Neighborhood group Hoodwinked by Special Interests.

Last week's Oak Hill Gazette front page headline and story, "OHAN takes a stand against amendments" was disturbing.

The article with picture of presenter Linda Rife, told the story of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods (OHAN) meeting with a one sided presentation (from Linda Rife) that worked the room into a tizzy, to oppose the Austin Open Government Online amendment.


For some reason nobody was scheduled to speak FOR the amendment. According to the article, that lopsided debate caused OHAN to formally oppose the amendment.

I did a little research and found out that Linda Rife, who gave the one-sided presentation, is a high paid professional political strategist who works for the same people who benefit if the Open Government amendment fails.

Financial reports show Linda Rife was paid $13,000, within a two week period last month, by the Committee for Austin's Future PAC. This committee, as reported in the AA Statesman, is funded by the same people that have been pushing the secret deal of two years ago - the privatizing and tolling our public freeways here in Austin.

That toll lobby is the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) and its developer members who have more influence on TxDOT than citizens. RECA is also known to have more influence with special interest politicians whose campaigns benefit from their fat checks.

Linda Rife also works as a consultant for TateAustin. TateAustin has numerous contracts with the Williamson County heavy freeway tolling authority. TateAustin will be telling the public how the double tax toll roads are the best thing since sliced bread.

It's important to note that both State Rep. Terry Keel and Comptroller Strayhorn have confirmed that TateAustin is getting paid with our gas tax dollars to sell us on this new toll tax scheme.

I know some of the OHAN leadership, and consider them friends. It appears they have been hoodwinked.

I am also shocked they didn't have a balanced debate on the important Open Government amendment that night.

I know first hand, after submitting over 100 requests for information from our local governments, that public information is very difficult (and a very dragged out process) to get.

This incident shows how low the special interests will go to stop this important amendment and keep siphoning tax dollars out of our pockets with back room deals with Austin officials.

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