FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Bill DeWeese
DeWeese inquiry reveals state wasted $2.2 million
on German Township prison
HARRISBURG, May 4 – State Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today said that his open records request shows Pennsylvania invested $2.2 million in contracted costs to build a new prison in Fayette County, money that was essentially wasted when the incoming administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett killed the project.
DeWeese, who commended the state Department of General Services for its thoroughness in responding to his inquiry, said the multi-million-dollar investment proves the prison project was poised to leap off the drawing board until a new governor took office. DeWeese said he made his open records inquiry so the public would know precisely how much money Corbett and his team squandered.
"It was a foregone conclusion that this tight-lipped administration was not going to volunteer this information," DeWeese said. "The people of Fayette County, and in particular residents of German Township and Masontown Borough, deserved to know that this project had unprecedented vitality and unequivocal need until a new governor took office."
DeWeese said the project was so far along that the Commonwealth had expended $1.6 million to hire Hill International as construction manager, a task that included preparing design/build documents and overseeing the bidding stage of the project. During the site selection process, another $431,199 was spent to hire Heery International as construction manager, to assist in assessing and narrowing numerous available sites.
Additionally, $163,742 was paid to the Duane Morris law firm to represent DGS in various legal actions filed in Commonwealth Court – which buttresses DeWeese’s earlier statement that legal challenges delayed the project several months, pushing authority for certain key approvals into a new gubernatorial administration.
Despite this, DeWeese said the project was so far advanced that DGS expended $1,106 to Chicago Title Insurance, a title company that did work in preparation for purchasing the land selected for housing the new prison.
DeWeese noted that the actual amount of wasted money is higher, since the $2.2 million in contracted expenses does not include any DGS staff time invested in the project, which was significant and ran over several years.
"I think everyone, including Governor Corbett, would agree that in these tough economic times, people deserve a full accounting whenever $2.2 million is literally thrown out the window," said DeWeese, who noted that that sum represents approximately 1 percent of the $200 million budgeted for building the prison, which would have created 700 family sustaining jobs in Fayette County.
Given that similar prison construction projects near State College and Philadelphia were spared from Corbett’s chopping block, DeWeese said he believes the governor made a $2.2 million personal and political decision to kill the project in his district.
CONTACT: Paul Sunyak