Election results on CCC tolls suspicious

Published 8:29 am Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Crescent City Connection in New Orleans may not be a bridge over troubled water but the recent election approving continuation of the tolls has certainly created more than a few ripples.

Support appeared to be split heading into the election with East Bank voters, in a nonchalant tenor, in favor of maintaining the $1 toll, or 40 cents for those with a toll tag. But there was a strong anti-toll flavor from West Bank residents, who must incur the expense and daily traffic backup while commuting.

Early on election night it appeared the toll was going down to defeat but in true Louisiana fashion it rallied late and won by eight votes, continuing to what seemingly amounts to nothing more than a slush fund for those officials fortunate enough to have a key to the safe.

The bridge has been paid for many times over but officials claim the toll is necessary to maintain safety and cut the grass, although the latter is at best an inconsequential argument.

One is left to wonder what could be next. Will River Parish motorists eventually be forced to pay a toll to cross the Hale Boggs Bridge, or will St. Tammany residents face a fee to cross the high rise?

But the real issue here is not the tolls but the integrity of the election process. Suspicions were awakened when the toll went from a seemingly certain defeat to a stunning, albeit slim victory.

The margin was slightly raised when military votes were counted, but even those are being questioned by some. Consider it likely that most of the military votes came from West Bank residents, since that’s where Alvin Calendar Field is located and where many active military personnel live. Logically they would have been anti-toll, along with most of their neighbors, so once again the count appears potentially flawed.

Some West Bank residents are urging Jefferson Parish officials to petition for a recount. Recounts are costly but because of the suspicious nature of the election any morsel of doubt must be slammed shut. And the only way to do that is with a supervised and thus credible recount.

If the recount confirms the original result, then so be it and residents must live with another 20 years of tolls and some fortunate individuals maintaining their financial grab bag.

If the original vote is reversed, at least the voters will have had their voices heard. No monetary value can quantify having the voice of the people reflected accurately, no matter the potential outcome.