Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rep. John Perzel and GEO

The Inquirer reported earlier this month that the Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut), which currently manages a correctional facility in Delaware County, is ending it's contract. This facility is the only state owned facility the group manages. From “PhillyDeals: Geo Group Inc. pulls out of Delco prison,” by Joseph Di Stefano 9/03

Last week, the Boca Raton, Fla., company formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp. (for its founder, George Wackenhut, who grew up in Upper Darby) said it would stop running the 1,900-bed Delaware County prison it built in 1996 at the end of this year - halfway through a two-year, $38-million-a-year contract extension.

That left the county scrambling to find someone else to manage the inmates, many with costly health and mental-health problems.

State Rep. John Perzel (R., Phila.) joined publicly traded Geo's board in 2005, when he was the influential speaker of the state House of Representatives. He's now speaker emeritus, a less powerful position.

Perzel collected $154,000 in director fees, stock and other compensation from Geo last year, according to Geo documents. That's more than double his state salary of $76,000.

Another Pennsylvania blog, checking the balance, notes that Geo also manages a facility on Guantanamo (this is easily confirmed by visiting the Geo website). That's interesting, Perzel and Gitmo.

Newspaper blogger Dave Ralis noted in 2006 that Perzel missed a property tax reform vote because he was in Florida at a Geo board meeting.

If you review the list of Geo's board of directors:
Wayne H. Calabrese, Pres, Geo Group
George C. Zoley, CEO, Geo Group
Norman A. Carlson, Former Director Federal Bureau of Prisons
John M. Palms, Pres Emeritus Univ of South Carolina
Richard H. Glanton, CEO Philadelphia Television Network
Anne N. Foreman, Former Under Secretary USAF
John M. Perzel, former speaker PA House of Rep

You might notice another familiar Pennsylvania name, Richard H. Glanton, who worked in the Thornburgh administration (PA Gov. Richard Thornburgh) and also served on the board of the Barnes Foundation and Lincoln University. For a company with such far flung business interests and only one client in Pennsylvania it seems odd to me that two of the seven board members live and work in Pennsylvania, especially considering that two of the remaining five are executives with the company, so only five of the seven are outsiders. Wackenhut was founded in the Philadelphia area but, still, it seems odd to me. I could be wrong, though.

I do find it interesting that he earns more than twice his legislative salary for serving on the Geo board.


Alan Tu said...

Good investigative work on your part. This is like reading about Cheney and Haliburton. While there doesn't appear to be any conflict of interest in Rep John Perzel sitting on this board and his duties in the legislature it is always good to know the connections. Keep up the good work.

AboveAvgJane said...

Checking the Balance got it started. I just piggybacked on his/her post with some other things added in. But thank you for the compliment.

3BG said...

Nice job jane. I've been trying to read this for two days, but everytime I clicked your link it sent me elsewhere. I'm glad that is over!

AboveAvgJane said...

That's interesting. Someone else told me they had problems accessing the site on Tuesday -- that it would blink out to their home page. But I could get to it and some others could get to it. Very strange. Glad it seems to have straightened itself out.