Let’s be clear here:  ODOT has a $2.8 Billion annual budget, out of $56 Billion statewide biennium budget.  And Kasich is talking about selling off the Turnpike for decades in exchange for a one-time payment of $1 Billion – or a third of ODOT’s budget for a single year.  A drop in the bucket when you consider the long term implications of this decision.

Also keep in mind that the Turnpike is expected to generate $249 million in toll revenue this year.  So we’re potentially going to lease the turnpike to private investors for 25 years? 50 years?  100 years?  In exchange for a one time payment of a billion dollars, which works out to about four years of toll revenue on the Turnpike???

According to a presentation by Allen C. Biehl, an ODOT Deputy Director, ODOT’s Tier I (Construction Funded) projects are $1.6 billion over committed and Tier II (Preliminary Development) projects are $10 billion over committed.   So explain to me again how a one-time payment of $1 Billion is going to fill in the gap?

Even if you do naively believe the administration’s hype that ODOT needs cash to fund your local transportation project,  there’s no way Kasich’s one-time payment plan for the Turnpike is going to do much except supplement the budget for a year or two.

After that,  we’re back where we started: short on cash for important transportation projects.  But this time, we’ve also sold off the Turnpike for a generation or more.

Sit down and ask yourself: do you trust John Kasich to make a decision this important?  A decision that will impact you and your family and your children and your grandchildren for decades to come?

Or do you think it will turn out like Kasich’s plan to privatize Ohio’s prisons?

Kasich planned to sell five prisons to the private sector.  It turns out they only wanted one: the Lake Erie Correctional Institute, which was sold last year to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  Just recently that prison was cited for “dozens of safety, health and security issues”.  Oh, and did we mention that the current director of Ohio’s Department of Corrections used to be CEO of CCA?

The prison sell off smelled funny.  And so does Kasich’s plan for the Turnpike.

Tomorrow’s meeting will start at 10:00 A.M. at the Turnpike Commission’s Administration Building, 682 Prospect Street, Berea, OH 44017.  We’ll provide “new information” as it becomes available.

Here’s Rick’s letter:



  • To be fair, that might just be an internal link that cannot be accessed from the outer Internet. That’s my best guess on that.

  • Rob

    I travel Ohio Turnpike on a regular basis and I have yet to find another road in this state that is as well maintained, plus its the only road in Ohio in which you can legally travel at a reasonable 70 mph. It sickens me the Kasich and his cronies want to sell off one of the most efficiently ran state agencies (Ohio Turnpike Commission) to a private company for some “quick cash”. To those of you who that think privatizing a road is a good idea then travel the Indiana Toll Road and you see what a disaster that has become. I’m not a 100% against privatizing some parts of state government, but if it isnt broke, dont fix it!

  • xx

    This is what happens when the person in charge is only concerned about the budget and not the outcome.

  • xx

    Somebody should start looking around http://www2.dot.state.oh.us and see what they can find.

  • DMoore

    Privatization rarely works. The profit motive is too strong. All the concern about increased efficiency and cost effectiveness gives way to how profits can be increased which means reducing staff and level of service. People aren’t stupid. They know this is what happens. But yet again, his disdain for all of us drives Johnny Boy to pick another fight he can’t win and one that his own party doesn’t want especially before an election. The whole political spectrum resides in that Turnpike corridor and they’re gonna make sure he knows it. Bring it, Johnny!

  • DMoore

    As you know, Joseph, Kasich can’t sell anything off without the approval of the republican controlled Ohio legislature. And they’re all shaking in their boots about this especially after the SB5/Issue 2 beatdown. So this is yet another act of political stupidity by the first governor in modern history to get elected with less than 50% of the vote. He must somehow see the rarity of this as meaning a mandate. At any rate, it will be fun to see the pretzelling the republicans will do over this in the next few weeks. I’m sure a lot of them will be against it before they’ll be for it.

  • I know. I work there.

    He picked a bad fight. But it is on that he has already won. Even if he fails to get the lease through, which I think he might, he will win. If the state legislature fails to pass the lease proposal, he can still just fall back on leveraging the turnpike. Kasich has stacked the commission with his appointees and those that were against his plans have been forced out and demoted. That’s why the Republican mayor of Pioneer is gone now. He was against this so the Governor put the squeeze on him behind closed doors and sent him packing. Now, if the lease falls apart, the Ohio Turnpike Commission itself will gladly vote to take on $1 or $2 billion dollars in debt and give the money to Kasich and ODOT’s Jerry Wray. Need I point on that Jerry Wray has a vote in the matter? How do you think he is going to vote? They will probably try and sell us to the Chinese, fail at that and then just have the turnpike gift the cash to ODOT. So, instead of us following the failed model of the lease in Indiana, we will be following the failed model of PDOT taking money from the PA Turnpike, which has now caused it to be reported that the PA Pike is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Either example is a great illustration of how crappy an idea this is.

  • I know. I work there.

    See below. He doesn’t have to sell it. He fails to get votes from elected officials, his appointees at OTC will vote to issue bonds and give him a bundle of cash for Christmas. ODOT’s Jerry Wray has a vote in the matter.

  • snowflakepa

    It also sickens me that Kasich and his cronies CAN PAWN OFF one of the most efficiently ran state agencies (Ohio Turnpike Commission) to a private company for some “quick cash”. His entanglement with the little known, HUGELY unregulated, unregistered Lobbyist/Corporate coalition (ALEC)… is so evident. ALEC’s primary objectives are to PRIVATIZE $ State Assets. State by State, they are folding up America into their pockets,
    while reducing ‘Government’ in any form. Democracy – where did it go?

  • Bob M

    So he can run the Ohio Turnpike into bankruptcy and say, “See, I told you it needed to be privatized.”

  • Spitfiremk1

    This is what Kasich the Rat has been working for since he
    started calling himself a “Governor”. In his first private news conference he basically
    said that he was going to spit in the eye of anyone not on his team and then he
    proceeded to try to disarm the opposition by loading his people into every
    office in the state. Before that he was
    living it up selling junk investments to the state pension agencies which cause
    hard working Ohioans who teach our children, guard the prisons and run the
    turnpike to have to extend their working careers long past when they should
    have been able to retire. Oh, yes, he
    improved employment opportunities for the citizens by – hmmm, let’s see –
    supporting the auto industry – no, that wasn’t it – oh, yes, now I remember, he
    improved it by cutting the amount of money the state gives back to local
    government so that they have had to lay off more police, firefighters, E.M.S.
    and school employees.

    His motto “Don’t confuse me with
    the FACTS, my mind is already made up” is apparent by the way he always has his
    important meetings in small rooms (“limited seating”) so that only invited
    guests can attend. He also manages to
    pull his October Surprises when it is least convenient for his GOP associates
    which only goes to show that there is no honor among thieves.

  • pb_dirtgirl

    The revised code prohibits the expenditure of Turnpike revenue on anything over 1 mile away from the Turnpike. He will need legislation to send the money to ODOT.

  • Sdogg

    Rob, the Indiana Toll Road is not as well maintained as the Ohio Turnpike. In one year–2009-2010–the toll for a border to border trip went from $4.15 to $7.15. This whole idea is ridiculous.

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