Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gov. Tom Corbett was right to use state helicopter for raceway trip: As I See It

By Bob Pleban

At Pocono Raceway, we’ve been putting out the welcome mat for Pennsylvania governors dating back to the late Raymond P. Shafer, a man not unfamiliar with high speed, dating back to his service as a PT boat captain during World War II.

Not every governor has accepted our invite but those who did made it into as much a fact-finding mission about America’s second most popular spectator sport – auto racing – as an opportunity to make a connection to tens of thousands of other Pennsylvanians.

So you can imagine our embarrassment when some people – without understanding the facts – fixated on the idea that Gov. Tom Corbett should not use a State Police helicopter for a campaign trip. 

Fair point; but that’s not what happened on Aug. 4, when he choppered in the 35 miles from Hazleton to Long Pond to attend the GoBowling.com 400 at the race track. Here are the facts:

The governor had other activities scheduled and would be unable to stay through the entire 400-mile race so traveling by helicopter allowed for more time on the ground at the race track.

The helicopter was on the scene anyway as part of the State Police traffic monitoring and control effort – in itself subsidized by a fee in the $50,000 range paid for each major event by Pocono Raceway. In other words, there was no extra cost.

A helicopter provides the ideal way to get a bird’s eye view of the entire Long Pond complex including our environmental efforts like our 3 megawatt solar project which supplies enough power annually to run Pocono Raceway and light 1,000 homes as well. He also got a quick snapshot of how Pocono Raceway provides $350 million in annual economic impact to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

On a tight schedule, the governor could also get a quick overview of the $30 million in private investments made in the racetrack in recent years including a totally rebuilt, 2.5 mile tri-oval, new garages and pit area, new Midway and motor home park.

We appreciate the effort Gov. Corbett made to visit Pocono Raceway. And we know the thousands of fans at the GoBowling.com 400 were pleased to learn that they could include the Governor of Pennsylvania as one of their own.

Bob Pleban is Vice President Administration of Pocono Raceway.

Article and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.pennlive.com/opinion