Another Houston Metro scandal

KHOU drops the bomb on Paul Magaziner and Gayla Hamilton's sleuthing:

It all dates back to November of 2009, when Metro filed an application for that $900 million [federal grant]. Magaziner says to qualify for that grant, Metro had to prove to the FTA that it could afford to build all five lines of its proposed light rail expansion. Just proving it could afford three, or four lines was not an option he says, pointing to Metro’s own statements in its federal filing.

But he says Metro knew full well it could not afford to build all five lines, but instead, he claims, tried to fool the federal government into thinking it would be possible. Metro did that, he says, by replacing newer, more up to date financial forecasts for sales tax revenue with older outdated information created back in 2008 before the financial crash ever took place.

In other words, to quote Tory Gattis' summary
[Metro] intentionally used out-of-date pre-recession sales tax revenue estimates to "prove" it could afford to build all five lines (which was required). UH Dr. Barton Smith gave them updated numbers in June 2009, but they chose to submit the old June 2008 numbers with the November 2009 application.
The difference in numbers is just a mere $2.5 billion. 2,500,000,000.

We have a mess of a transit agency in Houston because of Bill White. the Mayor of Houston controls Metro. In other words, these are Bill White's handpicked people, and Metro is not exactly a low-profile agency with a noncontroversial history.

Posted by Evan @ 04/17/10 12:07 AM


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