#ncpol: A Failure in Leadership


We count on our state government to do the due diligence needed to run our state effectively and efficiently.  We don’t have time.  We’ve all got to work to pay those taxes. When something like this I-77 toll fiasco — which WILL result in all of us bailing out the mess — comes along, you have to ask:  Is it corruption, or incompetence, or BOTH?   None of those answers are good. 

In business, most people do some checking around before hiring someone or entering into a contract with someone. Apparently, according to new reports, NCDOT signed on with Cintra for this I-77 project even though there were all kinds of red flags out there: 

[…] North Carolina Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson had little to say about his trip to Austin Monday following his meeting with leaders at the Texas Department of Transportation.

Tennyson made the trip at the request of Governor Pat McCrory after a Texas subsidiary of the company contracted to build the I-77 toll lanes, Cintra, declared bankruptcy last week.tarte1

The now-bankrupt company was the subject of an On Your Side Investigation in February that looked at Cintra’s history of toll road troubles in the United States.

Analysts had predicted the Cintra subsidiary that operated SH-130 in Texas would declare bankruptcy for years.

While Tennyson gave no details on what he experienced on his trip Monday, Texas leaders have spent the last two years building a new case against tolls.

At the state capitol in Austin, ten years of tolling across the Lone Star State has prompted backlash from politicians.

“Toll roads have kind of been hobbled in Texas, at least future toll roads, explained reporter Aman Batheja of the non-profit journalism group Texas Tribune. “The governor campaigned on not having any more toll roads.” […] thom-smoking

There was also the bankruptcy on Cintra’s Indiana toll road project.  Texas AND Indiana taxpayers have had to fork over MILLIONS to bail out these projects.  Cintra has also been burdened with allegations of bribery and other corruption related charges in Europe. Oh, and Cintra has apparently made a side deal on the I-77 project with a British company.   Why weren’t we talking to Rick Perry before jumping into this deal?

You have to ask:  Considering the evidence out there, what in God’s name made the state of North Carolina think it was a good idea to hook up with these folks? 

jeterIn the business world, if someone in charge makes a really bone-headed decision that costs the company millions and really hits the shareholders’ wallets, they either resign in disgrace or are sacked.  In government and politics, it’s often a different story.  Failure and bumbling gets rewarded.  Thom Tillis helped orchestrate our entry into this mess.  He got six years in Washington — on the taxpayer dime — for his efforts.  Pat McCrory has been right there with him from the beginning.  He’ll likely get 90 percent of the vote in the GOP primary.  His likely Democrat opponent in November, Roy Cooper, has cynically and opportunistically called for the state to cancel the deal.   In reality, Cooper would likely have done what McCrory and Tillis did.  He’s likely mad that he didn’t get any kind of payoff from it — political or otherwise. 

In the legislature, senator Jeff Tarte has no primary opponent and is far-outraising his general election opponent.  State Rep. Charles Jeter is far out-raising his primary opponent.

All of the folks who got us in the mess are appearing to come out smelling like roses.  With the coming financial hit on this thing, the rest of us will be smelling more like the fertilizer for those roses.