Toll Party weighs in on MPO Chair vote

Toll Party Statement to MPO
Transportation Policy Board
Regarding election of new Chair
July 23, 2007

Let’s make an honest appraisal of the City’s reasons for challenging Commissioner Adkisson for Chair of the MPO.

1) They say Commissioner Larson held the Chair position for (2) two-year terms.
If the City had a problem with that, the time to challenge it was when he sought the second term, not now after the fact and when it’s time for the County to Chair the Board. In fact, it’s the County that’s owed two more years.
2) They say it’s about leadership and the City getting its fair share of the representation on the Board.
The City, in fact, has more representation on the MPO Board than the County. If anyone is due for more fair and equitable representation, it’s the County.
3) They say it’s not about toll roads.
Well, one of the City’s appointees has already stated they want the tolling authority to be a voting member of the Board thereby INCREASING the number of UN-ELECTED members of the Board rather than ELECTED members. When this Board can now, in effect, vote for virtually unlimited new toll taxes, the taxpayers deserve to have only those DIRECTLY accountable to them be vested with voting powers. So the City wishes to take this Board in the opposite direction advocating less accountability to the taxpaying public.

Now, let’s look at how the City handled the past two years as Chair. A vote for a top to bottom independent review of the toll plans was blocked from even being placed on the agenda. Meeting times and days were manipulated to accommodate the Greater Chamber and highway lobby versus ELECTED officials. Citizens to be Heard was placed dead last on each meeting’s agenda versus first as it was under Commissioner Larson. Debate on ANYTHING the public asked for was routinely cut short and votes rushed through. The City along with TxDOT blocked the citizens’ request to restore the gas tax funded plan for 281. And perhaps most shocking, changing the bylaws in the eleventh hour at his last meeting to attempt to serve on this Board as an un-elected alternate with full voting powers which is AGAINST THE LAW! The list goes on and on…

Now let’s look at Commissioner Adkisson’s qualifications. He’s served on this Board for 9 years, his opponent, not one. He’s been a stalwart advocate for the citizens who have repeatedly come before this Board with concerns about the region’s transportation plans, particularly the rush to toll roads. He understands the many issues at play, knows the history of what’s transpired and the legislation involved, and he’s known for working for fair and equitable solutions.

Given all of this, Commissioner Tommy Adkisson is by far the most qualified choice to serve as Chair. Any other excuses NOT to appoint him don’t hold water. The citizens want and demand accountability to not just have their voices heard and then repeatedly ignored, they want to be heard and HEEDED. And frankly, when all but one of the City’s appointees won’t even return our phone calls, we’re convinced they have no interest in listening to or heeding the will the of the people on the direction transportation is going. I’ve had more responsiveness form our U.S. senators and congressmen than the majority of the City Council.

It’s no secret that the toll plans are nearly universally opposed. Just on the 281 & 1604 hearings alone over the past two years, more than 2,000 people turned out opposing tolls 10 to 1. For the Trans Texas Corridor hearings, 900 showed up and 300 people had to be turned away! During the legislative session, Sen. Wentworth admitted he received calls 100 to 1 against the tolls.

We’re supposed to live in a Constitutional Republic that many have fought and died to secure and still fighting even today to secure. By law we’re entitled to representation and we’re clearly not being represented at ANY level of government, including this Board. We’re at a critical crossroads. We need leadership that has already proven to be responsive to the PEOPLE and who considers solutions aside from toll proliferation and charging the highest possible toll rates. We unequivocally want Commissioner Tommy Adkisson be elected Chair of the MPO.