SB 792 passes the House and Senate. Governor Perry, who injected new unaccountable toll schemes into SB 792, will sign his bill soon.
But, what is 792 really? It’s lipstick on a pig.
If you want to know more, I need to tell you what went down behind the scenes.
Did you ever see the movie “Memento”?
It’s one of my favorite movies. Memento tells the fantastic story of how many of us will go to great lengths to ignore the truth. We will even try to fool ourselves, because the truth just cuts too deep.
First off, none of us are perfect, I’m certainly not. But, I’ve got a special knack for smelling horseshit, especially when it’s sitting in front of me, with stink lines radiating from it.
Some tell me I’m burning a bridge by telling you the truth, but as far as I’m concerned, that bridge was burned by others, when the events below took place.
CorridorWatch, one of the many groups in Texas fighting the TTC, of which I’ve always had enormous respect for, invested a lot of time into trying to lead a coaltition effort to get a 2 year moratorium passed in this session.
HB 1892, with all our help, was voted on almost unanimously by the house and senate, well enough for a veto override. That would have been an embarrassment to the governor, so Perry invested a lot of work into SB 792, and he slipped in a few poison pills.
THE MARBLE HELL HOLE EFFECT?
I believe somehow, CorridorWatch lost their way, in the common deception and seduction of the marble hell hole, otherwise known as our state capitol.
Our citizen group and other groups across Texas stepped up to try and get Amendment 13 passed as part of SB 792. Our main focus at the time was Amendment 13, which would have closed some gaping loopholes to make 792 a real moratorium.
We didn’t realize the crap Perry slipped into 792, until 7-10 days ago, since the bill was created behind closed doors, without public hearings. And our representatives, who care more about their summer vacations than getting the job done right in a special session this summer, certainly don't care.
We followed the lead of CorridorWatch and TOGETHER, coalition groups sent thousands of faxes, emails and phone calls to capitol representatives demanding, “Amendment 13 or Vote NO on 792”. It's important to note our groups contribution is substantial, with 10-15 times the member list of the CorridorWatch list.
The sentence below is printed (with all capital letters and underlined) on the forms CorridorWatch provided for all coalition members to send to capitol offices:
“WITHOUT AMENDMENT 13 PLEASE OBJECT AND VOTE NO ON SB792”Well, we didn’t get Amendment 13.
Most would assume we’d all stick to our guns, and our word, and continue to tell our representatives vote NO on 792, since 13 was killed - since that is what our crystal clear agreement was.
UP IS DOWN AND DOWN IS UP?
But, in a strange twist of events, after 13 was killed, CorridorWatch started to send letters of support to capitol offices, and started to tell coalition members and it’s own members, that we should support SB 792.
A couple of the coalition partners, including myself and Terri Halls group, questioned this flip-flop.
CorridorWatch said they didn’t believe we couldn’t stop SB 792 so they wanted to support the bill.
Yet another coalition member said this, "I also was confused with Corridor Watch's 180 degree change. The no compromising strong strategy of “Amendment 13 or Vote NO on 792” was one I understood and agreed with," and "...to unilaterally change the strategy when they saw "no chance of success" didn't seem right to me."
Some of us were shocked, a couple others blindly follow CorridorWatch claiming “they have the expertise”. But honesty and fairness has zero to do with expertise. What about having democratic consensus among the coalition partners when one of the partners is considering a 180 degree change? Not for CorridorWatch.
Personally, I always believed when you step up to fight, you fight for what’s right, not for the side we think might win.
CorridorWatch also said they had made a couple of friends at the capitol that they didn’t want to let down, so we should support 792. But, what about whats right for Texans and the thousands of people we asked to say 13 or no way?
SB 792 IS A SHAM. PERIOD.
The simple fact is SB 792, a so called 2 year moratorium compromise bill, doesn't stop one toll road that's planned in the next 2 years. NOT ONE ROAD! ALL THE TOLL ROADS PLANNED ARE EXEMPTED. And at the last minute, Wentworth, Uresti, Van De Putte, Zaffirini, and highway lobbyists dragged an amendment that would have saved San Antonio’s 1604 from 792!
The Governor is already bragging about 792, and the press is calling it something it certainly is not, a “Freeze on private toll roads”. And CorridorWatch is calling it a “Moratorium”. BUT, IT’S A MORATORIUM ON NOTHING.
It gets even worse.
SB 792 makes the theft of our roads easier as numerous local authorities, dozens of them like mini-txdots, can sell our freeways out from under us. Just like public highway 121 in Dallas is being given to Cintra as a toll road. The previous construction of 121, as part of the Cintra deal, includes $700 million worth of construction plus the cost of the right of way we’ve paid for over the decades according to reporter Tony Hartzel. And the 121 path that was intended to be a freeway, creates a priceless monopoly for Cintra, which has ties to Perry.
In response to concerns of TxDOT being multiplied by many dozens, CorridorWatch had the nerve to tell some coalition members via email that we just need to work a lot harder to stop the dozens of mini-txdots across Texas.
Thanks - like we didn't have enough work to do.
Perry’s "market valuation", that he injected into 792, will allow our freeways to be shifted to tollways faster - tolls will cost the most, without public hearings and without human, social, economic, health and environmental impacts studies.
SB 792 HAS BENEFITS...AND WE’VE GOT SOME SWAMPLAND TO SELL YOU.
CorridorWatch has been sending out a long list of SB 792 fluffed up benefits to it’s members and coalition members. The hard truth is - all of these benefits and studies are 100% unenforceable. And that's why Gov. Perry is happy to sign 792.
SB 792 was created behind closed doors for the naive to buy hook line and sinker - a compromising proposition that is desired by Perry and his band of merry cohorts, and our representatives who prefer the unaccountable taxation of shifting freeway into tollways.
JUST ABOUT EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE NEEDS TO GO except these folks in the house that voted against 792...
THE GOOD GUYS AND GALS WHO SAID NO TO COUNTERFEIT MORATORIUM:
Reps: Garnet Coleman, Nathan Macias, David Leibowitz, Lon Burnam, Joaquin Castro, Joe Farias, Jessica Farrar, Stephen Frost, Ana Hernandez, Jodie Laubenberg, Trey Martinez Fischer, Ruth McClendon, Sid Miller, Ken Paxton, Robert Puente, Joe Straus, Senfronia Thompson, Marc Veasey, and Mike Villarreal.
In the last few days CorridorWatch didn’t think we could stop 792. One night last week, CorridorWatch sent an email to the coalition partners agreeing that we needed to stop 792, but minutes later changed their minds claiming they didn’t want to let a couple of capitol representatives down.
OK, CorridorWatch could have just sat back. But, instead, even after the bill passed, they continue to try to sell the unenforceable benefits of 792 to citizens, while glossing over the problems that are unleashed with Gov. Perry’s new tools.
CorridorWatch told those of us who disagree with them that we need to trust our representatives to make everything right. I’ve heard that line a hundred times. I’ll say this to my representatives, “do the right thing or get fired, you work for us”.
Misleading actions, and the hope that we can learn something is why I was moved to write this unpleasant article about my former coalition partners. Honesty hurts at times and some folks won’t be happy with me for speaking the truth. Too bad.
LET’S GET REAL.
I believe we citizens need a stronger foundation, and a lot more honesty and will power, to win this war. We also need a lot more people involved in what should be a much more democratic process - especially at the grassroots level.
Our families will be the ones who pay and pay and pay. As for Gov Rick Perry, he’s grinning ear to ear, because CorridorWatch is out there selling his new unaccountable schemes for him. At times the devil can make a chump out of almost anyone.
Well played Mr. 39%.
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