We should all wish the Texas Department of Transportation good luck in its efforts to solve the medical pass fakery problem at the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry landings. We should all take a moment to enjoy the fact that it’s the department, and not us, that must attempt that feat.

It’s a classic dilemma, and a textbook no-win situation, for the department, which manages the free ferries that travel all day every day between Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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(13) comments

Miceal O'Laochdha

“…which everybody knows is widely, perhaps mostly, abused by people with no legitimate medical need.” “Probably well more than half the passes being used at any given time are being used for reasons that have nothing to do with access to health care.” This may be an opinion piece but Mr. Smith, you are a journalist by profession, and these kinds of statements, together with tossing around terms like “ferry pass fakery”, “sham programs” and “minor-league corruption” are baseless and incendiary remarks serving to incite the masses. Medical passes are authorized by physicians based on medical conditions that make extended sitting in unmoving ferry lines painful or impossible for citizens who would otherwise be able to use the roads of Texas, and is NOT based on how many people who reside on Bolivar are rushing for urgent care at Galveston hospitals. The comparison of total number of passes issued vs. stated number of Bolivar residents as “evidence” of corruption is a false dichotomy. The simple truth is tourists sitting in long lines they created themselves envy the cars they see pass them in the medical boarding lane and want to claim it is unfair that they can’t by-pass the line too. I am very surprised at the tactics you employ in the editorial to support that goal. No one should envy the dubious advantage of medical conditions that make hours sitting in a car impossible for those who should have equal access to the roads. That consideration of our fellow citizens is what underlies the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is what makes reasonable accommodation of people whose physicians consider them eligible to have ferry medical passes fair. That is not corruption; it is compassion. Your pejorative statements here amount to accusing licensed physicians of corruption and fraud. Are you really prepared to back that up with what you claim “everybody knows”? Here is something “everybody knows”: people hate waiting in lines and seeing others avoid that wait, and they do not give a tinker’s damn why those folks get to go ahead of them.

Randy Chapman

A resolution to this would be that the passes are valid Monday thru Friday morning and only going to Galveston. They should not be honored on the weekends. No doctors offices are open then. If you have an emergency, you call 911 and are transported by ambulance. If you can't sit in a vehicle, then you chose to live in the wrong place and that's on you. You are naive if you think the passes aren't faked, if you think the doctor won't write passes for the patient he's known for 30 years just as tons of handicap placards are, and yes, fraudulently written passes. Nothing the author said is baseless, and it sounds like you have some sort of obvious disdain for the citizens of Texas that pay for the ferry but don't reside close enough to need it daily. Those are tourists and they have the right to use the ferry without everyone on Bolivar passing them with faked, yes, faked, or falsely written certificates, or those of another family member. The whole program needs to be scrapped and further safeguards implemented in the process to verify the need.

Miceal O'Laochdha

You got my number alright...disdain and lots of it.

michaelsmith Staff
Michael A. Smith

How do you explain what there are a lot more passes than people? To believe that these are being used as intended, you have to accept that everybody who lives on Bolivar is too infirm to sit in a ferry line and that a number of visitors slightly greater than the total population is as well. You can buy that if you like, but I don't.

Miceal O'Laochdha

It is my understanding that people in Galveston receive physician authorization for ferry passes, not solely residents of Bolivar. Excerpt from my original post: "Medical passes are authorized by physicians based on medical conditions that make extended sitting in unmoving ferry lines painful or impossible for citizens who would otherwise be able to use the roads of Texas, and is NOT based on how many people who reside on Bolivar are rushing for urgent care at Galveston hospitals. The comparison of total number of passes issued vs. stated number of Bolivar residents as “evidence” of corruption is a false dichotomy."

Don Schlessinger

Excellent appraisal of the situation Michael. I am surprised to know the residents of Bolivar didn't go for a $250 pass to skip long ferry lines.

Wayne Holt

Without getting into the statistics of who is medically qualified and who isn't, I wonder if passes for Bolivar residents would not be the answer...and if that is defensible. I personally think residents anywhere, supporting the local economy and tax structure year 'round, should have preference for getting to and from home day in and day out over a visitor there for the day. As for the legality of it, we know that federal funds flow to educational institutions that have lower in-state tuition for residents. How do they accomplish that if not by preference? I agree with Michael a medical pass is not the answer when it's being run this way, but I would support Bolivar residents, after clear proof of primary residency, having permits that allow them to bypass the crowds. There are all sorts of carve-outs, exceptions, waivers and special conditions used throughout society to attempt to accomplish some goal. Giving Bolivar residents the ability to connect to Galveston on a daily basis without sitting in endless ferry lines seems to me to be both equitable and do-able.

Randy Chapman

For verifiable, homesteaded residences, your proposal is not absurd. but for weekenders with rental homes...well, they are nothing more than tourists and should receive no special compensation.

Wayne Holt

I would agree with that. Maybe not with the same language but I do make a distinction between folks who own businesses and/or live in a locale vs just coming down for the weekend. I'm sure some will not agree with that but I think that is a fair distinction. We're talking about people who are coming and going day in and day out. I think that warrants some kind of alternate treatment.

Don Schlessinger

"I personally think residents anywhere, supporting the local economy and tax structure year 'round, should have preference for getting to and from home day in and day out over a visitor there for the day." I've been an islander for the last 30 years supporting the local economy and tax structure year 'round, do you think I should have free parking on the seawall?

Steve Fouga

"...do you think I should have free parking on the seawall?" I certainly do, since you're a resident. At Seawolf and the beach parks, too. But I also think that if we are made to pay to park in those places, the rates being charged are reasonable.

Don Schlessinger

This year.

Wayne Holt

Sure I do...but I understand it is illegal to do so. I think our taxes are high enough without having to pay as if we just showed up at the beach from Katy, but this doesn't appear to be viable. If it wasn't, or isn't, illegal I would support that.

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