AAA sells out its members apparently in favor of road builders

In what can only be called propaganda for the establishment and a total 180 from AAA’s previous position on Governor Perry’s version of toll roads, its article in the Jan/Feb issue of Texas Journey touts Ric Williamson’s ilk about as friendly and uncritical as Joe Krier.

This is a total betrayal of AAA’s former mission as advocates for motorists and consumers. Increasing our cost of transportation 300% is not in the best interest of motorists and we all know that Perry’s version of toll roads won’t solve congestion but manipulate it for profit and enrich select corporations in the worst example of corporate cronyism in recent memory. See how HB 3588 grants only certain companies the right to bid on these public-private toll road deals and pays the LOSING BIDDERS up $1 million a pop.
In fact, just months ago AAA Mid Atlantic was side by side with politicians OPPOSING the DOUBLING of toll rates on a Macquarie-owned toll road. Apparently, AAA has been co-opted and is supportive of turning over our new and existing highways to these same companies for a public fleecing. Also, AAA Mid-Atlantic is now touting AAA’s new “survey” that says a majority of respondents favor tolls over gas tax increases. Something smells ROTTEN in Denmark and it’s time to let AAA know where it’s members stand on this issue.

Email AAA with your thoughts:
Anne O’Ryan, the “journalist” who interviewed Williamson is also one of AAA’s government affairs liasons in Texas and has refused to return my phone calls and emails even though I’m a long-time member of AAA. Fire off (respectful, but firm) emails to her and to AAA’s “Journey” magazine. It’s inexcusable to betray AAA members this way and even more reprehensible to ignore a member’s request for information and dialogue on such a controversial issue. Some of our supporters have already cancelled their membership in disgust.

Here’s a sampling:

“AAA of Texas needs to get their facts straight. Your recent article ‘Taking the Bull by the Horns’ is nothing short of pandering to special interests groups and full of erroneous facts.

The sole purpose of TXDOT and the mandate of Governor Perry is to convert most existing right of way freeways into privatized toll roads and they are using public money, illegal loan(s), and forcible eminent domain to strip Texans of their private property and hand it over to foreign control.

Your article by Anne O’Ryan is shameless! Recent reports from the Texas Transportation Institute and Texas A&M clearly dispute the numbers quoted by Mr. Williamson in your article.

AAA members demand accountability and responsibility not only from government but from the media. Please do your homework and make it a priority to inform your readers and membership of all the facts. Texans DO NOT want toll roads much less the TTC.

Since AAA ‘believes that tolling is a legitimate way to address Texas’ acute need for more roads,’ Consider my family’s valued membership to AAA Texas revoked and cancelled.”

Here’s some of the choice quotes from the article:

“My role is whatever Governor Perry defines for me,”–Governor-appointed Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson.

“For the next 15 years, they’re (Texans) going to see orange cones everywhere,” –says Williamson. Does that sound like congestion relief or proper urban planning to you?

“So let me understand this: I got this road moving through downtown Dallas, the apportioned taxes for this road are paying only [part] of the cost of the road, but somehow we shouldn’t toll that existing road? Tell me why. Explain to me why we shouldn’t do that. And really, the only valid answer is because, by God, we just don’t want to,”–touts Williamson.

Willamson also claims in the article that a gas tax increase of $1.40 a gallon would be required to solve our “road crisis” over the next 25-20 years. Apparently Anne O’Ryan didn’t bat an eyelash at such obvious scare tactics nor did she do her homework since A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute released a report recently for the Governor’s Business Council that says we not only DO NOT NEED TOLL FINANCING but we also DO NOT NEED TO RAISE THE GAS TAX. We could simply index it to inflation. The report also shows how Williamson’s agency bloated their supposed “highway needs” by $30 billion to come up with their outlandish figures.

Also, O’Ryan took this dishonest agency’s word that they’re not tolling existing highways. All she has to do is read news reports in both the Austin-American Statesman and the Express-News to find out that’s precisely what TxDOT is doing. It’s DOUBLE TAXATION and an OUTRAGE! O’Ryan and AAA also seems to have neglected to read the December Texas Monthly article that clearly outlines the deep trouble non-compete agreements in these toll contracts mean for our public freeway system. AAA members like me do not want our public freeway system to be hijacked by special interests who will have the power to increase toll taxes ad nauseum in 50 year monopolies, especially ON ROADS WE’VE ALREADY BUILT AND PAID FOR! This point seems to have escaped AAA’s O’Ryan.

The AAA article is supposedly going to be available at this link soon.