RMA votes to spend $300,000 on PR Campaign to "Sell" Tolls

Another display of sheer unbridled power today at the Alamo RMA (tolling authority appointed by Bexar County Commissioners). Business as usual for them, astounding display of total disregard for the public interest for us! The Board unanimously voted to allocate $300,000 of public money for a PR campaign to push tolls on San Antonians (who have made it clear that they don’t want them)! That’s against the law! Write to your legislator and have him/her ask the Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop it. The condescending tone we heard from Judge Wolff in his State of the County address continued today at the meeting as the RMA opined about how the public doesn’t understand the toll plans and how tolls will accelerate projects (which is a patently false, US 281 improvements have now been delayed by TxDOT for 3 years to turn it into a toll road PLUS bonds and pass through financing can accelerate projects without TOLLS). They spoke about San Antonians like they were sheepish school children who simply needed to be “educated” about their sinister scheme to DOUBLE TAX us to drive on our FREEways so that we’d drink their Kool-Aid, lay down, and accept our fate!

Here are some quotes I scribbled down during the meeting:
“That $300,000 won’t go far, clearly it’s only the beginning,” said Chair Bill Thornton as HNTB and Taylor-West, who were present, smiled as they get to drink from the public trough without limit, apparently (sure, Mr. Thornton, it’s always easier to spend other people’s money rather than your own). He had the audacity to quote from their push poll released on October 12 that was filled with falsehoods and misleading questions that claims 62% of Stone Oak residents want the tolling of 281! I told him we have more people in our database in those zip codes on record AGAINST the tolls than the total number of people they polled! I believe we have 8 times more people on record against tolls than they polled in that “survey.” That survey asked direct and very blatant political questions and it was paid for with public money See previous blog analyzing survey in detail here. Link to actual survey which is also on our home page. So now the RMA has twice misused public money for political purposes AGAINST THE LAW. Clearly, this agency believes its operating above the law which mirrors what Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn found in her investigation of the RMAs released in March like lax expenditure controls, favoritism and self-enrichment.See the report here.

“This is not a public meeting; it’s a Board Meeting,” said Bill Thornton as he and Commissioner Larson’s appointee, Bob Thompson, wouldn’t allow me to make my statement in one time segment (nor allow others to donate their time to me), but made me split my comments into 3 separate “speeches” under specific agenda items to dole out my 3 minute allotments in drips and drops (which is a change in format from last time. We’re seeing the same tactics at the MPO…changing the rules as they go to suit them and showing no deference to the public despite this being the ONLY time these appointees hear from the public about these multi-billion dollar life-altering decisions!). If this isn’t a public meeting then why are they subject to Open Meetings statutes? I always figure,if my tax dollars are paying their salaries and for their “perks,” then we have a right to have our voices heard in a coherent fashion!

“Judge Wolff has supported us and continues to; he’s one of the few who has backed us from the beginning…” said Bob Thompson, Commissioner Larson’s appointee, to his shocked constituents in attendance! Thompson is clearly not on the same page as the commissioner who appointed him since he said “us.” He sees himself as one in the same with his pro-toll appointees! He went on to defend the letting of the 281 project. Acknowledging they made a conscious decision to move forward with that toll project saying the user pays for improvements. I later challenged him on that since the December 1 Express-News article (See article here) clearly states the 281 project is paid for with gas tax money so it’s not the toll lane users paying for the improvements, it’s ALL of us and yet we can’t drive on it without paying a lifetime of tolls! I also pointed out how Commissioner Larson has been quoted in the paper and in other media as stating that’s one of his problems with the toll plans…the hefty amount of gas tax money going to fund them (not private money as we’ve been led to believe) .

“We’ve had some favorable press. Has anyone talked to Pat Driscoll (Express-News transportation reporter) about this? (the PR campaign and how to best get their message out to the public),” said General McBride, Commissioner Tommy Adkisson’s appointee. Note McBride, too, says “we”–he sees himself as being one with the pro-toll crowd though the commissioner who appointed him doesn’t agree with the RMA’s acquiesence to TxDOT’s tolling of existing freeways.

So there ya have it, a glimpse into your government working against your best interests and against your expressed will! We also found out 6 people have signed the non-disclosure and confidentiality statements required by the two foreign companies bidding to control our highways. Signing them allows them to see the contracts but they cannot disclose what’s in them to the public nor even discuss it with ANYONE who hasn’t also signed them (inclduing elected officials). See the Express-News article about it earlier this summer, and note Chip Haass’ quote against the CDAs yet he voted against transparency and accountability at the MPO.

This process violates open, transparent government and ought to send chills down the spines of every freedom loving American! So only these 6 people know what’s in the proposed contracts and they alone have the authority to negotiate the non-compete agreements that allows these companies to neglect the free lanes for up to 20 years (to force people onto the tollway) and set the toll rate formula that, as I understand it, guarantees the private companies a certain percentage of profit. The non-compete agreements were what got Trey and Ricci Ware, father-son KTSA 550 AM radio talk show hosts, off the fence as they lambasted the toll plans as a sham on the air earlier this month.

Your County Commissioners & Legislators need to hear from you!

Call or email Lyle Larson at 210-335-2613 or lylelarson@bexar.organd Tommy Adkisson at 210-335-2614 or tadkisson@bexar.org and encourage them to have their appointees more accurately reflect their positions and tell your legislator (Find your legislator here) that you don’t want public money going to PR campaigns to push tolls on FREEways (ask them to get Attorney General Greg Abbott involved)! If they want to toll highways, do it on completely new roads and WITHOUT tax money, and leave our FREEways, FREE! Send any and/or all of your correspondence as a letter to the editor here: letters@express-news.net.