September 11, 2007

Tolls : Release the McCracken!

Yes, I went to the CAMPO meeting last night. Then had to leave because I was LAUGHING too hard at the folks from the Chamber who did mob the meeting, yet still weren't in the majority. One key for you Chamber folks... if you're going to stack a meeting, cut back on the paid people and the buttons.

Specifically, I DIED laughing when some moron got up to speak and talked about the 242k people in Central Texas that have purchased TXTags basically supporting tolls. In fact, I wasn't the only one laughing. Further, I have one of those tags. So do MANY of my friends. None of us like the tolls, but we have the tags because we're going to use them and we're not stopping at some stupid booth. There are a lot of people who don't like the tolls who have the tags. These are the people who almost turned out Mike Krusee in 2006 and will succeed in 2008. Wanna talk about those voters, pal? They're angry. Not happy.

Sal's account is here and very true. I arrived around 6:30 because I was busy underwriting loans. Unlike most of the people who have a vested interest in tolling, I was just an ordinary citizen who found a 6:00 pm start time a little unusual, mostly because at the last CAMPO meeting I attended, we waited FOREVER for the politico's to show up. I should have realized they were stacking the deck with the venue and the start time. By the time I got there, all speaker slots were filled. I was one of the 260+ people who filled out a comment card.

I also found it unusual that so many of the speakers were pro-toll... until they started announcing who they were. Folks, don't be delusional. These people don't represent voters. If they did then Krusee would have won handily in 2006 and Karen Sonleitner wouldn't have been turned out. Stacking a meeting provides a false impression and it's one that at least one politico is buying hook, line and sinker...

"I intend to vote for it, and I think it will pass," Austin City Council and CAMPO board member Brewster McCracken said Monday. McCracken supported the 2004 plan before developing doubts.

"We have to make our decisions based on facts and based on the broadest common good," he said.

Brewster, for those of you who have been living on Mars, is always free to talk to the press. He's also running for Mayor. Now that he's pissed up OHAN's leg on Phase 2, wanna bet he doesn't even make it into the runoff? I don't know what else I expected from an opportunist like McCracken who's only political conviction seems to be supporting what he perceives will help him, even if it means flip-flopping like a fish out of water.

I remain stunned at the Chamber's support for the most expensive form of transportation financing we have at our disposal. These are smart people (I know some of them) and can't believe they are really this clueless on this issue, from a financial and political perspective. Talking to some people at the meeting, I came away with the impression that they were 'along for the ride', that the Chamber's leadership pushed the tolling issue and that the membership is more than a little angry. If I was running for office over the next few years, I would avoid the endorsement of the Chamber like the plague. It'll be about as effective as the Statesman's endorsement at driving voters FROM you.

The folks who talked in support of Phase 2 don't know the political landscape or how things are going to change in 2009. All they see is an immediate need for roads. I see it, too... so did EVERYONE there. There was not a single person who said we DON'T need roads. The issue is how it's financed and tolls are the worst option. Much like children, they've been uninvolved with this for a while and now are ready to jump at anything. It's wiser to wait until the political situation changes and we get the legislation we need. Unless you like paying full price today for something you'll get a discount on in a little over a year.

Here's to hoping that the remaining CAMPO board members are a little smarter than Mr. Political Suicide, Brewster McCracken. Brewster, sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot rather than open it and remove all doubt.

Posted by mcblogger at September 11, 2007 12:45 PM

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A "Clash of the Titans" -- starring Harry Hamlin -- reference.

It disturbs me that I know this.

Posted by: PDiddie [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2007 07:55 PM

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