Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Until the Legislature takes the decision-making power AWAY from an un-elected, unaccountable agency, this whole exercise is a non-starter."

All talk, no teeth as Transportation Commission attempts to quell opposition


Written by Terri Hall
Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (T.U.R.F.)
Copyright 2008

Don't believe the hype.

Today the Texas Transportation Commission adopted a Minute Order designed to fool people into thinking they've changed their stripes.

The reality? It's all posturing.

New Chairwoman Deirdre Delisi (who has no transportation experience only running political campaigns for Rick Perry then becoming his Chief of Staff) wants the Senate to confirm her, and the Commission knows the Sunset Review will bring serious legislatively mandated changes they want to avoid.

There's nothing about a Minute Order that is even binding. TxDOT can change this at their whim and violate it anytime. Add to that, many of these provisions are already not allowed or required by state law.

Here's a summary of the gaping holes and inadequacies of this Minute Order:
  • They don't mention that a competing facility could require compensation (taxpayer payments to investors if TxDOT expands or builds a competing road), and there's no mention of stripping non-competes from bond agreements (they only addressed CDAs or PPPs contracts here). Bond companies require non-competes and create the same guaranteed congestion on non-toll routes.
  • Also, there's no prohibition against taking existing highway lanes and tolling them leaving the only non-toll lanes frontage roads (totally different in function and speed and stop light times can be manipulated to drive traffic to the toll lanes, etc.). That's the crux of much of the angst on urban toll projects. They also failed to address their illegal ad campaign and lobbying. If they seriously wanted to build trust, they would have moved to cease those practices unconditionally.
Until the Legislature takes the power of decision-making of this type AWAY from an un-elected, unaccountable agency run amok and gives it back to the PEOPLE and their representatives, this whole exercise is a non-starter.

© 2008 Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom

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