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Cornelius News

Javier Tamargo: ‘Indiana Toll Road bankruptcy has proved the resounding success of the public-private partnership model’

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Aug. 20By Dave Yochum. ANALYSIS. The I-77 toll battle just got more interesting. And a little humorous. WidenI-77 founder Kurt Naas, a Cornelius resident, has challenged the head of I-77 Mobility Partners, the newly created Cintra unit that will build and run the toll lanes, to a debate.

“In the interest of informing the public, we challenge you to an open, public debate anywhere in the Lake Norman region at a time when the public and media are able to attend,” Widen I-77 wrote in a detailed response to Cintra’s Aug. 11 detailed response to a WidenI-77 “white paper” that takes apart the NCDOT-Cintra toll plan exit by exit, mile for mile.

That’s not the humorous part. Gently put, English is not the first language of Javier Tamargo, head of I-77 Mobility Partners.

Nor does I-77 Mobility Partners have a way with words. In its detailed response to Widen I-77’s white paper, Mobility said this:

“A default by the developer under the financing documents does not per se lead to the occurence of a developer default or a termination of the comprehensive agreement (or any related payment thereunder), but rather will only result in Developer default (and potential termination of the Comprehensive Agreement) if it results in a bankruptcy of the Developer, in which case no termination is required from NCDOT under the Comprehensive Agreement.”

If you do not understand that, neither do we.

It’s no surprise. After all, the contract between the NCDOT and Cintra is more than 900 pages. What is a surprise is that our state entered a 50-year agreement with a company that seems to have had its share of ethical challenges in other parts of the world.

And it’s a surprise that in the much-vaunted world of Public Private Partnerships, where the state is the government and governments, at least in the United States, don’t have the habit of threatening legal action against constituents.

Of course, litigation is a form of force. This, from a Public Private Partnership, where our government is the “public” part.

But like a blustering bully from a Batman episode, Cintra has threatened legal action against those who’ve spoken out against $648 million plan.

Diane “Dee” Gilroy, a UNC-Charlotte Spanish professor, traveled to Spain to research Ferrovial, Cintra’s parent company. She says there are a half-dozen occasions where Cintra should have disclosed legal difficulties including bankruptcies, but did not do so.

Dee, the wife of Cornelius Town Commissioner Dave Gilroy, one of the early opponents of the NCDOT-Cintra deal, has taken her concerns to North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper and the NCDOT inspector general, making public statements about Cintra and Ferrovial.

Doing so did not please North Carolina’s partner.

Ferrovial’s attorney said this:

“The allegations of systematic corruption made in the letter from Ms. Diane Gilroy dated July 12, 2015 are absolutely and categorically false. Furthermore, we have fully complied with all of the various disclosure requirements throughout the multiple-year procurement process for the I-77 project. As a result of the severity and falseness of these allegations, we feel compelled to consider all appropriate legal action in respect of this matter.”

Pow! Bam! Take that, American citizen.

Cintra has its side of the story too.

In this part of Cintra’s Aug. 11 rebuttal to WidenI-77’s white paper, Tamargo seems to say bankruptcy is not just good, but resoundingly good:

“In fact, the experience of the Indiana Toll Road bankruptcy has proved the resounding success of the public-private partnership model in the United States as such project successfully emerged from bankruptcy without any disruption to the user of the asset and, as noted above, without requiring and contribution from the State of Indiana.”

In the Cintra rebuttal to Naas’ “white paper,” Tamargo closes this way:

“Having clarified these issues, we request that you retract in writing—within 10 days of receipt of this letter—all false statements  about our company and the project previously published by you. We know that you are philosophically opposed to the concept of toll roads, as opposed to roads built with tax revenues, but we hope that, going forward, this letter will permit you to avoid making false statements about us and this project.”

That’s a threat from the big private part in the much-vaunted partnership with our state government.

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