Congress just approved a massive $286.4 billion highway bill (HR3). You might think the bill would be a cure for TxDOT's "we're poor, so we must toll the roads we've already paid for" argument for tolls.
But, you'd be wrong.
Early reports already show how even more of our tax dollars will go to Tolling Texas roads we've already paid for. Read the last line in this article a few times, and let me know what you think in the comment area below.
From MyWestTexas.com: "TxDOT spokesman Glen Larum of Odessa said the six-year bill "is a major win for Texas transportation" with $669 million for 220 projects.
It creates a $15 billion Private Activity Bond program for intermodal facilities, encouraging private sector investments and partnerships and advancing Trans Texas Corridor plans.
It'll add options for new federal highways to be toll roads and for local communities to use Transportation Development Credits to meet federal road and transit match requirements."
CNN report on political fat favors in bill LAMAR SMITH voted for: "Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, cited dozens of what he suggested were questionable projects in a highway bill, including $3 million to fund production of a documentary about infrastructure advancements in Alaska.
The bill, he said, is "terrifying in its fiscal consequences and disappointing for the lack of fiscal discipline." Joining McCain in voting against the bill were Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, and Jon Kyl, R-Arizona.
DALLAS tells of fat & tolls: "The bill also provides new options to charge tolls on new federal roadways..."
The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.
"Texas Sen. John Cornyn was one of only four senators to vote against the bill. He argued that the state deserves a larger share of money than it would receive in the new bill.
This bill simply continues the pervasive and longstanding funding inequity, and I cannot support that," he said, adding that the bill was "cut up in special-interest projects and pork-barrel spending."
"In addition, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, Texas to receive more financial credits from the federal government for building toll roads with state and local money."
What do you think? Add your comments here.
Congressman Michael Burgess & $286.4 Billion HR3 bill pushes more Tolls on Texas taxpayer funded freeways.
Boondoggle costs Texans most while politicians corporate friends profit.
is the beginning of generating the cash flow..."
- Texas Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson,
appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to govern TxDOT
"Because there are issues of confiscation of private land, State and
National sovereignty and other similar concerns, the Party urges the repeal of
HB 3588 authorizing the Trans-Texas Corridor. Further, we urge the removal of
all authorization and powers granted the Texas Transportation Commission
and the Texas Department of Transportation for the construction and
operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor."
- Republican Party of Texas Platform says "NO" to Corridor.
"Governor Perry and his friends spent a great deal
of time researching ideas to create more revenue."
- Texas Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson,
appointed by Gov. Rick Perryto govern TxDOT
With only 5,000 miles of toll roads in the United States today, The Trans Texas Corridor is a 4,000 mile plan of supertollways and more. The Corridor will include tollways for 12 passenger vehicles lanes, 4 truck lanes, 2 passenger train tracks, 2 commuters train tracks, 2 freight train tracks, underground lines for water, natural gas, petroleum, telecommunication, fiberoptics and overhead high-voltage electric transmission lines and electrical transmission towers.
Plans also include gas stations, garages, restaurants, hotels, stores, billboards, warehouses, freight interchange, intermodal transfer areas, passenger train stations, bus stations, parking facilities, dispatch control centers, maintenance facilities, pipeline pumping stations, and of course, toll booths. The Trans Texas Corridor is the largest engineering project ever proposed for Texas. This statewide network of corridors will measure a quarter mile wide and cost over $180 Billion dollars.
such a corridor without receiving any benefit"
- Diane Lacy, Jeff Davis County Commissioner
"It's going to kill agriculture.
Depending on where it goes, that is part of my family's land."
- Richard Cortese, Bell County Commissioner
"This would waste AG lands, and the access
and egress issues are of real concern,"
- Judge Jerry Bearden, Mason County
"If there is no access to the small towns,
it will change the face of the state."
- Will Lowrance, Hillsboro Mayor
"I am concerned about what this could do to the county."
- Richard Cortese, Bell County Commissioner
"If it is done the way it's proposed, it will hurt us..."
- Carlos Vigil, Cooke County Community Development Director
"With a right-of-way approximately 1,200-feet-wide, the proposed
corridor could change the face of agriculture in Texas forever as it
swallows up thousands of production acres of farmland."
- Juliet Briskin, Country World News
"It's a terrifying nightmare. I'm scared to death of this."
- Bill Durst, Fayette County Inspector
"The government is out of control.
They're trying to take our property rights away from us,"
- Rep. Harvey Hilderbran
"Texas should not be sold out to foreign interests.
Texas farms and ranches should be for Texas farmers and ranchers.
We should not let a Europeans consortium take our Texas birthright.
Our elected leaders should not be asking us to give them our land and
then insist we should have to pay to drive across it (as toll roads.)"
- Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
By TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE AARON PENA
Yesterday marked the anniversary (142) of the death of General Sam Houston, who led the Texans to victory in their struggle for independence against Mexico. Mexico you see failed to care for the well-being of all of it's citizens, including the Texans who lived in the out lands of the Mexican nation...
Click the orange headline to read more of Rep. Aaron Pena's blog article.
3 failed regular sessions AND 6 failed special sessions prove Perry couldn't lead a high school band.
SA EXPRESS: Politicos facing fallout in Austin
As top state leaders huddled Wednesday to try to come up with a school-finance game plan, the political blame game had long since begun.
With the 2006 elections looming, there already is talk of lawmakers drawing challengers, certain opposition to GOP Gov. Rick Perry from within his own party and the plain fact that no one wants to be father to failure in another special session.
So Rep. Jim Keffer, the top House tax-writer, labeled a tax bill as Perry's before taking the lead in voting it down this week. It would have raised billions in state taxes to cut local school property taxes.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: With lawmakers torn in too many directions, school bills were doomed
"The special interests want to protect the education status quo. They want to protect their tax loopholes. They want to protect their market share of tobacco addicts," Mr. Perry said. "Why should the special interests win at the expense of schoolchildren, parents and taxpayers?"
But even lawmakers who wanted to continue work on the plans said the House's overwhelming rejection of the tax plan was designed to send a message to the governor, who has kept them in session even after knowing there were no agreements on the tax shift.
DMN: The Revolt Has Begun: Texans up in arms on school-finance failure
Symbolic of utter disgust with the process is the recent formation of a group that consists largely of PTA-experienced volunteers. The new Texas Parent Political Action Committee aims to spark a "parent revolt" to toss out those in the Capitol establishment who pay mere lip service to the importance of funding schools. The organization will be collecting money and spreading it around to new, education-friendly candidates for office.
Here's hoping the group picks replacement candidates well – in a bipartisan, evenhanded, strategically sophisticated fashion.
As for the revolt – charge!
EMAIL JUST RECEIVED: Chris Bell decides he'll be a Democratic nominee for Governor.
"...today I am proud to share the news that I've decided to run for governor...."
"...Rick Perry couldn't lead a silent prayer." - Chris Bell
Strayhorn goes to San Juan TX and tells Mayor "I’ll come lay down in front of a bulldozer with you and stop toll roads"
Strayhorn campaigns in San Juan
July 27,2005. Victoria Hirschberg
SAN JUAN The Monitor
"It’s a land grab being crammed down our throats," Strayhorn said of a possible nine-mile toll road slicing through San Juan from Military Highway to U.S. Expressway 83. "Mayor (San Juanita Sanchez of San Juan), you just give me a holla’ and I’ll come lay down in front of a bulldozer with you and stop toll roads."
Many San Juan residents are outraged over a potential toll road because it will eat away at the small city’s land and hurt its tax base.
"It’s taking away 300 acres of property and we’re going to lose all those taxes," said San Juan resident Adriana Salazar.
Patrick Driscoll, San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer
A growing number of motorists critical of proposed toll roads in San Antonio asked Monday for an independent review of plans for the roads at a meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
It was the second consecutive month that members of a new chapter of TexasTollParty.com had converged on the monthly meeting. But this time there were six to seven times more people, about 40, and half addressed the board.
"We have every indication that a horrible fraud, including abuse of power and gross malfeasance at every level of government, is taking place through the toll road system now being implemented in Bexar County," said Spring Branch resident Terri Hall....
..."You have to be a moron to sit there and say you still have your (free) road," said Brad Holt of Spring Branch.
Toll opponents also said state documents from a public meeting in 2001 show that proposed freeway lanes on 281 from 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway had already been funded with gas taxes and that construction was supposed to have started by this year.
And as plans for those freeway lanes morphed into tolled express lanes, the cost ballooned from $48.1 million to $78.6 million, they pointed out.
"Who dreamed this up to begin with?" Mike Wikam, a resident of the Woods of Shavano, asked the planning board. "I've had it. I want my public servant to do what I want them to do, not what he wants to do."...
For Immediate Release: Monday, July 25, 2005
(Austin) – Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today reiterated her opposition to Gov. Rick Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor, which is the largest land grab in Texas history, and called on Gov. Perry, the Texas Department of Transportation and Cintra Zachary, LP to release hundreds of pages of financial and development documents related to the Trans Texas Corridor.
Strayhorn, who is an announced Republican candidate for Governor in 2006, said Cintra is defying Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s ruling that TxDOT and Cintra must release details of its corridor plan to the public. One month has passed since TxDOT and Cintra filed a lawsuit to block the release of those documents.
“The people of Texas recognize Gov. Perry’s Trans Texas Catastrophe as the largest land grab in Texas history,” Strayhorn said. “Gov. Perry and his highway henchmen want to secretly cram toll roads down the people’s throats, which is why they don’t want these documents made public. Withholding the financial and development details of the largest land grab in history is unconscionable.
“The people, not Gov. Perry, his professional politicians and his highway henchmen know what’s best for Texas,” Strayhorn said. “Hard-working Texas taxpayers have the right to read the full details of a contract they will be stuck with for the next 50 years.
“Gov. Perry, tell your highway henchmen at TxDOT to release these documents right now,” Strayhorn said.
Cintra is a Spanish-based construction company.
As the state’s chief fiscal officer and a strong advocate for government in the sunshine, Comptroller Strayhorn is a staunch defender of taxpayer dollars and “One Tough Grandma” watching out for all Texans.
Washington Group International Inc. says it secured a $55 million contract to operate and maintain Central Texas Turnpike Projects.
The Texas Department of Transportation awarded the four-year contract to Washington Group International Inc., based in Boise, Idaho. The contract runs from 2005 through 2009 and has two three-year extension options.
The Central Texas Turnpike Project covered is a $3.6 billion, 65-mile of toll roads being built in Austin. The project consists of the MoPac Expressway extension, State Highway 45 North and the northern segment of State Highway 130. The final phase of the project will be open in December 2007. These tolls are not freeway tolls, but they will be the first of many Tolls in the Austin Area. Texas Toll Party seeks to stop all Freeway Tolls.
Washington Group International Press Release is Here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TIME TO END TxDOT'S BAIT & SWITCH
San Antonio, TX, July 25, 2005 – Concerned citizens through the Texas Toll Party will demand an independent review of the Texas Department of Transportation's toll plan at Monday's MPO Transportation Policy Board Meeting in the Community Room at the Via Metro Center (1021 San Pedro) set to begin at 1:30 PM. After calling for an independent review of the toll plan at the MPO Meeting, Texas Toll Party will hold a press conference.
"The 'rubber stamp' ethics that have powered this toll plan are about to come to an end," declares Terri Hall, Director of the San Antonio Chapter of the Texas Toll Party, a grassroots group aimed at stopping the double taxation of our freeways.
Word is out and the momentum behind a 21st century taxpayer revolt is gathering steam. Controversy has been swirling around the now mandated push for a secret agreement with a private company to build the toll starter system in San Antonio. Another of the group's key sticking points is that the US 281 road improvements (building overpasses at key intersections that currently have stop lights) were already funded ($30.9 million) and scheduled to begin construction in 2004. TxDOT came in two weeks before the start of 2004 and turned EVERY project into a toll project. Now the pricetag has more than doubled and has been delayed at least 2 years.
"TxDOT purposely manipulated the solution to our traffic congestion on US 281. It was all set to be fixed, and they pulled the ALREADY FUNDED project in order to charge us every time we drive on it through unlimited tolls, FOREVER," said a frustrated Hall. "A horrible fraud is being committed against the taxpayers and we want accountability!"
"When TxDOT takes an already funded $30.9 million project and it grows into a nearly $80 million toll project, something stinks! Then add to that the unlimited cost of tolls. Taxpayers know when they smell a rat, and this deal is going South and fast. It's past time to restore responsive government to the PEOPLE! Power to the People!" Hall concludes.
"It's time to get the voters back in the driver's seat instead of taxpayers being driven off a cliff by our own government!" she related. "Our government is taking a public entity (freeways), akin to our water supply, and turning it over to a private company to manipulate, control, and profit from. They may have unlimited money from special interests, but we have the power of the ballot box and we intend to use it!"
WHAT: Texas Toll Party Press Conference at MPO Transportation Policy Board Meeting at 1:30 PM.
WHEN: Press conference to begin shortly after the public comment portion of the MPO Meeting.
WHERE: Via Metro Center (1021 San Pedro)
WHO: You can contact Terri Hall for more information firstname.lastname@example.org
See the many articles below in this blog for more of the same Perry special interest TxDOT cost run ups that are out of control. We need a new governor to step in and clean up the corrupt TxDOT to save the taxpayers, because we are on the floor and bleeding real money people! Can you imagine if the tollers TAP OUR VEIN$ by tolling our public freeways?
"When the three agencies agreed to be partners in 1998, the project
cost was expected to be $178 million. Wednesday's meeting focused
mostly on the past four years, when the problem snowballed. During
that time, the cost increased from $291 million to $825 million,
according to a report by Carter & Burgess, a Fort Worth-based
� Star Telegram, 7/21/05
Read more about the triple price tag in Fort Worth here. Sign the online petition to dump Perry and other looters
Looks like another special session will be called because of Rick Perry's lack of leadership. Another $2 Million tax dollars down the toilet because the Gov. is lost. Rep. Aaron Pena has the inside scoop this week on his great Blog. Rep. Aaron Pena says, "There are not enough votes (or they are choosing not to vote) in the House to pass HB 2. We are essentially in a "death watch."
Central Texans, let me forecast that this letter to the CAMPO Executive Director below may serve as a landmark for our fight to keep our freeways toll free.
Of course, we'll need to keep the political pressure on, in a BIG way, but, I can see the light. This letter is signed by 3 of our true Representatives (Keel, Naishtat, Rodriguez) that fought for us since day one. Bravo and thank you to Todd Baxter and the hard work of Brewster McCracken as well.
It looks like the letter brings with it - 3 more votes to say no to double tax freeway tolls.
When I read this letter I hear Mayor Wynn, Strama and Biscoe whisper..."u..n..c..l..e".
Keep up the good work, keep an eye on the details,
and it's time to turn up the political pressure!
July 1, 2005
Mr. Michael Aulick
Executive Director, CAMPO
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767-1088
Dear Mr. Aulick:
At our June 6 meeting, in response to concerns about both toll roads and assumptions for land usage in the 2030 Plan, we adopted the document contingent upon a complete review of the Phase 2 toll road plan adopted in July 2004. This extensive review is required to occur in a relatively brief l2-month time frame.
This review must reflect the commitment of the CAMPO board to address the concerns raised by many Central Texans about the current 2030 Plan. This letter outlines what we believe should be the high-level policy objectives of this review, and suggests strategies to ensure that the process of conducting the review is inclusive, objective, and thorough.
We believe it is our responsibility as CAMPO board members to define the policy objectives of the Plan so that staff are guided toward a common goal in their planning efforts. Page 17 of the 2030 Plan describes a "vision" for a Central Texas transportation system that:
• Addresses the region's current travel needs and anticipates future travel needs;
• Is safe and convenientfor all residents of the region;
• Appropriately balances mobility needs with preservation of existing natural features and neighborhoods;
• Supports the use of multiple modes of travel including auto, public transportation, pedestrian, and bicycle;
• Allows for enhancedfreight mobility within and through the region;
• Supports improvement of regional air quality and water quality; and
• Is affordable and can be maintained over time.
To this list of goals we would add the following specific objectives, in an effort to ensure that
over the next twelve months we address the concerns that have been raised about the 2030 Plan. The Plan, and the l2-month review, should:
• Take into account the research of Envision Central Texas, which indicates that our region prefers a growth strategy that preserves our open spaces, protects our air and water, and directs population density in desirable areas for development throughout the region. The Plan should leverage CAMPO's transportation planning authority to promote coordinated land use management policies by political jurisdictions in the CAMPO area.
• Ensure that our transportation infrastructure is reliably financed in a fiscally responsible way. We must ensure the availability of funds to meet our needs, and at the same time we must protect users from excessive tolls beyond what is required to finance the approved infrastructure in our plan.
• Finance our transportation infrastructure in a manner that falls lightly and equitably on Central Texas motorists. Options such as a local, voter-approved gas tax of less than five cents should be fully explored. If roads must be tolled, toll rates should not exceed
national norms. Finally, we must ensure that Central Texas continues to receive its fair share of state and federal transportation funds, and does not inadvertently assume operational costs for roads that would otherwise be maintained by TxDOT.
• Meet the letter and the spirit of a new state law by designating as toll roads only new lanes that can not be financed any other way. The plan should also ensure that free roads running parallel to toll roads are not artificially congested to force drivers onto the toll roads, and delineate clearly how TxDOT and CTRMA will construct alternative free lanes so they will be clearly visible and comprehensible to the public.
• Investigate methods and associated costs for reducing overall traffic congestion levels in the CAMPO area, even accounting for the dramatic population growth anticipated in the region. A Plan that merely holds current congestion levels constant over time is inadequate for the most congested mid-sized city in the country. Reducing traffic is not only a quality-of-life issue for area residents, it is a critical economic development issue for area businesses.
The next twelve months present our region the opportunity to conduct a measured, reasoned evaluation of the Phase 2 toll plan that has generated so much controversy in our community. As important as it is that we take advantage of this opportunity to correct any deficiencies in the Plan itself, it is equally important that we correct any deficiencies in the planning process by ensuring maximum inclusion of all affected residents.
The amendment to the 2030 Plan adopted June 6 requires CAMPO to "solicit and consider" input from Envision Central Texas, Liveable City, and the City of Austin's consultant's report. CAMPO should continue to actively solicit community feedback and demonstrably incorporate that feedback into the plan. No amount of inclusiveness or good faith can guarantee that everyone will be happy with the end product of these efforts. But an inclusive and fair process that provides everyone an opportunity to express their opinion and influence the plan enables reasonable minds to disagree.
Finally, it is critically important during the course of this review that CAMPO properly balance the need to move forward with planning and construction on our near-term projects, while preserving our ability to substantially amend the plan at the end of the review. For this reason, we ask that CAMPO staff, working with CTRMA and TxDOT, prepare a timeline for upcoming, construction projects, particularly denoting any points at which funds will be expended or contracts established that have the effect of committing our region to any toll road in the Phase 2 plan.
Because we do not speak for the entire CAMPO board, we are copying all of our fellow board members on this letter in the hopes that they will provide you with any additions, modifications, or disagreements they might have with these suggestions. We circulate this letter now because with only 12 months to review such a comprehensive plan, we believe it is necessary to begin work immediately.
Please consider incorporating these suggestions into the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) for CAMPO staff, with the goal of presenting the CAMPO board 12 months from now with amendments and/or alternatives that respond to recommendations from Envision Central Texas, Liveable City and City of Austin's consultant's study and address the concerns about both toll roads and land usage in the current 2030 Plan.
Terry Keel, State Representative, District 47
Elliott Naishtat, State Representative, District 49
Mark Strama, State Representative, District 50
Eddie Rodriguez, State Representative, District 51
Sam Biscoe, Travis County Judge
Will Wynn Austin, Mayor, City of Austin
Director for the San Antonio Chapter of Texas Toll Party, Terri Hall states, "Word is out and the momentum behind a 21st century taxpayer revolt is gathering steam."
An article on BondBuyer.com includes a bald face misrepresentation (or maybe he's mildly retarded?) of events from RMA attorney Brian Cassidy. His false comments were about the constitutional violation lawsuit RMA lost last week. Apparently Brian sees ambiguity in the difference between 6 years and 2 years. Records show Brian Cassidy has also contributed money to the same politicians that have given our tax dollars to the toll authority. Ah, "The circle of Payola". You can get a free 2 week trial of the online BondBuyer.com and see the complete article for yourself.
In the article, Brian Cassidy states:
"The process for correcting any ambiguity in the statute was under way before the lawsuit was filed," said Brian Cassidy, a partner with Locke Liddell & Sapp who represents the CTRMA. "The lawsuit appeared to be an opportunistic attempt to capitalize on those efforts." However, a PET release states that its lawsuit "caused a chain reaction in an attempt to fix the problem," spurring legislative efforts to fix the 2003 statute.
The lawsuit was filed March 1, 2005. The constitutional amendment was filed March 10, 2005.
The Daily Texan also has an article about the constitutional victory for People for Efficient Transportation: "While the majority of the board members are from Williamson County, a majority of the proposed toll projects are located in Travis County, Costello said. PET will be working on shutting down CTRMA because, according to Costello, it is just a "freeway tolling authority." Costello suggested the transportation system would be better off overhauling the Texas Department of Transportation and then leaving the toll roads up to its own division for toll authority
Wes Benedict and myself at a press conference to announce the Toll Lobby laundering lawsuit in May.
As an Texas Toll Party endorsed candidate, Wes Benedict didn't win his race for City Council this year, but he's won the hearts of many of us as he continues his legal "muckraking" work. Wes "filed a lawsuit"that continues today against the toll lobby who tricked Austin voters by laundering money into the Police PAC.
Below is a new press release he just sent out today. Thanks Wes, keep fighting for clean campaigns!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Austin, TX - July 18, 2005
Dunkerley Returns Over $13,000 in Illegal Contributions Other Councilmembers Found to Have Violated Charter
Austin Councilmember Betty Dunkerley has reported returning over $13,000 in illegal contributions made to her recent city council campaign. The returns were disclosed on Dunkerley's July 15 campaign finance report. The returns were made after opponent Wes Benedict complained about the illegal contributions to the city.
According to Benedict, Dunkerley accepted at least $32,835 from non-Austinites. The city charter restricts contributions to candidates from "sources other than natural persons eligible to vote in Austin" to $15,000 in the general election, plus $10,000 in the case of a runoff. This $15,000 limit is in the same section of the charter that restricts individual contributions to $100.
Benedict and his campaign treasurer, Arthur DiBianca, suspected that much of Dunkerley's large volume of contributions might be from non-Austinites. They examined her reports and compared them to Austin-area voter records. Benedict made his concerns public in April, and Dunkerley responded that she would return the excess contributions.
Benedict commented, "We had to audit Dunkerley's finances for her. If we had not done the work that the city charter requires _her_ to do, none of this money would have been returned." The city charter specifically states that candidates must determine whether contributions are legal before accepting them. After subtracting the returns, Benedict and DiBianca calculate that Dunkerley retains at least $19,760 in contributions from non-Austinites, still nearly $5,000 over the limit.
"The charter is clear," said Benedict. "You must stay within the $15,000 limit, and you must take care to determine whether the money is legal before accepting it, not after. Betty Dunkerley did neither."
DUNKERLEY NOT ALONE
Dunkerley is not the only violator. Benedict and DiBianca examined reports from the latest campaigns of the other six councilmembers, and found that most of them also violated the $15,000 limit:
In his 2003 campaign, Will Wynn accepted at least $31,040 in contributions from non-Austinites. In his 2003 campaign, Brewster McCracken accepted at least $67,300 in contributions from non-Austinites. (Note: McCracken was permitted to accept an additional $10,000 from non-Austinites because he was in a runoff election.) In his 2003 campaign, Raul Alvarez accepted at least $23,342 in contributions from non-Austinites. In his recent 2005 campaign, Lee Leffingwell accepted at least $25,500 in contributions from non-Austinites.
In her recent 2005 campaign, before the runoff period began, Jennifer Kim accepted at least $25,845 from non-Austinites. Only Danny Thomas stayed within the charter's limits in his most recent campaign.
"These discoveries are troubling," said Benedict. "In many cases these six candidates won their seats by outspending their opponents. Now we see that a lot of the money was obtained illegally." DiBianca commented, "These councilmembers had better return the excess money right away." Dunkerley's latest finance report may be found here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/election/downloads/bdunkerley_071505.pdf Benedict and DiBianca will provide a spreadsheet of their analyses of the candidates' contributions upon request.
appointed by Rick Perry
In contrast, "Freeway Tolls" are funded primarily with our tax dollars, a double tax, to create a revenue-generating machine that will shift ALL our freeways to tollways. Freeway tolls take away the option for free expressways. Not one freeway has never been tolled in the history of our country.
Central Texas TOLLER Judge Biscoe DWI Arrest Photo
In August of 2004, Central Texas freeway TOLLER Travis County Judge Sam "Double Tax" Biscoe was arrested for DWI. Officers pulled him over for changing lanes without a signal and said his car was drifting out of its lane. He declined to take a blood alcohol test. Under state law, declining that test, leads to an automatic 90-day suspension of his license, because he was already arrested and handcuffed when the officer asked for the test. But, he weaseled out of that one.
NOW Sam Biscoe is trying to beat his DWI charge by claiming diabetes caused him to appear intoxicated. Toller weasels will just say anything to skirt responsibilities.
Before becoming Travis County Judge, Attorney Biscoe had eight clients who filed grievances, and he was reprimand by the State Bar. Biscoe has also twice faced disbarment in state court proceedings. Tell him what you think: email@example.com
San Antonio Lightning's R.G. Griffing apparently got a hold of 200 pages of secret documents that gives some details of the 50 year Trans Texas Corridor deal and how Cintra/Zachry will fund, build, and maintain the Corridor. Zachry has threatened San Antonio Lightning with legal action, civil and criminal should they reveal any of the details.
TxDOT records indicate discussion of secrecy with Jose Lopez de Fuente, Cintra's director of operations in the United States and Latin America. Interestingly, it also included Dan Shelley, a high profile lobbyist who worked for Cintra before becoming Gov. Rick Perry's Legislative Director last year.
Attorney General Greg Abbott recently rendered an opinion that the documents are public record. Cintra Zachry and TxDOT are now suing the AG to keep the 200 pages of the proposal secret. Taxpayer dollars to the tune of $3.5 million is going to Zachry for planning. Taxpayers should be allowed to see what our money bought us.
Listen to the San Antonio Lightning taped phone call (INTERESTING AUDIO) with Zachry attorney Victoria Waddy.
Here's a shout out for Rep. Lois Kolkhorst from North West of Houston. Kolkhorst authored HB 1273 against the Trans Texas Corridor and has fought the "leaders" advocating freeway tolling. I saw Kolkhorst (she's tough as nails), and other good guys like Terry Keel, Garnet Coleman & Todd Baxter fighting the looters like Mike Krusee, Mark Strama, Carter Casteel & Patrick Rose - some months back via live House video. Keep fighting for the people of Texas - Kolkhorst, Keel, Baxter & Coleman!
Rick Perry must be proud of his freeway tolling scheme for Texas.
It was a tough crowd of almost 300 people Wednesday night at the first public hearing on the creation of Hidalgo County’s Regional Mobility Authority. Angry San Juan residents held signs reading "Don’t Contaminate our Neighborhood" and "Mi Futuro dice no tolls,"...
7/14/05 - For Immediate Release (Click on last line for Judge executive order)
Today, Travis County District Judge Darlene Byrne not only ruled that the statute that establishes the boards of directors for Regional Mobility Authorities violates the constitution, the Court also enjoined any member of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board from serving more than a two year term, thus insuring that these toll authorities must take the first step toward accountability.
People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. filed the lawsuit March 1, 2005 in State of Texas District Court against Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA - Toll Authority).
The lawsuit exposed how RMA's (FREEway tolling authorities) throughout Texas are unconstitutional. Under House Bill 3588 an RMA board has 6 year terms. But, a provision in the State of Texas Constitution says a regional entity must be 2 years or less. The state constitution trumps state law.
Since the lawsuit was filed March 1, 2005, it caused a chain reaction in an attempt to fix the problem. State Representative Mike Krusee, who also authored HB 3588, the freeway tolling bill that caused the issue, proposed a constitutional amendment in the last session. HJR 79 will appear on the November 8, 2005 ballot for the public to decide whether the unlected RMA terms should be two or six year terms.
PET Officer and founder, Sal Costello said, "This is a great victory for Texans who deserve more accountability. Texans now have an opportunity to come out in droves this November to say NO to extending the unelected, unaccountable RMA board members terms. An unelected toll authority setting toll rates for our freeways is taxation without representation, the comptroller's report "A Need for a Higher Standard" proves that. We need to get rid of these bureaucratic mini-TxDOT's and not extend their terms. And politicians like Governor Rick Perry, who forced this taxation without representation freeway toll scheme on Texans, should pay the price next year at the polls."
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's RMA investigation called "A Need for a Higher Standard" reports that the RMA, being an unelected board allowed to privatize and toll our freeways, creates "double taxation without accountability", and that the RMA's loose management practices cost all Texans more. NOT surprisingly, Comptroller also found favoritism and self-enrichment as board members gave contracts (without bids) to their friends and their own companies.
PET Attorney, Phil Durst of Deats, Durst Owen & Levy said, "The Texas Constitution was designed to serve as a check on government authority and to make sure that government boards cannot be insulated from public accountability. We are very pleased that Judge Byrne ruled that the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was set up in an unconstitutional way that did not provide enough pubic accountability."
The lawsuit, along with a recent focus on other RMA issues is causing a ripple effect for RMA's across Texas. Regions are now thinking twice about creating RMA's. "It opens the door to open-ended new taxation that will amount to THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN TEXAS HISTORY. said Lyle Larson, Bexar County Commissioner
Executive Order from Judge IS HERE.
This report is from a SA citizen I've known for a year. He attended the Alamo RMA meeting Wednesday.
VERY INTERESTING INSIGHT on how RMA's (toll authorities) and TxDOT are NOT getting along. And, how TxDOT continues to give RMA's misleading information and the small matter of the $85 Million shortfall:
Sal, "We are under the impression that we might be the first citizens to show up and speak at one of the RMA meetings!
Pat Driscoll with the Express News was there, and a Channel 4 WOAI TV camera was there briefly.
One of the RMA board members Bob Thompson said that TxDOT’s public meetings aren’t addressing the issues that the public wants to hear about.
Another board member Christina Rodriguez who has a nurse’s degree said she related to the benzene problem and that TxDOT has addressed aquifer protection. We plan to follow up on this with her.
Things did not go well for the RMA today. With the increase in costs, they learned today that they are not projected to have enough money to build the starter roads, and certainly don’t have enough to do the expanded network. There is a shortfall of $85M.
Hope Andrade, the new Transportation Commission member was there. The RMA complained to TxDOT about not being part of the CDA negotiations and for just now – at a public meeting – learning about the shortfall. Tom Griebel (RMA Executive Director) suggested that some erroneous information came from TxDOT, and David Casteel said he didn’t know where the information came from. The RMA also complained about the design work not be accomplished fast enough. The Bexar County Commissioners are not happy with what is going on.
RMA Chairman Bill Thornton, after looking at the financial projections, said that the toll road was “either going to fold or kick tolls up beyond belief."
TxDOT expects to let a contract for the first segment on 281 between 1604 and Stone Oak this September, although it is not clear at this point what the role of the RMA is. Expect more public meetings being held by TxDOT late August or September on the other toll projects." - BB
Last week's SA Express article on how TxDOT is keeping the ARMA in the dark.
WED. UPDATE: Costs spiral to push RMA to accept secret 50 year privatization and tolling of publicly owned freeway's right of way.
This evil twin of Phyllis Diller, Rep. Carter Casteel, is part of the Krusee House Transportation Committee. Casteel tried to spin a yarn to her San Antonio area constituents about how she didn't want freeway tolls - but her transportation votes in the last session tell the truth - unlike Carter Casteel.
I actually sat down with Carter Casteel along with some TxDOT high chieftains in her office some months ago. About 30 minutes into the meeting, after she had assumed I was a Comal County constituent of hers - like my new friend Brad that asked me to come along. She sneered at me (really - she sneers a lot) and said "Where ARE you from? Why are you here? Who are you?". I responded that I founded AustinTollParty.com and she got meaner than a junk yard dog with hemorrhoids (It's the god's honest truth - this woman is downright mean). You'd think I had the plague.
Get your De-elect Carter "Freeway Toller" Casteel merchandise here.
Austin Toll Party Press Release
The CTRMA, the toll authority for Central Texas, the first RMA in the state, is made up of mostly Williamson County (WilCo) people, even though WilCo is one-third the population and most the toll roads are in Travis.
Should Williamson County be tolling Travis County? Should Texas be placing tolls on roads we've already paid for?
Robert Tesch, CTRMA chair, has real estate interests in Williamson County that will benefit from the tolls on 183A, the CTRMA's first toll road. Tesch defaulted on "personal, business or student loan(s)" as disclosed in his "Governors Appointment Application," not to mention a bankruptcy in Dallas and pending foreclosure in Plano.
James Mills, CTRMA Board member, has a bankruptcy and his real estate interests can benefit from the tolls. The CTRMA board hired Mike Heiligenstein, as Executive Director, even with a bankruptcy in his past, at 120,000 a year (plus car expenses). Mills and Heiligenstein have been doing land deals together for years. Yes, they're both from Williamson County!
Should those who have failed in their own finances (i.e. had bankruptcies), be in charge of an unpopular 2.2 Billion toll system?
Numerous ties to WilCo convicted criminal Amos "Pete" Peters have recently been found. Peters 20 year criminal record includes check swindling, criminal mischief, DWI, larceny and four fraud convictions. He's spent two years in jail and also earned $4,000 a month from WilCo's road bond budget. Records show, TxDOT's District Engineer Bob Daigh met with Peters many times in 2004, at times alone and other times with Mike Weaver of Prime Strategies, Inc. Weaver has hired Peters company, The Communicators, for bond projects in Williamson County before. Mike Weaver's Prime Strategies, Inc helped create the CTRMA and continues its' contracts today.
Research as of 1/19/05
Research from records with leads from a current TxDOT employee and an anonymous Williamson County person. All documents are available.
Robert E Tesch
CTRMA Board Chairman Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry
BANKRUPTCY #1 - 81-03527 (Houston, TX)
(Plano, TX) Published reports said that an August, 2004 foreclosure was pending for The Inn at Orchard Park, an assisted living facility owned by The Inn at Orchard Park, Ltd. whose general partner is Robert E. Tesch
In the "Office of the Governor Appointment Application" Robert Tesch admits to the Bankruptcy and also states that he has defaulted on "personal, business or student loan(s)." One portion of the application asks for him to "Describe any litigation" he has been involved in, he fails to describe any of the several civil suits he's had over the last 25 years.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Tesch's real estate interests on and near road 1431 and the new 183A (listed below) are valued at millions of dollars. The CTRMA's 183A Toll Road and it's free alternative roads and exits are in close proximity to his real estate interests and Tesch will clearly benefit.
WIFE: Sandra L. Tesch
Bob Tesch Properties, Inc
Tesch & Associates, Inc.
Tesch & Associates Interiors, LLC
Oakmont Business Park
Oakmont Retirement Services, L.L.C.
Cedar Park Properties, L.L.C.
Tesch Family Partnership, Ltd.
Creekside Park, Ltd.
The Inn at Orchard Park, Ltd.
REAL ESTATE INTERESTS: [Total approx. $7.8 million]
R-17-W017-0000-0038-0008 CEDAR PARK PROPERTIES LLC
1490 WHITESTONE BLVD E CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
R-17-W017-0000-0038-B008 CEDAR PARK PROPERTIES LLC
1480 WHITESTONE BLVD E
CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
R-17-W017-0000-0002-0D08 CREEKSIDE PARK LTD
CR 1431 CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
R-17-W017-0000-0047-CA08 CREEKSIDE PARK LTD
CR 1431 CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
R-17-W017-0000-0002-1C08 CREEKSIDE PARK LTD
CR 1431 CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
R-17-W017-0000-0002-0B08 CREEKSIDE PARK LTD et al
FM 1431 LEANDER, TX 78641
[ AW0170 - Damon, S. Sur.]
P-17-P194-4040-3710-88 TESCH AND ASSOC
1490 E WHITESTONE BLVD CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
R-15-0269-0000-0002 TESCH, ROBERT E
2510 CR 268 LIBERTY HILL, TX 78642
[ AW0269 - Garmes, H. Sur.]
R-17-W035-0000-0008-0001 TESCH, ROBERT E
2600 CR 268 LEANDER, TX 78641
[ AW0350 - Johnson, L.b. Sur.]
R-17-W346-0000-0005-0008 TESCH, ROBERT E
1400 WHITESTONE BLVD E CEDAR PARK, TX 78613
[ S4681 - Spanish Oak Estates]
James H. Mills
CTRMA Board Member and former assistant treasurer of Pete Peters "Roads Now PAC"
Address: 1900 CR 103, GEORGETOWN, TEXAS, 78626
Mills was forced to abandoned the following finacial interests through bankruptcy: 248 Joint Venture, Branchwater Joint Venture, Steck II Joint Venture, Brady Joint Venture and Draper Tract Joint Venture.
WIFE: Lavon Hudson Mills
Lake Creek Center Joint Venture
BPL Management, INC.
J.P. Management, INC.
Jacks Pond Limited
Overlook Management, INC
Rivercrest Group, INC.
Rivercrest Properties LTD
Cranbrook Houston, LTD
REAL ESTATE INTERESTS: [Total approx. $3.4 million]
R-20-0556-0000-0052 MILLS, JAMES H
261 BUSBY CROSSING GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
R-20-0246-0000-0003 JACKS POND LIMITED
301 CR 148, GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
[ AW0246 - Garcia, M.j. Sur.]
P-20-P194-0040-3732-37 RIVERCREST GROUP
1902 CR 103 GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
R-11-0444-0000-0001 RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
CR 304 JARRELL, TX 76537
[ AW0444 - Mcclellan, Wm. B. Sur.
R-11-0391-0000-0001 RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
IH 35 JARRELL, TX 76537
R-20-0481-0000-0036 RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
CR 103 GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
[ AW0481 - Nimmo, S. Sur.]
R-20-0481-0000-0063 RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
CR 103 GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
[ AW0481 - Nimmo, S. Sur.] $0
R-20-0556-0000-0025 RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
1900 CR 103 GEORGETOWN, TX 78627
[ AW0556 - Stubblefield, W. Sur.]
R-20-0481-0000-0036A RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
CR 103 GEORGETOWN, TX 78626
[ AW0481 - Nimmo, S. Sur.] $0
R-11-0581-0000-0003B RIVERCREST PROPERTIES LTD
FM 487 JARRELL, TX 76537
[ AW0581 - Smith, B. Sur.] $30,643
CTRMA Executive Director
ADDRESS: 502 OAKLANDS DR, ROUND ROCK, TEXAS 78681
Records show Mike Heiligenstein working real estate deals with CTRMA board member James Mills and through S & H Joint Ventures (Sheets & Heiligenstein) with Round Rock City Attorney Stephan Sheets as far back as the 80's.
S & H Joint Ventures
Sunrise Joint Venture
Amos "Pete" Peters III
WIFE: Karen B. Peters
Home Address: 1309 MARSHALL Lane, AUSTIN TX, 78703
Market Value of Home: $604,444.00
According to TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh's meeting calendar, convicted criminal Pete Peters has met with Bob Daigh a number of times in 2004, at times alone and other times with Mike Weaver, Howard Falkenburg and/or Manuel Zarate. It is illegal for convicted criminals to lobby in the State of Texas.
Amos "Pete" Peters criminal record spans 20-years Texas, it includes a dozen charges of check swindling, credit card abuse and criminal mischief. He's pleaded guilty or no contest to three felonies and three misdemeanors. He's been convicted of Larceny and DWI. Peters has been convicted of Fraud four different times. At one point he was sent to prison for two years.
"Peters' company earns about $4,000 a month from Williamson County's bond budget, mainly for work promoting the roads project. He bills the county for meeting with the media, for preparing news conferences and press releases and for discussing the project with state politicians, among other tasks.
But he is so closely tied to county Republican politics that he sometimes seems to wear two hats at the same time. A brochure Peters crafted at county expense last year displayed the names of every commissioner and included quotes from each touting his involvement in the roads project.
Last summer, the county paid Peters more than $600 for three meetings with American-Statesman Editor Rich Oppel -- meetings Oppel said didn't happen."
"In Williamson, politics, roads and money mix"
— Carter Nelsen, AA Statesman, 1/29/2002
Primetime Healthcare, INC
Roads Now PAC
Stephan Sheets (RR City Attorney)
S & H Joint Ventures (with Mike Heiligenstein)
309 Main Street Venture, LLC
Charles Crossfield (RR Attorney)
Crossfield is Williamson County's road / land acquisition attorney, and Stephan Sheet's current partner in Sheets & Crossfield PC.
Greg Boatright (CAMPO BOD)
Records show that Williamson County Commissioner Greg Boatright voted for an extension of Parmer Lane when he held real estate interests, which would give the "Boatright Parmer Land" an economic benefit. As per government code, Commissioner Greg Boatright is to abstain from voting and disclose the nature of his interests. He failed to do so.
Senator Steve Ogden (CAMPO BOD)
Ogden Resources - oil & gas company
Treasurure for "Yes on 14" works at "Ogden Resouces"
yes on 14 allowed for creation of debt in Texas to build toll roads - now called Ogden Bonds
HNTB (CTRMA CDA gave $20,000 to 14 SPAC)
Dannenbaum gave 10K
Yes on 2 & 15 (McCart, Friend of Rick Perry SPAC) gave 15K
Prime Strategies, INC
Trine Land Compnay, INC (w/ Ralph E Reed)
Fine Art Properties, INC (w/ Ralph E Reed)
This was difficult, so many are deserving - but only 10 slots for those FREEway tollers and Trans Texas Corridor pushers. What to do? What to do?
These folks went the extra step to go out of their way to deceive us.
Sure there's Round Rock's Mayor Maxwell (We are boycotting his Maxwell car dealerships in Central Texas), Sonleitner, Daugherty, Bisco, Gattis and many others could have easily make it. But this is kind of a statewide top 10 list (in my opinion).
Please use the comment section and tell us who you think should've made the list below - I want to hear from you. Know your Weasels - and please get folks to run against them.
Drum roll please....
10. Mayor Will Wynn - Just looking at him, you can tell he doesn't feel comfortable in his own skin. And who can blame him. He promised affordability when he ran for office, and then he turns around and votes to toll freeways we've already paid for - after 93% of the public feedback HE asked for opposed the plan.
9. Patrick Rose - Hays County Representative that PET PAC endorsed in the last election because he promised to fight freeway tolls. Except when you look at his transportation votes that would effect freeway tolls, he voted with Krusee just about every time, as if he was Krusee's bitch.
8. Dawnna Dukes - East Austin Representative Duke's sister, Stacy Dukes-Rhone, received a subcontract with the CTRMA (toll authority) on July 13, 2004, the morning after Dawnna Dukes voted YES for the FREEway toll plan on July 12, 2004.
7. Gonzalo Barrientos - He Chairs CAMPO and works for RMA toll authority vice chair Lowell Lebberman's Centex Beverage. But, he'll tell you it's not a conflict. He's been pushing freeway tolls ever since he's been getting greased.
6. Carter Casteel - This old politician is either senile or hopes you are. She's a Comal County Representative who voted with Krusee very time on Transportation bills this session, as she sat on the Transportation Committee, but she'll tell you she's against freeway tolls. Trust her as far as you can throw her.
5. Mark Strama - West Austin Representative newby voted with Krusee every time on Transportation bills this session. He promised to vote against freeway tolls before he was elected, but he lied and voted for Freeway tolls in Central Texas as a member of CAMPO just weeks ago.
4. Robert Nichols - Nichols just resigned as one of Perry's appointed highway henchman on the Texas Transportation Commission He'll run for Todd Staples East Texas Senate seat.
3. Todd Staples - Authored HB 2702. He trumpets 2702 as bill that helps us. He's a liar and hopes that we don't know better. He's trying to move from the Senate to the statewide seat of Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. Among many other things (complete summery coming soon) HB 2702 immediately shifted $51 million dollars more on to Austin taxpayers for only 3 sections of freeway toll utility relocation - remember the city council /TxDOT contracts? Thank Staples for that - read more below.
2. Mike Krusee - Perry's errand boy authored HB 3588. It's what started this mess.
1. Rick Perry - He's the head of this snake. And, it's hollow. Perry seeks: reelection as Governor, freeway tolls and the Trans Texas Corridor. We get 2 bites at this apple.
FYI: The whole House of Representatives - Looter Roundup list is complete! - see it here.
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, of East Austin, knew she was likely to miss the vote on a proposal to cut billions of dollars in school property taxes while raising billions with broader sales taxes, set up a trick arrangement to cover her House absence. It fails to work...READ the Statesman article here
Records show Dawnna Duke's sister, Stacy Dukes-Rhone, received a subcontract with the CTRMA (toll authority) on July 13, 2004, the morning after Dawnna Dukes voted YES for the FREEway toll plan on July 12, 2004. The freeway toll plan includes East Austin's 183 & 71 freeways - they are already 100% fully funded with our gas tax dollars. Freeways have NEVER been shifted to tollways in the history of our country - Until corrupt politicians like Dawnna Dukes get bought off.
Texas Toll Party SA Director Terri Hall stood strong last night against freeway toller Rep. Casteel, her misrepresentations and her attempt at having Terri Hall forcefully thrown out by law enforcement.
The Texas Transportation Commission (Perry appointees) has stepped in, pushed aside the local RMA in San Antonio and is now trying to make a secret 50 year deal without the RMA involved to privatize and toll a SA Freeway with Spanish company Cintra.
REP. CASTEEL OUT OF CONTROL
State Representative Carter Casteel gives that "Freeway Toller" smile.
Sparks flew when Terri Hall, San Antonio Director of the grassroots Texas Toll Party.com, stood-up to shine the light on the misstatements made by State Representative Carter Casteel and her guest, San Antonio District Engineer for TxDOT, David Casteel. It was her meeting and she wasn't going to let a citizen armed with the truth be heard.
"You voted for toll roads in Bexar County, which we will have to drive on", Hall said, raising her voice and backing away when Casteel tried to reclaim the microphone. Hall told audience members the representative had refused to return her phone calls and letters, a charge denied by Casteel.
When Hall continued to argue her point, Rep. Casteel, flanked with a hefty number of Comal County law enforcement officers, asked Sgt. Jimmy Limmer, with the Comal County Sheriff's Office, to consider REMOVING her.
"That was uncalled for!," "let her finish, and "That wasn't necessary!" rang out through the Guadalupe Valley Telecommunications Cooperative auditorium. Rep. Casteel then backed off.
"We have an unelected, unaccountable governmental agency that can tax us as much as they want with tolls," Hall said. "It's not enough to say we won't have toll roads in Comal County. They will be in other places we drive."
READ The Herald-Zeitung story about it here
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION PISSES OFF RMA
FROM SA EXPRESS NEWS: "Let the Texas Department of Transportation take all the credit - or blame - for the toll plan that emerges for San Antonio, suggested Bill Thornton, chairman of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority.
"Efforts on our part to insert ourselves or gain control of the process are only creating friction and discomfort," Thornton said in an e-mail this week to his board members. "That isn't good for anyone."
The roots of the problem are deep, with tension budding this year.
In an effort to control toll roads here and at the insistence of the state, Bexar County commissioners created the mobility authority early last year. State officials said they would build a 22-mile starter system on Loop 1604 and U.S. 281 on the North Side to kick-start the authority.
But at the same time, the Spanish company Cintra and its San Antonio partner Zachry American Infrastructure were gathering data from the state to submit a proposal to build and operate the starter system and double the mileage.
Cintra-Zachry would pay for the $1.3 billion 47-mile network, speeding up work and freeing up $610 million in tax subsidies. But the consortium would collect toll fees of 15 cents or more a mile for up to 50 years, money that local officials hoped to reinvest in other toll projects.
Local leaders didn't learn about the proposal until shortly after it was submitted to the state in April. Thornton, the county judge and the mayor quickly shot off a letter to ask that any final decisions be made locally, and the discussion has continued since.
Texas Transportation Commission members were surprised, even dismayed. At a meeting last week, Commissioner Ted Houghton told Thornton that the state can put in the hard work needed to evaluate private proposals, and besides, Austin and Dallas officials haven't taken such stiff stances.
"We were all taken aback by the position the RMA (in San Antonio) started taking," said Hope Andrade, a state commission member from San Antonio."...MORE HERE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STRAYHORN JOINS TEXANS IN CALL FOR STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND URGES GOVERNOR TO ALLOW 2006 PRIMARY VOTE ON TOLL ROADS
(AUSTIN) – Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Republican candidate for Governor in 2006, today joined Texans in urging Gov. Rick Perry to allow Legislators to adopt a state constitutional amendment protecting property owners.
“Farmers and land owners everywhere were indeed dealt a devastating blow when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that eminent domain used for private business development is a legal use of condemnation authority,” Strayhorn said.
“Lawmakers are meeting now so it won’t cost taxpayers a dime more than the money the Governor is already spending on this special session and Texas needs to be a leader in the fight against this latest land grab,” she said. “The Governor needs to let Texans’ voices be heard on Nov. 8.”
Strayhorn, who has said as Governor she will fight for Initiative and Referendum, also said Republican Primary voters in March 2006 should be given the opportunity to vote on a nonbinding referendum that would measure the support, or lack thereof, for Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor.
“Perry’s Trans Texas Catastrophe is the cornerstone of his administration and the biggest land grab in history,” Strayhorn said. “If he is so proud of his scheme, as the head of the Republican Party in Texas, he should get the Party to let the people vote for or against it. If it goes down, he should stop this boondoggle now.”
Because Texas currently does not allow Initiative and Referendum, the people could not vote on the massive toll road plan in the general election in November. The Republican Party does allow people to vote on nonbinding referendums during Primary elections. The Republican Party Platform opposed the Trans Texas Corridor.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 23 in the Kelo v. New London case.
“Only the Governor can set the agenda for a special session and I am calling on him to let the people vote,” Strayhorn said.
CAMPO Transportation Policy Board Meeting
MONDAY, JULY 11, 2005 at 6:00 p.m.
The University of Texas Campus,
Joe C. Thompson Conference Center - AUDITORIUM
Dean Keeton (26th) & RED RIVER
Includes US 290(W) / SH 71(W) on the agenda:
Presentation of Status Update and Proposed Improvements to US 290(W) / SH 71(W) - (Councilmember McCracken)
Summary: TxDOT will make a presentation on the status of improvements to US 290(W) and SH 71(W)
Presenter: TxDOT - Don Nyland, Area Engineer for Southern Travis and Hays County
After a 6/22/05 television interview with a Houston reporter, Governor Rick Perry, thought the camera and audio was off when it was not. Perry said "Adios, mofo" to the reporter. This flub has made national news. As most know, freeway tolls and the Trans Texas Corridor are the brain child of Gov. Rick Perry.
Get your own Limited Edition TTP "Adios, mofo" T-shirt for only $20 with FREE shipping! THIS WEEK ONLY: Get 2 for only $30 and get FREE shipping!
And, your donations go to help us in our fight to stop the taking of what is ours.
See the front & back here - ORDER HERE
Rick Perry's close friend and appointed Texas Transportation Commission chair bullies local officials for control of SECRET deal. What is Ric Williamson's cut?
"Surprised and concerned leaders from San Antonio could only stand on the sidelines Thursday as state officials agreed to pursue a private bid to build and operate toll roads in Bexar County," that's the opening line a story by Patrick Driscoll that appears in today's San Antonio Express-News.
Even Bill Thornton, the Governor appointed Chairman of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (RMA) was shut out of the process. Shockingly the Transportation Commission didn't have the common courtesy to notify Thornton that the deal for privately built and operated toll roads in Bexar County would be on the Commission's agenda yesterday.
TRADITIONAL TOLL roads in Houston generate $50 million dollars a year in revenue that is reinvested in Harris County transportation projects. But FREEWAY TOLL roads in San Antonio may instead generate billions in revenue for TxDOT's private monopoly road operator over the next half-century, denying Bexar County the same degree of benefit that Harris County enjoys.
Not surprisingly, the private bid to build and operate Bexar County toll roads comes from Cintra Zachry, the same group selected by the Commission last December to plan and build TTC-35. Of course the deal is secret, again. Most things involving money, monopolies, and unexplained transportation projects by TxDOT today are secret. Gone is government transparency, accountability and open government. No longer is the public permitted to participate in, or even observe, the planning, negotiation, or details of government contracts involving billions of dollars of public infrastructure and the expenditure of millions upon millions of our tax dollars.
READ MORE about it in the SA Express.
Travis County Commissioner Gerald "Oak Hill Toller" Daugherty walks out of CAMPO proceedings on Feb 14th. CLICK HERE TO SEE great VIDEO by Keath Milligan.
Read today's Statesman Briefing (UPDATED TODAY) about the "Oak Hill Toller" below...