San Antonio – Jeff Judson, President of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), today made public his March 7, 2000 challenge of a public debate with VIA during the week of April 3rd. TPPF has obtained commitments from three national transit experts for the event. VIA will be allowed to choose any three experts to represent their side.

“It’s time to openly debate the facts behind light rail for the public benefit,” said Jeff Judson. “I challenge VIA to find the best experts to justify at $2.88 billion tax increase for light rail,” he added. The three TPPF experts are:

  • John Charles from Portland, Oregon, Director of Environmental Policy for the Cascade Policy Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Charles was Executive Director of the Oregon Environmental Council from 1980-1996 serving on dozens of advisory boards related to environmental protection. Charles helped author numerous environmental laws in the areas of forest management, toxic substances, air pollution, watershed restoration, and transportation. Mr. Charles began his career as an executive assistant at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York City.
  • Thomas Rubin has over twenty-five years of experience in governmental transportation and finance experience as an auditor, consultant, and senior executive in major transit agencies. He founded and directed the mass transit industry practice for Deloitte Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte & Touche, LLP), serving over 100 transit operators, metropolitan transportation organizations, state departments of transportation, and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. He also served as Controller-Treasurer (chief financial officer) of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, the third largest transit operator in the nation.
  • Wendell Cox is the Chairman of the Financial Analysis Committee of the Amtrak Reform Council, appointed to that post by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to replace New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. He also served on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission for eight years and was responsible for authoring the amendment that provided the funding of light rail in Los Angeles in 1980. He has conducted numerous transit studies for TPPF and revealed the $23 million bookkeeping error at VIA that caused that agency to reverse fare increases and tax increases that were to solve a non-existent budget shortfall.

TPPF extended an invitation in writing to VIA on March 7th but, to date, has not received a response.