For Whom the Toll Tolls

The storied Card Sound Bridge is an old, tall, toll bridge that connects mainland Florida to Monroe County. It is one of only two roads enter or leave the Florida Keys (the other is the Overseas Highway, U.S. Route 1) and the only one that costs cash.

Building Card Sound Bridge, 1926
The current causeway and bridge opened to traffic in 1969 as State Road 905A. By the 1980s, the state transferred the road and bridge to county maintenance although Monroe County pretends it is still a state highway with FDOT route signs along the shoulders.

The bridge carries 1,900 vehicles per day at a varying toll, nominally $1 but with an upcharge for more than two axles and discount to as little as a quarter with a ticket book. The toll is waived upon evacuating the Keys for hurricanes or in instances in which US 1 is impassable.

Guesstimating that all the tolls average out to a buck, the Card Sound Toll Authority collects about $700,000 annually to operate the toll booth, maintain the toll facilities and grounds, and mow and cut the brush on the right of way along Card Sound Road.

According to County Administrator Roman Gastesi’s Budget Message, “The Card Sound Toll Authority is responsible for operating the toll booth 24 hours per day/7 days a week, maintaining the toll facilities and grounds, and right-of-way mowing and brush cutting along Card Sound Road. Revenues from the tolls are reserved for maintenance of the Card Sound Bridge and road. The Toll Authority is now a part of the Engineering Services & Roads Department.”
Monroe County budgeted $3,448,648 for the Card Sound Toll Authority this year. That’s up 110.8% from the $1,635,705 budgeted in FY2016.

[For the record, $3,448,648 for one road is nearly twice the total municipal budget for the Town of North Puffin including the entire highway department there.]

A $2 million plus project to convert the toll booths there into an automated “Sunpass” system could break ground as soon as August 1. The Monroe County Commission has approved a $1.79 million construction contract plus an engineering contract for $263,700 more.

The Modern Card Sound BridgeThe toll booth staff will be fired July 31 and the toll booths could be demolished the next day. No tolls will be collected during reconstruction, until the system becomes active next February. The “All Electronic Tolling System” will connect to the Sunpass to collect tolls through those transponders or toll-by-plate.

Money collected at Card Sound allegedly goes toward maintenance of the aging 65-foot-high bridge and adjacent roads. Tolls have been $1 per vehicle for decades but “the electronic tolling could make price increases easier to implement.”

Say what?

How hard is it to tell the toll collector, “Charge $1.25”???

Liz Arden reminded me, “When people handle money, they notice increases in price. When they don’t handle it, they don’t notice it. That is what ‘easier to implement’ means in this context.”

Ah.

More telling is the price of this particular boondoggle. If the toll authority collects $700,000 and spends about five times that much annually, how are We the Overtaxed People going to pay off the $2 million “upgrade”?

 

Lying Liars #2,749

Welcome to the first day of Spring, the day when day and night are the same length and politicians tell you one is the other.

“The affordable health care’s purpose was to lower costs, expand access, and improve benefits,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Face the Nation yesterday. “It has succeeded in all three.”

It has succeeded? Succeeded? Really?

Let’s take how Ms. Pelosi knew the facts and said just the opposite. Out here outside the Beltway, we call that “Lying.”

• “[Its purpose was to] lower costs…
Health care cost Americans $2 trillion in 2008; ObamaDidn’tCare grew it every year so health care will cost Americans $3.6 trillion in 2017. Alabama premiums jumped 28% from 2015 to 2016 for individual plans purchased through the marketplace. They went up another 36% this year. The cheapest “Bronze” plan here in south Florida costs $4,660 this year, almost double the unsubsidized cost in 2013. A Bronze plan comes with a $6,000 medical and $500 prescription deductible and $12,500 out of pocket maximum costs. And your premium skyrocketed anyway! True believers can’t accept those facts but the NY Times does.
Nancy Pelosi - Pants on Fire
• “[Its purpose was to] expand access…
Enrollment tumbled in 2016 at a faster rate of decline than in 2015 as people got kicked off for not paying premiums. UnitedHealth Group dropped out of almost every ObamaDidn’tCare market.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2016 that ObamaDidn’tCare would leave 27 million uninsured through 2019.

• “[Its purpose was to] improve benefits…
Slightly true. Some of the 20 million folks who never had insurance before ObamaDidn’tCare definitely got better benefits. Anything more than nothing is “better.” The rest got stuck with far less. And for the 75 million Americans who got their insurance through large companies in 2013, according to NBC News, ObamaDidn’tCare caused companies with the most generous plans to cut benefits.

Lying liars who lie a lot.

Ms. Pelosi’s definition of “success” seems a wee bit different than ours, I’m thinking.

“[The Unaffordable Care Act] should be respected for what it does,” she said.

We’ve seen what it does. In that, for once in the past nine years, Ms. Pelosi told the truth.


No matter what the true believers think, ObamaDidn’tCare — the original Unaffordable Care Act — is disintegrating. It’s collapsing politically. It’s collapsing financially. It’s collapsing medically.

As we learned last week, the new Unaffordable American Health Care Act doesn’t address the biggest issue: cost. It needs bring costs down and to do that it needs to address [wait for it] American Health Care. So far it doesn’t do that any better than what we had foisted on us in 2013.

 

Pardon Me

Mr. Obama issued 273 pardons and commutations yesterday. He cut Bradley/Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence to time served. The now-transgender soldier was convicted of Espionage Act violations and other charges for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The White House announced that Mr. Obama “has now granted more commutations than any president in this nation’s history.” In fact, they proudly noted that is more than “the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined.”

Julian Assange said “Manning should never have been convicted in the first place…” Manning “is a hero, whose bravery should be applauded.” Mr. Assange said he would not fight extradition if Manning was freed.

“It was the right thing to do,” my friend Fanny Guay said. “The Right’s claim that Manning’s leaks cost lives was false.”

Yeah, OK.

Looks like the only secrets the Left care about are the Sony memos and salary worksheets.

“No, that’s not it,” Liz Arden replied, double teaming me. “Only people who do it for the right reasons.”

So it would be OK for the Russians to release the RNC emails but not Hillary’s?

“That’s it!”

It’s required that I release my tax return but illegal to publish a teacher’s salary?

“Exactly!” Ms. Guay said. Ms. Arden did the happy dance that I was finally getting it.

But, wait. I taught at Vermont colleges.

“Oh, then you’re protected,” Ms. Guay said.

Now I do get it. I notice that Mr. Assange is still in the Ecuadorian embassy. He’s still a protected good guy. Except for the little matter of the DNC emails.

 

ID Required

No Bull - Palo Duro, Canyo TXDick has been offline and mostly out of touch for the next few and that’s no…
Please enjoy this commentary from 2012.

We made the long drive from North Puffin to South Puffin last week. The consensus was to “avoid New Jersey” which we did, but I still saw the results of Shredder Sandy in the firewood on lawns and highway shoulders across Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland. We had to detour around the Delaware Water Gap on some lovely, twisty windy roads that got my rally juices flowing. Those roads didn’t appear on my map, so I’m not sure I could find them again.

A very nice lady at the Florida border handed us a waxed-paper cup of freshly squeezed orange juice; Anne had seconds, then we put the top down and continued along.

 

I voted in person on Tuesday. Despite the news reports about the horrors of voting in Florida, all true by the way, the hopelessly long line leading to the South Puffin voting booths had (wait for it) three people waiting. It really did take longer to read the 8-page ballot than it did to get to the booth and that despite studying up on it ahead of time.

I had to show my photo identification (my driver license) to get in the door so I wondered, aloud, why Florida had given me a voter ID card. No one at the polls knew because they weren’t accepting that card.

Now I know.

 

eye exam formRegular readers may recall that I had cataracts sucked out of my eyes a couple of months ago. The end result is that I have a really neat form from my ophthalmologist certifying me. OK, certifying that my vision is adequate to UNcheck the CORRECTIVE LENSES REQUIRED box on my Florida driver license.

We all know that just having the eye doc fill out a form is far too simple for a state that employs more bureaucrats than the entire population of Vermont. State government employee numbers had grown to 184,237 by 2011. County and local government employees increased to 703,922. That’s more than the population of South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, or Wyoming. Heck Florida government employs more people than the population of Vermont plus the population of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands twice. Combined. (Worth noting: in the 50 years from 1957 to 2006, Florida’s population increased 302%, but the number of state and local government employees increased 583%. Corporate layoffs have been in the news as companies fight costs, but that’s another story.)

None of the 184,237 people ever answered the phone at Florida DMV when I called, so I eventually tried the county driver license office to find out what I need to bring to my get my license changed. I need to bring a lot.

The state website shows that Florida law requires one to bring “identification and proof of residense (sic) documents” for a new license but doesn’t make clear if that applies to changing the vision requirements as I need. A very nice lady in the Marathon office told me that, yes, I need a:

1. Valid United States Passport
2. Social Security Card or any 1099
3. TWO Proofs of Residential Address, such as

  • Utility bills, not more than two months old
  • Current homeowner’s insurance policy or bill
  • Florida Voter Registration Card

The voter registration card is your ticket to a driver license, the document you need to … vote. Plus your existing driver license that they collected all this stuff for in the first place.

Of course, if I simply renew my driver license online, the state doesn’t require any ID.

 

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

Republicans distance themselves from Mr. Trump because he says “bad things.”

Ms. Clinton not only supports but covers up for Mr. Clinton who says “good things” but does far worse.

So.

The question to voters is simple:

Do you want someone who is politically incorrect or someone who says whatever you want to hear while she sneaks and scurries around behind your back to hide the foulest of crimes?

The bums who need tossing first are the hypocrites throwing rocks from both sides of the aisle.