Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"...a propaganda event, not a 'fact finding' hearing."

TxDOT schedules public hearing on already made decision


By Bill Baumbach
The Collin County Observer
Copyright 2009

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has announced that it will hold a public hearing Wednesday, September 30 at 4 p.m., at the Maribelle Davis Library in Plano.

According to TxDOT's press release, the hearing will be to, "gather comments from interested persons regarding the proposed transfer to the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) of a portion of State Highway 121 from Hillcrest Road to Watters Road in Collin County."

The press release then goes on to state that, "Following the public hearing this portion of SH 121 mainlanes will become part of the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) system and will become an extension of the recently renamed Sam Rayburn Tollway; however, the service roads will retain the SH 121 designation. The new seven mile segment of roadway is scheduled to open today."

TxDOT really wants to hear you opinion of what they have already decided to do! A citizen has got to ask, "What's the point?". All decisions have already been made, the grand opening of the new road is already planned the signs are printed. What does TxDOT want? A pat on the back for a new toll road?

Cities, School Boards, the county, the NCTCOG and all sorts of agencies hold public meetings to "gain public input" on proposed projects and bond issues. I know, I've attended many.

I have frequently heard the organizers of these public hearings bemoan the fact that so few citizens bother to show up and speak their mind.

Most of theses hearings are organized and conducted by hired staff or contracted engineering firms. Rarely are the real decision makers present to listen and engage the citizens. Fancy slide shows and easels are displayed, not to present choices, but to convince attendees that the government or agency is working for the good of the community.

So all too often the public leaves with the impression that they attended a propaganda event, not a fact finding hearing.

Most taxpayers I have talked to tell me that they couldn't be bothered to attend a public hearing unless it was to try to stop the government from running a freeway across their front lawn the next morning.

These folks simply believe that their input doesn't matter - that the public hearing is just a show put on after all the decisions have been made.

Sadly for our Democracy, TxDOT has just proven them right.

© 2009 The Keller Citizen:

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