Make the Roads Spending Program Transparent

The Greenville Chamber of Commerce wants an automatic gas tax increase based on inflation, as Tara said on the Tara Show on 106.3 FM last week. The co-host on the Tara Show said about this proposal: “We’re being asked to pay more money; it would be nice to have an idea of exactly what it is you want to do with that money.”

Tara answered:
“Yeah. And according to the audit last year… We’re the only state in the nation that doesn’t have a priority list at the SC DOT. So you cannot call down there and figure out how they rank roads. In other states, what they do is like: number of deaths on a road? How dangerous is it? How congested is it? And they give points for that. And it’s very mathematic. And that’s what puts roads on the top or bottom of the list. You can’t just get them on there because you’re a powerful politician. The South Carolina DOT, not only do they not rank roads like this, they don’t have a list like this. And politicians that tried to find out, according to the audit (… do you remember this?), where were the roads in their district in ranking? When might they get done? They couldn’t even find out. It’s a state secret. So the way that roads get built in the state is: If you’re a powerful politician, then your project comes first. We’ll is it needed?  Uh… I don’t know… We don’t know.”

Tara also asked why, before proposing a new gas tax, the Greenville News didn’t first propose finding out, for example, “how many roads do we actually have to fix in the state? Can we start prioritizing them so that when we have to do this, the roads that actually need fixing actually get fixed?”

Well, there is a long and storied history of corruption in the Greenville County Roads and Bridges Program. The bridges to nowhere that the co-host brought up are relatively rare, and their purpose is only to enrich owners of construction companies who are friends of powerful politicians. The more pressing need for the fog surrounding road priorities appears to be to allow politicians to do favors for their friends, to ensure needed improvements to or near their own subdivisions, and to sell such “consulting services” to big real estate developers (look at Jim Burns’ “consulting” background). But this requires a healthy pipeline of tribute to be paid by the citizens of Greenville County, hence the Greenville Chamber’s proposal. You probably know of other cases like this, but our case gives clear, repeated evidence of what you said on air.

Tara, thank God we have you on the radio talking about things like this. The local newspapers and TV stations won’t report it. I agree with you and encourage you to start a movement that Greenville County have a mathematically based roads spending priority list. Greenville county taxpayers would so appreciate it! Whoever agrees with Tara that we need a roads priority list, please text her your thoughts at 71307, or call her at 800-347-1063.

Would we even let our son in college tell us: “I want each of my allowance checks to be 5% more than the previous check, and don’t ask me how I spend it.” Who came up with this clever approach? Someone on the take, I suspect.

We had a county councilman who tried to clean up the roads program, and now he’s in jail. Tony Trout blew the whistle on corruption in the Greenville County Roads and Bridges program and went to jail and lost his wife and his business. See the local news on youtube:

Councilman Trout giving evidence of Greenville Corruption to Government Officials”,

Tony Trout’s Post Prison Interview”, and

Councilman Tony Trout telling Jim Dorriety who he works for.”

We’ve never met him, never talked to him, and don’t know him, but it’s clear from these videos that he has a good heart. The law that your movement will lead to will prevent other county councilmen from going to jail for blowing the whistle on corruption in the county roads program, and save taxpayers’ money in the process.