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Disecting the Pro-HOT Lanes Arguments at the NCGOP Exec Committee Meeting

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The good folks over at PunditHouse.com posted audio last week covering the debate on HOT Lanes from the previous Sunday’s NCGOP Executive Committee meeting.  It’s about 30 minutes long but well worth a listen.

At stake was an official resolution by the State Republican Party against HOT Lanes providing more emphasis to the anti-HOT plank already added to the Party Platform.

Two arguments against the resolution were made by former NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis.  The arguments provide a glimpse into why it is so very important that grassroots activists keep bringing up issues, keep fighting for the what they believe, and don’t take “no” for an answer.  This applies to HOT Lanes, but it also certainly applies to other issues as well.

Taken together, these arguments amount to saying to the party faithful…

“Don’t rock the boat. We know what’s best for you.  If you think otherwise, you’re not being faithful to the Party.”

Robin Hayes made the argument that the Party should not get involved in “pending legislative matters” and that passing this resolution would somehow “tie the hands of our newly elected House, Senate, and Governor”.

Speaker Tillis opened his remarks referring to Governor McCrory’s Transportation Plan working it’s way through Raleigh and argued that the resolution would be a vote instructing the Legislature “kill one of his three major initiatives of the year.”

Fortunately, these arguments were immediately rebuffed by multiple speakers supporting the resolution.

It’s a simple question really.  If the members of the Republican Party are not supposed to “inform” their representatives on what they want them to do, then what is the point of having a Party, much less an Executive Committee?   As a frame of reference, the NCGOP has two main “leadership” committees.  The Central Committee is made up of the Chairs of Congressional District organizations, the senior Party Legislative officials, the Party’s State officers, and the chairs of the various State-level auxiliary organizations.  It has about 30 voting members.  The Executive Committee on the other hand has about 600 members and represents the much broader body of the Party.  It is exactly the group that should inform the Legislature and the Governor on what the members of the Party want done.

Those were the purely political arguments against the resolution.

Addressing the substance of the resolution, Speaker Tillis also stated that Governor McCrory thought tolls are an “essential option” to the State’s transportation plans and that NCDOT was required to engage in a “deliberative, public, well vetted, representative process” with local officials before implementing tolls.

While there is no doubt that figuring out how to pay for roads is critical, these arguments don’t square with how Governor McCrory campaigned or with how this debate has unfolded.

See “If Tolls Were a Bad Idea During the Election, They are Still a Bad Idea Today” from over at WidenI77.org for examples of the Governor’s statements on tolls during the campaign.  It’s hard to see how these match up with him now seeing tolls as an “essential option.”  If he truly does see them as essential, he was not being up front with voters during the campaign.

And as for engaging in a “deliberative, public, well vetted, representative process”…

There certainly have been a number of meetings held locally and in Raleigh on HOT Lanes, but on the whole it’s hard to say the above adjectives accurately describe the overall process dealing with this issue. See any or all of the below for reference.

  1. HOT Lanes: Municipalities Exert Influence with NCDOT on Monday
  2. HOT Lanes: The Empire Strikes Back…
  3. Charlotte Throwing Its Weight Around at MUMPO
  4. Cornelius Commissioner Blasts Town Decision to Support I-77 HOT Lanes
  5. MUMPO Jumbo: Video from Last Night’s Debacle via PunditHouse.com
  6. NC House Hides from Voting on Toll Roads in North Carolina…Government Transparency is a Casualty
  7. H267: Redux – NC House really, really, really doesn’t want to vote on tolling you
  8. HOT Lane Proponents Disguise Truth via PunditHouse.com
…and then of course there’s what happened minutes later after his comments at the Executive Committee meeting when Speaker Tillis leaves and forces the meeting to adjourn before completing its business.

This is our government.

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