Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another VBTA Hoax

You got to love the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA): their utter lack of honesty is showing everyone what they really are.

Last week, the VBTA released a two page "Statement" (read: rant) on Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to float $4 billion in bond debt to pay for new transportation projects. It masquerades as "conditional support"...until you actually read the details of it. I'm now going to have some fun picking them apart:

1. "The business case analysis relied upon by the Governor to advance the 'new GARVEE bonds' initiative needs to be provided."

So the VBTA says the business case hasn't been made for the plan, yet feigns "conditional support"? Yeah, right.

Remember that the lack of a business case was the same argument John Moss made against light rail during his 2008 Mayoral campaign.

2. "VBTA commends Governor McDonnell for putting together a transportation investment proposal on the table that does not call for new taxes or fees, nor does he call for regional agencies or governments to be established."

"VBTA is not ideologically opposed to adjustments in the gas tax."

So you commend the Governor for putting together a package without a tax increase, while claiming to not be opposed to one? The no tax or fee increase was so important that it was the first sentence of the Statement.

Getting back to #1, wouldn't the gas tax increase they claim not to oppose boost the business case for the plan, by providing a revenue offset for the bonds? (Hehehe....)

3. "Until the maintenance and renovation backlog of Virginia's highways are eliminated, not just reduced, maintenance and renovation of the Commonwealth's existing roadways must be the first and only priority for non-toll generated revenues for transportation investments."

First of all, blatantly illegal. Both Federal and state law prohibit a "roads only" program.

However, read that again. (I missed it at first.) What they're speaking of us building absolutely no new roads, simply overhauling our existing roads. No one in the country has a program that looks anything like that, as its nuts!

4. "Use of 'toll credits' to secure matching Federal funds is a proposal VBTA's conditionally supports. The condition is that tolls on one roadway should not be used to secure federal matching funds for another project. Each toll project should stand on its own merits and not be the source or a recipient of subsidies from other toll projects."

As has been widely noted, such an approach would lay waste to any attempt to toll water crossings. Toll the Midtown Tunnel alone, and people would go to the Downtown Tunnel. Toll The Third Crossing alone, and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel would get even worse.

5. "New construction projects, like the Third Crossing, that deliver direct value/benefits to specific parties, like the Virginia Port Authority, should derive revenue streams to finance their respective construction from the entities increased revenue streams, made possible by a given project - Third Crossing to increase port cargo volume."

VBTA Chairman of No Transportation Reid Greenmun obviously wrote this: I've seen him make this argument before. The problem with it is that it assumes that the Port would be the sole beneficiary of The Third Crossing and thus should bear 100% of the costs. Damn silly.

6. "VBTA does not support spending a nickle of the proposed $4 billion transportation initiative on new light rail construction or the operation and maintenance of any existing or future light rail projects."

I'm surprised, shocked, stunned, etc.

Seriously, that they put that as the start of the second paragraph speaks volumes of their blind rage at light rail.

The really comical part: there are no "existing" light rail lines in revenue service in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

7. "Any, and all funding collected by the levy of taxes and fees, no matter its nature or the governmental entity within Commonwealth that may levy a tax or fee, on any motorized vehicle using paved surfaces in the Commonwealth or on drivers to include fines for traffic infractions shall only be expended to perform maintenance or finance new construction of paved surfaces used by automobiles, motorcycles and trucks."

First, out west of The Golden Crescent, Virginia has plenty of unpaved local roads. The Statement refers specifically to "paved surfaces." Second, it's shows the VBTA's anti-mass transit bias in that they don't list buses among the vehicles mentioned at the end.

8. "VBTA does not support transportation projects where the direct users cannot finance the construction and operations cost. If subsidized public transit projects are pursued, VBTA does not support using taxes and fees levied on motorized vehicles and drivers to provide that subsidy."

First of all, that would mean zero transportation projects would be built, because none of them pay for themselves.

In the paragraph prior to this one, the VBTA calls for mass transit to be paid for out of the General Fund. Federal law requires a dedicated fund.

9. "VBTA for a decade has advocated a constitutional 'lock box' to protect the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank."

Uh...the VBTA wasn't founded until 2002.

The bottom line: the VBTA's "conditional support" is a hoax. No rational legislative body would put the conditions on the package that the VBTA wants. It's simply a ruse to try to pretend to support a transportation solution while opposing everything on the table.

It reminds me of 2009, when the VBTA released a Statement during the drafting of the Pembroke Area Implementation Plan that wasn't a rejection of the Plan per se, but wanted a bunch of garbage that you'd never do in urban planning.

Finally, do those buffoons actually bother to read their Statements before releasing them?


Amanda Jennings said...

Henry, you know as well as I do they won't lay off Dean's kool-aid.

This is (if I remember correctly) the guy who once commented on this blog that he was unaware non-Va Beach Blvd bus service in Va Beach terminated at 7:30 PM with that last #33. Some Transportation Chairman... pathetic.

Off topic, I know (but since you seem to know lots about HRT), but has HRT released a new Tide opening date (since May 1st was pushed back) as well as moving from Cedar Grove to Wood Street? I know a few people in my neighborhood who refuse to ride buses into Downtown Norfolk just because of Cedar Grove.

Avenging Archangel said...


No new Tide launch date can be set until Contract 60 (safety systems) is completed. 60 days of testing will be required after that.

Yeah, you can always count on the VBTAers to show their ignorance and bigotry.

Amanda Jennings said...

Ok for The Tide (I'd rather it open late and be safe than open early and have problems), but what about Wood Street?

Avenging Archangel said...

Wood Street has hit a snag: Norfolk wants two-way traffic and buses on it at the same time.

HRT has retorted that it has to be bus only to work.