Rand Paul – Just another Politician

by Rocco J. Piserchia

Back in 2010 I was one of the Ron Paul supporters who also was very excited that Rand Paul won a US Senate seat in KY. As time went on Rand changed his positions. Rand’s defenders interpret all of his changes as sheer political brilliance. The Rand mythology goes like this: He’s learned from his father’s ineptitude and failures in Washington DC not to be principled. Rand is theoretically and allegedly deeply committed to the original intent of the US Constitution, however unlike any other DC politician who’s ever lived he alone knows how to be effective by pragmatism. So Rand endorsed Willard “Mitt” Romney in 2012. Then he went on to endorse the GOP minority leader of the US Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Rand’s brilliance was apparent in his explanation for why he endorsed McConnell – McConnell asked him (This in and of itself should come as a great warning to his wife in the event another woman simply asks Rand to do something objectionable.)  Rand held a meaningless filibuster which changed nothing but claimed victory – the reality is that US citizens still may be targeted as enemy combatants and executed without due process.

One talking point that Randbots use is that Rand’s voting record in office is second to none. His voting record is excellent – however Randbots appear to be ignorant that over 90% of the votes in the US Senate aren’t recorded by name, they’re unanimous consent/without roll call votes.  So Rand does have an excellent voting record for the 6% of the votes that can be verified. Jim DeMint exposed this problem and supposedly sought to change the procedure. One would think that champions of liberty such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz would make this an issue and change the rules in the US Senate that permit this practice, unless they enjoy keeping the public in the dark about how they vote 94% of the time.

Rand endorsed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) – tyranny is worthy of endorsement as long as an oath breaking politician has an R next to his or her name. Rand reflected his political brilliance by not recalling that Susan Collins voted for illegal NSA spying, the Patriot Act and the 2012 NDAA. (Selective memory is a radical new method that no DC politician has ever utilized prior to Rand.) Rand has even raised funds for the RNC. This week Rand was dispatched by Thom Tillis (R-NC) in a desperate attempt to help Tillis win the general election for US Senate. Rand appeared at Big Ed’s restaurant in Raleigh NC on Wednesday October 1, 2014 followed by a private fund raising event for Tillis after his psy op at the restaurant.

Tillis as Speaker of the House in the NC General Assembly has been a vocal proponent of public private partnerships (P3s) which includes the first foreign owned toll road in NC. I asked Rand about his position on P3s and foreign owned toll roads. Rand said he has no position on toll roads and in typical political fashion he refused to address P3s. Tillis is in violation of the 2013 and 2014 NCGOP platforms regarding foreign owned toll roads. If the leadership of the state NCGOP was not corrupt Tillis would have been censured for supporting foreign owned toll roads in NC. Instead of being censured he was given the nomination for US Senate. This senate race should have been won by any Republican with a heart beat but Thom Tillis is finding a way to lose. Tillis was backed by establishment Republicans in DC and Raleigh yet in the primary he could not even get 50% of the vote in spite of spending $10 million by his campaign and outside groups. Tillis’ arrogance has been on display during the primary and general campaigns in that he has not even made token concessions to the Tea Party and the conservative GOP base voters. His attitude is that Conservative voters have no other place to go. Tillis evidently forgot that people may cast a protest vote for the Libertarian candidate or have the option of writing in John Rhodes or David Waddell.

As he was leaving the restaurant I tried to ask Rand about Obamacare since both he and Tillis no longer support the repeal of Obamacare. Rand’s handler would not let the covert champion of liberty answer any more questions. I can understand why any questions about Obamacare have to be avoided. Tillis ads are running which state Obamacare should not be repealed after he had previously said “It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for.”  Rand has also stated that Obamacare will not be repealed while he continues to raise funds from his supporters to repeal Obamacare. While I see this as typical political duplicity Randbots interpret this as yet another example of his political brilliance.

In essence the politics of Rand Paul can only be explained by deception and duplicity. Randbots live in an imaginary world where only the supporters of Rand Paul understand his true motives which permit him to allegedly lie to the RNC and GOP establishment. The fact that Rand is lying is beyond dispute at this point. The real question is who is being deceived – is it the GOP establishment or Rand’s supporters? The fact that Rand continues to raise funds from his supporters to repeal Obamacare after he’s already admitted it’s not getting repealed speaks volumes about the morality of his political brilliance.

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Response to Reason Foundation’s P3 Toll Road Agenda

The Reason Foundation represents how a political organization may function as controlled opposition to help advance tyranny.  The Reason Foundation identifies itself as a libertarian think tank while in reality, from it’s inception, it has functioned as controlled opposition to the establishment it serves.

www.p3times.com

wideni77.org

www.texasturf.org

With primaries over, NCGOP doubles down in push FOR toll roads

dailyhaymaker.com

It’s no surprise that politicians save discussion of controversial issues until AFTER they have safely secured another term at the public trough.  It appears the “honorables” on Jones Street are keeping that tradition alive.

I had heard that state Rep. Skip Stam had a real problem with accidentally sending business emails to people who they weren’t intended for.  Well, one of those emails ended up in our inbox (Click image to enlarge):

 

Snip20140510_3

stam1FYI — Don D’ambrosi  is a Triangle area land-planning consultant.  

Attached to this email are talking points to be used in debating Tea Party sources opposing the installation of toll roads in the state.  At the 2013 NCGOP convention,  delegates passed a platform plank opposing toll roads.  That upset state speaker — now US Senate nominee — Thom Tillis to the point that he took his team back to Raleigh and rammed through legislation allowing for toll roads.    Sources at Gov, Pat’s NCDOT leaked word that they were seriously considering the implementation of toll roads to finance road maintenance and construction.  (Not much word about weeding out waste in current projects or cutting the gas tax to off-set the pain in the wallet toll roads will inflict.) 

Just before the primary vote, we got word that NCGOP insiders drafting a platform for 2014 are striking anti-toll road language from that document. 

Let’s get down to the meat-and-potatoes of The Gospel of Skip: 

[…] The Toll Road program is an important tool to be included in the measures for building public infrastructure.

Use of Toll Roads can greatly accelerate the implementation of crucial projects. In the case of 540 in western Wake County it has been estimated that this project was able to be constructed some 20-25 years earlier than it would have been if it followed traditional funding/construction processes.

With the 540 Toll Road in place existing motorists have been provided with an excellent alternative for reaching the RTP, Durham, RDU Airport and eastern NC in far less time and with much greater ease. Future residents will also be able to enjoy the benefits of this facility immediately upon their arrival.payup

[…]

Toll Roads give us the flexibility of following a new axiom which is “ Since we can clearly project the unquestionable need for improvements let’s go ahead and get it in place so it is there before we have a catastrophic failure of the existing , limited, facilities.”

Along with improving mobility (the ability to move safely and efficiently from point A to Point B and back again) having alternative routes in place also helps to meet our requirements to reduce air pollution from vehicle emissions.

Our region has long been under an air quality improvement mandate from the EPA. […]  Even with the addition of buses to reduce the number of idling vehicles there was no significant improvement as few people chose to use the bus. Further, the region’s steady population growth added new drivers to the mix at a rate that far outstripped any advantage gained by the limited number of people who chose the transit option.

Hmmmm.  An admission that concepts like light rail don’t work?  MORE: 

The only reliable fallback that we could take has been to expand and add new roadway facilities to provide much needed alternatives and keep vehicles moving so that no single area would be subjected to the long periods of inching vehicles with idling engines that would severely impair the air quality at that given location.Given limited state and federal funding that might provide for a few improvements over a 7 to 10 year time period, local governments have been confronted with having to build new roads completely on their own. This has required approval of bonds by the voters within the respective community, or a tax increase, or both. Even so, our communities still find themselves with the need to improve or construct even more roads.legislature

[…]

If the logic of the 540 toll road saving both time and money even with the payment of the tolls is proven, then the facility is notpunitive to those who use it. If the logic is proven that the toll road saves money by reducing fuel costs even after the tolls are accounted for then the facility cannot be discriminatory as the benefit is there for all. Further, if one’s personal time were valued at $10 an hour a reduction in commute time by at least 15 minutes each way is a $5 benefit. If the commute is reduced by 30 minutes each way there is a $10 realization in time. That is much more than the toll.

Of course, Stam included some arguments to use against those *awful* Tea Partiers:

[…] Are Toll roads punitive;

At 18.4 cents per gallon, the federal gas tax was last raised in 1993. Since then, it has lost nearly 40 percent of its purchasing power. The gas tax would need to be raised to nearly 30 cents per gallon to give it the purchasing power it had in 1993.

Similarly, while the North Carolina state gas tax is a combination of a flat rate plus a variable rate based on wholesale prices (capped since 2012), North Carolina has seen the power of its highway construction dollars decline 52% between 2002-2013.  This reduction of purchasing power at both the federal and state levels creates challenges to funding our infrastructure systems now and in the future.

Let’s not forget the shameful raiding of highway funds to pay for pork barrel projects to ensure legislators’ reelection bids.  MORE: 

The use of tolls is a central component to this nation’s transportation funding system.  Tolls establish a direct connection between the use of the road and payment for that use. For too long, motorists have falsely believed our roads are free. Our highways are not free nor have they ever been. However, it’s easy to see why that misperception persists. There is no direct link between paying the fuel tax and using the roads it funds. Tolling re-establishes that connection.

There are no free roads. There are only toll roads and tax supported roads. A toll is a user fee, not a tax. You only pay for a toll road when you use it. Every road needs maintenance and reconstruction, and that costs money.  No road is ever fully paid for. A road, just like a home, requires ongoing upkeep and maintenance.  Tolls provide a sustainable source of revenue for ongoing road maintenance and improvement.

It is a common misconception that the Interstates are “already paid for.” Infrastructure of all kinds needs routine maintenance, upgrading and eventual replacement. Though it cost $129 billion to construct, it will cost nearly $2.5 trillion over the next 50 years to rebuild the interstate system, largely at state expense. States are looking for new, sustainable revenue streams to support their highways, especially the Interstate highways. A growing number of states are exploring (or revisiting) the benefits of tolling as part of the options for renovating and upgrading their roadways.

Tolls are voluntary user fees. Drivers can choose to pay tolls or take alternative routes, whereas taxes are mandatory and charged to everyone. Yes, customers of toll facilities also pay taxes, but the taxes are used to fund non-toll roads. Since toll roads are primarily self-financed and do not rely on taxes, the customer is not paying twice for the facility. In fact, without tolls, taxes would be higher.

Do Toll roads discriminate;

Tolls are a fair and precise way to pay for transportation facilities because there is a clear and direct link between use of the facility and payment for that use.

A toll is a user fee, not a tax. If you don’t use the facility, you don’t pay for it. You only pay a toll when you choose to drive on a toll road for a higher level of convenience, reliability or safety.

Many surveys have shown that drivers of all income levels use tolled facilities and support having the option to use high-quality toll roads. A well-designed pricing plan can be less burdensome to low-income citizens than systems that are based on regressive taxes, such as car registration fees, sales taxes and the gasoline tax.

Do Toll roads alleviate traffic congestion;

Tolls provide money today for projects that can be built in the near future and meet demand for decades to come.

Tolls provide a dedicated and predictable revenue stream that allows toll operators to program capacity improvements as they are needed.

Today, most toll roads, bridges, and tunnels collect tolls electronically, which eliminates the need to stop and pay tolls at a traditional toll plaza.

Toll roads are generally safer than non-tolled roads due to better maintenance, pavement, and technology.  Toll operators employ state-of-the-art technology to monitor road conditions and have a financial incentive to keep their roads running as safely and smoothly as possible.

Toll roads tend to be less congested than tax-funded roads, where unrestricted access often leads to congestion. Toll roads also lead to time savings and congestion relief on nearby roadways by increasing the total road capacity available. Moreover, most toll operators are eliminating toll plazas and expanding their high-speed, automated tolling options. Most new facilities are being built as cashless systems, with no stopping or slowing down to pay a toll.

Do Toll roads cost $1.9 million more per mile to build;

Capital costs for the Triangle Expressway included:

·         Roadside Toll Collection System (RTCS) – $11.98M

·         Electronic Toll Collection System (ETCS) – $2.77M

·         Initial Transponder Purchase – $3.59M

·         Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) – $6.05M

·         Back Office System (BOS) – $3.57M

·         Consultants – $7.61M

Including only the RTCS, ETCS,and 60% of the Consultant Labor ($19.32M) which accounts for roadside toll equipment costs specific to the Triangle Expressway (18.8 miles), the roadside toll technology cost is $1.03M/Mile.  These project costs were included in the overall project cost and plan of finance.

 As of March 31, 2014, the Triangle Expressway has delivered $24,180,503.56 in actual revenue.  This is 22% above projections, project to date

It’s ironic that Stam mentions the Triangle Expressway.  ABC 11 ran a piece talking about how the Expressway is lightly used and not even coming close to paying for itself.  

STOP foreign owned toll roads in NC!

Stop I77 HOT lanes 50 year contract
CALL MEMEBERS OF THE COMMITTEE on RULES AND OPERATIONS OF THE SENATE

Sen. Tom Apodaca, Chair

Sen. Chad Barefoot, Sen. Dan Blue, Sen. Andrew C. Brock, Sen. Harry Brown, Sen. Ben Clark, Sen. Kathy Harrington, Sen. Ralph Hise, Sen. Jeff Jackson, Sen. Brent Jackson, Sen. Clark Jenkins, Sen. Wesley Meredith, Sen. E. S. (Buck) Newton, Sen. Bill Rabon, Sen. Josh Stein, Sen. Trudy Wade

Thom Tillis is in violation of the 2013 NC GOP Platform

Thom Hagan

The 2013 NC GOP platform under Article 2 [The Economy] section 8 reads, “We oppose any plans for, or legislation in favor of, High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes”. This statement was added to the platform from the floor of the convention on Saturday June 8. The following day at the Executive Meeting a resolution was being debated to further oppose High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes. Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis chose to speak to oppose this resolution.

Tillis said in part, “But the net effect of this resolution to send a message to the Governor that you want to kill one of his three major initiatives that have come out this year. It’s not like he’s going to put HOT lanes all over the place. We’ve got a resol, we’ve already passed a bill that will not allow tolls to be put on existing roads. In other words the lanes that are already there that have already been paid for by taxpayer dollars and gas taxes cannot be tolled. It’s against the law. I also supported that bill I believe it’s House Bill 267. They cannot be tolled.

This is about trying to find a way to collect revenue that we don’t have. That the house and the Senate cut the gas tax. You wanted it cut, we cut it. The effect of that is hundreds of millions of dollars over time that we’ve got to make up somehow. As we move forward, as the state grows, as we add another million people over the next ten years, we’ve got to find a way to have infrastructure that allows businesses and industry and everybody else to grow. Without that this state will not grow. Moot only. (11:09)The HOT lanes, the proposal in the Governor’s budget is to consider corridors where they believe the economics are right to enter into private public partnerships to build roads. ”

Note that Tillis endorsed HOT lanes as a private public partnership – this is crony capitalism and a facet of how Agenda 21 is being implemented.

Thom Tillis should have been censured by the NC GOP for openly being in violation of the party platform. Instead he became the Republican candidate for the US Senate.

Tillis supported HOT lanes by revealing that Gov. Pat McCrory is also in favor of them. Pat McCrory should also be censured by the NC GOP for openly violating the party platform.

Spanish company to build Toll Lanes on I-77

wideni77.org

4/23/14

After three weeks of cajoling the NCDOT with a FOIA request, and a couple calls to the NC Attorney Generals office, I finally got a response about who actually bid on the toll lane contract.  I received a cut and paste of a carefully worded statement.  Here it is (emphasis added):

Four potential bidders were shortlisted and participated in more than 70 intensive, one-on-one meetings with NCDOT. These meetings helped us produce several drafts of the final contract documents. These documents lay out the instructions for bidding, the design, construction, and maintenance performance requirements and the overarching agreement. They reflect the minimum contract requirements and the public protections that we require (e.g. bonding, insurance, termination rights, revenue sharing, etc.)
In addition, we stated that the maximum contribution from traditional state funding would be capped at $170 million.
Each of the four bidders conducted exhaustive analyses to determine if they could meet these contract requirements while ensuring that the long term contract would generate enough revenue to offset their initial investment.
Bidders requested varying amounts of additional state and federal funding beyond the $170 Million, and/or requested that a multitude of the contract requirements be relaxed. We determined that the $170 million public contribution was reasonable and the public protections in place in the contract were prudent. The cap would not be increased.
Bids were due on March 31, 2014 and one bidder submitted a compliant technical proposal and financial proposal. The proposals were subjected to roughly 200 pass/fail criteria and further evaluation of the relative merits of their technical proposal.
The apparent best value proposer was announced on April 11, 2014 as Cintra Infraestructures. Cintra proposed a total project investment of $655 million, of which only $88 million is the NCDOT contribution (less than the projected $170 million contribution).
So there you have it… after three years, 70+ meetings and umpteen hours working the agreement, only one consortium was interested in bidding.  Somewhere a red light should be flashing.
————————————————-

Widen I-77 with general purpose lanes, not HOT lanes

wideni77.org

These are not your parents tolls of 25 cents into the basket.  The cost for these tolls from Mooresville to Charlotte could cost $5.00, $6.50 and up to $16.00 or more each way. Drivers are given the choice to sit in even more congestion in the two lanes you have today or pay the high price to use the tolls. These lanes are nick-named “Lexus Lanes”. Do you want to pay $10 a day for your work commute or to get your kids to school and activities — on top of gas and other fees (including NC’s highest gas tax in the Southeast)?

“I heard it was a done deal. Is that true?”
Unfortunately, that is what some of the pro-toll officials are saying, but it is absolutely not a done deal for a number of reasons. First, the contract has not been signed. Second, there are still steps that have yet to been taken that will provide both the state and local officials to change the course. Third, towns across America have stopped similar projects pushed by their DOT organizations. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

I was told that there is no funding and it’s either tolls or nothing for 20 years?
Again, that is more spin and scare tactics used by the tolling corporations and their political partners. New funding criteria set forth by the state’s new transportation plan and the new ranking criteria by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization will place I-77 toward the top of the list for public funds for adding general purpose lanes to I-77. As you look around the state you see plenty of other highway projects. Clearly there is funding for roads and with wise prioritization and leaders who will put the citizens first instead of corporate special interests, we can get the general purpose lanes we need.

_________________________________________________________

Sign up to help stop the Toll lane proposal for I-77  

Widen I-77 is a citizen’s group dedicated to widening Interstate 77 through the Lake Norman area with general purpose lanes.  Right now our state and local governments are proposing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

These HOT lanes will be operated for profit by a private company with contract term of 50 years. HOT Lanes will not solve our congestion problems and end up costing far more than general purpose lanes.

According to documents and memos obtained by wideni77:

  1. HOT lanes will have “minimal impact to travel speeds in the existing general purpose lanes”
  2. HOT lanes could cost as much as six times a comparable general purpose lane when operating costs, profit and required improvements are factored in
  3. HOT lanes could restrict our ability to improve North-South connectivity on I-77 for the next 50 years
  4. There is no limit on how high tolls can be set

I-77 was built in the 1970′s.  Since then, the region’s population has grown tenfold, yet there has not been a single improvement in north-south connectivity in nearly 40 years. I77 is now the only stretch of interstate in Mecklenburg County that remains four lanes, and if the HOT lane plan succeeds, will be the first privately-operated toll lane in North Carolina.

We are asking our local elected leaders to convene a task force to develop alternative solutions. In the meantime, we are also asking the NCDOT to postpone awarding the private company contract until all of the proposed solutions have been thoroughly vetted.

HOT lanes are the WRONG WAY to widen I-77 through Lake Norman.

Email us at wideni77@hotmail.com with questions or feel free to comment below.

Sources:

1) “Comments on Environmental Documents for TIP Projects I-3311 C and I-4750 HOT”, MUMPO memo dated October 4, 2012

2)“I-77 HOT Lane Project Discussion with Cornelius Town Board”, email from Bill Coxe to Andrew Grant, October 15, 2012

3) “I-77 Feasibility Study HOV-HOT Lanes Conversion”, Parsons- Brinkerhoff, May 6, 2010

4) I- 3311E; “I-77 Local Officials Meeting”, August 1, 2012

5) US Census Bureau data, 1980

6) US Census Bureau data, 2010

7) MUMPO 2012- 2018 TIP (Adopted)