7 of 12: State Rep. Dawnna Dukes Payolla Toll Vote Ignores Constituents and Federal Law

On 9/13/2004, at a public transportation hearing, I exposed the payola that State Representative Dawnna Dukes received for her YES vote, to toll hundreds of millions of dollars worth of our public highways (see VIDEO here).

Rep. Dawnna Dukes expects her low income East Austin constituents to pay the steep cost of $1,000’s more a year, as the Dukes family receives freeway toll contracts, including a NO BID contract paid for with our tax dollars.

Dawnna Duke's sister, Stacy Dukes-Rhone, received a contract with the toll authority the morning after Dawnna Dukes voted YES for the Freeway tolls, after 93% of the public feedback opposed the plan

The nepotism revelation I made, and the TV news reports that followed, caused the Statesman to report the following on 9/18/04:

"Rhone (Stacey Dukes-Rhone), according to records and interviews with mobility authority officials, has been doing public relations work since February for the mobility authority under a contract with HNTB, the mobility authority's general engineering contractor for its first project, the U.S. 183-A toll road. That tollway, already under construction, was unrelated to her sister's vote in July.

But Rhone also worked on public outreach on the seven-road plan in the runup to the July 12 vote. Her contract allows her to receive as much as $44,400.

According to Richard Ridings with HNTB, the lead engineer on the project, she has been paid $26,000 so far and has billed an additional $6,000.

Her contract specifies her start date as Feb. 1 this year, and the agency, in a letter to Barrientos released Friday, said Rhone has worked for the authority since Feb. 18. But Rhone did not sign the contract with HNTB until July 7. Ridings signed on July 13, the morning after the toll road vote."
Rep. Dawnna Dukes vote included placing tolls on East Austin's 183 & 71 freeway expressways, which are already 100% fully funded with our gas tax dollars. These roads can open as free roads faster than if they were toll roads. The low income families that can’t afford to pay twice for freeway tolls get the shaft. Rep. Dukes also voted for freeway tolls again in 2005.

As expected, Stacey Dukes-Rhone has received additional contracts as well. Including a NO BID toll contract for tens of thousands of dollars as listed in the Special Investigation the Texas Comptroller produced in 2005.

Comptroller’s report also found that Rep. Dawnna Dukes approved tolls costing up to $1 a mile. Eleven (11) times the national average. The Comptroller’s investigation illustrates how freeway tolls are “Favoritism and Self-Enrichment” and “Double Taxation without Accountability”.

Dawnna Dukes, the daughter of Eastside power broker Ben Dukes Sr., even places her vote above our Federal Law.

This map shows how a number of West side freeway tolls have been stopped, unfunded or unlikely to be tolled (Yellow lines). The low income East Side of Austin currently has about six (6) times the double tax toll lane miles planned (Red lines). When you add in the 130 toll road, the disproportion is even more skewed, as Dukes constituents are boxed in by toll roads.

Federal law, Title VI
(Environmental Justice):

We must avoid
economic effects on
low-income populations.

Title VI also states that we must “prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income populations.”

CAMPO recently removed large sections of its Environmental Justice website page. But, altering a web page doesn't not alter federal law.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes is unfazed by the recent reports of the dangers of toll roads and toll booths, as the disproportionate accidents and deaths of her constituents are on the line.

In contrast to Dukes, State Representative Eddie Rodriguez continues to take a stand against Double Tax Tolls by voting NO since 2004. Eddie Rodriguez wrote a Statesman editorial focusing on the economic disproportion earlier this month.

•••••YOU•••• CAN HELP STOP EAST SIDE DOUBLE TAX TOLLS by downloading this flyer, making copies, and passing them out in East Austin! Deliver door to door or ask East side stores to keep them on the counter and give them to customers.

This Rep. Dawnna Dukes article is part 7 of a 12 part series called “Circle of Parasites”. Freeways have never been tolled in the history of the U.S., but that doesn’t stop a close circle of self serving individuals with a long history of looking out for themselves at the expense of others.

Read the other “Circle of Parasites” articles (just click below):

1 of 12: Deadbeat Mike Heiligenstein Runs Freeway Tolling Authority

2 of 12: Two Toll Authority Board Members Refuse to Resign

3 of 12: Austin American Snakesman

4 of 12: Convicted Criminal Connected to Freeway Tolls

5 of 12: Rep. Mike Krusee and Lobbyist Melinda Wheatley.

6 of 12: Ghost Organization Voted to Toll Austin Freeways.

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