Bridges to our wallets 

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens would love to be an Oklahoman right now. With the massive rainfall we have experienced over the last few weeks, our roads and bridges have suffered more abuse than Cindy Sheehan at a Sean Hannity so-called Freedom Rally.


And we all know Stevens has a penchant for funding bridges and Hannity has a special place in his heart for Sheehan.


Oklahomans now must gird up their loins and prepare for an oncoming rush of media assaults promulgated by the ever-busy public relations machine that is the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Still licking their wounds and possibly quite bitter from the crushing defeat of the legendary State Question 723, the proposal to raise gasoline taxes, Director Gary Ridley and staff of the Department of Transportation most assuredly are preparing a "shock and awe" public relations campaign that will rival even the Al Gore "eco-vangelism" crusade.


Certainly Oklahoma's roads and bridges are in substantial disrepair, but the Oklahoma voting taxpayer must be diligent and not buy into the prospect that throwing money at a problem without accountability is the silver bullet. The taxpayer must ask a few very serious questions of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation before giving it the right of way to our wallets.


Has the Oklahoma Department of Transportation ever received a third-party, line-item performance audit? And not the rubber-stamp-state-auditor kind of audit where the aggregate result is little more than confirmation that yes, in fact, the Department of Transportation actually has spent money.


What is the process to determine prioritizing road projects? Does it have anything whatsoever to do with how friendly or unfriendly an elected official may be toward ODOT?


If there are roads and bridges currently deemed "dangerous," why hasn't the Oklahoma Department of Transportation closed those roads? Merely talking about dangerous roads and bridges as a propaganda tool doesn't cut it in Oklahoma " action, on the other hand, does speak very loudly in this great state.


No pun intended, but transportation infrastructure is government where the rubber meets the road. Taxpayers in Oklahoma know that funding infrastructure is critical to our economic growth, and most importantly, that safe roads save lives. But the need for infrastructure improvements in no way justifies giving a blank check to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.


Now is the time for all of us to recall just why we broke records in voting down State Question 723, and keep that in mind as the news reports flood our television screens showing the furrowed brow of Ridley or his sidekick, ODOT spokeswoman Terri Angier. Oklahomans are demanding more from government and we are growing very weary of career bureaucrats whose lives center around the acquisition of taxpayer dollars.


Black, known as "The 400-Pound Gorilla," is a political consultant and former talk show host living in Edmond.


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