Huntersville Mayor Apologizes for Commissioner’s Anti-Toll Efforts
Late last month Huntersville Commissioner Rob Kidwell stepped out on a limb and asked the North Carolina legislature to consider postponing the I-77 toll project. Given the fact we still don’t know basic information like anticipated toll rates it seemed like a reasonable- perhaps even courageous- request.
But apparently Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain didn’t think so. Even though Kidwell’s email was in the first person (“I am now going to ask…”) she sent an email blast to every member of the North Carolina legislature saying Kidwell did not speak for the Huntersville. (Apparently the irony of sending it from her official town email and signing it as “Mayor of Huntersville” was lost on her.)
She indirectly chastised him for not “educating oneself on the particular issue prior to requesting an entire General Assembly to go back into session” and for not “respect(ing) the time of our elected officials and our governmental agencies.” (You can read her entire email at the bottom of this post. You can send an email of your own by clicking here.)
Swain then characterized tolling opponents as spreading misinformation:
It has been an arduous task to get details to our citizens and as you well know, when there are voids of information, people will fill them with their own assumptions. We have strived to combat misinformation for over a year and finally, seemed to be on the right track with a commitment from NCDOT to bring in officials and experts to begin a more open communication process with our elected officials and with our citizens.
This is a consistent pattern for Swain. Witness her blog post on the topic:
It seems to have become okay to simply pull out one fact or two from a several hundred page document and use that as solid proof that something is wrong (or right).
So shame on us for relying on one source, or two sources, to make up our minds for us. Shame on us for relying on a sound bite or one blog post to determine that the “fact” they quoted really didn’t quite meet the accuracy test.
The “several hundred page document” she references was a consultant study the NCDOT forwarded us in response to our FOIA request. NCDOT used that study to justify the toll lane project. Despite that pedigree, in Swain’s mind it “didn’t quite meet the accuracy test.”
Indeed, she never seems to miss an opportunity to impugn our character. Here she is discussing I-77 tolls on Senator Tarte’s facebook page:
But who exactly is uneducated on the issue?
Over a year ago Widen I-77 predicted one way tolls in the $6- 10 range. An NCDOT consultant came up with $9. Meanwhile, Swain was touting tolls less than a tenth of that:
It will be worth an extra 30 cents to me to reach Charlotte in time for meetings. It may be worth it to you to have an IT expert pay 46 cents to come from Charlotte to Huntersville to make sure you get payroll out on time.
We’re far from perfect but to our knowledge have never presented anything that is materially inaccurate.
Rather than oblique attacks our character, a far more productive effort would be fostering open discussion and debate. It would also be an effort befitting an elected official.
We would welcome such a debate… and let the public decide.
Here is Swain’s email: