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HOT Lanes Continue to Be Hot Topic

We are free to have petition drives, hold meetings, complain and gripe until we are worn out, but is SRTA really listening?

The issue of the HOT lane continues to be a hot topic around our part of the state. As this issue has continued to heat up it is difficult not to restate the obvious: “They still don’t get it!”

The Governor threw the commuters a small bone when he lowered the toll fee the first week but that did not stop the gridlock. Congratulations are in order to Sen. Renee Unterman for her attempts to bring the people of SRTA and the citizens together for a meeting. I understand her frustration in the first attempt not working out as many had thought it would. There seems to be another meeting planned; only time will tell if this meeting will bring any real solution to the dilemma.

As this issue has continued to boil over, it has allowed me time to think through this process and reach the conclusion that we are facing a major systemic issue when it comes to certain agencies of government in relation to what is best for the citizens. There are illusions on both sides of the issue. The first illusion on the part of the taxpaying citizens is that government agencies will listen to the citizens when they have a complaint regarding the services they thought were due them from the government agency. SRTA officials have proven through this process that they are not listening to the citizens. One SRTA employee was quoted as saying that when these express lanes had been tried in other states the people “after a little while” began to use them. You will pardon this digression but that answer sounds too much like an old Jerry Clower joke about the man who fed his dogs only turnip greens to eat. When a neighbor was amazed that the dogs would eat turnip greens, the first dog owner said, “Mine would not eat them either the first three weeks.” The tone in the voice of the SRTA official seems to be saying like it or not, sooner or later, you will be forced to use the HOT lane. That attitude is reflective of what happens when illusion is present on both sides of any issue. The illusion continues that they would listen and respond in a positive way to fix the problems and they think it is possible to wait us out and in time, we will be forced to obtain a Peach Pass, paying a toll to ride in a lane that was once more-or-less free to ride in.

The heart of the systemic problem is unaccountable government agencies and employees. The people at SRTA are not elected, which gives them no reason to respond to complaints of the citizens. We are free to have petition drives, hold meetings, complain and gripe until we are worn out, to no avail. From where I stand, it is time that our lawmakers took a serious look at major reform in the way SRTA and other state agencies are formed and to whom they are accountable as they rely upon taxpayers in order to exist.

Roger Hale November 02, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Ray, you are absolutely correct about government agencies not really caring about public opinion or feeling held accountable. The Gov. made a token effort on the HOT lanes, why, because he is elected and accountable. I have attended DOT meetings for decades. The DOT "officials" present what they intend to do, listen to citizen comments, take citizen written comments, and then they do what they want. The DOT in Georgia has been a power institution for decades and they have no reason or intent to change how they operate. As long as our legislature passes laws that provide them with our tax dollars, they have no reason to change. Vote out your current representatives and send the new ones a message that you want a better, more responsive DOT, PSC, and other government agencies. Otherwise, it will continue as is and you will continue to have taxation without true representation.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 03, 2011 at 04:47 AM
"From where I stand, it is time that our lawmakers took a serious look at major reform in the way SRTA and other state agencies are formed and to whom they are accountable as they rely upon taxpayers in order to exist". Ray - They ARE listening to the parties that make their jobs possible - the elected officials that appoint them and approve the operating budgets. They just need the public's tax dollars, NOT its opinions. They look at the "turnouts" as only being a small percentage of the population and simply don't understand that there is a problem. So the remedy is to vote - but of those that are indeed eligible, so few seem to that the" elected" believe they are somehow smarter than the general public. I have often wondered what the statewide results would be if each office on the ballot had a standard box titled "None of the above" that was included in the running percentage. For instance, a candidate may win an office, but we could see that 30 percent were dissatisfied with EVEN the choices OFFERED, would the winner be so quick to brag of a "mandate"? I certainly hope far more people vote this time around, because whether you like red or blue - there's far more than enough that needs a REAL clean-out. There's an urban legend that Gwinnett is Republican party strong hold so there are only "one party" races, but the funny thing is many of them are the Democrats that ran the show 20 years ago. Sick of defective retreads? Let's just recap them right out of office.

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