Dear Editor, Austin Council Member Brewster McCracken is pushing for a taxpayer-funded "independent" review of the toll plan. But, documents illustrate that the review has been hijacked, and it is neither independent nor balanced. A March 3, 2005, city resolution for the taxpayer-funded independent review promised "the study is not to be delayed.” That was seven months ago. For months, McCracken promised all the meetings would be made open to the public, that a citizens' committee would steer the neutral company hired to produce the study, and the community would have full opportunity to speak up in this very public independent review. Brewster said, "Everything will be open and in the sunshine.” The truth is shown in the draft of the interlocal agreement: The supermajority, if not all of the steering committee, are pro-tollers who already voted twice for the toll plan, secret meetings by the steering committee are allowed, the public cannot speak at all meetings, the agreement claims the steering committee is not subject to the open meetings act, and the toll authority (CTRMA) is the project coordinator! That's like Enron auditing itself. And here's where the pro-toll steering committee, including McCracken, who has voted twice for the toll plan, can trash the study altogether: They can decide not to accept the study results! TxDOT documents show most of the roads in the Phase 2 plan are already funded with tax dollars. To place tolls on already-funded roads is highway robbery. Pretending to perform an independent study with our tax dollars is just plain offensive.
Sal Costello Founder of People for Efficient Transportation and TexasTollParty.com