More on Ric Williamson's Death

"In your lifetime most existing roads will have tolls"
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson 10/11/04

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
TxDOT chairman Williamson dies

So Sad To See You Go...

Austin American Statesman: Williamson, who led Texas toll road push, dies at 55

Full of Crap Blog: Can't spell PRICK without RIC

MaxConcrete: Chief Toll Henchman Dies of Heart Attack

Burka Blog: Don't Blame Ric Williamson

Dallas News: "Highway to Hell" Tolls for "King of The Road"

A service has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Jerry Durant Auditorium at Weatherford High School, 2121 Bethel Road in Weatherford.

Search 'Ric Williamson' in TTC News Archives HERE

BREAKING NEWS: Ric Williamson, The Most Hated Man In Texas, Dead

Ric Williamson, Texas Transportation Commission Chairman, "died overnight of a major heart attack" according to Paul Burka's Texas Monthly blog. Williamson was 55.

About 7 months ago, the Statesman did a report that included Burka's thoughts of Williamson, and how his TxDOT work was hard on his health:

"Burka described Williamson as the most hated man in Texas because of his devotion to the corridor.

But the longtime political columnist also wrote that Williamson is one of the most inventive minds in Texas politics, though one with a personality so prickly it courts enemies. In the interview,
Williamson said his six years on the commission have been hard on his health.

He said he's had two heart attacks since joining the commission, "and I'm trying to avoid the third one, which the doctors tell me will be fatal."

A Texas Monthly article this summer called him “the most hated person in Texas, public enemy number one to a million or more people.”

Ric Williamson, a Gov. Perry appointee, has been the leading force at TxDOT to push tolls on roads we've already paid for, as well as the TTC land grab schemes - for many years. Many elected leaders have had major problems with Williamson's shocking behavior - see many examples here.


How will Williamson's death effect freeway tolls and the TTC?
We'll see. Some have suggested Krusee would take his place. But, I don't think Perry would appoint Krusee. Mike Krusee lacks a college degree, the basic intellect, political savviness, and any gravitas whatsoever for the position.

How do I feel about Williamson's death? I feel for his family. A death in anyone's family is always very difficult. But sadly, and to be honest, the rest of our families will be better off without Ric Williamson leading the charge to place the highest toll rate possible on our freeways.


New NASCO NAFTA Superhighway Docs Released From MnDOT

Sen. Kirk Watson vs. Ric Williamson

TxDOT’s unelected Ric Williamson is at it again, pissing off elected leaders and citizens alike.

Yesterday’s Statesman article is a follow up of the story about Sen. Watson’s freak out letter to TxDOT a couple weeks ago. TxDOT, under Ric Williamson’s leadership, sent a response letter back to Watson. Except, the letter didn’t really answer any of Watson’s questions, and now Watson is more unhappy - that’s Ric Williamson modus operandi to a tee.

Watson’s original letter asked if TxDOT would still give CAMPO the gas tax dollars needed to subsidize the Austin freeway to toll way conversions, as TxDOT promised (and voted on by Sen. Watson and the other tollers last October).

Without that diversion of our gas tax dollars, the Austin freeway tolls are not financially feasible. And now, after the unpopular toll vote lead by Sen. Watson in Oct, Watson is starting to feel like he’s being played.

I wrote about why the whole freeway tolling planning process, from top to bottom is in turmoil, just a couple weeks ago.

Williamson has a long history of erratic behavior and making enemies in the Capitol and in Congress. The Dallas Morning News wrote about a bill that was created last year to remove holdover appointees, because of Williamson. Some might say Ric Williamonson has a sort of social retardation, I believe he has a chemical imbalance. Really. Here’s a guy that continues to rub legislators the wrong way, while his agency is up for Sunset Review!

Proof that the unelected Ric Williamson “ain’t right” in the head (or at least not doing the people’s business):

Watch this VIDEO of Williamson pissing off Sen. John Carona.

Williamson’s directive drives Congress “Into Tizzy” says Houston Chronicle.

Texas Homeland Security Director 2006 email to Assistant Attorney General says Williamson doesn’t know what he’s talking about. "This Ric guy is a piece of work. Full of off the wall projections and recommendations and yet does not know what his own agency is already doing."

Toll happy Williamson tells AAA Texas, "Pay your 15 cents a mile and get the heck out of my way."

Watch this VIDEO of Williamson pissing off Rep Harper Brown

Williamson so angry he refuses to shake mayor's hand.

"TxDOT leadership has begun to take on a very different and mean-spirited tone of late,” said Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkinsson "This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, especially coming from appointed officials who are unable to be held accountable by the public."

“I've worked with TxDOT very well, but not since Ric Williamson has been onboard the Commission and really not since Rick Perry has been Governor because they don't like input, they don't want comments that might be constructive to this process.” said Dallas County Commissioner, Kenneth Mayfield, 7/06

Williamson says he wants toll rates to be as high as possible, watch the video.

"State transportation officials have pushed San Antonio leaders, treated them rudely and ignored them,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff in 2005.

Williamson refuses to go to a Transportation summit, Rep. Linda Harper Brown responds, "It's unfortunate that one individual would act so childish, to boycott a summit that is so important to this state simply because of personal reasons."

Williamson doesn’t know his own toll plans. Transcript of Costello vs. Williamson in 2004.

“Highway extortion” “Unreasonable” said State Sen. Jon Lindsay, 1/07

Williamson continues to lie to the public and the press, claiming $2 to $3 gas tax increase would be needed if we didn’t toll, after a 2006 report from the Governor's Business Council (GBC) told legislators that only pennies a gallon would be needed.

Under Williamson's leadership, the Auditor found TxDOT inflating it's needs by tens of Billions of dollars HERE and video HERE.

Search 'Ric Williamson' in TTC News Archives HERE
Ok, so maybe you don’t think he’s crazier than a shit house rat. But let me ask you this simple question. How can Ric Williamson be working on behalf of Texans, when so many Texans are unhappy with what he is doing and how he is doing it?

City Caught Manipulating Yellow Time for Big Profit

by TheNewspaper.com

Richland Hills, Texas covers up yellow light manipulation by falsifying official signal timing documents.

Violation chartOfficials in Richland Hills, Texas have manipulated the yellow signal timing at the city's lone red light camera monitored intersection. By slicing the amount of warning time available to motorists from 3.6 seconds to 3.0 seconds for several months, the intersection of Glenview Drive and Booth Calloway Road generated an estimated $300,000 in extra photo ticket revenue. Richland Hills Police Chief Barbara Childress admitted that she ordered a private contractor to shorten the yellow signal time.

"I had actually reduced the time," Childress admitted to KDFW television.

Childress' account of why and when this change was made, however, was inconsistent with the facts. She first claimed that the "speed up" effect of the MPEG compression used with Redflex online violation videos confused her, leading to an unfortunate order to shorten the signal timing below the minimum standard established by the Texas Department of Transportation. MPEG video compression does not speed up videos. Second, city documents assert that the signal timing had only been shortened during a thirteen day period in August (view documents in a 520k PDF file), evidence provided to KDFW television proved otherwise. Violation videos from June 9, July 28 and a motorist's videotape of the intersection from August 11 and 14 documented that the signal was providing just 3.0 seconds of yellow, as opposed to the 3.6 seconds provided before the ticket cameras were activated.

Read the rest of the article HERE.


My Top 20 Corruption Articles

Below are some of my favorite past corruption articles. They are not in any particular order, and I've included more than just this past year. Enjoy!

20. Sen. Kirk Watson Has No Clothes -
AND, he's on the Payroll of Special Interests

19. PET Inc. vs. Gov. Perry (Perry appeal and flip-flop)

18. Toll Road Conglomerate Silences Nagging Texas
Newspapers by Purchasing Newspaper Group.

17. SA EXPRESS: Texas Toll Authorities Pay Losing Bids Big Bucks

16. AP: Double TaxTag double bills 50,000 Austin drivers

TxDOT Mows Down Signs Honoring Veterans

15. EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Internal emails record TxDOT deception.

14. Melinda Wheatley, One of the Most Wanted Lobbyists in Texas Gets Nabbed - Must Pay $10k Fine.

13. State Auditor Warns TTC Costs and Benefits are Unknown

12. How Rick and Ric benefit while taxpayers pay more.

11. Large Hole opens in Houston Freeway, TxDOT clueless.

10. TxDOT Program Placed Medicaid Patients in the
Hands of Convicted Criminals and Unlicensed Drivers

9. See How Sen. Watson Runs - From the Truth.

8. The State of Taxes has run out of Money! (and other tall tales)


7. Local Toll Authority, which has given out NO BID Contracts,
will Administer Tolls for Austin Texas.


5. The “Take On Traffic” Con Men - More Lies for Toll Profits

4. Indexing Gas Tax Costs 30 Times Less Than Tolls

3. The Toll Road and “Managed Lane” Hollow Promise

2. My Don't Tag Texas PHOTO ESSAY of March to the Capitol Steps

1. Everything You Need To Know About Austin Freeway Tolls


“Sleazy Six” Dropping Like Flies

The “Sleazy Six” tollers are running scared! One by one, the CAMPO “Sleazy Six” tollers are announcing that they won’t run for reelection. Don't you just love a good pattern?

First, Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell announced he wouldn't run again in early November.

Then in late November, Rep. Mike Krusee, the architect of freeway tolls and TTC, announced that he wouldn't run again. Read the article "Why Krusee Really Quit" to get the details.

Now this week, Georgetown Mayor Gary L. Nelon tells the Statesman that he’s bailing out as well!

And get this, a high ranking elected source within the City of Kyle administration has told me that Mayor Miguel Gonzales will NOT be running for reelection.

A call into the City of Cedar Park shows that Mayor Bob Lemon has plenty of time yet to "bail out" - since filings for that position haven’t even started yet. File for this Mayors position between February 9, 2008 and the deadline date of March 10, 2008 in case he runs.

THIS GUY WITH A BIG FAT TARGET ON HIS BACK IS Travis Commissioner Gerald "Oak Hill Toller" Daugherty. Daugherty has filed for reelection, according to Republican headquarters, and he has two D opponents for the general election, but he’s yet to get a Republican opponent. Deadline to file as an R is coming up fast - Jan 2, 2008. I've got a special place in my heart for GD . This Hee-Haw fool is my district rep so contact me if you are interested in running as an R - Let's pile on GD! (sal@austintollparty.com)

The “Sleazy Six” are the CAMPO board members who are up for reelection and voted to divert $910 million tax dollars to shift Central Texas freeways to toll roads. Our targets since October 2007, the “Sleazy Six” ignored the public’s will and voted to toll existing freeways like 71W, 290W, 71E, 71W, and 183 with our tax dollars.

Why are these politicos running scared?

These politicos know how our Political Action Committee has created a campaign that eviscerates double tax tollers and leaves their toller carcasses to rot. It took us a couple years to figure out the recipe, but we’ve now got it down to a science. In a successful stealth campaign to remove the Vice Chair of CAMPO we moved the race 15 points in only 2 weeks!

Changing CAMPO Allows us to chip away at the toll plan.

Here is how we’ve already changed CAMPO, and how we’ve
slowed down the toll plan and killed some portions of the
double tax freeway tolls.


Other 2007 CAMPO board members who voted to divert $910 million tax dollars to shift Central Texas freeways to toll roads, but who are up for reelection AFTER 2008 are:
  • Sen. Kirk Watson - Term ends 2011
  • Council Brewster McCracken - Mayor in 2009?
  • Williamson Commish Cynthia Long - Term ends in 2011
  • Travis Judge Sam Biscoe - Term ends in 2010
  • Travis County Commish Sarah Eckhardt - Term ends in 2010
  • Mayor Will Wynn - Term limited 2009
  • Council Betty Dunkerley - To retire in 2008
  • Capital Metro John Trevino - Unelected, Unaccountable.
  • TxDOT District Eng. Bob Daigh - Unelected, Unaccountable.
Other pre 2007 CAMPO board members who voted for double tax freeway tolls in 2004 or/and 2005 include:
  • Rep. Mark Strama
  • Rep. Dawnna Dukes
  • Sen. Steve Ogden
  • Sen Dan Gattis
Related articles:
Who Voted To Toll MoPAC?

Everything You Need To Know About Austin Freeway Tolls

Commissioner Daugherty Places Profits Over Our Families Safety

KXAN report: CAMPO Has No Accountability System For Spent Money

2005 Statesman Article covers Daugherty Anti-Toll Thong

Hundreds of anti-tollers locked out of Toll Road Hearing.

Why Krusee Really Quit

STATESMAN: The Invisible 'Double Tax' Tollway

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Brian Thompson challenges Toller Dawnna Dukes for state House in Democratic primary

TxDOT Forcing Texans to Acquire TxTAGs

Dallas News says Rick Perry is running for President (click here to read!)

Unpopular Texas Governor banks on collective amnesia in future bid for president


Costello's “Circle of Payolla” Freeway Toll Video Wins National Award!

The Sam Adams Alliance & Foundation announced the six winners of the "Sammie Awards" today.

The awards are designed to recognize outstanding citizen leadership and creativity nationwide, and are being given this year to individuals and groups from Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington.

"We are proud to see so many citizens participating in the effort for greater government accountability and transparency," said Bob Costello, Sam Adams Foundation president. "We hope the Sammies can highlight their efforts and encourage them-and others-to continue working to advance the ideals of liberty."

"Winning one of these important national citizens awards is a fantastic honor for myself and the citizens of Texas," said Sal Costello, founder of TexasTollParty.com and AustinTollParty.com (no relation to Bob Costello).

* Sal Costello of Austin, Texas won the $5,000 Best Short Satire Film award for his “Circle of Payolla” Toll Road video highlighting the "double taxation" of shifting Austin's freeways to toll ways. The video, that can be seen on YouTube, stars Sen. Kirk Watson, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Rep. Mark Strama and others.

* Stefan Sharkansky of Seattle, Washington won the $5,000 Sunshine award for his work investigating the government with Washington's Public Records Act and exposing cases of government waste, incompetence, and malfeasance on his blog, Sound Politics.

* Leon Drolet of Macomb, Mich. won the $5,000 Best Short Documentary award for his video footage of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance spreading the word about State Representative Marc Couriveau's 3,000 percent tax increase on local garbage disposal.

* Melyssa Donaghy of Indianapolis, Indiana won the $5,000 "Tea Party" award for staging numerous creative protests around the state in response to Indiana's increasing property tax burden.

* Ben Cunningham of Nashville won the $5,000 Local Blogger award for his blog, Taxing Tennessee, which gets on average over 2 million views weekly and covers topics on taxes, freedom, and individual rights.

* Finally, the "We Demand A Vote Coalition" from Hamilton County, Ohio won the $10,000 "Modern-Day Sam Adams" award for its work to defeat an $800 million sales tax increase through grassroots mobilization.
The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in Chicago on December 20, and details for next year's Sammie Awards will be posted on the Sam Adams Alliance & Foundation website-www.samadamsalliance.org-in the coming months.

The Sam Adams Alliance aims to revive the principles of our namesake by connecting and supporting citizen leaders who are working to defend liberty, hold the government accountable, and protect the rights of taxpayers starting at the state and local level.

The Sam Adams Foundation strives to educate and inform citizens about the important political issues necessary to maintaining a free society, including government accountability, government transparency, property rights protection, fiscal responsibility, free speech, and citizen initiative and referendum rights.

Mr. 39% Sets Up Special Election For R to win, But the D Wins.

Sen. Kirk Watson vs. Ric Williamson Spat in the Statesman - The Real Skinny.

Ok, there’s a lot happening in the last few days, many of them are not ripe enough to share, but they are coming soon, so check back.

The whole freeway tolling planning process, from top to bottom is in turmoil. The political infighting below is just a snapshot of how the foundations are continuing to crack.

In 2005, when the CTRMA borrowed $200+ in debt for a few miles of 183A, toll bond dollars were easy to get.

But today, the cost of driving (gas) is high, and gas prices are not expected to drop again. AND, the costly bond insurance, like the ones used to bump up the US 183A bonds to investment grade, are now under severe Wall Street pressure for all the risky municipal debt they insured.

SA Express wrote about the effects of gas prices on tolls last year - HERE.

The overall US and global economy are both in terrible shape.

And Texans are driving less.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Travel Volume Trends and Energy Information Agency, Short-Term Energy Outlook, Traffic volumes on urban arterial roadways in Texas in September 2007 were 1.3% lower than in September 2004. Over the same period, the U.S. retail gasoline price increased by 49.9%. The Energy Information Agency’s December 11, 2007 Short-Term Energy Outlook predicts that the average U.S. gasoline retail price will increase by another 21.6% between September 2007 and May 2008.

The pressures above are mounting to get the freeway tolls in, before it gets worse.

And, you add the chemically imbalanced Ric Williamson to the equation - then you've got real fireworks.

Sources say, the real reason for TxDOT (Ric Williamson) giving Sen. Kirk Watson a hard time about the nearly $1 Billion tax dollars (to shift Austin freeways to toll ways) was because Watson allowed the Eckhardt Amendments, (which some tollers feel “ties their grubby little hands”).

That is why Williamson is torturing Watson. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see the Statesman article from yesterday here.

So, what can happen?

Well, perhaps TxDOT/Williamson is just torturing Watson, or maybe they are trying to get the unaccountble toll authority (CTRMA) to cover some or all of the debt.

In any case, it’s a bunch of crooks fighting over how they set up this unaccountable taxation of tolling our freeways with nearly $1 Billion tax dollars.

Also, I hear that perhaps CAMPO Executive Director Micheal Aulick’s retirement, might not have been his idea, but perhaps Kirk Watson’s. Sources say that Watson (and a couple other CAMPO members) were not happy with how Aulick was doing his job, and they want a more politically seasoned person to carry the toll road message.


STATESMAN: What did TxDOT not know, and when?


Monday, December 17, 2007

Steamed senator wonders why TxDOT pulling funding
for toll road plan after politically risky vote in October

Kirk Watson is not happy.

State Sen. Watson, you see, and 14 of his Central Texas colleagues pretty much put their posteriors on the line in October, approving a toll road plan despite gathering evidence that voting for tollways can be hazardous to your political health.

Then, in late November, less than two months later, the Texas Department of Transportation decided to cut off spending on new construction starting in February, a move that could threaten those Austin toll projects.

What Watson has asked TxDOT, and what others are wondering: What exactly did TxDOTnotknow about its financial pressures around Columbus Day, when the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board he chairs was authorizing five toll roads that TxDOT had conceived and pursued for four years?

That toll road vote, as Watson repeatedly pointed out in a letter last week to Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Amadeo Saenz, was based upon a commitment from TxDOT that it would furnish up to $700 million of the $1.45 billion cost.

In fact, the words "committed," "commitment" and "commitments" appear a total of nine times in the three-page letter from Watson. The senatorial grinding of teeth jumps off the page.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Ron Paul is the Only Candidate Running, Who has NEVER...


Gov. Perry, eager to be VP, says Bush never fiscal conservative

Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants the VEEP slot so bad that he is willing to throw his long-time pal and mentor President Bush under the bus.

The video was taken of Mr. 39% while he stumped in Iowa for Rudy Giuliani for president last week. Perry says that Bush failed to rein in spending increases as governor of Texas and 'has never ever been a fiscal conservative.'

Terri Hall named San Antonian of the year


Austin lawyer Brian Thompson plans to file to oppose Rep. Dukes on Tuesday

Rep. Dawnna Dukes Must Be Removed Like The Cancer That She Is.

Big time freeway toller State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is correcting reports on her campaign and office-holder spending dating to 2000, her campaign consultant said Thursday, according to a Statesman report today:

In those years, Dukes spent almost $300,000 of campaign donations on lodging, travel, gifts, gasoline and other items.

Almost a third of that was on credit cards, reported without detailing how much she had spent on each item, as required by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Based on that one bold red line of type above, it appears that Dukes violated state law.

Dukes was also caught this past week playing hookey in Vegas. According to blogger Matt Glazer (see the pic of her playing the one arm bandit), Dawnna was playing the slots in Las Vegas, when she was scheduled to be in an important Medicaid hearing last week:

The committee was scheduled to meet last Thursday. It met and the video and minutes are here.

Who is the only thing missing from the hearing? Dawnna Dukes. Who needs a boring hearing on Medicaid when the seductive lure of the Las Vegas slots beckons.

This is nothing new for Dawnna, remember when she missed a critical vote on education because she was on vacation in France?

Dukes continued irresponsible behavior is all good news for Brian Thompson, a lawyer who works at McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore who is considering a run at Dukes in the D primary.

In January of 2004, Dukes voted to toll MoPAC (a toll lane coming soon - they plan on reducing current lanes to "shoehorn" in a toll lane!)

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 do a article 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. 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.

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.”

Last year CAMPO 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.

TxDOT Cashes in On Families of Accident Victims

by TheNewspaper.com

Texas Department of Transportation charges $300 for DUI roadside memorial signs.

DUI memorial signThe cash-strapped Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will charge accident victim families $300 if they wish to remember their loved ones with a roadside memorial sign. TxDOT announced the kick off of the drunk driving (DUI) accident sign program yesterday. The agency will provide those who pay a blue-and-white sign with the slogan "Don't Drink and Drive" and the name of the victim. The agency will install the sign near the crash site for up to one year.

"So many grieving families will want to honor their loved one's memory in this way because they know that good will come from it," Julie Blasingame said in a TxDOT statement. Blasingame's daughter died in a 2003 accident caused by a drunk driver.

If the family of every victim took advantage of the program, TxDOT would generate $500,000 in annual revenue. Families of victims who died in accidents caused by factors that did not involve alcohol, however, are not eligible for the program. This prevents the proliferation of signs at locations such as toll booths, a frequent location for fatal accidents caused by the unnatural restriction in the free flow of traffic.

Read the rest of the article HERE.


The Games TxDOT Plays

By EyeOnWilliamson Blog:

Ben Wear has a great post up about a TxDOT plan to use “an extra $300 million” to secure a $2.1 billion bond. It could be used to help out Williamson County and it’s recent loss of federal money for roads. From the post, TxDOT, strapped or not, might get a loan.

The catch is that you can’t borrow $2.1 billion when all you’ve got is $300 million in year one. Bond investors would want to know you’ll keep having the money in future years. In this case, that means that in future years the agency would have to use gas taxes to make the debt payment — which is exactly what they’ve already chosen NOT to do — or the Legislature would have to make the $300 million an ongoing deal.

Actually, voters kind of already did half the work. They approved Proposition 12 in November, which would allow TxDOT to borrow up to $5 billion and pay it back from the general fund rather than the gas taxes and motor vehicle fee that feed the TxDOT kitty. But to make that voter decision a reality, the Legislature will have to pass “enabling legislation” in 2009 and appropriate the money.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

NY State Rep. calls for resignation of the entire Toll Authority Board

Plan to Toll Pennsylvania's I-80 Freeway in Jeopardy

The Federal Highway Administration questions the adequacy of the Pennsylvania plan to add tolls to Interstate 80, currently a free highway.

Austin Chronicle Removes Muckraker Comment on Krusee

Think the Austin Chronicle is a trustworthy source for news from a progressive perspective?

Think again.

The Chronicle has supported double tax tolls from the beginning, and this week, I posted a comment on the latest crappy article they did on Rep. Mike Krusee "Finding Solutions". I just found out that the Chronicle deleted my comment! Feel free to comment, maybe they'll delete yours too!

Why would they do that? Well, last year I outed them for ethical challenges - to be more specific, one of their reporters, Mike Clark-Madison, had been working with a CTRMA toll road contractor, TateAustin, for over a year and continued to write pro toll articles - as if there was no conflict.

NY State Rep. calls for resignation of the entire Toll Authority Board

Take That, Newsweek!

Because from Mexico to Canada, everyone knew but you.

By Bryan Ervin, Urban Tulsa Weekly

During the past several months, UTW has periodically reported on plans among some Washington elites to bring about a "North American Community" in which the United States, Canada and Mexico would be integrated into a single entity modeled after the European Union. The body would share infrastructure, common regulating agencies and laws, and no actual borders would exist between the three nations.

Well, apparently, none of that's true.

That's according to an article in the Dec. 10 issue of Newsweek magazine, anyway.

Read the rest of the story HERE.


Cry Baby Commissioner Needs a Republican Opponent!

After citizens give tollers some cat calls for voting to toll our public highways, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty storms out of the Feb 2005 CAMPO meeting.

Click the arrow above to view this priceless "Cry Baby Daugherty" moment. Just look at his face just before he slams his day planner down and shakes his head.

Daugherty is one of the "Sleazy Six".

A few years back, Gerald stormed out of a KVUE interview, when reporter Clara Tuma questioned Daugherty about his many liens for late tax payment; Daugherty told Tuma her report was "a hatchet job", and he walked out.

Daugherty has yet to get a Republican primary opponent.


Make my day - PLEASE consider running - hey, as a commish you get paid about $90,000 a year. You must live in the Precinct 3 district (see a map here). The deadline in Jan 2nd.

Sure, there are 2 Dems running, but two bites at the apple is better than one - right? (primary and general battles). Only 500 sigs allows YOU to oppose this clown as an R, without having to pay the $1,250 fee. Or oppose him as a Libertarian for NO cost and NO sigs!

Email me at sal@texastollparty.com to learn more.

Mr. Costello Goes to TxDOT. Again.

I'm going to TxDOT today to check out a FOIA request I sent in months ago. When you add them all up (city, county, state organizations, elected individuals and CTRMA), I've done hundreds of requests in the last few years. Learn to do your own FOIA requests HERE.


When a citizen submits a public information request in Texas, the entity or individual must allow the citizen to see the information within 2 weeks, or they must file a petition with the AG's office with legal details why the public information should not be released. When they "drag their feet" it usually means there's something they are trying to hide.

So today could be good digging for me. Think of it like a mix of xmas and an easter hunt - if I can find the present.

My request was for "any and all communications about the double charging of TxTAG drivers in Texas". I had found emails months ago about the TxTAG double charges of tens of thousands of Texans (and the TxDOT lies), and did a report, but thought there was something else I didn't get, so I expanded my request. KXAN's article, including TxDOT's misdirection is HERE.


Just days ago, while helping out TURF/Terri Hall with a lawsuit against TxDOT, I found another interesting example of the massive bureaucracy and waste at TxDOT. As you know, TxDOT is spending millions of our tax dollars to sell Texans toll roads and the TTC.

An invoice for banner ads on KHOU's website, for the month of June 2007, was just one more shining example: The "You'll love toll toads" banner ads had only 23 click throughs out of 75,000 impressions and the total cost for that month of impressions was $825. Again, that's 23 out of 75,000 - and that is NOT a typo.

That comes out to $35.87 per banner ad click through - a dozen times more than most businesses would EVER pay (Click through rates are usually between 30 cents to $2.00 per click, usually not more than $3 a click).

I won't tell you what else we might have found, perhaps that will come out in court.



Giuliani Embraces Renewable Energy While His Law Firm Lobbies Against It

Hobbs, Gordon file for Krusee seat

Texas Keeps Cash from Interest on Toll Transponder Accounts

By TheNewspaper.com

The Texas Department of Transportation keeps interest generated on money that must be left on toll transponder accounts.

TxTagMotorists who use the TxTag electronic transponders to drive on Texas toll roads are having their accounts raided by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The agency requires a bare minimum of $10 be kept in any account at all times. If the balance falls below this level, TxDOT automatically charges the credit card on file $20. TxDOT then pockets the interest accumulated from the accounts linked to the 390,000 vehicles equipped with TxTags.

An average account generates about $1 in interest every year. Although $1 is not much, Texas tolling authorities have mailed motorists bills for 25 cents in alleged unpaid tolls and added penalties of $5.25 on anyone who ignored payment of the trivial amount.

For TxDOT, keeping the interest on the $9.8 million in motorist accounts generates about $400,000 in annual revenue. The money helps defray the cost of the multi-million dollar Keep Texas Moving public relations campaign designed to convince Texans of the need for more toll roads.

Read the rest of the article HERE


Hearing tonight on next San Antonio freeway to tollway hurdle

Kirk's CAMPO Keeps Crumbling

In Fact Daily
reports that CAMPO Executive Director Michael Aulick notified CAMPO Chair Kirk Watson on Friday of his intent to resign as of January 15, the day after the CAMPO Transportation Policy Board’s next meeting (the December 10 CAMPO meeting has been cancelled). See the 2005 letter I sent to CAMPO, asking Aulick to be fired in the link above.

KXAN's recent report on CAMPO's lack of accountability could have been one of the last straws for Aulick, as the agency has been under a harsh spotlight ever since the freeway tolls came up for a vote in 2004.

CAMPO continues to unravel with Aulick resigning and a number of CAMPO board members jumping ship (including the freeway to tollway converting architect himself - Rep. Mike Krusee).


I fully expect one of the most radical CAMPO changes in 2008... as the momentum of changes should continue. A lawsuit we filed in 2005 (as PET Inc.) will most probably remove Toller Sen. Kirk Watson, and we've got our eye on a number of races to further pluck freeway tollers from that CAMPO board.

More to come.

STATESMAN: Two Democrats file to challenge Travis County commissioner


Newsweek dismisses NAFTA Superhighway as a conspiracy theory - TxDOT's Ric Williamson, a member of NASCO, says there's no such thing.

Gerald Daugherty's Democratic Opponent Revealed

Just a couple days ago I wrote about the "Sleazy Six" and Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty HERE (Voted to toll existing public highways).

Karen Huber, a citizen activist who has been working on growth related issues in SW Central Texas for years, just filed as a Democratic candidate to oppose Gerald Daugherty for Precinct Three.

I just spoke with Karen on the phone.

She's retired, and over the months has been "drafted" by many individuals and community groups that have been tired of the total lack of representation Daugherty has provided. Karen has a business and economic background.

Karen told me she opposes tolling existing roads, the opposite of how Daugherty voted in 2005 and this last October (2007). Google shows that last month, Karen wrote this Op-Ed about a public safety issue - TxDOT's plan to change Texas roadways into Las Vegas like signage displays with LED billboards.

I remember some months ago, when an article in the Statesman came out about all the accidents and traffic congestion on 71 West. Just days latter, another Statesman article was released that told of, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty's vote - to allow hundreds of homes to be built off the same dangerous road. That vote underlines how irresponsible Gerald Daugherty really is - to place developer profits ahead of our families lives. I brought that story up with my conversation with Karen Huber, and she said that just one of many examples of why she's running.

Karen has strong initial support and plans on raising the money needed to defeat Daugherty. You know a candidate is serious, and will have a viable candidacy when they hire David Butts, known as one of the best political consultants in Central Texas today - which she already has. I’ve also heard that Alberto Gonzales might also be running as a Democrat, but as far as I know, he's not yet filed.

Look for a Statesman article this weekend about this race. I'm still waiting for someone to run against Gerald as an "R", to hound him at community candidate forums about his irresponsible votes.

Rental-Car Customers Hit With 8700% Increase in TX Toll Fees

Travelers who rent cars in Texas are being surprised by large bills when they find no way to pay for a toll road in cash. Click the arrow above to watch the video, or read the story HERE on TheNewspaper.com


Dawnna Dukes Draws a challenger... finally

Rep. Dawnna Dukes voted to toll Austin Freeways 71E, 71W, 183, 290E, 290W, 45S and MoPAC - The day AFTER her sister got a contract signed with the tolling authority (CTRMA). I outed her in 2004 (see the video), then the Statesman did a detailed story on her sister's contract 5 days later.

Sunset Commission Asks For Suggestions To Fix TxDOT


GOOD NEWS - The CAMPO "Sleazy Six" Update!

Things are shaping up very nicely for us in 2008, so that we may alter the CAMPO board again, and stop more freeway tolls in Central Texas. We've got at least 2 years to continue to chip away at the double tax tolls, as we did from 2004 to 2007.

Already some of the key CAMPO tollers, two of "The Sleazy Six", are running away from their elections in 2008! That includes Rep. Mike Krusee and Mayor Nyle Maxwell - publicly saying they won't run again for their seats. I've also heard yet another one of the Sleazy Six, Mayor of Kyle Miguel Gonzales might not run. These shifts allow us to focus our resources like a laser beam. Two of the Sleazy Six need opponents to surface in the next couple weeks - Georgetown Mayor Gary L. Nelon and Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon.

I've heard from a couple sources that a very viable funded opponent has been seriously considering a general election run against another one of the "Sleazy Six" - County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Republican (SW Quadrant of Central Texas). There is a good chance she'll file soon, as I've heard she's hired a professional to navigate.

It's likely that if she does decide to run, she'll be good for us. More to come on that later...

We are still waiting for someone to step up to run as a Republican, in the R primary against "The Oak Hill Toller" Daugherty.

Daugherty voted to toll our freeways who's running in 2008. The deadline to file is just weeks away. I've got a special place in my heart for Gerald, since he's my district representative. I want him fired, and so do many community groups who he's pissed off over the years.

Even someone to run that didn't have a campaign war chest could help soften him up for the general election in the fall, IF they went to all the community forums to expose his toll votes and his other irresponsible actions as a county commissioner.

Do you know anyone that is good at public speaking - knows the toll issue, and has considered, or might consider, running in the primary against this double tax freeway toller?

Many seeds have been planted over the years, months and even just days ago. 2008 will be a good year to kill freeway tolls. Stay tuned to this blog.

Williams Brothers Construction and Dannenbaum Engineering make unsolicited P3 bid to build part of the Grand Parkway as a toll road


NEW Report Uncovers More Questionable Spending By NTTA

Report Uncovers More Questionable Spending By NTTA

Vienna, Austria (CBS 11 News) ― They went, they spent and they partied with your money.

Two weeks after an exclusive CBS 11 hidden camera investigation showed North Texas Tollway Authority officials spending tens of thousands of dollars on a first class trip to Europe, more financial records reveal more perks.

According to records obtained by CBS11, North Texas Tollway Deputy Executive Director Rick Herrington arrived to the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association Tollway conference in Vienna, Austria 3 days before it started.

According to those documents, Herrington billed the NTTA for meals on those non-conference days, sometimes at the maximum daily rate of $149. Herrington did not provide any receipts in the documents obtained by CBS11.

When CBS11 attempted to ask Herrington about it, a NTTA public relations assistant quickly escorted him away before answering any questions. Later, a representative said Herrington acted in accordance with NTTA policy.

CBS11 also examined more of Herington's expense reports and found he billed the NTTA $154 for Internet access while in Vienna before the conference began. He also charged a $25 airline fee for his extra heavy luggage and $50 for 2 phone adapters to the NTTA.

Herington also put in for food reimbursement on the same day he flew on an American Airlines plane, where he received lunch and dinner. He submitted meal reimbursement for $149.

CBS11 first reported how five NTTA representatives traveled to Vienna for an international conference on tollways, costing tollway users more than $42,000.

CBS11 cameras watched as some NTTA representatives enjoyed the high life, partying every night and eating catered dinners in castles with open bars. The cameras were also rolling as some went souvenir shopping and sightseeing instead of attending the conference.

Three NTTA representatives chose to fly business class at a cost of $7,000 per ticket. All this happened days after the tollway raised your rates to drive on the tollway.

This type of behavior outraged State Senator John Carona, a Dallas Republican, who was surprised that the state government currently has no power to audit the NTTA. He said that he would fight to give the Auditors Office the power to audit the NTTA.

Carona called it "a glaring mistake and something we need to do something about... We also need to make sure the travel policy mirrors the state. The state is very frugal with its money and the same policy should apply to the NTTA."

Many of the receipts from the Vienna trip are still not available for public review. The ones CBS11 did get have been blacked out like a top-secret government document.

Carona points out, "The real thing the public expects is disclosure and open records, and that's what has been lacking in this."

Read (or see the video) for the rest of the story HERE.

San Antonio MPO Ignores The Public And Votes To Toll Public Highway 281 With Tax Dollars.

The modus operandi of yesterday's toll SH 281 MPO vote in San Antonio is the carbon copy of the Austin CAMPO vote from October (list of Central Texas tollers here as well).

The M.O.? A smaller than needed venue, Chamber of Commerce getting the profiteers out early, and a bunch of politicos ignoring the public will - as they vote to shift another public asset to an unaccountable revenue generating machine. Critics outnumbered advocates 3-1.

From a San Antonio Express article:

By the time board members convened at the VIA Metro Center, the 208-person capacity room was full and dozens of people were locked out, prompting complaints that the meeting should have been held in a larger room.

For the first time at an MPO meeting, people entering had to empty their pockets and let a guard use a hand-held metal detector to search them.

From a Carlos Guerra opinion article today:

The Greater Chamber, I was told, mounted a major effort to get its people to attend.

"I got 442 e-mails generated by the Chamber," County Commissioner Lyle Larson mused, pointing to a breakdown of the senders. "You've got engineering firms, 86; real estate firms, 67; construction and engineering, 37; homebuilders, 33 ...

"These are all folks that have a vested interest in getting construction under way. But I can tell you that the lion's share of correspondence I've gotten over the last 31/2 years has been opposed to (toll roads), and I mean by the thousands."

Like others, Larson doesn't buy into the notion that tolling is the only option for alleviating traffic congestion. And he questions the numbers the Texas Department of Transportation has issued to support its pro-tolling arguments.

"On the state level, at least, they're focused on revenue," he said.

"It's not about building capacity, it's about revenues."

From San Antonio Toll Party's Terri Hall (which includes the list of San Antonio tollers):
NON-COMPETE WILL PROHIBIT EXPANSION OF SURROUNDING FREE ROUTES! These sorry excuses for elected representatives voted to limit ANY new roads or expansion of existing roads surrounding the the 281 tollway which undoubtedly includes, Stone Oak Pkwy, Bulverde Rd., Red Land Rd., and Blanco Rd. (up to a 4 mile area around the tollway by law, yep that counterfeit moratorium Perry rammed through allows it)!