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Secret Turnpike Tolls

Secret Turnpike Tolls
By Jean Hay
Enterprise Editorial
Nov. 25, 1998

It was enough to give Big Brotherism a bad name.

An Associated Press story in Monday's paper quoted Turnpike Authority Chairman Julian Coles about proposed toll increases to be voted on Tuesday at the Turnpike Authority's meeting.

"We have come up with a plan that takes into account everybody's needs," Coles said.

Okay, fair enough, let's see what you've got.

Nope, can't do that, Coles told the reporter.

According to the AP story, the proposed rate changes were being kept private until the meeting as a courtesy to authority members who have not seen the final plan, "and to prevent opponents from delaying the process."

Coles further expounded: "I think it would be a great disservice to the greater public good if one small minority were given the time to make a huge issue about how it affects them."

Clearly Coles anticipated a difference of opinion over the details in his proposal. And to avoid public criticism which might be persuasive enough to sway the final vote on the issue, he decided to violate Maine's Right to Know law and keep the details secret until it was too late for public input.

Thankfully, his arrogant position did not survive the light of day. Specifics of his proposal were on Monday's evening news. It wasn't immediately clear whether the "small minority" Coles feared was the trucking industry which is looking at a 25% increase, Transpass customers who will see a hefty hike, or all those commuters who will have to pay both ways to get into and out of Portland at Exit 6A.

It just makes one wonder what else Coles is not telling us. For our own good. You understand.

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