The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation (CART) wound through the press awhile back after some rejected legal maneuvering in the Ohio River Bridges saga.
Per an April 2011 LEO article:
Last year, CART unsuccessfully sought to join a pending lawsuit filed by River Fields, a local conservation group. In its motion to intervene, CART claimed the Federal Highway Administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act by “intentionally or recklessly” failing to provide a “full and fair analysis of public transit alternatives” that “would eliminate or greatly reduce the need for” the Ohio River Bridges Project.
“The LRT (light rail transport) proposal prepared by Defendants used unfair, unrealistic, and fiscally unwise assumptions that resulted in significantly lower ridership potentials and significantly higher costs,” according to CART’s complaint.
Its website (www.cartky.org) says, “FHWA ‘cooked the books.’”
Now, CART (a vocal critic of the Ohio River Bridges Project and supporter of that still-elusive dream known as user-friendly, environmentally beneficial mass transit) is questioning the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) April 2012 purchase of the historic Drumanard Estate in Jefferson County. The $8.3 million purchase from Soterion Corp. marked “a significant step toward realization of a long-sought East End Bridge over the Ohio River,” stated a KYTC press release.
CART has grave concerns. First, at the time of purchase, Robert Scott Jones, president of Soterion Corp., was ensnared in a lawsuit over $96,000 in unpaid child support. CART questions entering into a legal contract with someone who was subject to a warrant for their arrest.
CART filed an Open Records Request with KYTC, seeking a long list of documents including paperwork showing the shareholders, partners and ultimate beneficiaries of the $8.3 million purchase, as well as a property value assessment of the Drumanard Estate.
CART’s ORR, filed by attorney and environmental activist Clarence H. Hixson, is dated May 3, 2012.
On May 8, Hixson received a letter stating (in part) …
“We are in receipt of your … letter wherein you list six very general and broad questions regarding the purchase of the Drumanard Property … This is to advise that no records exist within the possession of the Transportation Cabinet which would effectively respond to your questions.”
Hixson and CART don’t buy it.
On May 10, 2012, Hixson sent a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway asking that he review the denial of records under Kentucky’s Open Records Law. He calls the exchange between CART and KYTC a “cat and mouse game to thwart Open Records laws.”
He goes on to write that CART requested specific documents showing how KYTC vetted Sotarian Corporation as to ensure no kickbacks or conflicts of interest occurred. Further, Hixon says:
“Inexplicably, a copy of the KYTC property value assessment of the Drumanard Estate has not been made available for inspection, nor any documents explaining how a good faith negotiation occurred where KYTC paid more than $5 million above the Jefferson PVA assessment value to a corporation with unknown members, beneficiaries and officers whose President could not return to Kentucky for fear of arrest?”
There are lots more details in the letter filed with the AG.
The Drumanard Estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of that, federal officials plan on routing I-265 underneath the property. An effort is under way to get it de-listed.