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Tommy Tucker

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Twitter: @ttuckerWWL
Email: tommy@wwl.com

Tommy: Lights out, or keeping us in the dark?

Apparently the DOTD is poised to make good on one of the many threats that were made if the tolls on the Crescent City Connection expired, as required by law, on December 31, 2012.  They say they’ll pull the plug on the decorative lighting that has graced the skyline of the Crescent City since 1987.  

It should be noted  the money for that lighting was raised by a civic organization, the Young Leadership Council, in increments as small one and five dollars from both sides of the river in what seemed like a successful private/public partnership.  They gave half a million dollars to the state and thought they had a deal.  

We all know what’s happened with the tolls since then, and now the DOTD is poor-mouthing, saying they’ll have to turn the lights off this weekend because they don’t have the money to keep the lights on.  How much does it cost? The “stunning” sum of sixty thousand dollars a year…fifteen thousand dollars for electricity and forty five thousand dollars for maintenance.  Those numbers are from DOTD, and if experience is any indicator a private contractor could probably find a way to cut THAT by at least twenty five percent.  Locals who don’t remember might have bought that bull, but not the guy who originally brokered the deal.  

Chris Johnsen is now an attorney in New York, but in 1987 he was the President of the Young Leadership Council.  He said the original deal called for the money to be raised PRIVATELY and the lights DONATED to the STATE with the quid pro quo that the state maintain the lights in perpetuity.  Now go find your winter coat, because here comes the snow job.

Rhett Desselle, a DOTD lackey, says THAT deal was with the old Mississippi River Bridge Authority, an entity that no longer exists because it was abolished by the legislature at the end of last year.  Technically, he’s right.  The legislature HAD to ABOLISH the Mississippi River Bridge Authority because they had wasted, misappropriated and otherwise tossed millions of toll dollars into the muddy Mississippi for things like flood insurance on…wait for it…A BRIDGE.  

But I shouldn’t focus my ire on Rhett.  He’s just doing what his boss, Sherri LeBas, the secretary of DOTD, tells him  to do.  She’s an artful dodger.  I’ve been trying for A YEAR AND A HALF to get her to come on the air with me and explain why she needs MORE taxpayer money to maintain the Crescent City Connection when we’re ALREADY paying for maintenance with taxes from license plates and gasoline that pour into Highway Fund #2.  That’s how every other Mississippi River Bridge in the state is maintained. I guess she doesn’t have a good explanation for that extra FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in tolls she’s looking for.  Or, for that matter, why DOTD is playing it heavy handed and punishing us for paying off the bridge by paying all of those tolls for all of those years.  

You think it’s really necessary to turn those lights off this weekend?  Or is it more likely that DOTD is trying to keep us ALL in the dark?


Tags :  
Locations : Crescent CityMississippiNew York
People : Chris JohnsenRhett DesselleSherri LeBas

03/15/2013 4:17AM
Tommy: Lights out, or keeping us in the dark?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
03/15/2013 7:19AM
Tammy..Please switch time slots with Scoot. You are rude, aggravating and VERY hard to listen to. Scoot was such a breath of fresh air for the morning drive. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way too. PLEASE do us all a favor and go on a permanent vacation.
03/15/2013 8:48AM
Lights out...
If LADOTD takes the stance that they want to turn out the lights, then by God turn out the lights. Don't think for a second that you will not be able to see your way across the bridge, because there IS a lighting system that will be ON! And Tommy, in regards to your Toll Citation, I've recieved toll violations off and on for years...all while having a current tag in the car, on the windshield, EXACTLY where they tell me to put it. The readers were so bad the last few months of last year I litterally had to STOP in the toll lane, wait for the tag to read, and continue. The tag was less than a year old. GET RID OF THE TOLLS, and put the tax money to work where it's supposed to be working.
03/15/2013 9:27AM
found on Stopthetolls.org
SOME MORE INTERESTING FACTS - DOTD AND OTHERS HAVE WORKED HARD TO KILL ALL CCC REFORM LEGISLATION SINCE 2008. DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH THEIR $440MILLION!!!!!! 2008 – HB 389 – killed Bill to remove Ferries from Toll Payers backs* 2009 – HB 828 – killed Bill to have Qualified Managers, Accountants, and Finance Professionals investigate CCCD’s past and plan for the future.** 2010 – HB 493 – killed Bill... to put CCCD Police Force under authority of State Police.*** 2011 – DOTD arranged for a disbarred attorney to give legal advice to a Task Force regarding CCCD Task Force Duties when Task Force was suppose to transition to a toll-free bridge (Task Force formed: Senate Concurrent Res. 47) (this is the same Task Force I referenced in my previous post that Mike Teachworth participated in). 2012 – HB 1212 –DOTD supported continue taxing Jefferson Parish toll payers for another 20 years * Speaker of House would not allow a hearing or a floor amendment **Passed House 96-0 – Killed in Senate Transportation ***Passed House 95-2 – Killed in Senate Transportation
03/15/2013 9:33AM
Keep the lights!
Tommy great interview with Chris Johnsen this morning. I participated in the fundraising efforts in 1987 and I bought a bridge light for $500. I think the DOTD is just trying to scare citizens into voting 'Yes' for the tolls. The bridge lights were a gift to the State in return for the State maintaining them in perpetuity. This has nothing to do with the tolls! And my goodness $60K is nothing for the State. I trust that they'll do the right thing and step up to the plate.
03/15/2013 10:04AM
63 Million Cars!
The Crescent City Connection ranks as the fifth most traveled toll bridge in the United States, with the annual traffic volume exceeding 63 million. And some folks wonder why they want to keep the tolls? If every one of those 63 million cars had a toll tag, and we tolled every trip, that is around $25.2 MILLION dollars to pay for $60 THOUSAND dollars worth of lighting. Turn the lights off and keep the tolls lifted.
03/15/2013 10:14AM
People make fun of government waste like private industries don't waste and file for bankruptcy all the time. Often, the bill behind the waste is for a private business who is screwing the public.
03/18/2013 7:50PM
I'm not going to try and sugarcoat this, millions upon millions have somehow disappeared over the many, many years the west bankers have had millions taken out of the West Bank economy. I wish Lee Zurik would investigate and get some crooks infighter as they should be !
03/18/2013 10:14PM
They want to keep the tolls to get themselves new office buidings and company cars to ride around in.......VOTE NO TO STOP THE TOLLS!
03/20/2013 2:09PM
Investigative reporters
Where are the articles from these guys?
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