June 04, 2008

TXDOT, Tolls and riding off into the Sunset

Some interesting things floating 'round the sphere...

  • Both Sal and EOW have the deets on the Sunset Commission's report. All in all, nothing terribly exciting and they're sticking with a Gubernatorial appointment to head the TXDOT, albeit shrinking the number to one person. We're continuing to think three elected officials would be better than any number of appointees, especially if elected to staggered terms.
  • 3 TXDOT officials plead guilty to taking bribes and rumors continue to circulate that Amadeo Saenz is involved.
  • TXDOT, after YEARS of ignoring Texas Democrats in Congress and spending lavishly (and illegally) on some of Tom Delay's former staffers turned lobbyists, is going hat in hand to those very same Representatives. A word of advice to the D's who are about feel the love... disregard it. Stomp on these people and create a federal law banning that unique form of corporate welfare known as the public private partnership
  • Is Perry contemplating a special session to kill 391 commissions (the citizen planning commissions that are right now creating very real problems for infrastructure privatization and the TTC)? In an election year? Are you kidding me? If he does, I'll put my money on the Lege being pissed and not doing much of anything. Which would be absolutely perfect for the Democrats running
  • Finally... proof that toll roads really are made of inferior materials and construction standards. I'll never drive over another toll bridge without thinking about disintegrating, substandard concrete
  • Can Sen. Hinjosa make TXDOT his bitch? One things for sure, he's actually achieving something unlike a certain fatass blowhard we could mention. Good thing the people of North Dallas have a choice this year.
  • Speaking of the Lege, it's pretty clear that 39% and TXDOT really aren't in a moderating mood...

    "While I am looking forward to addressing this issue [transportation] when the Legislature meets in 2009, " Perry said, "the state cannot afford to repeat 2007. Members of the Legislature must understand that 'no' is not a solution to this challenge. It is an abdication of responsibility." Perry made clear his determination to defend the renting of state right-of-way to private companies in exchange for a fee and building and operating a toll road.

    Actually, you ridiculous twerp, selling off your roads IS AN ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY. Not only that, but you and your appointees are so incompetent or corrupt that you didn't even get us a good price. Probably because you're, again, either too incompetent or corrupt to calculate the present value of a revenue stream over time.

    This preceded their new Statement on Toll Projects which I'll take a moment to summarize and explain.

    1) Not selling the tolls roads... This is pretty dumb since a 50 or more year lease is widely considered a functional sale. In my industry, we call it a leasehold.
    2) No roads will be owned by foreign entities. No, but the leases will be held by them.
    3) We'll have a way to buy back the roads. Sure, but at what price? I don't expect the crack team at TXDOT to do a good job negotiating this. They're completely out of their element, just as former Commissioner Williamson clearly was.
    4) Tolls will be initially set by TXDOT, with formulas and government input for increases. Input isn't control. Nice try, Deidre, but only an idiot would fall for that turn of phrase.
    5) No restrictions or non-competes? I'll believe it when I see it, Deidre.
    6) Freeways not converted... but if we shrink down the freeway lanes to add a lane, we'll call that added capacity and we'll toll it

    This, my friends, is the translation. If you're dumb enough to fall for ANYTHING from this Commission, then you really don't deserve any spot at the table.

    All in all, this pretty solidly leaves corporate welfare proponents in the drivers seat and continues to ignore the most cost effective solution, which Burka NAILED.

    At the end of the day, this is so transparently a 'Let's give a perpetual revenue stream to a campaign contributor (ZACHRY)' that it surprises me so many 'fiscal conservatives' are in favor of it. Wonder if they're getting paid by Zachry as well. I already know 39% is.

  • Hava goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at June 4, 2008 10:04 AM

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    Comments

    I don't see how an elected TTC would work unless the Lege gave them authority over the gas tax or other financing means. Since most of our problems seem to be based on the fact that voters pick the wrong leaders (Perry, Craddick and minions, the entire Supreme Court and RRC), it's hard to imagine that simply making TxDOT subject to direct electoral oversight would improve the situation. I do like the recommendations the SSC made that strengthen the oversight powers of the Lege: forcing Perry to submit commissioners for approval or else he loses the privilege of appointment.

    What we need is a Lege that is functional and not afraid to raise money when appropriate through the most efficient means, in this case taxation (I'll leave the banal discussions of the differences in labeling of tax vs. fee to the Burkas of the world).

    Posted by: Kedron Touvell [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2008 02:45 PM

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