Terry McAuliffe: Working Hard to Make His Own Mistakes

Terry McAuliffe: Denounce old guy, clean up his mess, make same mistakes.
Terry McAuliffe: Denounce old guy, clean up his mess, make new mistakes.

Governor Terry McAuliffe is working hard to clean up the transportation boondoggles of the McDonnell administration — but how many new boondoggles will he create of his own making? Yesterday, the governor announced $13.1 billion in transportation capital expenditures after making final adjustments to the state’s Six-Year Improvement Plan.

In the announcement, McAuliffe made much of the fact that his administration ramped up public involvement this spring “by getting out into the communities and holding hearings in nine regions across the state to solicit input. Nearly 400 people attended and 1,620 oral and written comments were collected. From that information, the CTB adjusted the program to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else.”

Cough! Cough! Hack! I think I just swallowed my tongue.

Who shows up to those public hearings? I blog about transportation and land use for a living and no one notified me. The overwhelming majority people who attended, I’ll wager, were people who are paid to track such meetings and represent a particular constituency or special interest. They are lobbyists, environmentalists, road builders, Chamber of Commerce executives and maybe the odd citizen gadfly with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with. McAuliffe didn’t consult with the public, he consulted Virginia’s political class.

What is the common thread of the people who showed up or submitted comments? If you read my previous post, you’ll know that they are people who want something for nothing. They want highways, rail service and other improvements to be paid for by someone else. Thanks to Bob McDonnell’s transportation “reform” (enthusiastically backed by McAuliffe, incidentally), that’s what we have — a transportation funding system that raises less money than ever from the people who use roads and rail and more from general revenue sources like the sales tax. That money goes into a giant slush fund that is allocated through the Six-Year Improvement Plan at the behest of local politicians and lobbyists. It’s one, big something-for-nothing scheme.

The outcome is hundreds of projects around the state, some of which, no doubt, are entirely justified and would pass any cost-benefit test, but some of which are entirely political in inception and would never see the light of day without massive subsidies from people who will never use them. So, according to Leesburg Today, McAuliffe justifies advancing the Bi-County Parkway in Northern Virginia on the grounds that Washington Dulles International Airport needs a boost to its cargo operations. (This project is one legacy of the McDonnell administration, it appears, that he is willing to live with.) Then there are $3.2 billion in transit and rail projects — nearly one quarter of the transportation budget — none of which would have a prayer of being built without massive public subsidies.

So, merrily we skip along, funding highway and transit projects and adding to a transportation asset base that will have to be maintained and operated at considerable expense — even as the state faces a billion-dollar shortfall in the next biennial budget. And we do this knowing full well that the world stands on the verge of the most incredible transportation revolution since the invention of the automobile — the marriage of automobility with the Internet of Things — that will scramble the demand for roads, highways and transit in ways that we can only dimly imagine at the moment.

Transportation is a complex system in the midst of a massive perturbation and we’re treating it as a complicated system that warrants conducting business as usual. (Read “Complex Cities.”) Folly, folly, everywhere! It’s enough to drive me to despair.

Important update: The Washington Post adds critical perspective to the Leesburg Today article: “During the campaign, McAuliffe was noncommittal on the proposed north-south highway in Prince William and Loudoun counties, just west of the Manassas National Battlefield and south of Dulles International Airport. In April, Leesburg Today reported that McAuliffe said during a visit in Manassas that he liked the Bi-County Parkway ‘conceptually,’ as a way to ease traffic in and out of Dulles International Airport. However, he went on to say he was not taking a position on the proposal, because it still must go through an evaluation process approved by the Virginia General Assembly during this year’s session.”

It is extremely reassuring to hear that the Bi-County Parkway project will go through the Return-on-Investment evaluation process. I erred in bundling the Bi-County Parkway project with other projects listed in the Six-Year Improvement Plan. My bad. My apologies.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


12 responses to “Terry McAuliffe: Working Hard to Make His Own Mistakes”

  1. larryg Avatar

    re: ” McAuliffe didn’t consult with the public, he consulted Virginia’s political class.”

    Oh PA-LEEZE!

    Do you really think that McAuliffe had ANYTHING what-so-ever to do with the “public participation?

    I do not understand why we have to personalize things like this.

    Were you really expecting McAuliffe to do anything different than his predecessors and if he failed to be different from them – then we hold him up as a failed leader?

    I’m just agog at how we revise history these days to suit our own biases.

    What exactly did McAuliffe have to do with the money raised for the 6yr plan?

    while you’re chewing on that…

    please tell me why people who pay sales tax – are told that subways and rail are subsidized by road users and that it’s wrong for the 6yr plan to have non-road projects in it?

    I have to tell you – the most vociferous folks I have run into lately are the folks who commute 100 miles a day on I-95 and who fervently believe that the money they pay in gas taxes is being spent on buses or SW Va roads.

    they deeply resent the HOT lanes that are on I-495 and will be on I-95 come 2015.

    The thing is – the gas tax funds about 15% of the 6yr plan now. 15%.

    and the sales tax – 21%.

    How does that translate into real per capita taxes paid ?

    I challenge any readers of this blog to tell us how much you pay annually for fuel taxes and how much you pay annually for the portion of the sales tax that goes to transportation.

    Now Jim Bacon says that mainly crony capitalists make comments on the 6yr plan and I could not agree more buy VDOT does make the plan available to all – and what exactly do citizens have to say about it especially if they themselves have no clue how much they themselves are paying for transportation.

    I don’t want to be harsh – but how many Virginian citizens actually care enough about the issue to be informed on it so that they can make substantiative comments?

    Is this the fault of McAuliffe?


  2. larryg Avatar

    Oh.. and please tell me what the GOP has used as a campaign weapon against the Dems for the last 3 decades in Va.

    What did Bob McDonnell tell voters about Creigh Deeds and his plans to raise the gas tax if elected?

    and now we’re talking about McAuliffe?

    good god o’mighty….

    some things never change….


  3. Larry, you let your partisan blinders get in the way. I didn’t criticize McAuliffe for the public-input process — that process has evolved over decades. He has to work with the system that he inherited. I took issue with his characterization of the process as “reflecting the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public.” That’s just balderdash.

    1. larryg Avatar

      no.. you’re busted guy: ” In the announcement, McAuliffe made much of the fact that his administration ramped up public involvement this spring “by getting out into the communities and holding hearings ”

      and you have the nerve to call ME ..Partisan after your write things like this.

      who’s really got those “blinders” guy?

      I’m not defending McAuliffe here – but you make it sound like I am for objecting to the clearly partisan jabs… lobbed at him.

      and no.. you did not make it clear that this is pretty much pro-forma with most all governors…

      again – what in the DO DA did McAuliffe have to do with ANY of the 6yr plan other than go after the bogus 460 process and preside over the typical pro-forma VDOT process?

      you’re busted again guy.. and I’ll keep busting you when you do this.

      maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it.. but heckfire.. if you don’t know you surely need some “help” and I volunteer!

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim’s just trying to show he’s really, truly a conservative after yesterday’s favorable McAuliffe post.

    The man is very predictable!

  5. larryg Avatar

    and Jim, what exactly were you implying with the title if not a hit
    on McAuliffe:

    ” Terry McAuliffe: Working Hard to Make His Own Mistakes”

    what mistakes? presiding over the normal perverted VDOT public involvement process – that McDonnell did exactly the same in the prior administration and not a word written about McDonnell ” “by getting out into the communities and holding hearings in nine regions across the state to solicit input.”

    Did McDonnell ” get out into the communities to hear from citizens” on his planned gas tax increase?

    I love the way you frame these issues depending on whether the Gov is a Dem or GOP….

  6. billsblots Avatar

    I don’t pay anything in gas taxes because I drive an electric car, Ford Focus BEV. I pay at most $3 a week (summer) and $4 a week (winter) to Dominion Power for 100% domestically-produced electricity for driving 200-250 miles a week, formerly 8-10 gallons of unleaded, $25-$38 a week. ( And yes, man-made global warming is still a politically-driven hoax 🙂 )

  7. billsblots Avatar

    I started to post on a previous thread when Windows 7 ruthlessly shut down and rebooted my computer – Where was then VDOT Commissioner ( now retired ) Greg Whirley when Secretary of Transportation Connoffton was apparently emailing and directing his publicity hit man, Deputy Commissioner, and now current Commissioner, Charlie Kilpatrick about what US 460 public relations campaign to implement?

    Did they work around Whirley in the chain of command? Was Whirley involved, copied on emails and participated in discussions, or was he out of the loop? Was he a figurehead Commissioner who looked good as a politically acceptable appointee by McDonnell immediately following the episode when VDOT suddenly “found” $700,000,000 that it hadn’t spent?

    Whirley was an accountant, fiscal manager, previously holding positions as Inspector General and Chief Financial Officer, not a transportation or civil engineer.

    It wouldn’t be unprecedented. Gov Gilmore sacked VDOT-grown and internally respected Commissioner David Gehr over an unremarkable environmental mishap, filling the transportation commissioner position with an environmental lawyer Chip Nottingham.

    Was Whirley copied and involved in any of these shenanigans between Connaughton and Kilpatrick, or was he just the good guy figurehead commissioner?

    1. larryg Avatar

      Don’t forget George Allen cleaned house also!

      VDOT has pretty much always rowed it’s own boat – with necessary mid-course corrections depending on how involved a particular Gov wanted to be….

      so BillBots – you don’t mind others paying for the roads you use or the mercury pollution you generate?

      Is that mercury pollution another one of those politically driven hoaxes?

      how about the ozone holes… another hoax?

      Cheapeake Bay cleanup? all those claims about phosphorous and nitrogen – perfectly normal natural substances – killing the bay? that too is a hoax?

      how do you determine what part of science you believe and the part you do not?

  8. billsblots Avatar

    thanks for the comments larry.
    I believe good and methodical science, not projections of computer models that were constructed specifically to show a pre-determined result. That is the essence of the global warming movement and always has been its headline-seeking technique.

    As Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, recently testified before the Senate, “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

    No. Actual. Proof. Exists. Models galore yes, and 102 out of 102 computer models have proven incorrect in their alarmist predictions of the extent of global warming and how many fathoms underwater NYC should already be (NOTE, there is no documented raising of the ocean levels either, as was “modeled” by the early Warmers in order to grab headlines.)

    Complete absence of measurable facts has never dissuaded the Warmers, because alarmist headlines and intimidation ensure that next government grant.

    Further Dr. Moore reading for those who dare stand up to intimidation… his entire testimony should be mandatory classwork in schools to balance the intentionally biased party line of the NEA. CO2 levels are about 30% higher than 20 years ago yet there has been no warming for 17 consecutive years. Global Warming is truly a religion requiring the highest faith.

    “Perhaps the simplest way to expose the fallacy of “extreme certainty” is to look at the historical record. With the historical record, we do have some degree of certainty compared to predictions of the future. When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time. Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today. There is some correlation, but little evidence, to support a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature through the millennia. The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming.”

    1. larryg Avatar

      don’t you think those same models are used for the Cheapeake Bay, Ozone Holes, hurricanes, etc?

      how do you know which of them ” show a pre-determined result.”?

      why did you believe the Ozone Holes and the Cheapeake Bay models and hurricane models and not the climate models?

      I do not recall ANY of these studies to ever be promoted as ” “extreme certainty” but rather a consensus of science.

      if there is a consensus – how do you disbelieve it – for any science?

      how do you believe the Chesapeake Bay guys and not the climate guys?

  9. […] Dulles, though is load during Dulles unequivocally a tip priority for transportation? Is McAuliffe making a large mistake? (Leesburg Today, Post, Bacon’s […]

Leave a Reply