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When the Levee Breaks
The Patronage Crisis at the Pennsylvania Turnpike,
the General Assembly & the State Supreme Court

by William Keisling


The PA turnpike immediately caught the public's imagination. Here cars pass through an original toll booth. Click photo or here to enlarge.

An anonymous letter entices writer Bill Keisling to consider the once-idealized Pennsylvania turnpike. At America's first superhighway he finds bureaucratic lawbreaking, inside dealing and patronage run amok.

The trail of bad or non-existant ethics and loose money leads him to the state legislature, where lucrative insider turnpike bond and contractor deals are cut in return for legalized kickbacks. His examination soon leads him to the state supreme court, where a resulting turnpike case received special treatment.

When the Levee Breaks examines the secret inner-workings of today's government.

"Members of both parties display a bottomless well of cooperation while they pass out lucrative contracts to each other's friends," writes Keisling. "I've come to see this patronage dance as an intricate, genteel, well-mannered minuet. In matters of their own business, the two parties never miss their turn, their bow, the cooperative wink.

Just try to pass a budget, fund a library, feed kids at school, buy books, make our tax system more fair, rebuild our cities, provide opportunities for our young people -- in short, all the things that make our society work -- there the inter-party cooperation ends.

Read sample chapters:

Chapter 3: The people, their land, and their road
A history of the Pennsylvania turnpike

Chapter 5: Hell to pay: Patronage in crisis
A history of political patronage in the United States

Chapter 7: The secret, well-mannered minuet
In matters of their own business, the two political parties never miss
their turn, their bow, their cooperative wink.

“If you have never seen tennis or baseball or football and know nothing about those games, television will quickly teach you. William Keisling will tell you all about the game being played by big money and politics.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller

When the Levee Breaks, by William Keisling

183 pages. 1-882611-01-2 / paperback / acid-free paper / $11.95

2nd Printing IN STOCK Order your copy now!