Thursday, June 5, 2008

One Regional Authority Is Tyranny...But Six Regional Commissions Are Okay?

That's what you have to believe to take seriously the Transportation Plan from the Tidewater Libertarian Party (TLP). Or is that the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA)? While the TLP has gone around calling it their Plan, the copy I got at Governor Kaine's Transportation Town Hall Meeting labels it as VBTA, even listing the VBTA Board of Directors at the bottom. (Okay, what's the real difference between the TLP and VBTA?)

I read it on the bus to today's RAC meeting. Some obvious holes:

1. While calling for the abolition of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority (HRTA), it would set up six regional commissions. (So regional government is bad...unless the VBTA proposes it?)

2. "Each Transportation project over $1B in costs requires an individual regional referendum for voter approval." Since Virginia Beach light rail would be less than half that, the VBTA should support building it without a referendum. (Oh, they've already asked City Council for one, haven't they?)

3. We get Reid Greenmun's "The Third Crossing and 460 are all about the port" argument again. (Yawn)

4. The Plan calls for "a new 'citizen-friendly' process and new project selection criteria", while never starting to specify what those should be.

In short, the "Plan" can't be taken seriously.


Michael Ragsdale said... true.

SIX regional commissions!? Is the VBTA that out of touch with the real world?

Then again, I'm being flamed on Pilot Online for saying I would support a tax increase (Gov. Kaine's plan going to unfriendly committee), but I'm not surprised. I think it was written by a do-nothing squabbler who doesn't want to be priced out of their SUV.

I do question that Church that bought gas cards that should've bought bus passes.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you failed to understand what you read. It was the one page summary, not the entire plan. HB 3202 has 66 pages. You don't hand the Governor 66 pages in a “Town Hall Meeting”, you hand him a summary. That is what you were reading and commenting upon.

The plan doesn't advocate any regional commission or regional authorities.

It advocates following the example of what works.

In our neck of the woods we have the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Commission. It is not an “Authority”, it is a Commission.

The scope of its activities is limited to dealing with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. That is it. Bonds were issued, a bridge tunnel built, upgrades were planned, more bonds were sold and more lanes were added when traffic volume required the need for more capacity. No tax increases were required. The users of the bridge tunnel pay a toll for the roadway they use – the tolls the users pay covered the cost of construction, operations, and maintenance. It is a success. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel commission doesn’t attempt to build some “one region to rule them all” grand bureaucracy like the HRTA, the commission simply takes care of the bridge tunnel.

Following this model, yet applying different funding options that best suite the different MPO projects proposed for our region is an intelligent solution – superior to the HRTA approach. The HRTA “one master Authority” approach managed to waste a quarter of a million dollars in the few months before the Supreme Court ruling declared non-elected regional authorities unconstitutional. What did we taxpayers receive in return for our quarter million dollars? Certainly not one foot of extra roadways, mass transit, or congestion relief. Instead thousands of dollars of our tax funds were spent on advertising and lobbying efforts. Still more was spent on legal fees to ‘fight” citizens that challenged the constitutionality of the NVTA. With the “one regional authority” model wasting our tax funds to file a non-required, voluntary amicus brief.

Is that how you support the use of our transportation funds? I don’t.

The best part of separate commission, not regional, but project specific, is much like the HRBT – once the bonds are paid off, the tolls can go away and the commission can be retired. The HRTA model would have resulted in endless tolls, taxation, and fee hikes.

No thanks.

We need congestion relief and some mass transit options where they make sense, not a giant regional bureaucracy that spends our transportation funds to pay for catered lunches, favored law firms, a public relations machine, and endless lobbying efforts to seek even more tax increases and higher fees.

-Reid Greenmun
VBTA Transportation Chairman

Avenging Archangel said...

Comical that you talk about your Commissions just going away...then focus on the CBBT. It's Commission has been with us for forty years, and will remain throughout your daughter's lifetime.

Your Passenger and Freight Rail Commission won't be retired with light rail extensions being continously proposed.

Some of your others will stay with other related improvements being proposed.

Anonymous said...

Fine with me Henry, break each rail project up into an individual rail commission then, and abolish the commission once the project is paid off - have fares cover the cost of M&O.

The concept the VBTA proposes is still superior to the massive "one ring to rule them all - and in the darkness bind them" approach that the regionalists/business lobby keep hawking.


Michael Ragsdale said...

Reid, what part of fareboxes never cover complete costs do you not get?

How many times does this need to be repeated?