Deirdre Delisi, the new chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, has an op-ed piece in today’s Statesman in which she writes about her new job. It could pass for one of the late Ric Williamson’s speeches: Our transportation infrastructure is quickly becoming overwhelmed … a thousand people move to Texas every day … it is imperative that we have as many tools as possible to get the job done … no one-size-fits-all solution … local and regional solutions will be the key … together we can meet the challenge. You get the idea. Absolutely nothing in this piece reached out to the public or its legislative critics to acknowledge TxDOT’s deficiencies–its lack of candor, its loss of credibility, its resistance to accountability, its air of arrogance, not to mention the widespread opposition to its determination to privatize highways. I’m not going to prejudge Ms. Delisi (tempting as it may be). She has the intelligence and the knowledge to serve with distinction. The state needs for her to be successful. But the op-ed piece was not a good start. TxDOT has few friends in the Legislature and fewer still among the public at large. It has even alienated transportation interests in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, which ought to be its strongest allies. The rule for judging the pronouncements of people whose job is to make policy is, “Don’t look at what they say, look at what they don’t say.” The failure to mend fences was a missed opportunity. It’s a characteristic of Perry’s inner circle. They don’t give an inch. This propensity was evident from the text of the article. “[I]t is imperative that we have as many tools as possible to get the job done,” Delisi wrote, but later she added, “Our state must find new money to pay for roads and mass transit. It is difficult to imagine that the answer to our state’s transportation problems will be found in higher gas taxes….” To repeat: Not a good start.
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