The Dallas News just reported that Mr. 39% is “flying to Istanbul, Turkey, today to speak at the super-secret Bilderberg Conference, a meeting of about 130 international leaders”. The article states:
“Those who attend promise not to reveal what was discussed, security is tight, and the press and public are barred.”The by-invitation-only elite secret society of central bankers, defense experts, mass media press barons, legislators, and CEOs from around the world will meet behind closed doors to advance their global agenda. Included in the batch of “big-wigs” is a group from Spain. Can CINTRA/TxDOT Tolls Roads be very far behind?
As of today, Perry has yet to sign his SB 792 fake toll moratorium bill, perhaps he'll forget about it. Perry says exemptions in SB 792 allow important toll road projects to continue - no kidding, someone tell CW. Perry denies he had promised anyone to sign the bill.
This CNN VIDEO and another clip from the History Channel discusses Bilderberg plans for "New World Order".
Another Blogger asks if Perry's visit violates the law, with "Rick Perry's Bilderberg Visit Violation Of Logan Act?"
Back in 2004, our group endorsed Rose because his questionnaire stated that he’d fight freeway tolls. Then after he got elected, that liar voted FOR Mike Krusee's freeway tolls every time. Rose is a little man with big lies (he’s super short like Sen. Kirk Watson - about 5 foot 4ish).
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY TXDOT RESEAL
Citizens have had a long fight with TxDOT and Rep Patrick Rose to get FM 1826 resurfaced after they ruined a perfectly good road with a very poor quality reseal in 2006. The road was much noisier and much less safe than it ever was. Citizens said the road was fine before they ruined it out of spite for not accepting toll roads - they demanded a quality reseal to fix the damage.
For months, TxDOT claimed there was nothing wrong with the very loud and dangerous road.
At the last Citizen/TxDOT meeting, just weeks ago, TxDOT and Rose told citizens that FM 1826 would NOT be repaved, in the hopes that the taxpayers would get tired, give up and stop complaining.
A TRUE CITIZEN VICTORY
But just last week, after a formal complaint by Peter Stern to the Senate Committee on Transportation, political pressure finally paid off as TxDOT was TOLD by the Committee to stand down and resurface FM 1826 properly. No thanks to Rep. Rose who said nothing to help residents.
SNAKE REP. ROSE STEALS THE GLORY
That snake Rep. Rose, after the citizens did all the work, actually had the nuts to tell the Dripping Springs News-Dispatch that he initiated the deal to fix the road!
Read all about it HERE at Peter Stern's Blog.
This Rose stinks, and he needs to be removed like the cancer that he is. Start telling your co-workers, neighbors, family and friends about your local snake, that needs to go.
Bravo to David Price of Austin for getting a letter to the editor published in the Statesman. I don't know David personally, but I looked him up in our database and he's a member of TexasTollParty.com for almost 2 years.
YOU can help educate many thousands of Texans in minutes as well - just send a letter to your editor as an email! Make it 150 words or less, include your name, address and phone number for verification. Click here to find YOUR local newspaper(s).
David's letter as published in the Statesman yesterday:
"Paying for roads
I do not think we should be paying for toll roads, period. I think roads across the entire state should be financed by the tax on gasoline, with the areas of highest need getting the most funds. This system worked for years, resulting in a great highway system in Texas.
My knee-jerk reaction when I hear that toll roads are a better way to finance roads is to put a hand on my wallet. Public transportation should be for the benefit of all, with costs spread across the entire state.
I am incensed that existing roads are being considered for "managed lanes." Didn't we pay for these roads already?
I would certainly prefer to pay five or 10 cents more per gallon, which equates to $150 per year versus the $20 per week our local toll roads cost me.
Tricky Ricky only won his last election by 39% of the vote!
As of last week, Mr. 39% stars in his own YOUTUBE VIDEO, and now he's got his own Mr. 39% mug at CafePress - Order HERE (perfect for fathers day!)
Gov. Rick Perry likes to steal our public highways and sell them as toll roads to his contributers (and he's been pushing his TTC land grab).
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%.
Sound off in the "comments" area.
do the states business properly with a special session.
UPDATES IN GREEN
The so called toll moratorium, Gov. Perry's SB 792, actually makes things worse for Texans as it allows local authorities to have the same powers we were trying to take away from TxDOT. THIS HORRIBLE BILL WILL BE VOTED ON LATE SATURDAY (TODAY). TAKE ACTION NOW - SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE.
That means a bunch of mini TxDOT's out there being able to sell our public highways (freeways) to private companies as toll roads. And, the new “market valuations” in 792 just tightens the noose.
This compromise bill injects “market valuations” into PUBLIC toll projects, which equals the highest possible tolls!
No wonder why Mr. 39% likes this sham of a bill. And, Perry can claim he signed the toll moratorium bill on the campaign trail when he runs in 2010, to inoculate himself from his dreaded TTC and freeway tolls.
Citizens who think this is a toll moratorium have been sold a bill of goods. Without amendment #13, it's full of loop holes. 792 also includes more ways to shift our freeways to tollways.
SB 792 INCREASES UNACCOUNTABILITY!
Under SB 792, ALL TOLL PROJECTS MUST USE "market valuation" (Sec 228.0111) to set toll rates and toll escalation. Those monies WILL NOT BE REGULATED BY NEPA. Therefore, TxDOT will have a WHOLE NEW UNREGULATED revenue stream to possibly build highways:
• WITHOUT a PUBLIC HEARINGProof The Moratorium Is A Sham - Perry is FOR it:
• WITHOUT studying the human, social, economic, health and environmental impacts
• WITHOUT studying alternatives
“Today’s action ensures that Texas will continue to have the tools needed to support the states booming population and economic growth,” Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody said.”Tip to Eye on WilCo
The Will Lutz article about SB 792. “Does the Toll Road Bill Repeat Mistakes of 2003?”, says it best:
“A further flaw is it allows continuation of current policy, whereby the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) may require up-front “concession fees” in exchange for building some new toll projects. The tolls that pay these concession fees are taxes, not user fees, because concession fees result in tolls over and above the amount required to build and maintain the road. Since the fees are paid back over time from toll revenue, it increases the burden of debt on our children and grandchildren.So, what should our Representatives do now?
In short, concession fees, which are continued by the “market valuation” language in SB 792, allow the government to raise taxes and do off-budget spending in a manner concealed to the public and without proper legislative oversight and authorization.”
1) Vote down SB 792.None of these will happen because our representatives would rather have a summer vacation than do the states business properly.
2) Override Mr. 39% with HB 1892 (which will automatically call a special session)
3) We need the Special Session to get the job done right.
So what's the real answer?
1) De-Elect all incumbents until they get it right.Based on the recent Governor's Business Council report, indexing the gas tax and placing the incremental revenue in the mobility fund to pay off bonds allows us to build the roads we need now, without more toll roads. And this common sense solution costs 30 times less than tolls.
Statesman reports the Watson/Krusee toll tax district scheme is dying. That's a good thing.
CLICK HERE for my report on the tax thirsty Sen Kirk Watson and Rep Mike Krusee companion bills that would cause people for the first time, who lived near toll road 130 to pay an added tax, even if they don't drive the toll road (to subsidize the toll road). You know if they got the tax for SH 130, then other toll tax districts would pop up all across Texas within just a session or two. Our so called representatives are like crack addicts when it comes to taxing us in creative ways. Bad Watson/Krusee, Bad!
House members coined a new term, "Krusee-fied", as a spin off of "crucified" for Rep. Mike Krusee’s fall from power, according to an knowledgeable inside source.
With this grand demeaning gesture, the House Transportation chair Krusee has lost his power to persuade. Many house members first felt betrayed by Krusee in 2003 with HB 3588, the legislation that enabled public highways to be shifted to tollways for the first time in the US, as well as the TTC land grab.
Over the years, numerous Reps have expresses they felt tricked by Krusee and the summery for HB 3588. Reps were not told what was actually in the bill. Reps don’t have the time to read the thousands of bills that come across their desk, so trust and the bill summery become the important factors in voting decisions (when deals, bribes and blackmail isn’t involved).
Just recently Krusee tried in vein to move votes on his own transportation committee with no avail. The whole house has ignored his attempt at leadership as well. Case in point, just this month HB 1892 passed the house with a 139-1 vote. The lone nay vote was State Sen. Mike Krusee, which was when the term "Krusee-fied" began to spread. And earlier this week, Krusee was disrespected again as he was left off the important list of conferees for SB 792.
As my source described the new term "Krusee-fied" they also stated, “Krusee is the laughingstock of the House".
Drivers cut back — a 1st in 26 years
By Paul Overberg and Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
The average American motorist is driving substantially fewer miles for the first time in 26 years because of high gas prices and demographic shifts, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal highway data.
The growth in miles driven has leveled off dramatically in the past 18 months after 25 years of steady climbs despite the addition of more than 1 million drivers to the nation's streets and highways since 2005. Miles driven in February declined 1.9% from February 2006 before rebounding slightly for a 0.3% year-over-year gain in March, data from the Federal Highway Administration show. That's in sharp contrast to the average annual growth rate of 2.7% recorded from 1980 through 2005.
"You have demographic shifts, traffic congestion and increased gas prices," says Ed McMahon, senior research fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit group that promotes innovative development. "For the first time in recent history, the rate of vehicle miles traveled is not increasing at the rate it was for 25 years. It's having an effect and is changing in subtle ways the way people think about their driving."
The nation has not seen such stagnant growth in driving since 1981, when the USA staggered through an oil shortage and a recession. Gas prices reached an all-time high of $3.223 in March 1981 when adjusted for inflation in today's dollars
During the past 18 months, the nation's population and workforce have grown by just over 1% a year, so an annual gain of 0.3% indicates a decrease in miles per person.
"Thirty-five to 40% of personal miles traveled is work commutes," says Bill Veno, director of global refined products for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a Boston-based energy consulting firm. "If you continue to grow the employment base, that would tend to push (miles driven) upwards."
Americans are driving about 200 million to 300 million fewer miles a day than they would be if the annual growth rate of 1.9% from 2000-2005 had continued.
Factors contributing to the slowdown:
•Soaring gas prices. Seven of 10 Americans are combining trips and taking other steps to reduce driving, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll May 4-6. Don Harrison, 32, of Indianapolis , no longer visits his relatives across town on the weekend; he saves gas by simply calling them.
•Expanded public transportation. More people took public transit last year than at any time in 49 years. "We're seeing suburban locations create new transit systems," says William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association. "They're expanding into areas that never thought they needed transit because they could do everything by car."
•Slower growth of minority and women drivers and the aging of the population. Except for African-Americans, minority groups drive at high rates, and the annual growth in women drivers has slowed, says Alan Pisarski, an expert on commuting patterns. Also, he says, people on average drive less after age 55.
•Demographic shifts that de-emphasize the need to drive. Many Americans, particularly young, upwardly mobile singles, are moving downtown and revitalizing cities. "(They) don't have to live the way of the Ozzie and Harriet model — two parents, suburban, who drive to the city," McMahon says.
Contributing: Theodore Kim of The Indianapolis Star
Ben Wear of Statesman says there's a deal (click above), but Conferee Rep. Wayne SMITH SAYS THERE IS NO DEAL ON TRANSPORTATION BILLreports QR:
"Smith is adamant that no deal has been struck on the bill -- in fact, House conferees hear that side-by-sides are out and have yet to see them -- and want it known that negotiations continue.
"There's no deal," Smith stressed. "Saying there's a deal just makes this harder."
And in the comment section by William Lutz:
"David Dewhurst wants to be the next governor of Texas, here's what he ought to consider: telling the Senators that if the House overrides a veto of HB 1892, he will have a recorded vote on the override -- win or lose..."
"....the Trans-Texas Corridor and the state's current transportation policies are radioactive -- both in the general and primary elections (of both parties). Any senator with future political aspirations or a desire to run statewide would not want to take a recorded vote in favor of the Trans-Texas Corridor. If Dewhurst tells senators there will be a recorded vote, it would likely ensure that the veto would be overridden. Under such a scenario, Dewhurst could legitimately take credit for killing the Trans-Texas Corridor, which would help him in the 2010 Republican primary...."
"...If some of the fine print in these comprehensive development agreements gets more publicity, voters in both parties will be even more upset. The electorate is deeply concerned about what's going on at the Department of Transportation and ethics in Texas government in general, and no amount of direct mail or poll-tested misinformation will change that fact."
Keep making the calls to push Amendment #13 folks...Mr. 39% hates it (so you know it's good for Texans)
Sources tell us this evening that Tricky Ricky is displeased with an amendment (#13) put up by state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, which closed a loophole in SB 792, the transportation legislation designed to temporarily halt the rush to privatize the state’s roads.
The loophole was big enough to drive, well, the the Trans-Texas Corridor through. And, of course, that’s exactly what Tricky Ricky wanted. Read the rest of the article HERE.
This great letter to the editor about the "Take On Traffic" Con Men was published in the Statesman today!:
Matters of traffic
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, under the name "Take On Traffic," is holding one-sided presentations and sending out misleading mail pieces with the same old song and dance, misinforming Austinites that if we don't toll roads we've already paid for, our gas tax will increase by $2 per gallon. That's hogswallow.
The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M reports that more tolls are not needed and that merely indexing the gas tax to inflation and using bonds will allow us to build the roads we need.
Putting toll booths on roads we've already paid for is double taxation. In addition to being unfair, the toll booths are inefficient — 25 cents to collect a 50 cent cash toll and 11 cents to collect an electronic toll. An indexed gas tax will cost less than 3 percent of the amount it brings in collection costs.
TAKE ON TRAFFIC (TOT) CON MEN Exposé.
New Jersey Toll Authority pressured the newspaper to remove this fiery crash video from it's website. Read about how toll roads are more dangerous than freeways by clicking the "Tolls MORE Dangerous than Freeways" links to the Right hand side of this page.
TxDOT's Ric Williamson (appointed by Mr. 39% Perry himself) has been pushing tolls on roads we've already paid for, as well as the TTC land grab schemes for many years. This Statesman editorial article says it's given him two heart attacks, and Williamson said the third one could get him the "dirt nap". That Ric is such a tease:
"Taking a real toll. In the upcoming June issue of Texas Monthly magazine, senior editor and political columnist Paul Burka writes about Ric Williamson, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission and architect of the much-despised Trans-Texas Corridor toll road. 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.""
UPDATED: Conspicuously absent from the list of committee conferees is Transportation Chairman Mike Krusee - SEE #2 BELOW
Citizen anti-toll groups are joining forces in the final days of the legislative session as the last opportunity to stop the TTC for the next two years.
The Texas House of Representatives has solidly supported a Trans Texas Corridor moratorium at every opportunity and on every vote. Soon they will have one more vote on SB792, allowing it to either become law or killing it forever.
There is a fatal flaw in the language of SB792 that would allow TxDOT to proceed with construction of TTC-35, even if the bill becomes law. On May 17, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst fixed that loop hole with House Amendment #13.
The Governor has demanded that amendment 13 be removed from SB792.
“Through our Representatives we can exercise a Citizen's Veto by asking them to kill SB792 if it fails to give Texas a moratorium on the Trans Texas Corridor. Amendement #13 is the key. No #13 amendment? No moratorium!” said CorridorWatch.org’s David Stall
The anti-toll coalition, led by CorridorWatch.org believes there will be very little if any benefit from the passage of SB972 if is fails to contain the provisions of amendment 13 that put an enforceable 2-year hold private CDA projects. Amendment 13 will not effect North Tx projects or other exempted projects.
The anti-toll coalition says we must either keep amendment 13 or we do everything in our power to see SB792 is killed.
“SB792 With 13 is Okay; Without 13 - No Way!” said CorridorWatch.org’s David Stall
The anti-toll coalition asks that YOU TAKE THIS ACTION
#1. Call and fax Lt. Governor Dewhurst.
* Call 800.441.0373
* Fax 512.936.8144 or 512.463.0677
* You can use this form letter (click orange headline to download).
#2. Call and fax SB792 Conference Committee Members (THESE MEMBERS JUST ANNOUNCED TODAY AT NOON - CONTACT THEM NOW).
Senator Tommy Williams, Chair 888.668.1227 / Fax 512.463.6373
Senator John Carona 512.463.0116 / Fax 512.463.3135
Senator Eliot Shapleigh 512.463.0129 / Fax 512.463.0218
Senator Kim Brimer 512.463.0110 / Fax 512.475.3745
Senator Robert Nichols 512.463.0103 / Fax 512.463.1526
Representative Chairman Wayne Smith - 866.423.5987 / Fax 512.463.1323
Representative Patricia Harless - 512.463.0496 / Fax 512.463.1507
Representative Larry Phillips - 512.463.0297 / Fax 512.463.1561
Representative Joe Pickett - Toll Free 800.775.5810 / Fax 512.463.6504
Representative Lois Kolkhorst - 512.463.0600 / Fax 512.463.5240
* Use the form letter (click orange headline to download).
Here's what we suggest that you say when you call, "I strongly support a moratorium on the construction of the Trans Texas Corridor. Please help keep amendment 13 in SB792 or kill the bill altogether."
For more information go HERE.
The Legislature still has the option, should SB 792 run aground, of voting to override Perry's veto of HB 1892.
Like cockroaches, special interests avoid the light of day, and prefer to work behind closed doors. Some even refuse to file legally required lobbyist statements so they can work and profit in secret.
For many years, Melinda Wheatley has ignored these Texas laws and has refused to pay the state for her mounting delinquent lobbyist reports and her default judgment with the AG’s office. Wheatley’s relationship with Rep. Mike Krusee and the Multimillion dollar deals she’s been a part of - stink like rotten fish. It’s common knowledge at the capitol that Wheatley has been Mike Krusee’s mistress for many years.
Without a recent photo we wouldn’t know if she was standing next to us in the capitol elevator - UNTIL NOW. I hired a photographer last week to capture an image of Wheatley, the most wanted lobbyist in the State of Texas.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you’ve read the double article that expose Wheatley for her failure to follow state law, as well as connections with Rep. Mike Krusee, Gov. Rick Perry, HillCo, and more - CLICK HERE).
This photo was taken at her downtown work parking lot.
Wheatley drives a new dark blue 2007 BMW 328i (purchased from BMW of Austin in 2/07). Texas license plate: 618 TWF
Wheatley has a monthly parking lot lease at Olive Grove Partners lot, which is located at the S.W. corner of Trinity and 11th.
Note the 823 Congress building - where HillCo Partners, HillCo Media and HillCo Direct all office out of - which can be seen from Wheatley’s parking lot. The photographer said she walked down the alley between 10th and 11th - toward Congress after she arrived about 11:15am. She left the lot about 4:00pm.
Read the double article that expose Wheatley for her failure to follow state law, as well as connections with Rep. Mike Krusee and multi-million toll road contracts HERE).
If your sick and tired of the corruption, and you’d like to help finance surveillance of the cockroaches that run from the spotlight - email me at Sal@TexasTollParty.com
clicking on the envelope icon below.
In a response to a Muckraker blog article I published on 5/9/07 (see below), Hillco Partners, one of the most powerful lobby firms in Texas sent a letter to threaten me with a lawsuit.
I see this threat letter as a deliberate attempt to squelch my freedom of speech by those who seek to shift our Texas freeways to tollways. HillCo is connected to Rep. Mike Krusee, Gov. Rick Perry and other toll road profiteers such as PBS&J, Goldman Sachs and Fluor.
HILLCO PARTNERS LAWSUIT THREAT LETTER
Download and read the threat letter by clicking orange headline.
The censorship letter refers to the blog article called “TRANSPORTATION CHAIR’S MISTRESS LANDS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR TOLL ROAD CONTRACTS” (see below). It’s about Melinda Wheatley, the most wanted lobbyist in the state of Texas and her unique influence with married State Rep. Mike Krusee.
Interestingly, the HillCo Partners letter targets only one paragraph of the blog article:
“A reliable inside source confirms today that Krusee and Wheatley are still “an item” and that Wheatley is now lobbying at one of Austin's most influential lobby firms, HillCo Partners, under the guise of a “public relations specialist” (so she can try and sidestep filing more legally required lobbyist reports).”The HillCo letter, from Attorney J. Hapton Skelton of the Law offices of Skelton and Moody, says:
“This statement is false in every respect.”After we exchanged emails, I now wonder if HillCo is suggesting that my reliable source didn’t give me such information. Or, perhaps HillCo thinks my contact of two years is just an imaginary friend?
Since I received the original threat letter, I spoke with my contact again to confirm. My inside source tells me that she was told first hand that Wheatley did “work for HillCo”. Perhaps that could mean HillCo Partners, or a sister company called HillCo Media (also known as HillCo Media Southwest), or HillCo Direct, all with the same 823 Congress Ave in Austin address. I don’t know.
I don’t know anything more about Wheatley working with or not working with either HillCo company. What I do know is that my source has proven to be reliable - time after time.
My source also told me that they would not be surprised if Krusee and/or Wheatley complained to HillCo Partners to do something to shut me up, perhaps send a letter from an attorney.
The lawsuit threat letter does NOT deny anything else in the article. It does not deny that HillCo Partner’s J. McCartt has paid for many of Krusee’s travel bills. Nor does the letter deny that McCartt’s clients included TTC contractor Fluor Corp., Texas toll road investor Goldman Sachs (who plays all angles of tolling and selling our freeways) and the scandalous PBS&J, an engineering firm that has worked on several Texas toll road projects.
MORE ABOUT HILLCO
Aside from the numerous connections I lay out in the original article (see below) HillCo’s J. McCartt was the treasurer of a the political action committee that pushed for an amendment to finance highway construction through the Gov. Perry’s Texas Mobility Fund in 2001. One of the first pieces of the puzzle to steal and toll our freeways.
A Texas Observer report says this of HillCo Partner’s power:
“...HillCo Partners stands apart. It has an influence and reach—stretching from the statehouse to the state Supreme Court—that almost gives it the status of a shadow government.”THREAT LETTERS TO CENSOR BLOGGERS
Special interests have been known to send threat letters to bloggers to squelch our free speech.
It’s happened to me twice in two years. State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (whose unpopular freeway toll vote came the morning after her sisters contract was signed with the tolling authority) and Everett Owen (a “No Bid” Contractor with the tolling authority) both threatened to sue as a way to shut me up. Both times, my attorney told me they were both full of shit, that they were trying to shut me up. I called their bluff, and no lawsuits were filed.
BLOG ARTICLE PUBLISHED 5/9/07
TRANSPORTATION CHAIR’S MISTRESS LANDS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR TOLL ROAD CONTRACTS.
For years, the married republican State Rep. Mike Krusee, the chair of the House Transportation committee, and lobbyist Melinda Wheatley’s have had an intimate relationship.
A reliable inside source confirms today that Krusee and Wheatley are still “an item” and that Wheatley is now lobbying at one of Austin's most influential lobby firms, HillCo Partners, under the guise of a “public relations specialist” (so she can try and side-step filing more legally required lobbyist reports).
According to reports, HillCo’s J. McCartt, a former aide to Gov. Perry, has paid for many of Krusee’s travel bills. McCartt’s clients included TTC contractor Fluor Corp., Texas toll road investor Goldman Sachs (who plays all angles of tolling and selling our freeways) and the scandalous PBS&J—an engineering firm that has worked on several Texas toll road projects. McCartt flew Krusee to Washington in 2005 to address a conference on public-private partnerships. McCartt also flew Krusee to Las Vegas to deliver the keynote address at a PBS&J toll summit a week after the 2005 regular session ended.
About ten (10) months ago, I filed a formal “sworn complaint” with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) on Melinda Wheatley’s failure to file legally required lobbying reports for many months and years.
I fully expected Wheatley to pay off her chronically delinquent TEC fines soon after I filed the complaint. But she did not.
KRUSEE'S MISTRESS WHEATLEY IS THE MOST WANTED LOBBYIST IN TEXAS TODAY!
Shockingly, after 10 months, the brazen Wheatley has NOT paid any of the past delinquent fines with the TEC. Not only that, but according to the TEC’s own website, she is the most wanted lobbyist in the state of Texas today! Maybe that should not be a surprise.
AG’S OFFICE SUED WHEATLEY. WHEATLEY REFUSES TO PAY DEFAULT JUDGMENT AFTER 7 YEARS.
In 1999, the Attorney General’s office sued Melinda Wheatley for failing to pay yet another TEC delinquent account from the 1990’s. The Bankruptcy and Collections division of the AG’s office won a Travis County Court judgment that includes attorney’s fees and court costs. Wheatley has refused to pay the default judgment as well as the 10% annual interest that continues to mount each year. The AG’s office tells me a personal lien is also in place but Wheatley has not reported any ownership of property in the past seven years.
The formal complaint I filed 10 months ago was finally presented to the TEC on April 13th, 2007. The complaint has yet to be resolved or dismissed and a TEC attorney says the hearing could take place soon.
HISTORY OF KRUSEE AND WHEATLEY
Melinda Wheatley and Rep. Mike Krusee began working together on education issues in the late 90’s. In 2003 Krusee became the Chair of the House Transportation Committee after former chair Joe Pickett refused to go along with the unaccountable transportation legislation Gov. Perry wanted pushed. That same year, records show Wheatley began to lobby on Transportation issues.
Over the years, the Wheatley (12/6/1967) has kept many of the details of who she works for, and how much she gets paid, a secret.
WHEATLEY’S UNIQUE INFLUENCE WITH KRUSEE EQUALS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACTS FOR HER TOLL ROAD CLIENTS.
Limited state records show Wheatley earned between $70k and $150k in the first two months 2005. Wheatley listed TransCore, Texas Council of Engineering Companies, Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas and City of Austin as her transportation clients.
TransCore, one of Wheatley’s many transportation clients received a multimillion dollar contract with TxDOT in Sept. 2005. The contract for eGo Plus RFID tags, branded locally as TxTag, is for 2 million tags over two years.
Another transportation client of Wheatley, the Texas Council of Engineering Companies (TCEC) included URS, HNTB, PBS&J & Carter & Burgess, Inc. All of which have received numerous multimillion dollar toll contracts.
WHEATLEY GETS NO BID CONTRACT FROM TOLL AUTHORITY
Comptroller Strayhorn’s investigative report on the freeway tolling authority shows Wheatley’s Informative Efforts, LLC, now defunct, was given a NO BID contract (see app. #5) for freeway toll road work. It was Mike Krusee’s legislation that created the freeway tolling authority.
Wheatley ignored Texas law and additional conflicts of interests when she failed to list J.P. Morgan as one of her clients in 2004. The Comptroller’s Report states:
“Informative Efforts: The principals of this public relations firm are Cathy Howell and Melinda Wheatley, who are subcontractors for Nancy Ledbetter Associates, which in turn contracts with HNTB. Their relationship with the transportation industry may represent a potential conflict of interest. Informative Efforts had a consulting arrangement with JP Morgan Securities Inc., a CTRMA contractor, and was paid a retainer fee of $7,000 per month plus expenses. The Austin office of JP Morgan Securities indicated that Informative Efforts performed lobbying work and that it was a short-term contract terminated around March 2004. Melinda Wheatley was Informative Efforts’ primary contact with JP Morgan Securities. Wheatley was listed on the 2004 Texas Ethics Commission lobby list for only one client, TransCore, a sponsor of Team Texas. This company provides services and products that enable toll authorities to manage transactions using toll tags. As such, TransCore is a potential CTRMA contractor.”How has J.P. Morgan been fairing in Krusee’s Toll Road Deals?
In 2005 the CTRMA invested $284 million in a J.P. Morgan Money Market. J.P. Morgan Securities is also part of the Cintra Trans Texas Corridor Team.
Up to $1 billion dollars of TxDOT Fund 6 bonds is controlled by J.P. Morgan Securities, which acts as the senior manager for the initial issuance. Fund 6 revenue bonds are backed by state highway revenues and anticipated federal transportation appropriations.
By refusing to file lobbyist reports, what are Wheatley (and Krusee) hiding?
What kind of partnership does Melinda Wheatley have with Mike Krusee?
Should Mike Krusee and Melinda Wheatley be investigated by the District Attorney?
Should the press ignore the fact that the House Transportation Chair’s mistress, the most wanted lobbyist in the State of Texas, has landed multi-million dollar contracts?
BELOW TO SEND TO OTHERS
In a letter sent to governors, state legislators, and state transportation officials on Friday, Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (
“Although we invite all financing options to be on the table as we evaluate opportunities to increase investment in our nation’s infrastructure, we strongly caution you against rushing into PPPs that do not fully protect the public interest, the integrity of the national system, and which do not constitute a sustainable national system of transportation financing,” the Chairmen wrote.
The letter expressed strong concerns over states and local authorities leasing toll facilities to private operators.
“These deals make good business sense to the companies that are investing in the projects, but we have serious concerns about whether these transactions offer a net balance of benefits for the American public,” it read.
The letter further cited the Bush Administration’s efforts to promote highway PPPs, to the point of drafting model legislation for states to adopt. The Committee is preparing a discussion paper to present its concerns in more detail and answer the Administration’s claims.
"The Committee will work to undo any state PPP agreements that do not fully protect the public interest and the integrity of the national system,” the letter read. To read the letter click the link at the bottom of this page.
"While privatization sounds very conservative and efficient, as long as government has the “apron strings,” the resultant “crony capitalism” is seldom an improvement over government-run alternatives."
"The whole process of adopting toll roads in Texas has been at odds with citizens’ rights to know and be properly represented. The CDA’s have been under clandestine negotiation not visible to the public, or even the state auditor. The expenditures are “off budget,” contrary to the objective of balanced budgets where current spending should equal current assessment of taxation."
“It would appear that the Texas Legislature has firmly said, “No, not here in Texas.” Let us let them know that they are speaking for the majority of Texans who urge them not to waver.”
CONGRESSMAN LAMPSON CALLS OUT TXDOT EXTORTION AND SLAMS DOT SECRETARY OVER TEXAS TOLL ROAD INTERFERENCE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on Friday, and six weeks after a quadruple bypass, Congressman Nick Lampson (D-Stafford) peppered U.S. Department of Transportation ("DOT") Secretary Mary Peters with hard questions regarding DOT's interference with toll moritorium HB 1892.
The Texas Department of Transportation ("TxDOT") had recently coordinated with the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA"), resulting in letters to TxDOT that advocated the bill be stopped, therefor allowing our roads to be sold to private interests.
The bill now awaits a publicly acknowledged, forthcoming veto by Texas Governor Rick Perry.
"The federal government should not be interfering with Texas counties' control over their own toll roads, and more importantly, should not be interfering with any state issue, period," said Congressman Lampson. "I am pleased to be working with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on this issue so that we can protect matters that are rightfully within the jurisdiction of the Texas state legislature."
At Friday's Committee hearing, Congressman Lampson questioned Secretary Peters as to why the DOT issued multiple letters highlighting its views on this particular state legislature issue. These letters, in no uncertain terms, threatened to block federal highway funding for state roads if H.B. 1892 is implemented in its current form as passed.
"County officials are rightfully upset about the actions of Governor Perry, TxDOT, and the FHWA, and I will continue to work with them and my Texan colleagues in Congress to address their concerns in the future," added Congressman Lampson.
Read Congressman Lampson's powerful statement from the hearing HERE.
"HB1892 has become the hottest issue of the 2007 session. Threats to the Legislature fly out of the Governor's Office while TxDOT continues waving its arms. Is anyone listening?
Chairman Carona is working to clean-up HB1892 and keep the moratorium in law.
HB1892 hasn't been signed - or vetoed. If Senator Carona has his way the threatened veto won't happen. Instead he and others are working to use a Senate bill to "improve" provisions of HB1892. CorridorWatch is told that the 2-year moratorium and CDA buyback safeguards will remain unaffected.
Dates to watch: May 18 and May 28.
If Carona is to be successful he must move the new bill (SB792) through the Senate and House before the May 18 veto deadline for HB 1892. Until the session ends on May 28 almost anything can happen.
Federal funding threat long on drama, short on substance.
On May 9, 2007, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters confirmed in a letter to U.S. Senator Hutchison that HB1892 "can be implemented in a manner consistent with Federal Law" and "would not affect the State's eligibility for funding under the Federal-aid highway program.""
by Eileen Welsome of Texas Observer
With only a couple of weeks left in the session, lawmakers are rushing to put through legislation that eventually could cost taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars. One bill that passed the House and is pending in the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee is a very brief piece of legislation, HB 3747, that would allow TxDot to use money from the general fund for the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund.
The rail relocation effort is part of TxDot’s grand scheme to build the Trans-Texas Corridor...(Read the rest of the story here)
Congratulations to Hays County Citizens! Road Bond Proposition 1, a $172 million road bond scheme to have County taxpayers pay for unneeded state roads, has been defeated by 52%.
As reported on this blog weeks ago, these oversized, overpriced 9 million dollars a mile state roads got stopped, thanks to Citizens for Responsible Roads, Charles O'Dell, lots of hard workers and good friend Peter Stern, who said hell no and educated others about the special interest pay day scheme. The public was not part of the process that decided on what roads would be put on the ballot - even the county’s transportation department was left out of the loop.
Greedy Special Interests (Former County Commish Bill Burnett, Klotz Associates Inc.; Dannenbaum Engineering Corp.; Carter & Burgess Inc.; and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman - as Hays Future Now PAC) spent over $83,000 to try and trick voters, thirteen times as much as Citizens for Responsible Roads.
Special Interest politicos who pushed for the scam were (NEVER VOTE FOR THESE SELL OUTS) :
- Sen. Jeff Wentworth
- Rep. Patrick Rose
- Hays County Commissioner Will Conley
- Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton.
See more details in the comments area below.
Governor, lawmakers try to work out agreeable toll road legislation - threat of a special session looms.
Sen. Nichols: "If it takes a special session to get this right, I'm all for it." and read "Slouching Toward a Special Session" from the Observer.
A new bill that gives the rogue agency TxDOT more authority, HB 2268, just passed out of the House and is now heading for the Senate.
Rep. Krusee will have others hold hold up this horrible bill and claim it is a solution citizens have been asking for, but it does just the opposite and gives TxDOT MORE power to steal our land and our roads! House Bill 2268 let's TxDOT acquire land before a toll or road project is approved, before environmental studies are completed, before public hearings take place, etc. In short, it lets TxDOT lock in a route in advance, and then pretend like all the public input and research might actually change their decision.
Contact ALL Senate Transportation Committee members and tell them, “Kill HB 2268 in committee. We do not want to give TxDOT more power."
Phone the capitol and ask for each Senator 512-463-4630 (John Carona, Kirk Watson, Kim Brimer, Rodney Ellis, Robert Nichols, Florence Shapiro, Eliot Shapleigh, Jeff Wentworth, Tommy Williams). To email: firstname.lastname@example.org (replace with each senator's first or last name, for example 'email@example.com')
Rick "Mr. 39%" Perry will wave a 6 page letter at his press conference Friday from the Federal Highway Administration (to compete with a good letter Hutchison extracted from Secretary Peters) in order to justify vetoing the private toll moratorium bill, HB 1892
the tolling freeways scam with Take on Traffic (TOT).
They call themselves a “coalition of concerned citizens”, but the profiteers from Take On Traffic (TOT) are far from your ordinary citizens, and they've spent gobs of money with a campaign intended with numerous glossy direct mail pieces to trick real citizens. They are special interest profiteers advocating for a toll plan that allow them to line their own pockets.
Who is the local toll lobby?
And, those who fund the exorbitant TOT campaign are unknown, as they hide behind loopholes in the law, so they don’t have to report where the money comes from. These charlatans are so desperate to profit off our families via the unaccountable tolls on roads we’ve already paid for - they can’t tell the truth about the numbers. Just like TxDOT, they have to fluff the numbers to sell tolls.
UPDATED: LYNDA RIFE CONTRACTS FOR TOT CAMPIAGN
TOT FUNNY NUMBERS
TOT throws out absolutely ridiculous numbers that are not anchored in any reality. TOT’s website, created by Mark Nathan (campaign manager for many freeway tollers such as Mayor Will Wynn), says “we need to find at least $12.7 Billion in funding” in the next 20 years. (that’s like $1.7 million a day!)
CAMPO once claimed $13.8 billion as the "funding gap" and then agreed $3.7 billion was a "math mistake". Then the auditor’s office chopped down the number further and said $4.9 billion isn't going to actually improve traffic.
TOT LIES IGNORE THE FACTS!
THE TOT LIE SAYS we’d have to raise our gas tax “between $1.20 and $1.77 a gallon” even after the Texas Transportation Institute report says just pennies of an indexed gas tax would be needed. The TTI report states tolls are NOT needed at all, that indexing the gas tax and placing the incremental revenue in the mobility fund to pay off bonds allows us to build the roads we need now.
Here’s just another example of the cooked up numbers from the profiteers. Actual State Comptroller’s fuel sales numbers:
730 million gallons gasoline annual in 2005
200 million gallons diesel annual in 2005
Compare the actual numbers above to TakeOnTraffic lies found at their website in a calculations link on a page called (get this) “How did we get our numbers” (I think they pulled these numbers out of their ass):
148 million gallons gasoline annual in 2006
345 million gallons gasoline annual in 2006
TakeOnTraffic significantly underestimates the revenue generation from the gas tax to scare citizens into thinking double tax tolls are needed. And they call the double tax a “user fee”, even though the tolls go directly into their pockets, and anything left over goes into slush funds. Who’s being used here?
How many hundreds of thousands of homes have they polluted with these direct mail toller lies?
WHO IS TAKE ON TRAFFIC (TOT)?
The profiteers happen to include the same old snake salesman that tried to force Phase II freeway tolls on Central Texas from the start of 2004 (Toll Lobby). TOT is the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and it looks like Capital Area Transportation Coalition (CATC) and RECA are there to support as well. TOT is working in conjunction with Sen. Kirk Watson and former leader of the Chamber, to usher in his plan B tolls/managed lanes (coming soon).
TAKE ON TRAFFIC (TOT) is made up of Road Engineering firms, Toll Road builders, Banks, Attorneys, Developers and others who profit off the freeway tolling scam:
John Langmore (TOT Spokesman, TOT Chair and Rep. Mike Krusee associate)
Bury + Partners
Carter & Burgess
Martin & Salinas Public Affairs, Inc.
Home Builders Association
Locke Liddell & Sapp
Pape-Dawson Engineers, Inc.
Jackson Walker LLP
Endeavor Real Estate Group
Wells Fargo Bank
According to this news report John Langmore is the Chair of TOT.
Langmore played a principal role in formulating and drafting Krusee’s freeway toll bill, HB 3588. Langmore impersonates a Transportation Planning Expert to continue to rake in fat contracts, even though he has NO education in transportation planning, not even an online college course.
John Langmore was the campaign treasurer, campaign manager and PR contact for SafeRail PAC, a political action committee that had success in altering our Texas Constitution in 2005 which allows unlimited tax dollars (blank checks) and debt to be syphon for new corporate rail in the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC). State records show Zachry Construction (of Cintra Zachry), Herzog Construction, HNTB , PBS&J, Carter Burgess, Pate Engineer and TateAustin contributed to SafeRail PAC.
Will the Austin American-Statesman expose the funny numbers? You tell me. The Statesman is on the Chambers executive committee.
When will a reporter ask them where all that campaign money comes from? And, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars they have spent?