Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TCA Caught Red-handed Hiding Secret Contracts from the Public and Board Members.

Joseph Keppler

Okay, listen up, both toll road opponents and supporters.   Surfrider, and our Save San Onofre partners, have been accused of being “environmental extremists” by toll road developers, and we are amused as all get-out! 

And what is the TCA upset about?  They want to build a toll road through California’s 5th most popular state park – San Onofre State Beach.  The road would damage the park, recreational opportunities, and an undeveloped watershed.

Our position -– find good transportation solutions that don’t destroy this popular state park and important open spaces! I guess they consider everyone who disagrees with them an “extremist”!

Polling shows that Orange County residents and Californians statewide strongly oppose building the toll road through the park.  Does TCA think the majority of Californians are extremists?  That seems odd since parks are heavily used by families and generate millions of dollars for our local economy.

While we are amused, we are also slightly perplexed. 

Both President Bush’s Administration and the California Coastal Commission told TCA they can’t destroy the state park because there are viable alternatives to address traffic.  We’ve spoken to TCA officials many times about alternatives – but they just want to build their toll road through the park.

And TCA continues to throws fits about not getting their way – at the cost of millions of dollars of public funds.

At a recent TCA Board meeting, it was discovered that TCA CEO and Chairwomen Bartlett were literally ‘hiding’ contracts from the rest of TCA Board members and the public.  A handful of forward-thinking TCA Board members called Chairwomen Bartlett on the carpet—requiring her to justify such blatant misuse of power.  Here is her answer, as quoted in the Orange County Register:   

"[lobbyists] were hired to counter “environmental extremists” who she blamed for working to stop the toll road extension. “We have successfully deployed a legion of experts to counter unfounded environmental attacks on the toll road,” Bartlett said. “Now, some are undermining the will of (road supporters) by exposing our strategy.” 

Hmmmm….it seems like the TCA got caught doing something underhanded, and now they are trying to shift the blame.

So, what is TCA trying to hide?
  • TCA (Foothill Eastern) hid more than $220,000 in secret contracts to hire Sacramento lobbyists!  See the clip from TCA’s recent board meeting.  You can read in the Voice of Orange County.
  • Motorists will have to pay an additional $1.8 billion to bail-out TCA’s (Foothill Eastern) financial mismanagement and massive debts. See Orange County Register.
  • Even with this massive public bail-out, a leading rating agency still declared TCA’s (Foothill/Eastern) bonds as junk bonds.
  • TCA broke its promise to make the 241 toll-free in 2040.  Motorists will have to pay increasingly high tolls until at least 2053.
  • TCA (Foothill/Eastern) has wasted more than $300 million in public funding on their failed project – and they plan to waste another $21 million on their project this year.
Who knows what else they are hiding from public view?

If you ask us, TCA's behavior of keeping "secret contracts" and aimlessly trying to ram a road through a state park seems pretty extreme.

Isn’t it time for TCA to finally quit wasting millions of public funds?

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