Fat Cats In White Hats

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Central Texas, Commentary at 1:52 pm by wcnews

Buried in the CENTRAL TEXAS DIGEST of the AAS article titled, Preliminary autopsies released in killing spree; city looking for ideas to rename park, there’s a blurb about TOT’s plants at the CAMPO meeting on Monday:


It’s their take on traffic

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, asked Tuesday how much money was raised for its pro-toll creation Take on Traffic and from whom, would divulge only generalities.

The year-old lobbying effort has had donations from 150 individuals, businesses and groups, said Sandy Hentges, senior vice president for public policy, raising “several hundred thousand dollars.”

Given that the advocacy is not occurring in conjunction with an election, the chamber has no legal obligation to divulge contributors or what they’ve given, election law expert Ed Shack said Tuesday.

Advocates for a $1.45 billion toll road plan showed up at Monday’s Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting sporting white Take on Traffic hats and buttons.

Many in the anti-toll faction dismissed the healthy turnout of toll supporters, noting that many of them were tied to real estate, banking or home-building groups that stand to gain from road construction.

One speaker described them as “fat cats in white hats.”

Bruce Byron, executive director of the Capital Area Transportation Coalition, is tall and lean but nonetheless would fall under the “fat cat” rubric given his steadfast support of this and other toll plans.

Byron said Tuesday that “in a capitalist system, who doesn’t make money off something.

“There’s just this predisposition,” he said, speaking of toll critics, “that if someone makes money off of something, it has to be corrupt and isn’t in the public interest.”

While we don’t know who did this, the article is attributed to “staff and wire reports”, it may be Ben trying to follow up to his non-mention of the TOT tricksters form his article yesterday.

A little further discussion of two things that Ben the author of the “Scuttlebut” points out. First, regarding TOT not getting specific about who funds them. if you want to see the specifics, check out the GACC’s 2006 annual report [.PDF], specifically the “investors” on pages 22 - 25. It’s full of like the blurb says, “..real estate, banking or home-building groups that stand to gain from road construction”.

Second just a comment to Mr. Bryon regarding his stating, “in a capitalist system, who doesn’t make money off something”. This issue should not be about profit. It should be about what’s best for “We The People”, remember them? The point being, let’s do what’s best for the tax paying citizens first, then worry about doing favors for corporations and businesses. It’s not the corruption so much, but the fact that there’s a better way to finance road building and it’s being completely ignored. It’s the public that’s going to have to pay for the roads, no matter how they’re financed. What enrages the public is when their wishes are pushed aside for the wished of the “fat cats in white hats”.

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