Anti-toll activists vow legal action against MPO

Anti Toll Activists Vow Lawsuits, Attorney General Ruling on Toll, HOV Plan
Says 'not surprised' that it took SAPD three days to decide not to file criminal charges against MPO members
By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio
Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hall last Thursday filed a complaint against the MPO following a meeting on Monday she felt illegally listed approval of a major toll project on its agenda.  She says she was notified on Tuesday, three business days later, that the issue would not be pursued.

"Sadly, we never expected the SAPD or the District Attorney to take on the lawless MPO and the powerful road lobby in this town," Hall said.

Hall said the MPO placed approval of a nearly half billion dollar northside highway project, which includes new toll lanes on Loop 1604 and the county's first ever High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on US 281, on the agenda simply as 'discussion of new state and federal funding opportunities.'

"The courts, including the Texas Supreme Court, have repeatedly ruled in favor of the public's right to know, and the Texas Attorney General has also issued opinions that do not let governmental entities off the hook from the Open Meeting Act when they post vague agendas that allow them to hide what they're really doing," Hall said.

Hall's group, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, has also released a video showing members of the MPO expressing shock at seeing the High Occupancy Vehicle lane proposal for the first time ever, with some demanding more time to discuss it.  The video also includes top county officials, like County Judge Nelson Wolff and Via Chairman Henry Munoz, back slapping with members of the Texas Transportation Commission, and ends with Wolff's infamous comment that "if somebody chooses to not carpool, chooses to ride by themselves, chooses to waste their gas, then dammit, they ought to pay."

The High Occupancy Vehicle plan, which was just floated by Commissioners Court last month and approved by the Advanced Transpiration District board the Friday before the MPO approved it on Monday, essentially requires motorists to use their sales tax money to pay for new lanes on US 281 that they will not be allowed to use.  Several studies have indicated that the existence of lanes only for busses and carpoolers do nothing to convince motorists to carpool or take the bus, and often actually make highway congestion worse.  Some places, especially in California, have decided to take social engineering a step further, and have opened HOV lanes to hybrid and electric vehicles.

  "As usual, the citizens are left with the responsibility of holding the MPO and other officials accountable, which we will do," Hall said.

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