“By filing this injunction today, we hope to put transportation decisions back in the hands of the people,” said Terri Hall, Founder/Director of the grassroots group TURF.
TURF is asking the court to intervene before December 3 where SAMPO is to vote to approve the financial terms (toll rates and rate increases) for the US 281 toll project as well as to shift yet more tax money to building toll lanes on EXISTING corridors, amounting to a TRIPLE TAX (once for what’s already there, a second for building the toll lanes, and a third toll tax).
TxDOT is keeping vital financial information on the 281 toll project SECRET ahead of the MPO’s vote to approve the financial terms. Board members are being asked to vote on information that has NOT been disclosed, including whether or not a non-compete agreement will prevent free roads surrounding the 281 toll lanes from being expanded.
MPO Board members State Representative David Leibowitz and Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson submitted affidavits (see links below) to the court with ample evidence to prove the MPO has violated the First Amendment and 14th Amendment as it relates to citizens opposed to toll roads.
TURF attorney David Van Os described the actions of the MPO this way: “The self-serving business interests that will reap huge profits off toll roads are manipulating the processes of the MPO to stack the deck against those opposed to tolls. They’re keeping their voices from even being heard which violates their Constitutional rights.”
Adkisson, who has been prevented from representing his constituents’ opposition to toll roads by the MPO’s bullying tactics used Thomas Paine’s words to describe the corrupt practices at the MPO, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial appearance of being right.”
He went on to object to unelected members of the MPO serving on the Board which, in effect, dilutes the votes of elected officials. “Unelected members aren’t accountable at the ballot box,” said Adkisson.
The injunction seeks to halt all activity of the SAMPO Board until it’s reconfigured to have only elected officials with voting powers. TURF’s lawsuit against the SAMPO was originally filed on October 22 and TURF is now seeking an injunction as the next step in that lawsuit to force the unconstitutional composition of SAMPO to be re-configured to have only elected officials with voting powers.
SAMPO allocates tax dollars to transportation projects in Bexar County and approves toll rates and toll projects. The lawsuit alleges that the composition of the SAMPO Board is unconstitutional and Chairwoman Sheila McNeil has been a party to denying the First Amendment right of free speech to the constituents of elected MPO Board members like State Representative David Leibowitz by blocking an agenda item and any debate on an issue brought up at his request (see on YouTube here read about it in his affidavit, link below).
TURF recently scored a victory in STATE COURT in a different lawsuit against members of the Texas Transportation Department and Transportation Commission.