Was anyone really surprised when Ned Lamont did a flip-flop on tolls? Not me.
If you’ll remember when he first announced his candidacy for governor, he said he’d sign a toll bill his first day in office. Then he saw the polling data and backtracked, saying he’d only toll trucks.
Trucks seem like such a convenient scapegoat. Sure, let’s blame them for our traffic and bad roads.
We’re not responsible, it’s them. Everybody hates trucks, unless they’re delivering your Amazon package. But just tolling trucks won’t get the money needed, so the governor gave lawmakers a second option.
Yes, lawmakers. It’s the Legislature that must pass a tolling bill before the governor can sign it, so that’s where the debate has quickly shifted, bringing out — the zombies.
Usually when you lose an election, you slink off in a corner to sulk and regroup. But not the Republicans.
Their standard bearers have risen again from the dead to lead a new fight, this time against tolls.
Bob Stefanowski, the guy who didn’t vote for 16 years and then couldn’t decide if he was a Republican or Democrat, is now leading his “party of NO” in a crusade to stop the “tolls tax.”
See also: Protest Against Connecticut Tolls Attracts 100 on Saturday in Downtown Stamford (Feb. 25)
Scott Frantz, who lost his Greenwich Senate seat to, gasp, a Democrat, is believed to be behind his town’s pushback on tolling. Fellow GOP loser, Toni Boucher, of Wilton, is still on social media fanning the flames of discontent. It’s a trifecta of zombie losers who refuse to admit they were rejected by the voters.
Elsewhere, the GOP is organizing local “informational meetings” with constituents to attack the Lamont budget. But if you look at who’s providing the “information,” you’ll see it’s just GOP lawmakers. There are no voices who support tolling, just the trolls who oppose it.
The zombies and trolls are hoping to find new political life on an issue they campaigned and lost on, big time.
When 88 percent of the voters said “yes” to a lock box on the Special Transportation Fund last November, we witnessed a sea-change in residents’ attitudes toward raising revenue for our roads and rails. People understand that tolls are not a “tax” as the zombies would have us believe, but a user fee.
If you don’t want to pay tolls, don’t. Take mass transit. And when the anti-toll trolls now complain about how unfair it is to charge tolls to working men and women just trying to get to their jobs, where is their sympathy for the hours they now waste in traffic each day?
Even Stefanowski mentor Arthur Laffler understands the issue of supply and demand: we have a limited supply of highway and insatiable demand. Tolling will moderate our greed.
Mind you, with the zombies and trolls now running lose across the state, I’m seriously underwhelmed at our new governor’s inability to sell his vision on tolling. His budget speech was fine, but there’s been no follow through. Let’s get cranking, Ned!
It’s time for Lamont to sell the reality and necessity of tolling and finally put a silver stake through the heart of the zombies and trolls.
Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for more than 25 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group, sits on the Merritt Parkway Conservancy board and also serves on the Darien RTM and as program director for Darien TV79. The opinions expressed in this column, republished with permission of Hearst CT Media, are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com.