Monday, January 30, 2006

Shady Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.

Toll road rules aren't shady, just unclear. Murderers aren't evil, just killers. He's not bald, just doesn't have any hair. She's not ugly, just hard to look at. It's not illegal, just against the law. Of course I could go on and on, but why? Ben Wear got called on the carpet by Rep. Mike Krusee for calling toll roads shady:
State Rep. Mike Krusee sought me out last week to say he didn't particularly care for my Jan. 23 column.

Krusee, a Williamson County Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, hated the headline: "Hey, buddy, wanna buy a toll road?"

He said, with some justification, that it implied something crooked was going on.
Like this:, Comptroller Calls for Resignation of CTRMA Board Chairman and Member; Cites Favoritism and Self Interest in Special Report. Oh, that liberal media is at it again! After Krusee got done cussing him out--I mean--they had a quick discussion, voila! Toll roads are no longer shady anymore just unclear, murky, grey, hard to figure out, and easy to game the public with.

See if you can follow this bouncing ball: Cintra, the Spanish company that's going to own and collect the tolls on the roads Rep. Krusee is building for you to pay to drive on for as long as you live here, won't be able to set the tolls as they see fit. Nope. Cintra, with the approval of appointed RMA board members, not elected by the people, will OK a "methodology" for setting and raising tolls. See the difference? Check this out:
The actual method that I've heard officials toss around would be to tie toll rates to some sort of acceptable rate of return for the company's investment.

Sounds reasonable. But in practice, that would create a very large and complex black box of accounting that the public would have a hard time scrutinizing.

By the way, it's worth pointing out that we voters likewise won't get a chance to elect those who set rates on publicly run toll roads.
So there's no recourse:
But if you hate toll rates on Texas 130, you won't be able to fire Chairman Ric Williamson or the other four commissioners. Only the governor can do that, and he's hard to fire. Just ask Tony Sanchez.

And then there are managed lanes, where toll rates can vary by the minute based on traffic. You'd have to fire a computer in that case. Very sticky.
So when you drive on these roads and chunk your change into the bucket remember: he ain't crooked, just shady.


At 1/31/2006 8:55 AM, Blogger Sal Costello said...

Great stuff!

HALLIBURTON joins Perry's corporate welfare CDA feast at the public trough! Gov. Perry Contributers use Toll Road CDAs to syphon tax $'s.


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