TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh, to the left, arrived at the CAMPO
meeting with Richard Ridings of HNTB (183A contractor) seen at right.
I went to TxDOT this week (8/14/06) to pick up documents I asked for via a public information request. I requested cell phone records of TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh (more about what I found in the next paragraphs).
While I was at the I 35 and 183 TxDOT campus Monday, I was asked to sign in. I noticed that CRA International, who was hired to do the Independent Review of the Double Tax toll roads, had signed in at least two people to meet with TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh. At the same time, at 1pm, the toll authorities executive director (CTRMA), Mike Heiligenstein also signed in to meet with Bob Daigh and CRA. I assume CRA was meeting with TxDOT and CTRMA to gather information for the City of Austin Independent Review. Both CRA and Heiligenstein signed out at 4pm. I was shocked to see that no neutral party joined this meeting.
Three hours is plenty of time alone to discuss Phase II (Double Tax Toll) details and maybe even cut a deal. It would give the public a little confidence if these meetings were either made public, or at least had some neutral person, or a reporter attending.
I emailed Councilmember Brewster McCracken this information and my opinion, since he spearheaded the Independent Study, and he sent me this response,
“Thanks for letting me know, Sal. This stuff needs to be done in public, in my opinion.”And, the beat goes on.
Back to that pile of 450 pages of Bob Daigh’s (567-1059) cell phone records.
Get this. Convicted criminal Amos “Pete” Peters cell phone number, 415-6037, shows up over and over on Bob Daigh’s cell phone records. These records show the two actually spoke numerous times a day, right up until the comptrollers report came out in early 2005. Then the calls became less frequent. But, as the months have passed, calls between the two have picked up again to a rate of many times a month, at times, more than a dozen times a week. Bob Daigh’s appointment calendars also reflect many face to face meetings with this convicted criminal.
Why is this important? When folks are trying to toll roads we’ve already paid for, and a convicted criminal is at the heart of it, something stinks like month old fish.
Pete Peter’s numerous contacts Daigh could represent communications directly with a member of the executive branch to influence administrative action. It is a violation of Texas Law to do so, without registering as a lobbyist.
Peters is not registered as a lobbyist. It is illegal for a convicted criminal to lobby in the state of Texas. But that never stopped ol Pete, as he’s been seen over past years hanging out at the capital, only to tell those who know better that, “I’m not lobbying here” while in the capital.
Page 45 of State Comptroller report on Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority: A Need for a Higher Standard, March 2005 states this about a Peters communication that points to his lobbying:
“HNTB subcontractor Amos “Pete” Peters stated that “elected officials have been shored-up and alliances have been formed to see the HWY 183-A through to completion.” "Peters, as per the Comptroller’s investigative report, has received numerous NO BID toll road contracts from Mike Heiligenstein’s unaccountable freeway tolling authority.
You would think stealing tax funded public highways and shifting them to tollways would be enough to make the freeway toll plan make good business sense, but it’s not. To sell this pig in a poke, you need to LIE BIG as well.
In March of 2004, Bob Daigh and the toll authorities Mike Heiligenstein LIED to the public and CAMPO when they went to dozens of neighborhoods with a scare tactic (as well as included the LIE in a press release) about the alternative to double tax tolls, "...the alternative of paying a two-to-three-dollar per-gallon gas tax would never be accepted." In 2005 CAMPO Executive Director, Michael Aulick, estimated it would cost only an additional 2 cents per-gallon gas tax for the same plan without tolls.
In the summer of 2004, Bob Daigh and Mike Heiligenstein LIED again as they claimed it would cost 12 to 15 cents a mile to drive on the freeway toll roads (the national average is 9 cents a mile). Confidential CTRMA documents show the actual cost at 44 to 64 cents a mile.
I’m sure Dob Daigh will be rewarded well. History has shown the revolving door swings best for those who lie, cheat and steal from the public.
This article is part 9 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
7 of 12: State Rep. Dawnna Dukes Payolla Toll Vote Ignores Constituents and Federal Law
8 of 12: County Commissioner Limmer and Convicted Criminal formally do business.
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