In what can only be described as the biggest political blunder at the San Antonio MPO (SAMPO), the Transportation Policy Board had egg all over its face when New Braunfels Mayor Bruce Boyer and Comal County Judge Danny Scheel told SAMPO they were never officially notified that it was set to vote on pursuing extending its boundaries into Comal County at today’s meeting.
They had to find out from their State Representative Nathan Macias and constituent emails. This move by SAMPO not only shows a total lack of consideration and political couthe, but also demonstrates a hostile takeover of the Hill Country by SAMPO was in the works. The inept lack of professional courtesy isn’t exactly how SAMPO engenders a spirit of cooperation!
Our thoughts for Comal County officials? Welcome to the toll road steamroller. They may be back-peddling and even appear to be accommodating as a result of their colossal faux paux, but once they rope you in, don’t expect their treatment of you to improve. You’d be one vote on a board of 20 with all but a small minority FOR toll roads, which your constituents adamantly oppose.
Why the rush to gobble up the Hill Country?
The law allows the Hill Country to form its own MPO once New Braunfels reaches a population of 50,000. But none of this relevant until the next census. Why the rush to do it now? Think TOLL ROADS and SAMPO seeking the Hill Country’s gas tax funds.
This boundary extension is no small issue. It means both counties have less control over their local transportation decisions. Comal County doesn’t want to be one vote on a Board of 20, and Bexar County doesn’t need the expense or hassle of taking on the Hill Country’s transportation costs nor another Mayor Jack Leonhardt who goes along with TxDOT (and the toll road agenda) to get his small city, Windcrest, some goodies at the expense of everyone in the larger urban areas.
Despite SAMPO having made presentations in the past to some Hill Country officials regarding the possibility of joining SAMPO, they still voted to take official action to “formally engage in a discussion” about a boundary expansion to engulf the Hill Country.
Why take action against the wishes of thousands of people as expressed by two of their elected officials in Comal County if they’ve already engaged them in discussions? In plain English: it’s to officially force a decision by New Braunfels, Comal County, and other counties north of Bexar County in an aggressive posture that’s totally unnecessary until the next census.
SAMPO presented 3 scenarios of how the extension could occur. In one scenario, they’d take in all the area up to Hwy 46 (which TxDOT has already studied for tolls) and another showed them engulfing three entire counties: Kendall, Comal, and Guadalupe. A hostile takeover indeed!
Outright lies and deliberate deception
Mayor Boyer took exception to SAMPO’s bogus federal re-certification report that says New Braunfels did a census of its own prior to the 2010 census to see if it qualifies as an urbanized area SAMPO could engulf. Boyer stated there is no nor was there ever such a census conducted by the City. He called SAMPO on the carpet for this deliberate fabrication and misrepresentation of the facts to the federal government!
Boyer also spoke of constituents’ angst over taxation without representation in a sort of New Braunfels Tea Party that’s sprung up as a result of the threat of being absorbed by pro-toll SAMPO without any say by City officials. He also challenged their population growth figures stating they’d be hard pressed to provide water to all of these “new” hypothetical residents considering the situation of providing water to current residents is already dire.
“We’re all for regional cooperation, but we haven’t even decided what we’re going to do yet,” Boyer said.
Boyer and good guys Commissioner Tommy Adkisson and State Representative David Leibowitz all agreed that they can achieve planning and cooperation through existing entities like the Alamo City Council of Governments (AACOG) without having to surrender Comal County’s independence to the overly aggressive and rabidly pro-toll SAMPO.
We’re after your money
Bexar County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez admitted that one of the reasons SAMPO is trying to force a decision by New Braunfels well before the 2010 census is because Bexar County wants access to their gas tax allocations. He said, “We don’t want to lose any money. People need to realize we’re losing mooney. We hope Comal and Guadalupe counties will join us, because we need the money.”
It’s also been made known that the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) is seeking toll projects outside Bexar County since they cannot advance any toll projects without clearance for 281 (the lynchpin to the whole system, without 281, they can’t do toll roads in Bexar County), which won’t happen for another 3-5 years.
“You have representation on this Board”
Pro-toll Selma Councilman Bill Weeper tried to pass off his one vote on SAMPO as representation for New Braunfels since their city touches 3 counties, Comal being one of them. Yet when thousands of constituents have asked SAMPO to vote down toll roads, Weeper has consistently and gleefully cast his vote FOR toll roads.
Councilwoman Diane Cibrian, the subject of a recall campaign due to her betrayal of voters regarding toll roads, also tried to claim she was the voice and vote of the Hill Country that touches her district.
After Boyer made his constitutents’ opposition to toll roads perfectly clear, Weeper’s and Cibrian’s comments were more like a slap in the face than any reassurance.
Since SAMPO has staked itself out as a pro-toll board despite the opposition by taxpayers, they have made an ardent enemy of the tax-averse Hill Country who already suffer from the pro-toll railroading of SAMPO.
Good Guys vote with the PEOPLE
Only two heroes showed up to vote with the PEOPLE against expansion:
Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
State Representative David Leibowitz.
Who were the ones that voted to steal the Hill Country’s gas tax allocations and shove their expansionist agenda down the throats of sovereign cities and counties in the Hill Country?
Bexar County Commissioner Chico “We need your money” Rodriguez
Councilwoman Sheila “Those people can afford the toll roads” McNeil
Councilwoman Diane “Flip Flopper, I’m your Hill Country vote” Cibrian
Councilman John Clamp
Selma Councilman Bill “I’m your Comal vote” Weeper
Windcrest Mayor Jack LeonhardtAll the un-elected bureaucrats, including two TxDOT votes
Senator Carlos Uresti
Commissioner Lyle Larson
Councilman Louis Rowe
Adkisson nailed the public sentiment when he again expressed his long-standing objections to the board being stacked with bureaucrats who “can cram a lot of garbage down the throat of this community wihtout reprecussions at the ballot box.” He went on to say “until this board can find its way past toll roads and put elected members in the place of bureaucrats,” he’ll vote against such moves.
Leibowitz was visibly appalled by the fact that neither SAMPO Chairwoman Sheila “Those people can afford the toll roads” McNeil nor its Executive Director made any attempt to reach out to New Braunfels or Comal County officials to inform them of today’s possible action. He asked Boyer if it was a fair to say “that you have not been given enough information to make an appropriate decision at this time.” And Boyer concurred. Leibowitz reassured Boyer he concurred with his position against toll roads and said he would never vote to make a decision to New Braunfels’ detriment.
Only a total revolt at the ballot box and a mass dumping of incumbents, including voting down term limits, will re-shape this corrupt board that’s just as tone-deaf to the taxpayers as TxDOT.