Tedisco, McLaughlin and Jordan: “For Whom The Thruway Bell Tolls? Taxpayers Aren’t Being Told”
Thruway Authority schedules Finance Committee meeting for 2:30 p.m. on Friday and refuses to disclose agenda or if a Thruway toll hike will come up for a vote
November 8, 2012
Assembly members Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose) and Tony Jordan (R,C,I-Jackson) today blasted the rogue New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) for its continued lack of transparency and taxpayer accountability. The Thruway Authority has scheduled a late Friday afternoon meeting of its Finance Committee, but so far has refused to disclose what’s on the agenda or even when the agenda will be announced. The NYSTA’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, November 9 at 200 Southern Boulevard in Albany, NY. The Thruway Authority has proposed a 45 percent truck toll hike that has been almost universally panned by taxpayers and small businesses across the state. Tedisco, McLaughlin and Jordan have been sharp critics of the Thruway Authority and held their own public forum in Albany on the toll hike on September 5 after the NYSTA rebuffed their request to hold a public meeting in the Capital Region as it had done in Buffalo, Syracuse and Newburgh. The “no-show” Thruway Authority finally appeared in public at an “invitation-only” Assembly Majority-run hearing on September 7, in which Tedisco questioned Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison on the toll hike and why the NYSTA has ignored public comment from the Capital Region. The State Comptroller opposes the toll hike and has criticized the NYSTA for “failing to make improvements” as outlined in several audits. “I once heard Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward say that the most dangerous threat to representative democracy is ‘secret government.’ Clearly, the Thruway Authority doesn’t want the public to know what they are doing with our tax dollars. That’s why they have scheduled a meeting on the Friday afternoon after Election Day and so far has not released the agenda of what will be discussed by the board. This is yet another sad example of a rogue authority that is putting the needs of faceless bureaucrats first rather than the impact on taxpayers and small businesses that rely on the Thruway for their livelihoods. It underscores the need to take the power to raise the tolls out of the hands of these bureaucrats who are not accountable to voters and require members of the Legislature, who just went before voters, to approve any toll or fee increase as I have proposed (A.2040),” said Tedisco. “Once again, the rogue Thruway Authority arrogantly refuses to be accountable to the people that fund that authority: the taxpayers. Stunning arrogance is the only words I can use to describe their behavior. Holding a meeting mid- to late-afternoon on a Friday a few days after the elections is designed for them to fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny of their actions. Not releasing an agenda for the meeting for public view is unacceptable given their proposed toll hikes. The public and elected officials have every right to demand that agenda and to know the Thruway Authority's intentions. From ignoring the Capital District by refusing to hold a public hearing on the proposed toll hikes to now refusing to release the agenda for their late afternoon Friday Finance Committee meeting the Thruway Authority has consistently proved that they are a rogue, out-of-touch agency concerned more about bureaucracy than the taxpayers,” said McLaughlin. “This is the exact type of secrecy and closed-door dealings that continue to plague New York, causing us to be ranked last as a business friendly state. We cannot and will not be open for business until this behavior from our agencies and authorities ends,” said Jordan.