Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, September 23, 2014


A North Carolina Bridgegate?

by Tom Sullivan

As corporate-carpetbagger friendly as the NCGOP has made North Carolina since taking control of the legislature in 2010, they keep surprising. This latest revelation Monday from North Carolina echoes the billion-dollar, Hudson Lights real estate deal thought connected to Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal. WCNC-Charlotte has video here.

One of the most baffling of the Republicans' passions has been the hard sell to privatize public infrastructure. Okay, maybe not that baffling considering state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, both sit on the board of ALEC, Tillis received ALEC's Legislator of the Year award, and Moffitt co-chaired the state’s House Select Committee on Public-Private Partnerships with Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg. Gov. Pat McCrory only cancelled plans for a keynote speech to ALEC's annual meeting in Dallas this summer because of a budget impasse in Raleigh.

ALEC's entrepreneurial derring-doers love to capitalize on, well, any public infrastructure someone else built so they can profit from it at public risk. (No safety nets for you, but as a consolation prize, you get to pay for theirs.)

So if you value your public drinking water, sewer, schools, and roads, listen up. Because if they haven't tried this gambit yet in your state, it's coming.

Just last week, Gov. Pat McCrory rolled out his 25-year vision for the enhancing the state's transportation. No suprise, it relies on public-private partnerships (P3s), an ALEC favorite: "Optimize the use of public-private partnerships, innovative managed lanes [read: tolls] and other fee-for-service projects."

Here's how those "innovative ideas" have worked elsewhere:

Just yesterday (9/22/14), debt-ridden Spanish-Australian Cintra-Macquarie infrastructure group filed for bankruptcy on its 75-year contract to operate the Indiana Toll Road. After just eight years.

Moody's, the rating agency, declared Cintra's 50-year Texas toll road concession in default in July. After just two years.

After opening in 2007, Macquarie's 35-year concession for the South Bay Expressway (San Diego) went bankrupt in 2010. After just three years.

Nevertheless, North Carolina is signing contracts with Madrid-based Cintra for a 50-year toll lane project (HOT lanes - High Occupancy Toll) on I-77 north of Charlotte in Speaker Thom Tillis' district, with Tillis' enthusiastic support and backed with federal and state tax dollars. Yours.

Now, Tillis already has taken lots of heat from his own base over this deal. The local tea party wants his head on a platter. Local Republican politicians oppose it, and local small businessmen as well, many of them Republicans. Much of that I detailed in a recent op-ed here.

More recently, Tillis and McCrory's lieutenants have fanned out to face down angry crowds of their own voters. Brawley recently faced tough questions in Cornelius, NC from unaffiliated and Republican constituents at a town hall about tolling I-77 (video here). Speaker Pro Tem "Skip" Stam was scheduled to appear a week ago to rebut a presentation to the Southern Wake Republican Club by NC Citizens Against Toll Roads.

Sure, much of the impetus behind the Republican P3 deals is simply Koch-fueled, metastasized capitalism. But with the strong pushback from their own base, the question hanging in the local air has been why are they so awfully fixated on it?

WCNC-Charlotte has one possible explanation. It starts with some prime real estate, a farm called Augustalee near the interstate:

Before the great recession, developers dreamed of turning this old farm into something like Birkdale Village. They planned a half billion dollar complex with shopping, office space, a hotel and condos.

But in the recession the deal went bust. The bank took the land. Then a couple of years ago a group of executives from a company called ACN bought Augustalee at the relative bargain price of $7 million...

When ACN executives invested in the prime Cornelius property, they needed one key thing to develop Augustalee – a new exit ramp off I-77.

An exit that -- courtesy of the taxpayers and a bill introduced by Brawley -- developers now won't have to pay for themselves, a gift that could make them millions. The money will come from a bonus fund for local governments that accept toll projects, says WCNC. "A little sweetener slipped into the bill" to make up for "the bitter pill of a half century of tolls."

WCNC-Charlotte has a detailed investigative report with video. Except for the part about Donald Trump, you can probably guess the rest: a superPAC, several "perfectly legal" campaign contributions, and "purely coincidental" timing.

And that may be. But campaign donations aside, knowing ALEC and seeing "Incentives for Local Funding and Highway Tolling" attached to a bill titled Strategic Transportation Investments, the bonus funds in the new law seem clearly aimed at buying off local opposition to seeing decades of toll revenues extracted from the local economy and sent offshore. Just shut up and take the money.

Better watch out for that gambit wherever you live.