Texas issued 1.5 million license suspensions - after low-income motorists unable to pay the stiff new fines.
The primary result of the Texas Driver Responsibility Tax has been the suspension of 1.5 million driver's licenses belonging to low-income motorists unable to pay the stiff new fines. According to data obtained by the El Paso Times newspaper, the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended 1,342,449 licenses since 2004 because motorists could not pay the extra $750 fee imposed on paperwork-related violations including driving with an expired license or without proof of insurance -- in Texas the punishment for driving with a suspended license is another license suspension. Another 183,239 motorists were unable to come up with the extra $3000 to $7500 in DUI fees. Another 16,187 were unable to pay the point tax which can run between $300 and $1200.
"Today, everyone in Austin knows that the real story behind these high fines and surcharges is not traffic safety, but money," said state Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso). "In other words, it's a tax."
Read the rest of the story HERE, at Newspaper.com
Read more about the Trinity toll road vote in Dallas here.
Not only is TxDOT taking our roads, our land and our tax dollars to build double tax tolls, but their ineptness is actually killing people across Texas. For example: Pharr, Texas has a busy interchange that has been the scene of numerous accidents.
NEWSCHANNEL 5 asked TxDOT if the exit could have been designed better to prevent these many accidents. In the report, TxDOT officials admit they did NOT design the interchange with future population and traffic growth in mind. Brilliant.
Sounds like a ripe lawsuit for the families of the victims to me.
Tollers claim the planned managed lanes (tolls) on MoPAC will lessen traffic congestion. How is this done? By charging up to $1.00 a mile, and pricing people out of their cars - like the managed lanes in California (Hwy 91) see the photo above. Note how managed lanes create traffic congestion.
Under the guise of “managed lanes”, the plan to toll Austin's Mopac (Loop 1) Expressway is underway. What makes these tolls unique, as well as most new Texas tollways, is that the toll you pay does not pay for the road you are driving on. The new toll lanes are already paid for.
The construction for new Mopac toll lanes are 100% tax funded and the right of way is 100% tax funded. These new lanes could and should be open as free lanes.
So who voted to toll these MoPAC lanes we’ve already paid for? WHO VOTED FOR THE MOPAC DOUBLE TAX? According to CAMPO, the vote took place in January of 2004:
Brewster "Double Tax" McCracken, Austin Council Member
(ALERT: Brewster will run for Mayor next year!)
Mike Krusee, State Representative
Mark Strama, State Representative
Bob Daigh, TxDOT District Engineer
Dawnna Dukes, State Representative
Dan Gattis, State Representative
Will Wynn, Austin Mayor
Gerald Daugherty, County Commissioner (1 of SLEAZY 6!)
These double taxers keep voting to toll roads we’ve already paid for and they star in this online movie.
The managed lanes create more gridlock as people try to cross over 3 lanes to enter and cross over 3 lanes to exit the center managed/toll lanes!
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Based on the recent Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) 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.
clicking on the envelope icon below.
According to TollRoadsNews.com, TxDOT is in the process of selling off more Texas Highways.
Exempted from the swiss cheese 2 year moratorium on privatized toll roads, TxDOT is now moving forward with selling public highways to private corporations in the the North Dallas Ft Worth area. Gov. Rick Perry's highway henchman Ric Williamson and other TxDOT commissioners called for comprehensive development agreement (CDA) bids at their meeting yesterday. CDA's sell Texas for a profit.
Based on the map above, portions of the following public highways will be converted to tollways under TxDOT's plan: SH 121, SH 114, SH 360 and a small portion of 365.
I told you that the 2 year toll road moratorium was useless months ago. TxDOT's MO is they use tax dollars and the right of way that is already paid for by the public to shift something that was always promised as a freeway, to collect unaccountable toll taxes. TxDOT is eager to become a taxing authority. Hey, it's free money!
And since they are built on state highways they would not be threatened by US Sen KB Hutchison's bill dealing with Interstates only.
clicking on the envelope icon below.
In the past, the public could vote on toll roads in Texas. But then, freeway tollers like Rep. Mike Krusee changed our laws and took that right away from us.
Then Rep. Krusee and other tollers like Sen. Kirk Watson, used little known MPO's like CAMPO and SAMPO to vote on plans the public would never accept - Watson and Krusee (and others) voted to spend nearly a Billion tax dollars to shift Austin freeways to toll ways.
To make matter worse, I don't think Sen. Watson and Rep. Krusee (and some others) should even be on the MPO voting on such matters. The constitution clearly states there must be a "separation of powers". These legislators should not be serving on the MPO administrative board.
A group I began with others, People for Efficient Transportation Inc., filed a lawsuit in 2005 with the above allegation and others. As we were on our way to a win in early 2007, toller Gov. Rick Perry appealed, the case remains pending in the Third Court of Appeals.
THE LATEST IN TEXAS:
--No More Pork Props!
results may come back to haunt you
Wilson County News
As a rule, I tend to vote against amendments to the Texas Constitution; unfortunately, most voters do the opposite.
Something seems inherently wrong when we must continually vote on amendments so convoluted that even the most astute cannot understand what they mean. Even if we take the time to read the amendments, it’s often impossible to make sense out of the legalese as written on the ballot.
Read the rest of the article HERE
In 1992, a well known toller, Robert W. Poole, Jr., of the Reason Foundation, stated:
“Congestion pricing—charging a price to use highways that is high at peak hours and low at off-peak times—holds great potential for easing traffic congestion and reducing auto emissions in Southern California.”
Today, reality sets in with $8.50 “value priced” toll lanes during rush hour on SR 91 in Southern California (see actual photo of SR 91 during rush hour above). Note the untolled lanes are a dangerous congested nightmare, and even those who pay, must slow down and join the congestion to exit off the highway.
Did the toll roads, managed lanes or value pricing ease traffic congestion?
So when Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Mike Krusee, and the other SLEAZY SIX TOLLERS try sell us to toll roads we’ve already paid for, think about that photo.
These comments are from California citizens who have to live with what the politicians sold them, a promise that tolls, managed lanes and value pricing would reduce traffic congestion:
“These lanes were built w/taxpayer money. Should have never been toll road. We are being held hostage by OC and Caltrans. Why aren't our Riverside County reps standing up for us?”
“They are making almost a million dollars every week, and still cannot do anything to relieve the congestion on the 91. Even the yellow "cones" along the FasTrak lanes are old and often times missing. Where is all the money going?”
“"Congestion-pricing" is French for fleecing consumers. Oct.'s plan is about making money, not reducing congestion.”
“When the Orange County Transportation Authority announced they were going to purchase the toll lanes, they said that the prices were going to drop not go up. Once again, the government lies to get what they want.”
“The obscene amount of tax dollars that are TAKEN from us everyday should be more than enough to create and maintain any of these new roads.”
“I THINK THIS IS CRAZY. IT KEEPS GOING UP AND UP AND I WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO AFFORD THE EXPRESS LANES. MY HUSBAND RECENTLY PASSED AWAY AND MY INCOME IS CUT IN HALF. NOW WITHOUT HIM, I CAN NO LONGER RIDE THE CARPOOL LANES AND MY TRIP TO WORK AND HOME HAS BECOME VERY LONG AND UNBEARABLE ON SOME DAYS.”
“They spent a lot of taxpayer's money...they promised reductions in traffic congestion while staying "revenue neutral". About six months later a study showed a drop in traffic of only 0.06 percent, a paltry amount, as compared to an increase in revenue of a whopping 26.0 percent. This kind of double-speak and corruption will continue as long as we, the people, allow it. THROW THE RASCALS OUT!!!”
“Anyone notice all the people who cut into the lanes after the toll plaza. How dangerous is that?”
“Pricing on the 91 Toll Lanes is INSANE! I understand that sometimes it's just as congested as the non-tollroads during rush (hour), but the raise is just too much. I think the price of $8 is too much.”
automatically send this important
article to everyone you know.
By PEGGY VENABLESpecial to the Star-Telegram
Taxpayers, it's time to open your wallets. November ballot initiatives total almost $10 billion in state spending. School districts are asking for almost $7 billion more in taxes, and local governments are seeking $9 billion in bonds.
Texans will be asked to consider shouldering considerable additional public debt with numerous measures on Nov. 6. Currently, the state's outstanding general-obligation bond debt is $7.5 billion. If passed, the state initiatives could more than double that.
Local governments -- including the 106 school districts seeking tax increases and the 52 school districts, 12 cities, seven counties and three colleges asking for bond approvals -- will hit taxpayers' pocketbooks even harder.
This building debt is particularly problematic because taxpayers already carry considerable government debt. The interest payments on local government debt in Texas total more than what local governments spend on police and fire protection combined.
Local governments have increased their spending at an unsustainable rate -- in 25 years, an astonishing 158 percent when per-person income increased by only 39 percent. Local government debt has grown at an even more alarming rate, increasing 270 percent in the same period.Read the rest of the article HERE
he runs from his Perry/Krusee freeway toll vote.
Sen. Kirk Watson, not up for reelection until 2010, has sent out a new direct mailer - paid for with special interest dollars. And, according to Watson he’s the best thing since sliced bread, just ask him (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
Well, you could ask him, but Watson is notorious for NOT responding to constituents questions, so you’d be shit out of luck. Heck Watson has even REFUSED to respond to the non-profit, non-partisan Project Vote Smart, when asked by key national leaders of both major parties.
Watson’s mailer (see the online version here) includes this shocking disinformation to begin rewriting history - after his vote to toll our Austin freeways on Oct 8th:
“and we stopped the tolling of open public highways, took action to block private companies from owning our public infrastructure in Central Texas, and began building a transparent, accountable, comprehensive transportation system that you control”.Sure, and the moon is made of sharp cheddar cheese and monkey snot.
As chair of CAMPO, Watson led the effort to spend nearly one Billion tax dollars to shift our Austin freeways to tollways, even though 75% of the CAMPO public feedback opposed the toll plan.
The later part of Watson’s sentence is especially amusing, “...transparent, accountable, comprehensive transportation system that you control”.
The local tolling authority (CTRMA) sets the toll tax rates for our freeways, they can raise the toll tax rates, they are unelected and therefore unaccountable to the voters. So how is that “accountable”, and within our control?
The CTRMA are the same bunch of crooks who were found to give out NO BID contracts to themselves and their pals!
Watson’s mailer insults us more by him holding up a sign, Bob Dylan style, that says “listen carefully”. This YouTube video of a citizen in front of Watson a few weeks ago, complaining about how Watson shut down hundreds of anti-toll speakers, shows how well lil Kirk listens to the people.
It’s official. With his many conflicts of interests, his lack of principles, a long history of diverting tax dollars for his special interest pals, and no respect for the people he pretends to represent - Watson is Evil.
According to a newly published global oil supply report to be presented by the Energy Watch Group at the Foreign Press Association in London, world oil production peaked in 2006. Production will start to decline at a rate of several percent per year.
Imagine having to pay $5 a gallon AND paying a Toll to drive on a freeway your tax dollar already paid for (Thanks to Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Mike Krusee, Sen. Kirk Watson and others).
The press release states,
"The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by a sharp decline of fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of daily life."
TheNewspaper.com has the whole article, here's a snip:
"Although TxDOT suggested that free market competition was part of the goal of using a public-private partnerships to construct and operate roads, the contract it signed on March 22 to construct this portion of SH130 was specifically designed to limit the desirability of alternate, free routes."
Judge allows depositions of TxDOT Top Brass!
In Travis County District Court yesterday, Judge Orlinda Naranjo granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to move to the discovery phase and depose top Transportation Department (TxDOT) officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself.
TURF’s attorneys, Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins outmaneuvered Attorney General counsel Kristina Silcocks to file a motion for a continuance to allow TURF to move to the discovery phase to gather evidence to show TxDOT’s top brass broke the law with the Keep Texas Moving (KTM) ad campaign and lobbying Congress to buyback interstates.
“This is a great victory for Texas taxpayers!” an elated Terri Hall, TURF’s Founder and Executive Director proclaimed. “This egregious misuse of $9 million of taxpayer money by a rogue government agency is one MAJOR step closer to being stopped.”
The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.
With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.
"We've already uncovered some internal memos," said Charles Riley, TURF's attorney. "And we want to be able to ask the people who wrote those memos what exactly they're talking about when they say, 'We're gonna target this area to change people's minds. We're gonna discredit the adversaries.'" Riley said the next step is to depose individuals involved with this campaigning.
One of the documents found offered this timeless advice: "Keep calm. Leave wrestling to the pigs. They always end up looking like pigs."
"What TxDOT is doing goes way beyond anything than what the Texas Legislature intended. If the Legislature did intend that, then the legislation is unconstitutional," attorney David van Os said.
Kristina Silcocks, who represents TxDOT from the attorney general's office, did not want to speak on camera.
A great letter to editor found in the Statesman Friday. Keep sending them in folks to firstname.lastname@example.org! 150 words or less with your name, address and phone for verification:
Cheese with that baloney?
Re: Oct. 10 editorial “CAMPO takes high road, addresses transportation needs.”
I read with bemusement the editorial praising the decision by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board to approve five more toll roads for the Austin area.
In another article (Oct. 10, “Combs: State surplus climbs to $8.5 billion”), we learn that the State of Texas is sitting on an $8.5 billion surplus with only $300 million earmarked for highways.
The Texas Department of Transportation and the CAMPO board keep claiming that there is not enough money for freeway construction. I smell some big fat rats that just helped themselves to a big chunk of Central Texas cheese.
Internal emails record intentional TxDOT deception.
As tens of thousands of Central Texas toll road drivers were being double charged for months, TxDOT and contractors discussed the problem via email, without telling the press or the public, according to e-mails released under the state's Public Information Act. KXAN broke the story after a citizen contacted the TV news station in late September. But even then, emails prove that TxDOT was not forthcoming with the facts.
"A system issue was discovered in July, in which approximately 30,000 duplicate transactions were posted to customer accounts since January 2007." PBS&J’s, Vivian Raines, wrote on July 19.
The email continues to explain that some people are being double billed numerous times, for numerous trips. The emails between TxDOT and contractors continue for months, as they try to figure out what part of the system is causing the double charges on drivers TxTAG statements.
"Please be aware that this is a significant issue..." TxDOT Turnpike Authority Division’s Julie Dillard wrote in an email blast on July 30 to TxDOT, PBS&J and other contractor employees. Yet, TxDOT did not alert the press or the public of the over billing issue.
On September 19th, after KXAN contacted TxDOT about the over billing, Coby Chase, director of TxDOT's Government and Public Affairs Division email states, “I take it we will get ahead of this and not let it look like we were caught right?”
A debate on whether they should or should not produce a press release is captured within the email records. As Coby Chase suggests a press release, Gabriela Garcia, TxDOT spokesperson, discusses a strategy to keep the story from spreading further.
Gabriela Garcia tells Coby, “There’s certainly a chance other interviews will follow KXAN, but not until Friday (after their story runs). Then we’re taking a chance that since one station already had it first, others won’t take it. With a news release, we’re inviting news coverage”.
When KXAN interviews the TxDOT spokesperson (click to see the video), Gabriela Garcia doesn’t share her knowledge of the 30,000 that have been double charged, instead she intentionally sets out to deceive the press and the public by says it’s only “150 a day”.
As underlings panic with the pressure of answering KXAN’s tough questions, Philip Russell, TxDOT Turnpike Division Director sent this sarcastic email. “sounds like I better look at my billing statement closer!”
A few days after Gabriela Garcia tells KXAN that TxDOT has it all under control, an email from Powell on Sept 24th says it all, “Latest word on the double charging issue is that it is NOT fixed.”
From a Houston Chronicle article today:
"I would say that Gov. Perry is at the top of everyone's list, my own and any other Republican nominee," Giuliani said in a conference call with reporters. "He's governor of one of our largest states. He's a very successful governor."
When asked about the speculation, Perry was quick to say, "I won't consider that." But he also declined to say whether that meant he would turn down a vice-presidential slot on the ticket if it is offered.
By PEGGY FIKAC, Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN — When Texas transportation officials talk about bridges these days, they don't necessarily mean steel spans and concrete girders. Instead, they are being taught how to "bridge" from off-message questions to their own talking points in a toll-road campaign.
"You will often be asked questions that don't get to the points you wish to make or that you don't wish to answer," says a "radio interview techniques" section of Texas Department of Transportation documents released under the Public Information Act. "You can use bridging to turn the question to your points."
One useful phrase, suggests the document — prepared by consultants who are to be paid $24,500 for talk-radio training for the campaign, and tweaked by the department — is this: " ... I think what you are really asking is ... "The document also offers this timeless advice: "Keep calm. Leave wrestling to the pigs. They always end up looking like pigs."
The training document is part of the multimillion-dollar Keep Texas Moving campaign, the subject of a court hearing today...Read the rest of the article HERE.
Gov. Rick "Mr. 39%" Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president this morning on the Fox and Friends morning show. The talk is, this early endorsement and past ties, could add up to a Vice Presidential nod for ol Gov. good hair.
Perry has committed to “campaign for him and work for him”. Giuliani’s lawfirm, Bracewell & Giuliani PAC gave $20,000 to the Perry campaign for Governor.
Perry created the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), and Giuliani has already profited off the first leg of the TTC eminent domain land grab. Giuliani's lawfirm, Bracewell & Giuliani, represents Cintra, the Spanish Company who will be building one of the first portions of the 4,000 mile TTC toll road (Nafta Super Highway).
UPDATE: And, toll road giant Macquarie, purchased Giuliani’s investment bank, just months ago.
The big election in Dallas is right around the corner, and our pals at Trinity Vote Yes are fighting the good fight against special interest tollers.
WFAA's Brad Watson has an enlightening report on just how much the Dallas Trinity Park will be eaten up by the Trinity Toll Road. Watson actually goes down into the floodway, marks off the parkland the toll road will cover, and films it from above with a helicopter.
As an added bonus, watch former County Judge Lee Jackson stammer like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar when Watson asks him why the NTTA's new watercolors show the road far from Crow Lake, while the engineering diagrams show that the toll road will force engineers to pave a significant portion of the lake.
Ol Sen. Kirk Watson sure knows how to keep himself in the thick of things, to profit off every angle. I told you about how he gets paid $450 an hour with our City of Austin Tax dollars, to do land deals, and all the other conflicts he has a couple weeks ago.
Well, I just found this Statesman report from last week. It looks like Sen. Watson profits off landfill deals as well:
With deep pockets involved and landfill policies at play, the case has attracted some formidable lawyers and lobbyists. The law firm Baker Botts, as well as some high-powered lobbyists, has represented Penske. Kirk Watson, the former Austin mayor and a current state senator, represents the landfill.Like one giant region-wide landfill, Watson poisons our local government.
The recent news of 50,000 drivers being overbilled in Central Texas turn out to be a misaligned toll antenna (tag reader), perhaps skewed by a knock, high winds or vibration, according to tollroadsnews.com. Some were double billed, and as I reported some days ago, other drivers were not billed at all.
It’s unknown whether the high tech toll antenna, a flat overhead RFID reader, was a victim of sabotage via an old fashioned rock, or just the wind, or perhaps it was just installed incorrectly.
Other electronic tolling problems have popped up in other areas of the country. Some small cars have been billed at truck rates, which would more than quadruple the billing rate and people don't even notice the quadruple charge!
And, there have been many more billing issues:
- Texas toll road arrests two motorists over $5.50 in alleged unpaid tolls.
- $105,000 in toll camera tickets wrongly issued to toll road users in Virginia.
- Woman Faced $1200 in Charges for Tolls She Already Paid
- Toll transponders overcharging motorists across the country
- Thousands of innocent motorists ticketed face $85 fines and license suspensions.
Even celebrity cook Gordon Ramsay, of the TV show Hell's Kitchen, offered his favored sabotage approach for speed camera’s on a talk show last year:
"Bit of a chef's secret really," Ramsay said. "So the secret thing to do is get a catering pack of clean film and about half past two in the morning there's hardly any traffic on the road. Just pull over, jump on the side and wrap the thing in clean film. When it flashes it sort of smudges the number plate and it doesn't look sabotaged."I suggest not using the tolls at all, but if you do use them, look at your bills carefully, and if you find a problem, call your local TV news station to properly shine the light on the bureaucratic crooks who are shifting our freeways to toll ways.
"My favorite is the Dutch trick," Clarkson (the host) said. "There's a tiny hole in the corner and they spray that quick-expanding builder's foam and it just bursts out of everywhere. It's really ruined."
Remember, the double billing of 50,000 drivers was first exposed by one man, Marcus Davis, making one call to one news station. Thank you Marcus!
The Statesman article from today called, "CAMPO has spoken - finally. And now...", did state that we have 2 years to stop the tolls, but did NOT mention that the "$910 million" is our tax dollars:
The construction delay, if you can call it that, arises from federally required environmental studies on all five roads, none of which have been completed and approved by the Federal Highway Administration. Design work is not finished on any of the roads. There's right of way to buy, contractors to hire, traffic and revenue studies to do and, in some cases, bonds to be sold to get the almost $550 million that will be combined with $910 million to build the projects.The article did mention the "Sleazy Six", but failed to list the "Sleazy Six" by name:
From left to right, the “Sleazy Six”: State Representative Mike Krusee, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell, Georgetown Mayor Gary L. Nelon, Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon, Kyle Mayor Miguel Gonzales
First things first, we need everyone to spread the word to ensure we get viable funded candidates for the "Sleazy Six" ASAP - deadlines to run takes place at the first of the year! If we remove some of these tollers, we can peel off more tolls.
Just compare the two maps to see how our work since 2004 has peeled tolls from the "done deal" vote in 2004! This is what I told Ben Wear last week, which was NOT included in the Statesman article:
"The fact is CAMPO voted for a larger toll plan in 2004, and we were told it was a done deal. But, over the years, our work has peeled off many tolls from the freeway toll plan. The vote last week, proves that our work, works. So, it's time to fire more tollers, and change CAMPO again. That and some other seeds that have been planted months and years ago, should do the trick, and remove all the tolls from the plan - in the months and years ahead.
clicking the envelope icon below.
Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt ran on an anti-toll road platform, and last Monday evening she broke hearts while she voted to spend $910 million tax dollars to shift our freeways to tollways.
Many are confused, shocked, and angry - and we should be. Many of us worked hard to get Sarah elected, to defeat toller Karen Sonlietner, and we certainly didn't elect her to compromise.
I understand Sarah’s strategy, but, I disagree with it. I had hoped that she’d vote on principle, and simply vote no to these double tax freeway tolls.
Eckhardt invested a lot of time and energy getting her amendments passed, Sen. Kirk Watson tries to give them more importance by calling them covenants, but these amendments could be virtually worthless, as years pass. Eckhardt says this to explain her vote:
“Toll roads as proposed by TxDOT warrant and have my continued opposition.Eckhardt’s amendments include: Toll roads can’t be sold to private interests, Toll revenue to be used in the corridor it was generated in (unless 2/3 of a future CAMPO Board votes against), High occupancy vehicles get free access, and the Toll tax to be removed when the debt from building the road is retired.
Monday night we heard eloquent statements from four other board members regarding the serious inefficiencies and inequities presented by the plan as proposed. Knowing that TxDOT will not give us the funding necessary to build the road infrastructure we need unless tolls are used as leverage, it is imperative that we as a board face these inequities head-on and do everything we can to blunt their effects. That's what the amendments that I offered are designed to do.”
The problem with these amendment’s is they are NOT guaranteed. Not by a long shot. The amendments could easily be voted down, when nobody is babysitting CAMPO - 3, 5 or 15 years from now. So, in my opinion, they do nothing but give folks a false sense of a tiny bit of security.
Eckhardt has taken a gigantic gamble.
In my opinion, Sarah needs to impress us by making some magic happen in the next couple of years - before the tolls are set in stone, and before her next election. Stay tuned to this blog to find out if lemonade can be made out of these lemons.
clicking the envelope icon below.
As you know, Sen. Kirk Watson, as the Chair of CAMPO, spent months lining up YES votes, to spend $910 million tax dollars to shift our freeways to tollways in Austin.
And in that time, I've exposed many Watson conflicts on this blog. Last week, some of those conflicts finally got into the mainstream media, the first was a live spot I did on KXAN's lunch time show Monday.
I received a call mid week from Fox 7 News asking me to have a Toll Road debate on their news program with Sen. Kirk Watson. I agreed to the debate, but I got word that Sen. Watson declined. Watson had to be horrified that I'd let more viewers know about his numerous conflicts.
When Watson was interviewed for a response of the conflicts, he did his best Nixon - "I am not a crook" impression - Sen. Watson declared he didn't have any conflicts and called the facts I presented "character assassination".
READ THIS IMPORTANT ARTICLE about upcoming $5 Billion Bond election for Toll Roads. VOTE NO ON PROP 12! - SPREAD THE WORD!
Heck, always vote NO on ALL propositions.
All they are - is well crafted words for tax increases, created by snakes who divert our tax dollars to fat cat contributers. As Peggy Venable of Americans For Prosperity-Texas says, "Every government bond is a delayed tax increase".
Read the important article HERE.
CNBC stock analyst Cramer yesterday joined the growing chorus of voices in the investment community raising questions about the financial practices of Australia's Macquarie Bank. The Mad Money host cited the work of New York hedge fund manager Jim Chanos who raised red flags about the toll road giant in May.
"Sometimes a company will do something so devious -- not illegal -- that you just need to clear out," Cramer said. "When you see any kind of smoke and mirrors -- remember on my desk was always, 'Accounting irregularities equals sell' -- you gotta say 'bye bye' to its stock."
Read the rest of the article HERE.
BREAKING NEWS: New Legislation filed yesterday, "The Toll Road Prohibition Act of 2007", could Slow Down Some Tolls
HR 3802, also called the "Toll Road Prohibition Act of 2007" was introduced by US Representative Leonard Boswell (D-IA) Wednesday, Oct 10th. Boswell says HR 3802 would help stop states from adding tolls to highways, bridges or tunnels constructed with federal funds -- unless the state returns the federal gas tax funds used to construct them.
The details or loopholes are unknown today, but we can track the details here, as days pass. I hope Boswell's bill includes state highways, and not just interstates, but I wouldn't expect it.
"The American people should not be required to pay for the same highway twice -- once through their tax dollars and again through new tolls on federal interstate highways," Boswell said in a statement.
Published Letters to the Statesman Editor Today - send your own (150 words or less) to email@example.com
Letters to Editor Today - Make online comments on the Statesman site here.
The Chamber of Commerce wants to tax (toll) you and me more for new roads so it can profit from further development.
Maybe the thing to do is propose a business tax instead of tolls to pay for new roads. Developers are insisting that we need “new money” for roads. How about they cough it up? Maybe a special “developer surcharge” to build new roads?
Surely taxing a few developers a lot would be more efficient than taxing hundreds of thousands of drivers 50 cents at a time. Aren’t our business leaders in favor of more efficient government?
Re: Oct. letter “Leave CAMPO alone.”
CAMPO is a sham.
Sen. Kirk Watson, chairman of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, sends e-mail newsletters promoting toll roads. As chairman, he shouldn’t be influencing people’s opinions on this issue.
Toller Gonzalo Barrientos left a pro-toll board - some members with livelihoods tied to tolling - that has preached tolls and facilitated bogus citizen’s groups instead of maintaining even an appearance of impartiality.
CAMPO’s public hearings were pure theater - designed to appear as if the public had input when it really had none.
This week the AP reported that Central Texas Toll Roads have double billed 50,000 drivers who are using the TxTAG (Just call it what it is - a TaxTag!). The toll system is the TxDOT operated TxTag brand using TransCore eGo sticker tags. Rep. Mike Krusee's mistress, Melinda Wheatley, was just fined $10,000 for violating state law, and had Transcore as a client.
Late yesterday, another news report on Double TaxTag billings broke, as KETK told of double billing on Loop 49 in Tyler, . The double billing in Tyler involves defense contractor Raytheon.
Everybody knows that their EZ Toll Tag records may be used against them...see this story on how the toll tag was used to prove cheaters ‘took the off-ramp to adultery’.
If you have a TaxTag, I'd suggest you burn it - unless you like to be tracked, traced and enjoy feeding the bureaucratic machine. I'll be picking up my own TxTag - as soon as monkeys fly out of my ass.
As you might guess, the Bond Buyer is a publication for bond investors, and those investors are perhaps not as keen on putting up money for projects that are not that popular. 75% of the CAMPO public feedback opposed the tolls CAMPO voted for this week. A section of the Bond Buyer article:
"...The board is made up of representatives of regional governments and led by former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, currently a Democratic state senator. To accommodate the crowd of sign-carrying opponents, the meeting was held in the auditorium of a local high school.Read the whole article HERE.
“There was a lot of hooting and hollering and cat calls,” said Sal Costello, founder of the Texas Toll Party that opposes tolls on existing tax-financed roads. “The public really feels that it’s been ignored.”
Some of the signs protesters brought to the meeting read: “No tolls on existing roads,” and “Watson won’t listen.”
Watson voted for tolling on four of the five highway projects, but recused himself on a proposal for U.S. 290 East because he is a director of a bank that owns land along the route.
While the vote Monday night was intended to be conclusive, Costello said that his organization is not ending the fight. Texas Toll Party will target six CAMPO board members who face re-election next spring, including state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Austin, who sponsored House Bill 3588 in the 2003 session of the Legislature that promoted tolling.
Costello said that he formed his organization in 2004 in opposition to the tolling that was allowed by that bill. At that time, CAMPO was seeking to turn eight highways into toll projects. Through political pressure, the regional governments reconsidered its plan. In the intervening three years, the number of toll projects was reduced from eight to five..."
Don't forget to vote out the tollers - we are calling the ones running in coming months the CAMPO Sleazy Six! (click the hyperlink to see the mugshots!)
TxDOT, eager to Toll Tax Texas interstate I-35, begins to track, trace, and poll I-35 drivers.
Think Hutchison's bill stops TxDOT from tolling I-35? Think again. There is a loophole that allows TxDOT to use our gas tax dollars to build new toll lanes. That's a Double Tax.
Alliance Transportation Group Inc. did the study for TxDOT for $800k and has refused to divlulge ownership to one reporter.
From the HOUSTON CHRON article, "TxDOT hired a firm to film plates, send surveys — a move some call sneaky" today:
"TxDOT hired a firm to film plates, send surveys — a move some call sneaky": Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said, "It's one thing to study traffic patterns, but to ask all this personal information of people makes you wonder why they are doing it. ... This is more than Orwell ever imagined."
"With TxDOT continuing to spill forth that they have no money to build highways, I find it very interesting they have a lot of money to do mailings to 150,000 people and ad campaigns of $8 (million) and $9 million," she (Rep. Lois Kolkhorst) said.
In this short video from Monday night, CAMPO board member Jeff Mills reveals that the toll plan for Central Texas does not deal with the most congested areas of the region.
Mills explained that 80% of the most congested areas in the region, based on a congestion index data, is not addressed with the toll plan. The toll lobby had been selling the toll plan as a congestion relief solution, when in fact, it's a taxation plan.
"These projects do nothing for the main points of congestion," he said, noting that TxDOT had made it clear that it was only interested in toll roads. "There are sufficient funds for non-tolled roads."
CAMPO crapped all over the carpet again last night. And, it’s time to rub CAMPO’s nose in it.
The majority of our elected representatives failed to represent us again. This was no surprise. The real work to start pulling more toll roads from the plan begins in the coming days.
How do we pull more tolls from the plan?
The same way we pulled toll ways from the plan AFTER the CAMPO 2004 toll vote. Political pressure. We need to send letters to the editor, talk with neighbors about the DOUBLE TAX tollers by name, and we need to be creative. Let’s share creative ideas in the comments area below.
and failed to represent our families:
AND LET'S FIRE THEM IN 2008!!!
(Double Tax Architect)
Re-Election in March 2008!
Travis County Commissioner
Viable OPPONENT NEEDED
Re-election in March 2008!
City of Round Rock Mayor
Term ends in 2008!
Gary L. Nelon
City of Georgetown Mayor
Term ends in 2008!
City of Cedar Park Mayor
Term ends in 2008!
City of Kyle Mayor
Term ends in 2008!
Kirk Watson (Chair), State Senator & Lobbyist
Term ends in 2011
Brewster McCracken, Council Member Austin
Expected to Run for Mayor in 2009
Cynthia Long (Vice Chair), Williamson County Commissioner
Term ends in 2011
Sam Biscoe, Travis County Judge
Term ends in 2010
Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Commissioner
Term ends in 2010
Will Wynn, City of Austin Mayor
Term limited - ends in 2009
Betty Dunkerley, Council Member Austin
Term ends in 2008 - Expected to Retire
John Trevino, Capital Metro
Unelected. Unaccountable to voters.
Bob Daigh, TxDOT - District Engineer
Unelected. Unaccountable to voters.
They Listened and Voted NO to Freeway Tolls.
Jeff Mills, Council Member Sunset Valley
Eddie Rodriguez, State Representative
Liz Sumter, Hays County Judge
Jennifer Kim, Council Member Austin
Find emails and phone numbers of the good eggs (to thank), and the deaf CAMPO board members here.
BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE!
OTHER FREEWAY TOLLERS
These folks ran away from the CAMPO toll road heat,
after they voted for freeway tolls. They still have a special place in our hearts:
Dawnna Dukes, State Rep.
Steve Ogden, State Sen.
Dan Gattis, State Rep.
I’ll have an updated scoreboard PDF, article on Sarah Eckhardt, Powerful video from the CAMPO vote and more - all in the coming days on this blog!
Pulled from the Texas Observer article, "CAMPO: Let the Contracting Begin":
Mills was particularly eloquent in explaining his vote. He said most of the congestion in Austin was on MoPac, I-35, and Loop 360.
“These projects do nothing for the main points of congestion,” he said, noting that the Texas Department of Transportation had made it clear that it was only interested in toll roads. “There are sufficient funds for non-tolled roads.”
In 2004, CAMPO voted to toll our freeways (a $2.2 bil plan). We were told it was a done deal, they voted YES, and that "everyone should just go home".
Our political action committee was born AFTER that vote, and we've had fantastic accomplishments. We peeled a number of tolls off the plan, created a discussion where there was NONE, and removed elected officials that have ignored the public.
Tonight ushers in another great opportunity for the public. CAMPO will be voting on a $1.5 bil freeway toll plan.
Like a boy on Christmas morning, I am excited to find out who will vote YES to spend $910 million tax dollars to shift our freeways to tollways.
Why would I be excited you ask?
Well, it's common knowledge that CAMPO, under the leadership of Sen. Watson and Rep. Krusee, will vote YES to this toll tax scheme. And, although the tollers never allowed us to vote, like all the other toll roads in Texas, we get to fire the tollers. And, in 2006 I mastered a campaign that has proven to surgically remove incumbents who vote for the added bureaucracy of toll taxing our freeways. Although the process is slow, I am confident that changing CAMPO is the key to stopping double tax tolls. I wrote this article last year about the great changes we've made, and since then the CAMPO board is only 19, instead of 23.
AFTER the vote, we'll remove more tollers, change CAMPO again, and peel off more roads. Contact me at sal at austintollparty.com to volunteer in the coming months.
Is Watson at risk of being removed? No, not anytime soon - his term ends in 2011 - thats about when construction would start for many of the toll roads being voted on tonight.
These CAMPO board members have terms that end in 2008, and could vote YES tonight. (Some have elections as early as May, so viable opponents need to step up ASAP):
Mike Krusee - State RepresentativeAs we remove the tollers, other tollers make deals to get off the CAMPO board, like Rep. Mark Strama and Rep. Dawnna Dukes (who we won't forget).
Jennifer Kim - Council Member Austin
Gerald Daugherty - Travis County Commissioner
Nyle Maxwell - City of Round Rock Mayor
Gary L. Nelon - City of Georgetown Mayor
Bob Lemon - City of Cedar Park Mayor
Miguel Gonzales - City of Kyle Mayor
Eddie Rodriguez - State Representative
Jeff Mills - Council Member Sunset Valley
It is CRUCIAL that we go to this important CAMPO toll road vote TONIGHT! Take on Traffic toll road profiteers are coming in force, so we, the public, need to be there to get the most out of this vote. We won't be able to speak but we need to show up in force. Come to see the vote that will be political suicide for those who ignore us.
Sen. Watson and other CAMPO board members like Mike Krusee and Brewster McCracken are pushing to place tolls on portions of 71W, 71E, 183, 290W, 290E and 45S using $910 million tax dollars.
It's our duty, as taxpayers to see where our dollars for free roads get spent.
Monday October 8, 2007, 6:00 PM
Anderson High School Auditorium
8403 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759