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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Public Speaks Up to the Undeterred Red Rock Corridor Commission

Comment on Facebook Article: The Public Speaks Up to the Undeterred Red Rock Corridor Commission

On January 23rd, 2014 the Red Rock Corridor Commission accepted public comment on the proposed 30 mile transit corridor from Hastings to Minneapolis. Specifically regarding the Alternative Analysis Study that was done in 2007 and was updated in 2013 as the Alternative Analysis Update. The project has grown attention in recent months as clear evidence of (lack of a better term) fraud has been uncovered in these studies:
-one sided surveys
-massive shifts in reports on the true reported cost 
-cherry picking data 
-and using unrealistic ridership projections (that are 4x higher than MNDOT numbers for a corridor of this projected size)
(see the below link)

I spoke of this at the Public Hearing. with sources only from the County, State, and the Commission's own studies:

All together there were seven of us from the area of Washington County to speak. Everyone spoke respectfully. Six of us were regular blue collar citizen tax payers who brought forth logical fact and evidence based comments about concerns with the corridor studies. We each commented about the ignored fraud, massive capital costs, and unsustainable running costs in our own way.

The only person to speak in support for the Red Rock Corridor was Clarence Soleim, a former Hastings city council member. He had no rebuttal for the news of the fraud or evidence proving the Alternative Analysis Update is a sound foundation to build this $150+ million dollar line on. He only spoke of how as a city council member he supported buying up property for his vision of a rail or bus line his grandson could one day ride to college on. 

I kid you not, one of the citizens, a woman from Cottage Grove who attended, approached former Councilman Soleim after the meeting and asked him if he was going to ride the Red Rock Corridor. After a couple "well ums" he admitted he wouldn't use the Corridor if it was built; not before saying, there will be "lots" of people that will use it. The same citizen asked him how we should pay for it. He stated that raising taxes would be appropriate. To which the woman said, "well then the next time you write a check paying taxes you can write in a few extra hundred and you people can pay for your own ride to college."

Commission chair Autumn Lehrke and Cottage Grove city council member Derick Lehrke were the only members who stopped to talk to the ten or so of us concerned tax payers outside the board room after the meeting. They both spoke openly about how they are also honestly very concerned about the cost of the project and that is why they worked hard to avoid the rail option. In December 2013 the Commission decided bus rapid transit is going to be the mode of transit for the RRC. Commissioner Autumn Lehrke asked what my sources were for my comments and I said they are all government sources such as MNDOT, Met Council, CTIB, etc. I emphasized the fact that every single number and fact I post has such a source and I referred her to read my comment on our page. They brought the discussion back to others in the group who I also listened too explain they are tired of seeing taxes go up to build projects like this. 

Only one reporter came to the public hearing (to my knowledge). I invited every local reporter I could find on google (about 30) to come. The reporter,  William Loeffler, was from the South Washington County Bulletin and was very nice. He seemed very interested and equally surprised about everything we had to say. Particularly about our sources (not in a bad way) so I gave him the sheet of paper I read my comment from (Same as online version with all the sources). I said he could have it for his article. I also told him I stand behind everything, it's all fact. Another citizen who commented handed her paper over and said the same. Here's his story: Red Rock transit study findings get chilly public reception at public hearing

So far all of this has fallen on the deaf ears of the Washington County Board and the Red Rock Corridor Commission. Nothing any of us said hasn't been said over and over since September. There's no excuse for this. Many people asked me "what is it going to take, what can I do." To that I respond:

We can not rely on our elected officials to do the right thing and stop the conflict of interest. We can not rely on the non-elected Red Rock Corridor Commission to do the right thing and stop the fraud that has resulted. And we can not rely on the media to do the right thing and report this massive betrayal of public trust and waste of tax payer money. We can only rely on ourselves to do the right thing and attend these meetings, tell others, and share our comments.

When no one writes a blog no one hears. When someone writes a blog  (I don't care if it's me or someone else) about 100 people "see it". When just one person "shares" the blog it bumps the views by 50% on average. When two people share it gets the views up to 300 people. I'd like to tell you what it's like to get more than two people to share a blog post but that's the most. And that's all I got. 

I don't make money from WCW and vow to never in the future. 
I will never run for elected office. 
I will never endorse someone on WCW.
I would run this anonymously to avoid any accusation of self promotion and fame seeking; however I believe that would take away from our credibility. 

Please share these articles. If you have a question ask. If you disagree, tell me where I'm wrong. We can change nothing if we are not engaged. It takes 5 minutes to read and 3 seconds to "share". 

That's my view on how to make a difference.

-Matt Behning
Washington County Watchdog

Contact our County Commissioners:          651-430-6211          651-738-2425         651-430-6213              651-430-6215