We’re Not Done With You Yet Perry: Act II-FOIA, Oh Boy-ah!
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal from neighboring Louisiana signed a “vulnerable road users” bill last week – as did Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee after his state Legislature sent him similar legislation.
Texas lawmakers recently voted overwhelming for our “safe passing” bill – 142-0 in the House and 26-5 in the Senate.
And then it went to Gov. Rick Perry, whose office was flooded in recent months with a whopping show of support for SB 488. More than 2,300 Texans (perhaps some of you) made phone calls or sent emails and letters to the governor’s office. Of those, 2,244 expressed support for our “vulnerable road users” bill. Only 87 raised objections – and many of those were based on ignorance of the bill. Folks, that’s 96 percent in favor!
I used the Texas Public Information Act to find out how many Texans contacted the Governor’s office regarding our bill and found the public was in support of SB488. Some of the correspondence was interesting…more on that in a moment.
Back to the governor:
As some of you know, the cycling community had requested a public bill signing ceremony with the governor. We wanted to raise public awareness for this issue and the pending new law intended to give the current statutes some enforceable teeth, especially in the event of an accident.
Instead of generating good will, and enhancing public safety, our guy stunned us, smacked us across the head and kicked our shins when he vetoed SB 488. A guy who rides a bike and who recently broke his collarbone after flying over the handlebars should have more sense about the perils facing vulnerable road users.
But then again, he has a big SUV with security behind him when he rides on the road. Cars can’t get near him. I guess we can’t call Perry a “vulnerable road user”. But a veto shouldn’t be personal now should it?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if Perry gets it. So now, it’s our time to send him a message.
Guess what Governor! The cycling community is united, organized and we vote.
The emails (count 38) that were sent to Perry in opposition of SB488 reeked of Road Ragers, and Special Donors i.e. Oil and Gas Companies. Stay tuned for “ACT III in my blog for a breakdown on each writer, and their connection to his campaign. There is a fabulous Texas Ethics site that is a gem of a resource.
And now, I’d like to share excerpts from some of my favorite emails to Perry:
From Robert Ellis -Plano: “I love passing close to cyclists who shouldn’t be on roads….With your veto I can continue to pass them in the same lane……Fortunately, I can continue to squeak by such fitness fanatics”.
Hey Mr. Ellis. Guess what. Bicycle commuters aren’t “fitness fanatics”. They commute because of the benefit to the environment, gas savings, or simply because they don’t have a car. Fitness is the bonus!
From Michael Mushegan-Austin: “The roadways are for motorists to travel….the bicyclist already seem to feel that they have the right of motor vehicles….”.
Uhm, Michael guess what! A bicycle is “A VALID FORM OF TRANSPORTATION” and has an equal right to the road, per state law!
He summarized it with, “I am shocked that this type of bill was able to get through a Republican legislature”. Guess what Michael. It was authored by Republicans, passed through the House unanimously by Republicans, and signed off with a small margin of opposition in the Senate. Even Senator Dan Patrick (Mr. Right Wing Radio Host)-Republican from Houston approved the bill!
From William R. Breedlove, and his lovely wife Jackie-Wimberley: “We are undecided who we will support in the next Republican primary for governor, and a veto on this bill will go a long way toward swaying us in your favor”.
Guess what! His Veto is going a LONG way in swaying “us” to vote in the Republican primary.
Perry’s reasons for the veto just show you how out of touch he truly is. He stated, “This bill contradicts much of the current statute and places the liability and responsibility on the operator of a motor vehicle when encountering one of these vulnerable road users. In addition, an operator of a motor vehicle is already subject to penalties when he or she is at fault for causing a collision or operating recklessly, whether it is against a ‘vulnerable user’ or not.” Actually, Perry, prosecutors helped with the language of the bill because the current statutes lack the teeth they need to prosecute in the event of an accident involving a cyclist. Regardless of the fault of the driver, these cases are not being prosecuted. This bill would save lives, and give a cyclist recourse in accidents where the vehicle driver is at fault! BikeTexas also strongly disagrees with the reasoning stated in the veto message from the Governor. They state, “Law enforcement, prosecutors, AAA, AARP, Texas Motorcycle Rights Association and Texas Towing and Storage Association joined BikeTexas in supporting SB 488 because they also believed this bill could have saved lives”.
Folks, now is the time to send a message to our Governor , and remind him that the lives of our cycling community are not to be ignored. In addition to signing the petition call, write, email the Governor’s office daily and let him know how wrong he is. Maybe, just maybe our Gov. will be enlightened before the primary. Hey Perry, open your eyes, your ears, your mind. Makes me wonder what’s in that Tea Party tea!