It's been a couple of years since the Maine Turnpike Authority had a "posh pike" moment, so we were probably due.
Now a review by the state's accountability office has raised a lengthy list of concerns over the way the authority handles its money, including staff spending on meals, travel, alcohol, limos and pricey hotel rooms.
The report points up again the maddening double standard we have for running highways in this state.
Western Maine communities must pay per mile for their interstate highway connection, while wealthier coastal communities are served by a free system.
Not only that, but we must foot the bill for a Turnpike Authority that travels like kings of the road rather than servants of the people.
But the report by the Maine Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability goes deeper than the occasional pricey dinner and hotel room.
It found that the Turnpike awarded too many no-bid contracts and failed to report all operating expenses to the Legislature as required.
OPEGA found that between 2005 and 2009, the authority spent more than $450,000 on "sponsorships and donations" to various organizations. Of that amount, more than $150,000 was spent on gift certificates "from various hotel chains and restaurants" that were donated to organizations while failing to keep records on those donations.
Some of the recipients were noncharitable organizations in which top MTA officials served on boards or councils.
The report doesn't seem to address the obvious question in our minds — why in the world the Turnpike Authority is using our toll money to make donations at all?
While it is nice that the authority and its officials have generous natures, shouldn't they be making such donations out of their own pockets?
And what exact benefit does a donation produce for the toll-paying public?
As we mentioned, this isn't the first time the MTA has raised eyebrows for its questionable spending.
A Sun Journal story in 2007 reported that the authority spent $26,000 to send five representatives to the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association conference in Vienna, Austria.
The Sun Journal found that other states sent fewer people and for far less money.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, for instance, oversees six times as many miles of highway, but sent only three employees to the same conference for a total of about $6,400.
Other states with far larger systems sent no one at all.
The year before, it was revealed that nine authority managers and advisers were treated to a $1,300 dinner by a consultant who included a $295 bottle of wine.
The MTA was established in 1941 to build a roadway. The road was built and paid for 70 years ago, but the tolls remain.
The Maine DOT has proven capable of maintaining the free section of coastal 295 as well as the free interstate north of Augusta
It is plainly unfair, and an economic development disadvantage, that western Maine doesn't have an equal toll-free system linking its communities.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.