Citizens demand accountability, open and responsive government

October 24, 2005

Concerns about the toll plans for Bexar County and across the state have birthed a far-reaching movement that crosses party lines and socioeconomic status. Our local group has more than doubled in size in just the last 4 weeks. Everyone is affected by the higher cost of transportation!

Our group of concerned citizens has PLEADED with this body to stop the toll plans and to do the right thing. We’ve asked you to order an independent review of the toll plans. We’ve asked you to consider reconfiguring the composition of this Board. We’ve asked you to change meeting times to allow for greater public input. We’ve asked you to fight for our fair share of the gas tax to return to this region. We’ve asked you to properly study the impact of high gasoline prices on toll feasibility. You have stubbornly IGNORED EVERY ONE of these practical and reasonable requests. Now you have a lawsuit against you for violating the constitutional separation of powers and for privatizing and tolling our tax funded public highways.

An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure. You ought to heed that advice. The taxpayers will not stand idly by and allow you to hold Texas families’ hostage to pay a toll just to drive to work, school, or shop without our consent!

We’re advocating a good government solution to a very prolific problem. Our government has lost touch with those whom it is called to and paid to serve. We’re suggesting the current dysfunctional and unconstitutional MPOs be replaced with legal entities composed of seven-member boards serving two year terms. Texas citizens should elect five “at large” seats, the Governor appoints one member, and the local transit organization appoints the seventh member of each regional board. At the very least, only elected members should be vested with voting powers and be who constitutes a quorum.

The Governor is coming under fire from some members of the press who see his scheme as bad for Texas. Rick Perry’s “innovative financing” made Texas Monthly’s “Top 10 ways to Fix Texas.” The article includes “Stop the toll road menace” at the #2 position. It states, “Turning planned freeways-that’s freeways-into toll roads in urban areas and holding commuters hostage is downright un-American and un-Texan,” –Texas Monthly, August 2005.

We’re a nonpartisan grassroots watchdog organization seeking efficient transportation solutions, good government and accountability. The Texas Toll Party is not opposed to traditional toll roads that are designed and built as whole new highways that complement free expressways. Traditional tollways are primarily funded with investor dollars. In contrast, “freeway tolls” are funded with tax dollars to create a revenue-generating machine that does not solve traffic congestion. Freeway tolls shift public highways to tollways and hold drivers hostage to pay a fee to drive to work, school or play.

This scheme is illegal, unconstitutional, un-American and definitely un-Texan! We await your decision to make this very wrong situation right again, which is the only thing that will restore the public trust.