FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After starting the meeting late and after a lengthy opening presentation, the moderator then had attendees break-up into work sessions to discuss ideas, alternatives, etc. for another 20 minutes. Then the public had to endure RJ Rivera and Associates “sharing” a summary of attendees’ thoughts rather than actually letting the public tell it themselves. By the time the public comment portion commenced, a full two hours had passed! A good half of the crowd of concerned citizens left midway through the meeting disgusted at the lack of consideration for folks’ time…but not before hundreds signed our petition to stop the toll roads, to make donations, and to sign-up to volunteer.
“This dog & pony show approach was designed to fatigue the public into submission, numbing the people with a 30 minute presentation and then work groups in order to peel them off in frustration. By the time the public comment portion came, it was a half-empty room! When you strip all the double talk out, it’s a hocus pocus show to cram something down the public’s throat without their consent,” notes Hall.
However, it back-fired. Many folks complained of the format, including State Representative David Leibowitz, and one called it a “sham” when they finally got their turn at the microphone.
“The public could see precisely what the RMA was trying to do, and that was to divide and conquer the opposition. They knew the turn out would be enormous and their mission was to break people up, wear folks down, and waste their time,” relates Hall. “When public comments come last, it was obvious to everyone what was happening. And, of course, they knew the media wouldn’t stick around to report on the litany of opposition.”
Once the public finally got to speak, there were still a good 200 people left in the room and many mentioned the need to vote out ALL politicians who support tolls or who voted to toll our roads, particularly Governor Perry. Some spoke to how there’s an awakening among the grassroots–that it’s time to take our government back. Several fantastic solutions were proposed including loud applause for and frequent reference to improved, expanded public transit options. There was actually a good portion of the audience that supported doing nothing. One hundred percent of the public comments were opposed to the tolls with the exception of Vic Boyer of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition (a lobby group on behalf of the highway special interests) who is ardently in favor of tolls.
The meeting finally ended at 10 PM!
This is a complete departure from the glory days of the Texas Department of Transportation. “They have descended into a process devoid of accountability to the public, using secret deals for the benefit of multi-national special interests, and for all intents and purposes are selling off Texas to the highest bidder, which is a far cry from providing safe, reliable, affordable transportation for all Texans,” observes a disappointed Hall.