Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"State officials sometimes forget who their bosses really are — the taxpayers."

Editorial: Agency forgets public it serves


San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2005

State officials sometimes forget who their bosses really are — the taxpayers.

That is the only explanation for the arrogance that afflicts some government workers, including those charged with a mammoth road project that could change the face of Texas.

Texas Department of Transportation officials boycotted a transportation summit in Irving recently, saying a statewide coalition that grew out of the event is closed-minded about a proposed toll road that would parallel Interstate 35.

Ironically, by refusing to listen to the views of the coalition, TEX-21, the state officials exhibited the very trait they condemn in the group — narrow-mindedness.

While TEX-21 takes no positions on specific projects, it employs the lobbying firm of Dean International, which has helped cities voice concerns about the project.

That assistance that led Ric Williamson, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, to instruct staff to see him before attending any events with which the firm was associated, according to a report in the Express-News.

"It's unfortunate that one individual would act so childish, to boycott a summit that is so important to this simply because of personal reasons," Rep. Linda Harper Brown, R-Irving, told the newspaper.

She was right. This is the kind of disregard for the public that insulates agencies from the people whom their policies affect. As a result, TxDOT officials are doing more to damage their credibility — and their case for the toll proposal — than TEX-21 could ever hope to.

San Antonio Express-News: www.mysanantonio.com