The Terrible Toll

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It’s rare to see Lina Hidalgo and the crew try to save you money, but they’re cutting Harris County tolls by ten percent. That’s sweet, but why are they spending millions of dollars just to tell us? Or is it simply to pat themselves on the back? Either way, it’s a terrible toll!

“In Harris County we’re always on the move,” claimed Rodney Ellis.

So are we Rodney! And it sure seems that more and more we have to use a toll road to get just about anywhere quickly in this congested county. There are now 128 miles of toll roads.

Just as unavoidable these days those TV commercials that are sponsored by our Haris County Toll Road Authority. Hope you like them because if you pay a toll, you’re paying for them.

The TV ads star all four Harris County commissioners and they’re pushing a new discount they promise will save you money when you hop on a toll road.

“We’re also introducing a special ten percent discount,” claims Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

The ten percent savings first made news in January when it was approved by Harris County commissioners court, a rare unanimous vote.

“I think this is a good program. This gives us confidence in what the toll road authority is doing,” said Tom Ramsey in a meeting.

“New systems have to be built,” claimed Lina Hidalgo.


“The community of course needs to be informed,” continued Hidalgo.

Just give us the damn discount. But hey, if you must, there’s lots of free ways to tell the community. like Lina’s social media pages.

Commissioner Lesley Briones posts like every day.

Or there’s what we call in the investigative journalism world, free TV.

But hey, this is the government and the politicians thought it would be a great idea to produce commercials instead. And not just in English. And it’s hard to turn on the tv these days without seeing one of them.

You know me, as I watched I started to ponder just how much this is all costing us. The ads are a bunch of shots of politicians being, well cutesy.  

Records obtained by Dolcefino Consulting show the total price tag for just four months…

Are you sitting down? Is more than 2.7 million dollars.

The labor costs alone to produce them, including coming up with the cheeky idea and editing, more than 364-thousand dollars.

But that wasn’t the biggest expense of course.

Placing the ads on TV, online, and streaming services from September to December of this year (four months) costing you toll road drivers over 2.4 million dollars.

We hope exposing this unnecessary spending is sort of like a early Christmas present for our viewers.

So, who is getting all that money? It’s a company called Outreach Strategists. Lina and the gang like them a lot.

Harris County shows Outreach Strategists has been paid 944 thousand dollars in the last three years.

Dig a little deeper and you learn Outreach Strategists is run by a big democratic political strategist, Mustafa Tameez.

The firm has four contracts with the county including handling marketing, communications, and public outreach for the Harris County Community Services Department and the Flood Control District.

And an outreach also, to get people to show up for jury duty. Who knows how much that costs.

I’ll never understand why the government thinks they have to spend millions and millions of dollars on commercials.

Like Metro, we all know there are buses and trains and how great you are.

I’m sure the toll road ads weren’t meant to show you how your politicians were looking out for you. Maybe their campaigns should pay for this instead.

“While others are raising tolls, I’m proud at Harris County Hawe’re discounting them for you,” claims Rodney Ellis in the ad.

“Putting saving right back where they belong, in your pocket,” continued Tom Ramsey.

I’ve been bitching about the toll roads for decades. Guess, I’m old. But remember when it all started, the toll roads after we paid for the construction were going to be free for everybody. Until they weren’t. Now the toll road authority has become a cash cow. I’ve never gotten over that))

While we like the idea of making it a little less expensive to use the county’s toll roads, Lina and the gang should put the brakes on these pricey commercials. Call us, we could’ve saved you millions.

I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we put all that money into bigger discounts. Gosh, we’re smart.

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