WidenI77.org to MUMPO: “Let Us Speak”

Following is a post from PunditHouse.com written by WidenI77.Org volunteer Sharon Hudson. Your voice is critical at this juncture: please take the time to read this post, share it with others and contact MUMPO representatives before Monday April 22 (the end of their public comment period). The DOT’s HOT lane proposal impacts all who live in NC since the NCDOT is already discussing plans to toll other highways around the state. In addition to reading and sharing this post, we hope that you will attend the next two MUMPO meetings (April 17 [this Wednesday] and May 22) that will play a key role in the fate of this project. Tomorrow, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. Kurt Naas will present to MUMPO — it will either be for 10 or 30 minutes depending on how much time they allow him. Then on May 22, MUMPO will make a final vote on the project. The address for the meeting is: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, Rm 267, 600 E. Fourth Street, Charlotte. See Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/CtCy1. To contact MUMPO representatives via email, please go to http://mumpo.org/about-us/mpo-members.

Thank you for reading, sharing, contacting MUMPO representatives and attending the meetings!

April 16, 2013 | Written by

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In a letter emailed Monday to voting members of the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) and the local media, the citizen’s group widenI77.org urged MUMPO to allow them to present a 30 minute presentation explaining why HOT lanes are the wrong way to widen I-77 at their next meeting on Wednesday, April 17th.  Here is a copy of the letter, written by WidenI77.org volunteer Sharon Hudson to Robert Cook, MUMPO Secretary.

Hello Mr. Cook,

I hope you are well.

As we discussed this past Tuesday, April 9, WidenI77.org would like to reserve thirty minutes on the agenda for the upcoming MUMPO meeting on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

I previously requested this in writing and verbally during the citizen comment period at the MUMPO meeting last month. I have attached that request for you to review.

I understand from that phone conversation on Tuesday that you and Commissioner McAulay would like to limit us to 10 minutes during the citizen comment period, plus five minutes for Q. and A. Unfortunately due to the nature of our presentation that is not satisfactory. Ms. McAulay has seen Kurt Naas’s presentation before at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, and so she will understand that it is not possible for us to present our case in the time you have offered.

Mr. Cook, adding HOT lanes to I-77 is one of the most important decisions impacting our region since Lake Norman was created. It will affect us for generations to come. Surely giving us thirty minutes on the agenda when compared to a fifty year contract is not asking too much?

As I stated at the February MUMPO meeting, if members of the MUMPO board have not seen Mr. Naas’s presentation, and most of them have not, then they have only heard the sales pitch from HOT lane proponents. They have not heard a citizen’s point of view.

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for N.C. Speaker Thom Tillis, said recently that, “Speaker Tillis is supportive of the conversation that this has started because it’s an important issue.” Let’s have a conversation. So far it has been a monologue.

Speaker Tillis has also stated that the decision regarding HOT lanes rests with MUMPO, and not with the General Assembly. That means that all MUMPO representatives, and all of the town and city boards who direct the votes for those representatives, will be held accountable for approving what will be a terribly unpopular decision. If I were them I would insist on hearing all pertinent information available before casting a vote in favor of HOT lanes.

Here is a link to the “Myths and Facts” section of our web site, wideni77.org. You will not hear any of this from the presentations by consultants and other boards paid to sell the HOT lane plan. https://wideni77.org/myths-facts/   Also note the section on “Elected Officials” We will be keeping track of those who support HOT lanes.

Here is another link to a story which appeared today in the Charlotte Observer. Other organizations have noted that WidenI77.org has not been allowed to present our side of the issue at any of the town sponsored forums. If the current plan is so great, what are you afraid of? http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/15/3983530/charlotte-tea-party-urges-alternatives.html

Mr. Cook, I am respectfully asking again that Kurt Naas and widenI77.org be permitted to give a thirty minute presentation at the April 17 MUMPO meeting. The vote on HOT lanes is scheduled to take place shortly after that in all of the towns, and is scheduled to be voted on with directed votes during the May MUMPO meeting. This is our last chance to present to the board before these deadlines.

I am also copying in the boards involved. My hope is that they will contact you and Commissioner McAulay and ask that wideni77.org be allowed the full thirty minutes on the April 17th meeting agenda.

Best regards,

Sharon Hudson

Volunteer, WidenI77.org

Here is the text of the letter that was attached. This was read at the previous MUMPO meeting in March by Ms. Hudson during the citizen comment period:


My name is Sharon Hudson and I am a resident of Huntersville. I and many other citizens are not happy with the plan to build HOT lanes along I-77 in the Lake Norman area. The more we learn about HOT lanes, the more we realize that they will not relieve traffic congestion, nor are they designed to.

They are in fact designed to change our behavior, to get us out of our cars, and to force us into mass transit. But the true role of Government is to provide the electorate with things that we want, (like general purpose lanes) not to modify our behavior to act the way the government wants us to.

We have respectfully shared with our elected officials that we do not want HOT lanes. We have asked to work with you to come up with better solutions, we have asked to be heard.

Instead, we (the public) have been shut out of information meetings. We have been segregated at presentations, and we have not been given the opportunity to voice our opinions. We have been told it is a “done deal”, even though no contract has been signed. You are ignoring us, hoping the clock will run out.

“Whenever someone tells you the debate is over, it is a sure sign that the debate is not over, but that they are deathly afraid that the debate might begin,” – Eric Metaxas.

I am asking that you make time in your next meeting to hear a thirty minute presentation by Kurt Naas of WidenI77.org  on why Hot Lanes are the wrong way to widen I-77. I am asking that we be heard.

Thank you

Sharon Hudson

Volunteer, WidenI77.org

Whether you want HOT lanes on I-77 or not, I hope you will agree that it is important for citizens to have a voice. What we have seen repeatedly during the past three months is a system designed to keep anyone who disagrees with the status quo from sharing their opinion. There has not been a single town-hall-styled meeting to ask citizens what they want. Every government-led meeting has been used to divide and conquer, to make fun of dissenters, and to shut them up. It is insulting and disgraceful the way the public has been segregated at presentations. If they will do this to one group, they will do it to you. Help widenI77.org in their fight to be heard. Email your MUMPO representative and ask that widenI77.org be allowed to present their information at the meeting this Wednesday night April 17th. You can find their email address here: http://www.mumpo.org/about-us/mpo-members

7 Responses to WidenI77.org to MUMPO: “Let Us Speak”

  1. mjm77713 says:

    Ms. Bubak,

    Thanks for the reminder. Here’s the note I sent the CLT MUMPO rep.

    Can you tell me if his is an elected or a hired position?



    Mr. Howard,

    From a well rounded perspective of the information available to the public concerning the proposed HOT lanes, it seems to this taxpayer that this is a”nonstarter”. From a taxpayer-as-an-investor’s perspective: the long term logic of the investment has numerous flaws in logic; the long term strategy of the lanes is a detriment to tens thousands all day and night (vs 24 hour GP lanes), while attempting to offer a very few a consistent travel speed for a few hours a day; the long term cost in dollars of lost revenue to the area far outweighs any short term benefits to local businesses and or the state (and the taxpayers), are just a few of the strong reasons that HOT’s are not a good choice.

    It follows then, from an investor-for-the-taxpayer’s perspective, speaking for tens of thousands of present and future commuters, we whole-heartedly request the voice of all of us folks that the HOT’s are not designed to be a benefit for are not only heard loud and clear, but represented loud and clear. As such, we ask you to invest your vote to represent the majority of the taxpayers, and not the < 1% that have something to gain financially or politically. After all, aren't you part of the 1%?

    Thank you for taking this to heart, and representing the good citizens of this area with your vote.


    Mecklenburg Taxpayer,

    Mike Montanaro

  2. shuds12 says:

    Vallee, thanks so much for doing this, it looks great!


  3. Joe Starosciak says:

    I thought NC is still part of a democracy. If so how can the DOT continue to move AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. NC has no toll roads so it would seem in a democracy the voters should have some say whether this is acceptable anywhere. It is frightening that will all the protests that have been voiced on your website as well as to our elected representatives that the NCDOT dictatorship can now take these tolls to the next level by going beyond the I77 proposed toll road. If we are not going to have a say in this any other way why not just circulate a Email petition to all that you currently have on your email list. If you have 50 and we can share it with 10 people we know and they spread the word to who they know within a matter of days we should have a petition bearing at least 1000 signatures that calls for the end to the NCDOT Dictatorship and forces these matters at the very least to the legislative bodies of the towns and county governments throughout North Carolina

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is amazing to me that this is the best proposal that NCDOT could come up with up. It seems that we are being punished because our elected representatives for the last 20 years have been asleep and along with the crazy federal funding formulas and MUMPO’S poorly weighted board. Why is Lake Norman the only area who can’t get decent highways wide enough to carry all the traffic we have without punishing it’s residents by offering only toll roads or nothing at all. I believe that all the other toll roads in North Carolina are new stretches of highways/interstates. I77 has been here since around 1970. Why is it treated so poorly? It seems that our elected officials are hell bent to make this happen regardless of the downsides which are numerous.

    • Joe Starosciak says:

      Most of the elected officials are for it because they are Republicans and ANYTHING that means less government is good for them no matter what it will end up costing the taxpayers more. It is just like them approving the new Hotel, Funeral Home and Goodwill store in our neighborhood than the rest of us in Huntersville had big hikes in our sewer bill to pay for the new sewers laid for those businesses. Again another case where it isn’t costing the town or county and more money just let the taxpayers pay for it. It is time someone gets the petition launched to shut down any costs being passed onto local taxpayers without our consent. This is still a Democracy isn’t it? Or did Less Government take taxpayers voice away and just have the politicians forward us all the new bills.

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