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Shakeup coming at NJ Turnpike

New executive director; Bruce Harris fired

By David Wildstein, March 26 2018 10:24 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy has picked John Keller as the new executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in a series of moves that included the termination of most of the authority’s legal department.

Keller, currently the deputy chief engineer, is expected to be named tomorrow, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  He was the hand-picked choice of state Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who was the executive director from 2008 to 2010 and now chairs the authority.

The current acting executive director, John O’Hern, has been given a soft landing with a new job at New Jersey Transit.  Sources say that O’Hern, the son of retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern, will make slightly more than his current $134,000-a-year salary in order to facilitate an easy transition.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti has quietly fired Bruce Harris as the general counsel, as well as five staff attorneys.  Harris was sent to the authority after the New Jersey Senate rejected Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination of him to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Ann Christine Monica, a career staff attorney, is the acting general counsel –a sign that a new pick will come soon.

Sources say that one move by Gutierrez-Scaccetti — to move nearly all the authority’s legal work to the DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole law firm — was rebuffed by Murphy.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that O’Hern made $175,000 at the Turnpike Authority.  His actual salary was $134,000.

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10 thoughts on “Shakeup coming at NJ Turnpike

  1. $134,000 of taxpayer’s money wasn’t enough to “facilitate an easy transition”?! And what job is Mr. Ohern taking at NJTransit? One that didn’t even exist prior to his ouster from the Authority, no doubt. Meaning that it’s a made-up job that NJT wasn’t running “help wanted” ads for before Mr. Ohern needed a “soft landing” at taxpayers expense! I’m sure his job is an entirely unnecessary political patronage job handed to him on an undeserved silver platter because his father was politically connected. Disgusting. I’m glad I retired to Florida and don’t have to deal with the criminal political behavior in that cesspool anymore. For my kids’ sake, I had hoped that Murphy would be better than Christie, but now we know he’s no different.

    1. Ah! No NJ taxes support the NJ Turnpike, now, in the past, of the future. Do the research before you comment. All fees, salaries and Turnpike maintenance is paid for with toll money!

    1. You got that right. I wouldn’t have gone out on retirement in 2011 if it wasn’t for that bastard.

  2. There’s room for a lot more changes at that place. Take a good look at the finance department where most people are on the internet and playing games with about 1 hours worth of work a day. Then look at their salary and benefits and see all the wasted resources. It’s no wonder everyone hangs around gossiping all day. They can’t tell you anything about revenue streams, understand interest rates or basic accounting but they can tell you what everyone had for breakfast.

  3. The whole problem was that the Turnpike had to bail out the Parkway because the people running it bankrupted it, and then the Parkway people were put in charge of the Pike and, well, if y’all only knew the half of it.

  4. Having Diane Scaccetti back in NJ….heading not only the NJDOT but back at the NJTPK/GSP is quite possibly THE BEST news I’ve heard as a Turnpike Employee !! And the people of NJ should be just as THANKFUL !!
    She is well qualified and quite possibly will be the first person to head the DOT that will see to it that the Roads are not only fixed and maintained ….but her political smarts will see to successful and fiscally sound Bonding for future lobg term projects and goals to return NJ Roads to the level of exceptionality that the NJtpke & GSP enjoyed and still does under Her leadership.

  5. Clarification always seems necessary! No Taxpayer $$$$ are used to operate the NJ Turnpike. Tolls pay ALL the freight! Call it a ‘user tax’ but not a penny of taxpayer money now, before or in the future unless all bonds get paid, which, in reallity, will not happen.

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