Highway money coveted by non-profits, developers

Only four days into the year 2009 and 16 days before a new president is sworn in with a monied plan to salvage our economy, the “Economic Development is everything” people of Northeast Mississippi have already devised a plan to squeeze more money out of the Federal bailout and position it where only they can access or use it. An example of planning that should not take place, but when it does, it demonstrates how little these people regard this state, this country and the people in it.

     Back in 2007, a group named GetSMART (Start Mississippi’s Approved Roads Today), began to accelerate, at least on paper, the construction of needed highways in this state. All of these highways have been envisioned by well-meaning developers (for the most part) and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), but due to limited funds, the actual building of the new highways must be scheduled when the money is available.

     However, this GetSMART group, headed by an economic developer who also works for Three Rivers Planning and Development District, a quasi-governmental, non-profit organization, is proposing the creation of an infrastructure bank that would take over the decision-making processes now being managed by our elected officials in the legislature and by the state employees of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and take over the control of all the monies available or to become available for the building of highways.

      At first suggestion of such a plan, those entities which are offshoots, creations or controlled by the quasi-governmental, non-profit agencies that have cropped up all over Northeast Mississippi, that are performing the activities and duties of elected bodies, such as county boards of supervisors and city boards of aldermen, have expressed resounding support, with support even coming from non-profit agencies that are disallowed endorsements by the Internal Revenue Service and by virtue of their non-profit status.

     This is not a matter of conventional structure and operations versus new, politically-correct structure and operations, it is simply a matter of allowing non-profit agencies, created for the purpose of by-passing our constitutional provisions for doing business with the taxpayer’s money, to eliminate our elected officials from the process, thus also eliminating the need for the public to know what is happening to their money.

     These elitists intend to create a bank in which to deposit your tax money, any future monies that may be acquired from the federal government for infrastructure and then direct it all toward building the highways from which they will derive the most business advantage and profit. They are reasonably confident this infrastructure bank idea will work because they have all of the Northeast Mississippi legislative delegation in their pocket. And if you don’t believe that, check out the position of the non-profit, quasi-governmental agencies in regard to roads, development monies and decision-making Northeast Mississippi when it comes to the use of our tax money and private and public lands.

     The infrastructure bank idea is a very bad one unless you are a developer or have a business that can profit by the removal of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the state legislature and all state, county and local controls from the efforts to build highways in Northeast Mississippi. MDOT knows who these people are and so do the members of our legislative delegation.

     GetSMART proposes just another plan to fill the pockets of those who already have full pockets without having to answer to the taxpayers who will be footing the bill.

     Just the suggestion that this plot might succeed shouldmake all citizens wonder who represents the people.