Liberal Dan Radio 5/9/2013: DOMA Oral Arguments I

Thursday on Liberal Dan Radio:

After reviewing the headlines and going over some of the silliness that happened in Jefferson Parish last Saturday when it came to tolls and taxes, Liberal Dan Radio will actually start talking about the oral argumetns made in the Supreme Court about DOMA.

Seriously.

That, plus the tweet of the week and words of redneck wisdom, on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk from the left, that’s right.

Liberal Dan Radio 5/2/2013: Overreacting and tolls

Tonight on Liberal Dan Radio:

I was not able to get to DOMA this week.

However, since the toll election is this Saturday, I also wanted to have a discussion with Bambi Hall, Public Information Officer for the LA DOTD. In an election where both sides have shared some falsehoods, I wanted to clear some up so voters can be informed.

Brief discussions will also be had on the silliness of zero tolerance policies and on how the media can do major harm to individuals when they report on who has been accused of a crime.

And, as always, I will present a snarky view at this week’s headlines, present the tweet of the week, and share some   words of redneck wisdom.

Tonight on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk from the left, that’s right.

Jefferson Parish May 4th Information lacks information

Specifically, information on the Jefferson Parish website about the May 4th election (and early voting dates) leaves out the fact that the toll initiative is on the ballot.

It has been argued that lower turnout helps the anti-toll crowd. So is the Parish of Jefferson  leaving the information for the toll renewal off of their website to keep turnout down?

JeffParish

Liberal Dan Radio: March 14th, 2013

On tonight’s episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

Voter disenfranchisement in Louisiana. The election to overturn the toll renewal in New Orleans is being thrown out because of some issues with the provisional ballots. See why the the ruling is trampling voter rights and is par for the course for Conservatives across this country.

The FDA is going to consider a request by the milk industry to change what can be called “milk”. See how you can petition your government to stop this abusive change.

New York’s soft drink law was thrown out. Why should it have existed in the first place and how has Mississippi gone completely off the wall in making an “Anti-Bloomberg” law and why is that similar to what is being asked of the FDA?

Those topics and more on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk from the left, that’s right.

It’s not about the tolls anymore.

UPDATE: I have created a new Facebook Group to Stop the May 4th Toll Disenfranchisement. Join now!

 

In a previous post I had stated I was glad that the judge ruled against the tolls because it would give people time to see how life without the tolls would be. This would at least paint a partial picture so people could get a more informed view of the results of having no tolls on the bridge.

However, as I have had time to think about the results, the problems of having this “re-vote” are becoming more and more apparent and the attitudes of many of the anti-toll activists are shining through as clear as day.

We were told by G. Patrick Hand (attorney for Michael Teachworth, head of stopthetolls.org) that the reason for the lawsuit over the result of the election is to “ensure the integrity of the election“. However, after the election, Michael Teachworth gives a contradictory statement as to what this was all about. He states: “This is really about the little guy getting another shot, that’s what this is all about.” So what is it? Is it about making sure the election maintains its integrity or is it about the “little guy” getting another shot.

Well this isn’t Rocky II nor is this about maintaining election integrity. This is about the “no tolls” faction making sure that their side wins no matter what. It is about the ends justifying the means. It is about “stop the tolls” making sure as FEW people vote on this proposal as possible. When they couldn’t win convincingly at the polls, the group pushed to disenfranchise the thousands of voters who cast a valid ballot for the hundreds of voters who turned in a legal provisional ballot but were not able to cast a vote on the toll issue.

Let’s be very clear. People who were unable to vote should be allowed to vote. Louisiana law allows for this remedy without tossing out the legally cast ballots of others. The same statute used by the judge in this case to call a re-vote also allows a call for a “restricted election” where only certain voters are allowed to vote. If the stop the tolls organization really wanted to maintain the integrity of the election and make sure that as many legally cast ballots were counted, they would have pushed for this remedy and not for the remedy that throws out thousands of legally cast ballots.

However, with the exception of one very loud liberal friend of mine, most of the people who I have met who oppose the tolls are Conservatives. They are the kind of people who think that winning at all costs is OK. Their mindset in this election is like the PA GOP who gerrymandered districts because they won state elections in 2010. Their mindset is like the Republicans in other states that want to make it so that the winner of a state’s popular vote could get less than half of the electoral college votes. To them, the ends justify the means. To me, they do not.

Thousands of people should not be asked to vote twice in order for hundreds to vote once. Just allow everyone to cast a vote once, count the votes, and let the election results speak for themselves. If at the end of the day those voters care enough about the issue and they come out in opposition to the tolls and they lose, then so be it. They will be gone. But the possibility exists that even if none of those provisional voters come out on May 4th that the election could still be overturned. How on earth is that “fair”? How on earth is that maintaining the “integrity” of the election?

 

Why the toll ruling is a good thing.

Earlier today the election to continue the tolls on the Crescent City Connection was thrown out and a new election was set for May 4th (May the Fourth be with you). The reason given was that provisional ballots that were given to voters only contained federal candidates and did not allow for those voters to cast ballots on the toll issue. Whoever was responsible for those provisional ballots needs to be reprimanded because this, on top of our recent water issues in the City of New Orleans, is helping to prove that we are just a third world city.

But while the ballot integrity may make the re-vote a necessity, it is not the reason why I am happy the re-vote will happen. See, back during the election I made this post about the Crescent City Connection toll election. I made some claims about how traffic conditions on the bridge would become worse without the tolls. I witnessed some of this first hand after hurricane Issac. However, it was not really possible for me to prove it. We couldn’t have asked for a “dry run” so the voters could see what a toll free bridge would be like. Now that we will have two whole months without tolls, the drivers on the Westbank who commute to New Orleans every morning will witness what happens to their commute first hand. If I am wrong then great, the tolls will go away and I will admit that I am wrong. However, if I am right…. if the traffic becomes more congested without the regulating impact of the tolls to help ease the flow from 12 lanes to 4 and if there are more accidents because people are travelling at higher rates of speed as their cars are required to merge down to 4 lanes then the people of the Westbank will see what I have been saying all along and will realize the 40 cents of tolls they pay each day to travel to work will be worth the shortened commute time they are given by having well regulated traffic going through the toll booths.

Mike Teachworth of Stop The Tolls is happy that the Westbank voters will get another chance to stop these “unfair tolls”. Well, I personally do not consider the tolls to be unfair because I also believe that people who use a bridge should be the ones who pay for the maintenance of the bridge. But I think Mr. Teachworth will also be sadly mistaken when more and more Westbank traffic goers learn just how badly the traffic can get when the tolls are gone.

And what I found the most amusing today was that previously Paul Connick had suggested that the toll collections in the afternoon were causing a backup of Eastbank bound traffic. Well, the tolls were gone today and the backup was just as bad as ever. Perhaps that backup could be blamed on, oh… I don’t know… the SUN IN THEIR EYES? Nah, that couldn’t be it…

Update: People seem to think that two days of traffic is proof that I am wrong with my fears about how the traffic may have issues. It obviously is not. And I may very well be wrong about the traffic and if I am I will definitely admit it. However, the biggest concern is the people merging from 12 lanes to 4 at a faster rate of speed than they were doing so previously. This, to me, would obviously be less safe. Does that mean more accidents will happen every day? Obviously not. However, I do believe that in heavy traffic times we will see an uptick in accidents that take place over the next 8 weeks. And again, if I am wrong I will admit it. I am just asking the anti-toll folks to also have an open mind and look at the data we are able to collect because of this ruling.

Toll Opponent Proposes More Tolls?

State Rep Pat Connick opposed the Crescent City Connection tolls when they came up for a vote last year. However, he is now proposing a new set of tolls to be placed on drivers who enter onto the Lakebound Expressway from three exit ramps in the Central Business District.

Connick believes that the tolls will stop a traffic issue that takes place in the afternoons as the drivers from the west bank are trying to cross over the bridge through the toll plaza. I guess he believes that by slowing down people as they enter the expressway that the traffic would be less backed up on the expressway? Perhaps he believes that some people would take alternate routes to skip the tolls and as such the total traffic on the expressway would be lower?

Rep. Connick must not drive in that area much. I would urge him to just look at the absolute mess that is the intersection of Baronne and Calliope to see how already backed up that area is. Adding more of a backup getting up those ramps on that side of the river is absurd.

Connick believes that the tolls will help evenly spread the responsibility of the upkeep to east bank drivers as well. I reject this argument. The tolls on the bridge cover drivers on the bridge regardless of what side of the river they come from. If you go from the east bank to the west bank, on the way back you will pay the toll.

So it seems silly that someone who most recently opposed tolls is now for them and wants to tax people who likely don’t use the bridge to make it “fair”. It also seems silly that a couple of toll ramps will make the traffic jam in the afternoons on the bridge. I would be more likely to believe that the traffic has more to do with the sun in the eyes of the drivers crossing in the afternoon than some lack of tolls.

Needless to say, I will need to see more information about the plan before fully coming out against it. But at this point, it just seems silly.

Vote YES on the tolls.

On election day the parishes that use the Crescent City Connection will be asked to vote on if the tolls should be extended. I say vote yes. And I do not even need you to listen to the commercial that discusses the maintenance of the bridge that might suffer if it has to compete with the Department of Transportation for funds.

First of all, to all the people who live in those parishes that do not use the bridge regularly, why would you vote to push the cost of that bridge on yourself? That doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.

Now, if you do use the bridge, I have a question to ask you. Do you remember Isaac? Do you remember the traffic getting back into the city in the morning when tolls were not being collected and the ferries were not working? Yeah, that huge mess was not pretty. Even more traffic being pushed onto the bridge because the ferries could not take some of the cars and the HOV lane was closed as well. You want that every day?

Don’t worry, you won’t get that everyday. It will get worse. Why? Well, do you think it is safe for 12 lanes of 50 mph traffic to merge down to 4? Some of the entrances, for safety sake, will have to be shut down. This will mean more clogged arteries on the West Bank for traffic going to the expressway. This will make everyone’s commute even worse, even people trying to make it to the expressway who are going the other way.

That doesn’t even take into consideration any accidents that happen on the bridge. You think NOPD or the JPSO will be able to more quickly react to accidents that take place on the bridge? If you think that is true, well, I have a bridge crossing the Mississippi to sell you.

Can the bridge be run better? Absolutely. Legislation should be passed to require that. Could the tolls be reduced since we no longer have to pay for a bridge and to allow it to be run more efficiently? It is worth looking into. But it makes perfect sense to ask the people who use the bridge to pay for the upkeep, maintenance, and law enforcement for the bridge.