Thursday, August 16, 2012

MWAA: There is a Better Way

Wouldn't it be crazy if your community was threatened by an approaching storm, but local authorities did
little to help citizens avoid the pending danger? That is about where Northern Virginia stands with the
perfect storm of Dulles Toll Road tolls, traffic and taxes that is bearing down on us. There is a lot of talking among 
politicians, but meaningful action is scarce.  

Some elected leaders are speaking out against the "ethically challenged" Airports Authority (MWAA) board,
and for good reason. But, this talk is not enough when they can do so much more. Here's

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MWAA bashing for Sport and Political Points

Stupid Dead Horse!
We've all heard this before:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

The question this brings to mind is whether MWAA's behavior is an unintended consequence or a calculated liability. Consider that Dulles Rail never was a bonafide transportation project , but for years land developers have smelled the profit potential of all the artificially induced development that local governments would release if the project went through, kinda like the sub-prime mortgage boom. These monied interests also learned how easy it is to manipulate inexperienced and ambitious politicians with campaign donations and to guide public opinion through the media.

However, in order to move a bad project like extending Metro westward into Loudoun, there were a few pesky problems that will not be easy to brush under the rug. Problems such as dealing with the "Who pays"  and "Why is Traffic Worse" questions, and how to deal with all the ticked off folks who are affected by this scheme. No worries.  Our political leaders have sharp instincts when it comes to dodging blame, so they decided to bring in a surrogate to manage the dirty work.

That is where MWAA comes in. By handing over the job of building the Dulles Rail and equipping them with the Dulles Toll Road as the cash cow, all that was left to do is step back and complain about how MWAA was spending too much and raising tolls too high. 

Now, because of these shrewd maneuvers, politicians are picking up bonus leadership points by demanding accountability from MWAA instead of being held responsible for MWAA's gross mismanagement of our dollars. Oh, the game of politics. It allows the politicians to fail and then to take credit for the fix. With MWAA however,  the fix is not happening. Follow these articles and decide for yourself if anything is really improving for the taxpayers.

IG Report Highlights MWAA Board Conflicts
read more here
Posted on May 15, 2012 In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10, declared that he was “deeply troubled” by the findings, honing in on MWAA’s contracting practices, conflict-of-interest policies and recusal practices. Wrote Wolf:
Most egregious are the IG’s findings about MWAA’s contracting practices. … Particularly concerning are the number of sole source contracts issued. As you know, MWAA is required by law to fully compete any contract over $200,000, with limited exceptions. Yet the IG’s report states that “[d]uring the period of our review, MWAA awarded five sole source contracts that were over $200,000, but did not fall under any of MWAA’s categorical exemptions. These contract awards, which amount to $6 million, did not have Board approval.” Not only did MWAA abuse the exemptions permitted under federal law, they issued numerous contracts that failed to meet even these basic standards.

Airports board takes care of its own, including Jeffrey Thompson 
July 30, 2012

"The day after Mame Reiley resigned for health reasons from the airports authority, overseeing the $6 billion Dulles Rail project, the authority quietly created a full-time job for her as a "senior adviser" to authority CEO Jack Potter and agreed to pay her $180,000 a year..." read more here

2007 Letter to MWAA from William T. Coleman Jr. Senior Partner and Senior Counselor of O'Melveny & Myers LLP

 Read the entire Coleman letter here.

2012 Dulles rail project needs better FTA oversight, audit finds
  read more here

The Federal Transit Administration’s oversight of the Silver Line rail project must be more responsive to safety issues and more aggressive in its monitoring of costs and scheduling, according to a federal audit released last week .
The 44-page report by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general focuses on what actions the FTA has taken to address safety concerns first raised in 2009. It also recommends that the agency use its oversight role to ensure that costs are more closely monitored.

Contracting Practices Do Not Always Comply with Airport Lease Requirements
GAO-02-36, Mar 1, 2002

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986 transferred operating responsibility for Dulles and Reagan National Airports from the federal government to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), an independent, nonfederal, public entity. MWAA, which has a 50-year lease to run the two airports, has entered into a wide range of contracts for supplies, construction, and other services. Although MWAA issued guidance in 1993 for the awarding of contracts and concession franchises, GAO found that the guidance does not adequately reflect competitive contracting principles and is out of date in many respects. Moreover, MWAA does not use its guidance to award contracts for non-concession goods and services. MWAA did not obtain full and open competition for 15 of the 35 contracts GAO reviewed, raising concerns about whether MWAA obtained the best value for the goods and services provided. The failure to obtain full and open competition also raises concerns about whether MWAA has (1) deprived prospective contractors of the chance to compete for contracts and (2) fairly evaluated all of the contractors that have competed for procurements. Finally, by not following recognized competitive principles, MWAA could be giving the appearance of favoritism in its contracting decisions. 

Dulles Rail board denounced as 'dysfunctional'

August 1, 2012

At practically every turn, a majority of the MWAA board seems determined to undermining the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the authority and its decision-making," Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said. "It may be time to begin a serious dialogue about the future of MWAA and its current governance structure."

The range of behavior that seems to be typical of MWAA makes it cleat they do not derserve to be entrusted with managing huge public assets such as the Dulles Toll Road. It will be very interesting to see if anything is done to correct that.

David LaRock

Saturday, July 28, 2012

NOVA is strangled by traffic congestion

Northern Virginia is being strangled by traffic congestion and some of the highest taxes in America. In 2007, Governor Tim Kaine gave away your Dulles Toll Road (DTR) so it could be the cash cow for Dulles Rail. If DTR tolls start soaring to pay for the Dulles Rail Bailout, beginning January 1, 2013, 35,000 more cars per day will be forced onto already-congested local roads, causing increased gridlock to the region. Can you afford another $1,125 in tolls per year? Do you want to spend more time idling in traffic, wasting $4.00/gal. gas? Say No Toll Increase!"

Dulles Rail triggers more, not less, traffic congestion

Dulles Rail doesn’t remedy traffic congestion and, indeed, triggers more development that, in turn, increases traffic congestion and causes a need for more road and non-rail transit improvements that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars more.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement for Phase 1, which was prepared by former Gov. Mark Warner’s administration in its waning days, shows (Table 6-2.2) that with the single exception of the Dulles Airport Access Road, no major travel route studied experiences an improvement in Level of Service because of Dulles Rail.
The additional traffic occurs despite the arrival of Dulles Rail; the construction of high-quality, mixed-use development at the four Tysons rail stations; the imposition of extremely aggressive Traffic Demand Management measures by the county and Tysons landowners to reduce volumes; and the availability of substantially more bus service serving Tysons. Yet, after 2030, the road network serving Tysons fails because of more automobiles and trucks. Therefore, between 2030 and 2051 — the end of the planning horizon — every new automobile trip to Tysons must be canceled by a new transit or pedestrian trip.
Comment from Reston Patch:
The Analyst2:26 pm on Saturday, July 28, 2012CC Mojo Wrote:
"We get better jobs, better commute, better living "
This comment epitomizes absolutely everything that's wrong with this Country. A collection of special interests, primarily developers and commercial realtors, presents a collection of unassociated prospects, ties them all together, presents them to the public, and the public believes them - not because there's a basis in fact, but rather because it's nice to believe it's true.
Rail has ->nothing<- to do with jobs. Companies are not going to spend millions of dollars relocating an office within the county to be near a rail station. Out of state companies will not relocate here at a cost of perhaps 10's of millions of dollars just because there's rail.
We heard similar arguments in the dot-com boom. "If we build it, they will come, because N.Va. is the self declared head of the dot-com industry." They built it - no one came, except some companies that were so poorly managed (stupid) they all went bankrupt. Many of the buildings are **still** empty.
I'm afraid we need some new leaders, and leaders that represent the people, not special interests. If you look into the backgrounds of  the board of supervisors members, I think you will come to realize that some, if not most of them, have no business or even qualifications for making decisions of such scope. Special interests must surely find these people an easy target.
If the jobs don't happen, or worse yet they start leaving, don't say I didn't warn you. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

“Nickled and dimed to death at the toll booth,”


Northern Virginia motorists are being “nickled and dimed to death at the toll booth,” Mid-Atlantic AAA charged today, calling the $6 billion construction of Metro’s Silver Line and the tolls that are financing it, a “silver bullet” aimed at the heart of motorists and consumers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Pay For Metro -- "..install large vacuum cleaners"

If you don't think anybody gets what is going on with the Dulles Toll Road/Silverline scam, reading some of these comments to the article might convince you otherwise.

Keep in mind VDOT could retake control of the Dulles Toll Road and restore order by cutting MWAA out of the process. That would require that leaders exert the political will and act on behalf of the people instead of the many special interests who would resist that action.

How? Go here to see the operating permit

The MWAA waste factor, read it and weep:

click on the title to go to the article

Dulles toll could double by 2015

We should install large vacuum cleaners to automatically suck out our wallets as we pass notable raodway landmarks, then ticket people for not having their wallets. When will this nonsense end!

This is one of the  most avoidable premeditated mistakes of all time

You're not "in" traffic. You are traffic.

A good road ruined by a government boondoggle. The silver line is correctly named. It will line the pockets of lots of inside the beltway thugs with silver.

This is really just a revenue grab wrapped in whatever rationalization makes you feel better. At the end of the day, $4.50 for tolls will probably be less than the fare card for the same trip. Someone did the math and realized that without the toll increase, there would be a disincentive to use the Metro line to Dulles.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Viva la Tax Pig - Not Gentile Enough for LTM

Life Never Gets Boaring for Loudoun's 
Plus-Sized Public Advocate!

Tax Pig is not Gentile enough for the Loudoun Times Mirror.  Oy Vey!
A member of the Times-Mirror editorial staff has suggested that the trailer mounted Tax Pig (Tax, as his friends know him) should just go away and never return. What a sad thought that is. Sure, Tax is dimensionally challenged and has to be left outside meetings, but he can’t help that. He has a purpose and he is real.
Perhaps whoever is suggesting Tax retire early does not appreciate what Tax has put in motion in his short career rooting out waste in Loudoun government, or worse, they understand his success and, for the wrong reasons wish to curtail his future endeavors.
Yes, Tax is a mobile 3D billboard with a plus size derriere, but isn’t it more important to focus on his accomplishments rather than his appearance?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LeMunyon Pushes Back on Tolls

July 17, 2012

Contact: Marti Meersman
Phone: (703) 264-1432

LeMunyon Pushes Back on Tolls

Richmond—Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-Fairfax/Loudoun) pressed the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) yesterday to find alternatives to using Dulles Toll Road tolls to fund completion of the Dulles Rail Project. MWAA operates the toll road and sets toll prices.

MWAA’s Chief Financial Officer, Andrew Rountree, and Greg Whirley, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) made a joint presentation about Dulles Toll Road tolls yesterday afternoon before the Transportation Accountability Commission, of which LeMunyon is a member.

According to information presented to the Commission by MWAA, traffic volume on the Dulles Toll Road has decreased 10 percent since 2009 as tolls have increased.