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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Charlotte City Council Thinks We're Stupid

Charlotte City Council votes to support corrupt contract

Tonight, after several hours of speakers who were overwhelmingly opposed to the contract with Cintra for building toll lanes on I-77 north of downtown Charlotte, and after acknowledging receiving many more private contacts also against the transaction, many Council members voted to punt on the upcoming CRPTO vote.  They fail in the opportunity to vote against this horrible, corrupt project.


Leadership FAIL

"Led" by new Mayor Jennifer Roberts' speech about how Charlotte's vote really wouldn't have any impact anyway because we were not on the NCDOT contract, those who voted to move ahead continued to say that they "supported the strategy."  It was the go-to catchphrase for the crew defending this indefensible contract.  

They literally had NOT ONE THING to say about benefits or positive financial or physical outcome of dealing with this company or building these toll roads in this way.  


They basically said "we're too dumb to figure out anything else and we've been threatened that if we ask questions or require anything better than this colossal waste of money which ties us to 50 years of gridlock and penalties to a foreign company, we will have to pay outrageous penalties even though we had no say-so in making this contract or choosing this company... but we're too weak and corrupt to say we stand up for our constituents and say "NO"."


MORE EMPTY THREATS

Charlotte's City Council knows or should know the threats about Charlotte paying penalties if the contracts are canceled are lies.  Not to mention the penalties are 'projected to be between $82MM and $300MM" (can you say fraud?).  State-level politicians put a fine point on the issue by taking time to stand in line with other citizens and speak directly to the point:  Charles Jeter, Jeff Tarte and Tricia Cotham spoke together with Jeter speaking clearly in response to all the phony threats from Raleigh, "The only people that can pass laws are standing right here."  They clearly indicated that forcing Charlotte to pay would require passing laws--and just as clearly indicated that would not happen with them in Raleigh.

Inexplicably, it didn't stop Charlotte Councilman Ed Driggs from repeating Roucho's empty threat that "there's no way the state's going to pay this penalty" and that Charlotte and other locals would.  Really?  It's not in the contract. How is it that only the STATE NCDOT can sign or change or cancel a contract but CHARLOTTE would have to pay?  This is a flat out lie.


Governor McCrory looking for scapegoat

County Commisioner Pat Cotham also waited to speak along with Commissioners Puckett and Leake.  Cotham said strongly, "Take out this one bad project.... the Governor needs a scapegoat and you (Charlotte Council) are his target! Call him out."


WHAT!?  TAXES?!

Cornelius Commissioner Milton came to speak and informed us that North Carolina tax payers are contracted to pay the. taxes for Cintra.  What?   What?

This is new information for Citynewswatch and probably for many people.  That's one more argument off the table for the "pro" group who has been touting the boost to our economy for the tax revenue generated by this private company.  We're paying them there, too. 


JOHN AUTRY's MAGIC BUS

Autry talked of how the people who ride buses need a lane where they can ride reliably and quickly, and they can do it on the new toll lanes.  Hey, John, this plan TAKES AWAY THE FREE H.O.V. lane that we already paid for and which is available to buses now and gives it to the foreign company to profit from--where buses will be slowed down by toll lanes, traffic jams, and other problems.  And we will pay their taxes in addition to losing that lane flexibility.

What about the impact of losing that lane for emergency vehicles?  Nobody has addressed that publicly.


AL AUSTIN SPEAKS SOME TRUTH


Councilman Al Austin said, "They knew this contract was one we wouldn't accept and they ACCELERATED it.  We need to put a bow on it and send it back."


LAWANA MAYFIELD REWARDED FOR HER SUPPORT(?)

Councilwoman Lawana Mayfield has been vocal in her opposition ahead of the meeting. One speaker accidentally addressed her as "Congresswoman Mayfield" and the temporary promotion garnered both laughter and applause in a light moment of the evening.

Patsy Kinsey made her usual moronic statement that she was voting for it but "holding her nose," as if that makes it okay.  Will tax payers be able to "hold their noses" long enough to sit on the interstate or when they have to sell their homes because they can't afford the taxes anymore?


PAT MCRORY, WHY IS THERE A SURPLUS EVERYWHERE ELSE?

Maybe we should all move to one of the counties where Pat McCrory has surplus road money to build bridges and roads--you know, where all our taxes are flowing.


Will the FBI please get busy here in Charlotte?  
And Raleigh.







Monday, January 11, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Update on I-77 Toll Votes & COURT CASE DELAY

For anyone who had planned to attend court on Friday, 
Widen I-77 has announced it is seeking to delay the suit it has filed.

Last night, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners voted to send their representative to CRPTO with a NO vote on proceeding with the Cintra/I-77 Mobility Partners toll project heading north of Charlotte.  Widen-I-77 now hopes to sway Charlotte's City Council to vote in kind.  They wish to have the City of Charlotte cast their considerable 38 votes in addition to Mecklenburg County's 2 votes in opposition to the current toll lanes project. 

WCCB Charlotte reports this way:

CHARLOTTE, NC — Opponents to the I-77 toll lanes are trying to delay a lawsuit they filed to allow the political process to play out.

A hearing was set in that lawsuit for this Friday. But Wednesday, Widen I-77 announced it’s asking to stay that suit.

The group hopes to influence the Charlotte City Council, which has a 46 percent vote on the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, which is the group that ultimately decides if the project lives or dies.

“All Charlotte has to do is have one or two municipalities vote with it, and the motion will carry,” said Kurt Naas of Widen I-77.

Tuesday night, Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted 8-1 against the toll lanes.




You should STILL make your opinion known via email addresses always provided to the right sidebar here and phone numbers below:

Office of the City Clerk
704-336-2248

Mayor Jennifer Roberts
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3431

​Julie Eiselt
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: to come

Claire Green Fallon
Council member at large
PO Box 481325
Charlotte, NC, 28269
Telephone: 704-336-6105

James Mitchell
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3430

​Patsy B. Kinsey
Council member, district 1
2334 Greenway Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28204
Telephone: 704-336-3432

Al Austin
Council member, district 2
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3185

LaWana Mayfield
Council member, district 3
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3435

Gregory A. Phipps
Council member, district 4
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3436

​John N. Autry
Council member, district 5
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2777

Kenny Smith
Council member, district 6
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone:  704-574-7241

Edmund H. Driggs
Council member, district 7
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-432-7077



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ARE YOU THIS STUPID OR THIS CORRUPT?

 Is this the first question that comes to mind every time you read of anyone’s support for I-77 Toll Lanes?  It is for the staff at Citynewswatch

Each update is more and more infuriating, including the information from last night’s work session of the Charlotte City Council committee where they took a vote of 3-2 to support toll lanes, with Vi Lyles supporting. 

Lyles is the sole vote representing Charlotte on CRPTO (the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization) with a weighted vote of 31 out of 68 which essentially makes it the only one that counts. She has made it clear she intends to keep supporting the contract with Spanish-based I-77 Mobility Partners/Cintra to build toll lanes which may cost around $20 per round trip at rush hour.  The private toll lanes would skip over certain exit areas altogether and dump traffic into select real estate development areas.  Toll lanes would only be strong enough to support cars (read ==> trucks will be forced to stay on "free" lanes and increase slowdowns and air pollution for the poor masses).

What is the reason for support of this crazy contract?

The State of North Carolina contracted with a company known to default and go bankrupt multiple times in other states.  They have been involved in government bribes.  They were awarded a no-competitive-bid contract with a 50-year non-compete clause so that NC may not add any tax-funded lanes (or should we say other tax-funded lanes?) without paying huge penalties. 

Here’s another problem:  the threats of huge penalties to scare us into submission are fluctuating from a relatively small amount to $300 million. The NCDOT representative also says the number can’t be calculated.

Can’t be calculated?  From a contract you wrote?

Again… 
‘Are you that stupid or that corrupt’ comes to mind.


Of course the representative is Ned Curran, who is also CEO of Charlotte-based Bissell Companies real estate developer.  That’s right:  The chairman of the state Board of Transportation directing where & how our tax money is spent on roads is head of one of the biggest real estate developers in the area. 

Curran has been quoted with statements that voting down this project would affect lanes being built on Independence Blvd. and on Charlotte's outer loop along with other local projects, and further that any “regular” lanes being built on I-77 would be delayed a minimum of 6 months more for an air quality study to be conducted.  Opponents say the first statement is simply untrue and is nothing more than retaliation.  No explanation has been given for the air quality study.  But even if it’s true, wouldn’t a 6-month delay seem inconsequential compared to hundreds of millions or perhaps billions of dollars lost to a foreign country with a spotty record of accomplishment?  Is there any confidence that air quality would be better with Cintra managing toll lanes than with additional “free” lanes?  Probably not—and that should be the comparison for air quality decisions. 


EASY BACKGROUND

If you need to catch up on this important issue, here’s a video posted on You Tube has been posted some time ago but with good information and a snappy tune:




TONIGHT’S CITY COUNCIL MEETING STUPIDITY

The Charlotte Observer’s Steve Harrison recapped the Council committee meeting including.

Here are a couple of the dumbest highlights:

  • ·       “Lyles, the committee chairman, tried to steer the conversation away from questions about the 1-77 project specifically.”  Um, what did Lyles think people were there to discuss?  A corrupt, outrageous contract for a toll road that should not be built--which will benefit NOBODY except developers with some very specific tracts of land and a company that is building those toll roads.

  • ·       "Upon initial review the (auditor’s) report appears to reaffirm that, while the exact cost of cancellation cannot be calculated, it will clearly be substantial," the DOT said.  It has been stated at about $100 Million or up to $300 Million.  Would you make a contract that may be off by 300% or off by $200 Million?   That’s what Vi Lyles and possibly Jennifer Roberts and others want you to pay for.   And probably your children.  And their children.  50 Years.

  • ·       “Julie Eiselt, a Democrat, said she asked a friend who works in construction in Spain about Cintra, which has been criticized by toll lane opponents. Eiselt said her friend told her the firm has a good reputation.”  Let’s base our decision about Cintra’s reputation on government bribery and bankruptcies and defaults for other toll road projects in major cities that have left those cities bleeding out ransoms of tax-payer funds.  I don’t care what Eiselt’s friend heard at the water cooler en Espana. Embarrassing.




 NEXT

A group called WIDEN I-77 has filed suit to stop the toll roads.  The hearing will be this 
Friday, Jan. 8, at 10:00 a.m. 
in at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse at 832 East 4th Street in Charlotte in Court Room 6170 and is open to public attendance. 


You should also make your opinion known via email addresses always provided to the right sidebar here and phone numbers below:

Office of the City Clerk
704-336-2248

Mayor Jennifer Roberts
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3431

​Julie Eiselt
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: to come

Claire Green Fallon
Council member at large
PO Box 481325
Charlotte, NC, 28269
Telephone: 704-336-6105

James Mitchell
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3430

​Patsy B. Kinsey
Council member, district 1
2334 Greenway Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28204
Telephone: 704-336-3432

Al Austin
Council member, district 2
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3185

LaWana Mayfield
Council member, district 3
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3435

Gregory A. Phipps
Council member, district 4
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3436

​John N. Autry
Council member, district 5
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2777

Kenny Smith
Council member, district 6
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone:  704-574-7241

Edmund H. Driggs
Council member, district 7
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-432-7077