The $33 Million Hole in the Pa. Turnpike’s Budget

Morning Headlines: Paying your Turnpike fees? Lots of people aren't.

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Good morning Philadelphia, and happy National Doughnut Day. Here’s what you need to know today:

Lots of people owe a lot of money to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority for unpaid tolls.

Even after sending out collection notices, the authority ended its last fiscal year with $33 million outstanding in unpaid tolls and fines, CBS3 reports. And Turnpike Commission Chairman Sean Logan says there’s almost nothing he can do to collect the cash. “We are not PennDOT, we are the Turnpike Commission,” he said. “So if you are a habitual violator or run up a huge bill with us, I can’t put points on your license or go after your registration.” CBS3 adds: “In May the Turnpike gave up on ever collecting $3.7 million dollars, they just wrote it off, and we’re told they can’t even report the violators to credit bureaus.”

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney starts the nitty-gritty work of governing today.

He’ll appoint the leaders and members of his transition team today, Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein reports. She said it’s likely that State Rep. Dwight Evans will lead the team. Kenney also launched his transition website KenneyForPhiladelphia.com on Wednesday, and encouraged residents to use it to provide input on the new administration and its policy goals. Kenney said his team will also hold town hall meetings, and release a report on their findings in January. “The policy that we create … will be based on ideas collected from every neighborhood, in addition to seeking out experts and stakeholders,” he said.

The Port of Philadelphia is about to undergo its first major expansion in generations.

6ABC reports the Port Authority is already taking applications from businesses that want to be part of the expansion: The expectation is that the expansion will create 500 to 3,700 new jobs, making $40,000 to $80,000. Gov. Tom Wolf was on hand for Wednesday’s announcement. “I want this to be a place that creates good jobs. I want this to be a place to get the economy of Southeastern Pennsylvania moving even faster than it is right now,” he said.

The Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com were slammed with layoffs on Wednesday.

As expected, layoffs were announced at Philadelphia Media Network on Wednesday afternoon — nearly 50 journalists and other workers at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com told they will lose their jobs as the company restructures. The Newspaper Guild said Philly.com and the Daily News were the most heavily hit, each losing 17 staffers — the website losing roughly half its production staff — while the Inquirer was slated to lose a dozen people. The list of journalists losing their jobs included a number of familiar bylines, as well as behind-the-scenes staffers. “It’s a difficult day for everyone in our organization, most of all those who will be losing their jobs,” a PMN official said.

Kathleen Kane has been ordered to a closed-door hearing today about the Jerry Sandusky case.

“A Pennsylvania judge is demanding the attorney general attend a closed-door hearing to be questioned under oath about any leaks by prosecutors or a judge of secret grand jury material from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse investigation,” NewsWorks reports. “The order issued Wednesday by Judge John Cleland says Attorney General Kathleen Kane had just informed him she had ‘no knowledge at this time of any email’ to prove such leaks occurred.” He apparently wants to know why Kane previously suggested there had been leaks in the case.The hearing is scheduled for today at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center.

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