This article was originally published on this blog in April. Watson's conflicts of interests have yet to be covered by the mainstream press.
Millionaire Senator Kirk Watson is found to be on the Special Interests Payroll (and His Plan for Texas Domination is Revealed).
Records show that one month after Sen. Kirk Watson became chair of Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) -- an organization that directs billions of road dollars in Central Texas -- Watson was put on the payroll of special interest developers who profit from important transportation decisions.
Watson has failed to mention the conflict of interest at any CAMPO meeting and has yet to recuse himself from any vote that benefits his developer clients - who have finacial interests across Central Texas.
After months of back door meetings with CAMPO board members in 2006, and at Watson’s very first CAMPO meeting in January 2007, Watson not only became a board member, but also became chair of the all powerful organization. Also at that first meeting, Watson altered the CAMPO rules so other board members would no longer be able to place an item on the agenda - unless it is approved by Watson and his hand selected executive committee.
To summarize, within one CAMPO meeting in January, Sen. Watson became member, Chair and gatekeeper of an organization that directs billions of taxpayer transportation dollars in Central Texas.
In February 2007, only one month later, Watson registered as a lobbyist for numerous developers who will directly benefit from Watson’s chairmanship of CAMPO. Records from the City of Austin show Watson as a lobbyist for:
• Zydeco DevelopmentLast year Zydeco Development and partner Atlantis Properties announced they would double the size of their already massive Met Center Business Park (has six hotels) at Texas 71 and Riverside Drive. Zydeco tenants include General Motors Corp., Progressive insurance, Waste Management Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Marriott International Inc. Zydeco Development’s website has Diane Jaspan Librach, Rebecca Nixon, David Sheldon and Howard Yancy listed as Zydeco leadership.
• Goodnight Tract
• Second Congress, LTD
• Wells Branch Utility District
Second Congress, LTD has plans to have the tallest building in Austin by 2009. The Austonian, a 55-story, $200 million condominium tower will rise 670 feet from the ground. Construction is due to begin the summer of 2007, with the 195 luxury units, according to David Mahn, project vice president for Second Congress Ltd. Units starting at $500,000.
Goodnight Tract is most likely Terry Mitchell’s “Austin Goodnight Ranch L.P.”, which is related to Momark Development LLC. Goodnight Ranch has about 700 acres near the intersection of Slaughter Lane and I-35. Even though current traffic congestion is an issue and water is very limited, the development plan includes 4,200 homes and apartments, and 260,000 square feet of office and retail.
It’s no secret that developers, as the toll lobby, have been one of the key forces to place toll booths on roads we’ve already paid for in Central Texas. And those same developers who bought out our representatives in 2004, to ignore the 93% of the public feedback that opposed Central Texas freeway tolls, are now pushing Kirk Watson to sell us managed lanes (tolls on freeway lanes we’ve already paid for). MOPAC is the latest target for this double tax.
Developers are notorious for buying cheap land, away from city cores, and pay off our representatives to make the public foot the bill - for roads to their property. That's how the “Circle of Payola” works.
Watson stars in this popular "Circle of Payola" YouTube VIDEO.
We pay for the developers roads (or toll roads, or managed lanes) - our representatives sell out the public for fat cat pay offs - the developer gets filthy rich.
Watson is well known to be a special interest politico. Watson's back door secret deal with Intel (when he was Mayor of Austin) cost city taxpayers $7.5 million in subsidies. Intel didn’t hold up their end of the deal (didn’t finish construction of the building), left us with the “Intel shell” eye sore and ran off with $7.5 million worth of subsidies.
And, Watson’s City of Austin Prop 1, of the year 2000, diverted a whopping $67.2 million of our bond dollars, intended for free roads, into the toll roads Central Texans drive today.
And this year in the Senate, Watson has proposed many bills that benefit his special interest pals at the public’s expense. Such as Watson’s SB 1184 anti-citizen bill, which would dramatically increase the signatures needed for citizen initiated charter amendments. For example, Watson’s proposal would raise Austin's required signatures from 20,000 to 40,000, and in Houston they would need five times the signatures.
And, of course there is Watson's SB 1688 (Mike Krusee's teamed up with Watson and put up the version for the house side of the ledge) that for the first time in Texas, creates a whole new way to tax people. A tax district for people who live near toll roads. So if you live near the toll road and you don't drive on it, you still pay!
AND, WATSON'S DOMINATION AND DESTRUCTION OF TEXAS IS JUST GETTING STARTED. A recent Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee report mentions Watson as a possible U.S. Senator candidate.