Friday, April 16, 2010

Drinking the Anti-Metro Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid tastes great! Wish I had some -can't wait!

Ah yes, that famous Kool-Aid jingle from my youth. I thought I would never hear it again, but I was wrong. My ears are bleeding everyday from the non stop anti-Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Kool-Aid in the media and in political circles. For the employees and contractors that work for Metro, it is becoming unbearable. The latest glasses of Kool-Aid have been served up by KHOU 11 News Did Metro try to deceive feds to get $900M? and KRIV Fox News CEO Frank Wilson to Leave METRO.

KHOU 11 News' report was very interesting - not for what they reported, but for what they didn't report. By pulling a partial quote from FTA's statement in the news story, KHOU 11 Metro sales tax scam story would leave one to believe that the Federal Transit Administration was contradicting Metro about the sales tax revenue projections in question. To be fair, KHOU 11 covered their ethical butts by posting the FTA's entire statement on their website. But what they didn't put in the news story was what they actually asked FTA and FTA's responses.

Below are the questions KHOU 11 submitted to FTA and FTA's answers. Read and decide for yourself.

1. Can you please confirm if Metro did indeed transmit the sales tax revenue forecast information from page 24 of that document to FTA/DOT in November 2009 (the date on the front page of that document)? If you received that information on a different date, please provide that date.

The financial plan dated November 2009 contains the latest projections of sale tax revenues FTA has received from METRO. We received it in November.

2. Has Metro received any updated information since you received the information I'm referencing from above? If so- what are those new projections- and when did you receive them?

We cannot comment on what information METRO has received or not received with regard to the sales tax projections since November. You should ask METRO that question. FTA has not received updated sales tax revenue projections from METRO since November 2009.

3. What is the most current status of any monies (my understanding is $900 million) slated to come to Metro in relation to their application to the federal government for "new starts" funding to begin construction of new rail lines in the Houston area (i.e.- has the money been formally approved to come here yet- and if not, what is the update on that status)?

Both the North and Southeast Corridor light rail projects are expecting $450 million in New Starts funds, for a total of $900 million. While some of that money has already been appropriated by Congress and awarded by FTA in grants for preliminary engineering and final design work, the majority of the funds will not be provided until after full funding grant agreements (FFGAs) are executed and Congress appropriates the additional funds. FTA expects to execute FFGAs for the projects sometime this summer, following our internal review and a required 60-day Congressional notification period.

Now does anything in these answers resemble a surprised FTA being alerted to a scam perpetrated by Houston Metro? In fact, the answer to question number 3 is an affirmation that Metro will have a full funding agreement by this summer pending final review.

Here is Metro's response to the KHOU 11 News story. Read and decide for yourself.

Khou Ch. 11 aired a story at 10 PM last night alleging that METRO submitted outdated sales tax projections to the FTA last November to intentionally deceive so as to win federal funding (because 2008 projections were higher than those made in 2009).

The allegation is completely and utterly false. In fact, much of what was reported in the story was inaccurate and misleading. . METRO has been working closely with the Federal Transit Administration for over five years and has followed the federal funding process to a "T." METRO developed sales tax projections in June, 2008 and provided those figures to the FTA in September, 2008. The most recent sales tax projections were developed jointly with the FTA in July, 2009 and were submitted to the FTA in August, 2009 for entry into Final Design. (Note: FTA requires that all financial assumptions are frozen at Final Design entry.) It should also be noted that METRO and its outside financial advisor, First Southwest, independently prepare a financial capacity analysis which utilizes sales tax projections from September, 2009. That forecast was discussed publicly at the December, 2009 Board meeting.

What is really going on here? Anti Metro, anti-rail, anti-Frank Wilson Kool-Aid is what. You don't have to be a fan of Frank Wilson, light rail or Metro to know that the powers to be want him out. Instead of honoring his contract, it has been decided to do the Texas Two Step - create a scandal, convene a grand jury to indicte - then offer to drop the charges if the target resigns (the old Wilson better get out of town by sundown without his loot or else trick).

Let me tell you what my sources told me this afternoon at 4 PM CST. Metro CEO Frank Wilson has no intention of resigning unless and until Metro honors the terms of his contract. No amount of muckraking is going to scare this tough South Philly boy off. If they want him to leave - they should pay up! This doesn't appear to be a case of the books being cooked - but more of an attempt to book the cook!
Warning: My sources in government and the transportation industry are saying this ill advised, ham handed attempt to get Frank Wilson to resign via character assassination is endangering Houston's federal transit funding and will have a chilling effect on any capable, competent and qualified candidate wanting to come to our great city to head our transit agency.
Connect the Dots


  1. Wow, that's an amazing insider's view. Thanks. Peter Wang

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  3. 人類最大的悲劇不是死亡,而是沒有掌握有意義的人生 ..................................................

  4. 喜樂的心是健康良藥,憂傷的靈使骨枯乾。........................................