More public resources spent on bureaucratic tolls.
If any agency could use a hard (unlubricated) probing, it's TxDOT. Bend over TxDOT, this will only hurt real bad for a few months (LOL). Houston Chron has the story, "State Affairs to study TxDOT ad campaign":
Yesterday, Speaker Craddick assigned House Appropriations to analyze the agency's finances going back five years. Today, he told State Affairs to "study the issue of using state funds to advertise government programs and services to discern if taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately."...Read the whole Houston Chron article HERE.
...TxDOT has been under fire for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign on toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor. The agency has defended the $7 million to $9 million that it's spending on the Keep Texas Moving campaign....
..."I appreciate Speaker Craddick's decision to accept my request for an interim charge study to examine the issue of using state funds to advertise government programs and services to discern if taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately," Rep. Ken Paxton said in an email today. "While it may be appropriate, at times, for government agencies to educate citizens through public service announcements, I maintain that government should not ever spend the money raised from taxpayers to lobby the public."
In the spring of 2006, I figured we’d plant a seed and start telling the story of the “Krusee Corruption” by finding him an opponent, in hopes that a viable opponent (with money) would naturally surface to take him out in 2008.
Myself and a couple of pals in our PAC, plucked an unknown from the universe (with no money) to run in Krusee's 2006 Republican primary. As a matter of fact, the opponent we found signed up just minutes before the WilCo deadline closed. I remember actually directing with her on the phone in the final minutes to get to the right building, to meet the deadline.
On a shoestring budget we moved forward. I created her VoteBarbara.com website, fliers, ad (CLICK TO READ) and free online bumperstickers hitting Krusee hard for his double tax of tolling roads we've already paid for. Our volunteers, led by one of the finest people I've ever met - Richard Reeves, delivered fliers to thousands of District 52 homes.
With virtually no money, an unknown got 36% of the vote. (45% East of 130). That showed Krusee, and incumbent, was very vulnerable.
The work we did in the primary paid off earlier than I planned, with Krusee barely winning the general election by only only 5% of the vote.
Krusee’s narrow win against a Democrat in a Republican (Williamson County) district was a real shocker. Krusee's main opponent, Karen Felthauser, had virtually no money to produce a competitive campaign.
So, in 2006, Krusee was shown to be very vulnerable. Funded candidates always smell blood in the water, and Krusee knew it.
Krusee bailing out is kind of bitter sweet.
I was getting geared up for a sweet knock-out punch, but I guess that gives me more time to take down some other CAMPO tollers. I've talked with a very big name, some weeks ago, who is seriously considering stepping into that race as a Republican. She'd be good for us, very good - 100 times better than another toller like Maxwell - I'm confident she could beat him if he steps in for the R primary. A lot of great bloggers are working hard to spread the word and take down these crooks who steal our tax dollars and freeways to build double tax toll roads.
The Dem in that race is also good for us.
Some have emailed me asking if the info I have about Krusee and Wheatley advertising on a sex swap website was also part of his reasoning/timing. I don't know.
and failed to represent our families:
They ignored the public and voted to spend $910 million tax dollars to shift our Central Texas freeways to toll roads. The tollers below with photographs, have terms ending in 2008, and are our targets for the coming weeks and months.
Krusee, was one of the Sleaxy Six. Maxwell says he's stepping down as well. We need everyone to spread the word to ensure we get viable funded candidates for all the rest of the "Sleazy Six" ASAP - deadlines to run takes place at the first of the year!
As we remove more tollers, we can peel off more tolls.
It might be some days before I post that nasty stuff (close-up pics of nasty bits). I'm trying to figure a couple things out first. Keep checking back.
I've never had one, but if McBlogger keeps writing articles like this I just might get a man crush on him.
McBlogger put the biggest smile on my face today, as he attacks all of my favorite double tax toller crooks. McBlogger calls Sen. Watson, Brewster McCracken, Mike Krusee and Gerald Daugherty "Retards" and "Fuc%$@" as he lashes out on them for their constant ignorance on transportation issues HERE.
It's business as usual in Austin...
Hidden within the Austin City Council agenda for Thursday (tomorrow) Sen. Kirk Watson and his law firm, Hughes & Luce ask the Council to expand the scope of work into other development areas - that's just the first step for more of our tax dollars for Kirk "I don't see any conflicts" Watson.
As you know, roads and development go hand in hand. And Kirk Watson's got his hands in as many cookie jars as possible.
After Krusee handed Watson the toll road ball in January, the Central Texas toll road kingpin Watson has:
1) become the Chair of CAMPO
2) pushed and passed a plan to spend nearly $1 Billion tax dollars to shift freeways to tollways
3) been put on the payroll of developers
4) billed the City of Austin taxpayers at a rate of $450 per hour for representation on land deals with developers. Over $420,000 has been paid to Watson’s law firm, by the City of Austin in the last two years.
Read all about Watson's conflicts of interests HERE.
by Patrick Driscoll, San Antonio Express
Something that might not get enough attention in the toll-road debate is the matter of public subsidies, so let's take a look.
Read the rest of the article HERE.
People have grown increasingly suspicious of politics. Unfortunately, their fears are well founded, and today’s announcement from State Representative Mike Krusee that he plans to step down from office effective at the end of his term in January 2009 will only serve to reinforce their suspicions.
Despite widespread rumors of political payback for his steadfast support of toll road privatization plans, Mike Krusee failed to state why he is stepping down, how he will be rewarded, or what backroom meetings took place in the planning of this announcement, just days before official candidate filing opens.
It’s this type of political arrogance that has led people to be justifiably suspicious of the Governor’s toll road plans. Krusee, the lead proponent for the Trans Texas Corridor, has ignored the voters’ demand for information before. He was the only Representative out of 150 members to oppose a moratorium on toll road privatization which would have provided voters time to gain a better understanding of how billions of dollars would be spent, how development rights would be handed over, and how the face of our communities would be changed forever.
The goals he couldn’t reach legislatively, we are left to assume, he will pursue administratively. After all, the same disrespect he showed for voters in the past has been reinforced with his failure to answer questions today.
by KXAN Krusee was once a key member of Speaker of the House Tom Craddick's inner circle as chair of the House Transportation Commission. He saw his star dim considerably during the most recent session, however, as he faced a backlash over his authorship of the transportation bill that created regional mobility authorities, the Trans-Texas Corridor and the increased use of toll roads as an option to fund major road projects. When it came time to reverse measures under the bill, he was the sole House member to vote the measure down.
Republican Rep. Mike Krusee of Williamson County ended weeks of speculation and admitted in a statement Monday afternoon that he won't seek a ninth term in the Texas House.
Read the rest of the KXAN article HERE.
Krusee was once a key member of Speaker of the House Tom Craddick's inner circle as chair of the House Transportation Commission.
He saw his star dim considerably during the most recent session, however, as he faced a backlash over his authorship of the transportation bill that created regional mobility authorities, the Trans-Texas Corridor and the increased use of toll roads as an option to fund major road projects.
When it came time to reverse measures under the bill, he was the sole House member to vote the measure down.
New Jersey's Courier news gives a brief history lesson of unaccountable Toll Roads Lies:
Wait, if toll roads are THE solution, and Jersey has them all over the place. How come they still have problems?
Politicians have touted the state's toll roads as fiscal panaceas for decades. But seldom has the wishful thinking proved true. Here is a list of the most egregious of the broken promises:
1952: No tolls. The Garden State Parkway would be toll-free when its $330 million in construction bonds was paid off around 1988, or so said proponents of the new superhighway. More than 50 years later, tolls are omnipresent. The original toll charge was 25 cents at 11 toll plazas and from 10 cents to 25 cents at exit and entrance ramps.
1997: Free E-ZPass. The new, high-tech E-ZPass toll-collection system would be so smart that it would fund itself, costing motorist nothing more in fees. The system not only would catch toll cheats, but it also would collect millions of dollars in fines, estimated to be $300 million by 2003. A 2004 State Commission of Investigation report showed that only about $15.5 million in fines had been collected by 2003, with the larger amount of revenue, more than $84 million, coming from the lease of new fiber-optic lines. The SCI report said the E-ZPass contract and award was "an administrative and financial debacle of immense proportions." E-Z Pass users are now charged $12 a year to help maintain the system.
2001: No more tolls. Gubernatorial candidates James E. McGreevey and Bret Schundler said they would eliminate roadway tolls if elected. McGreevey was elected. Tolls remain.
2003: Cost savings. McGreevey pushes through a merger of the state's major toll road authorities, the Turnpike Authority and the Highway Authority, in a move he said would "end wasteful duplication and save our taxpayers' money." Four years later, predictions of large-scale savings have not materialized. The Turnpike Authority's expense budget is $465.7 million this year, compared with the combined expense budgets for both roadways of $405 million in 2003, the year before the merger.
Austin's Mayor Will Wynn lost his cool again, according to the Statesman article today. This time the Mayor "spewed a fog of profanity" after a truck blocked traffic. Since the 311 call was released to the media, the Mayor went into "spin mode" with some homespun remarks for the Statesman:
"I spewed a fog of profanity that is still floating down Shoal Creek someplace," Wynn said. "I'm sorry if my language offended (the construction workers') sensibilities."The fact is, Mayor Wynn has a history of uncontrollable anger. Yup, the same Mayor, who along with Sen. Kirk Watson and others voted to toll our Austin freeways with nearly 1 Billion tax dollars.
Mayor Will Wynn broke the law by putting his hands on someone that didn't want to be touched on March 17th 2006. (The Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Assaulting Offenses § 22.01(3))
Mayor Wynn grabbed a student by the throat at a late night party, after the Mayor was being teased about his name. The party took place at the community outdoor area of Mayor Wynn's apartment complex, on 800 W. 5th Street. Mayor Wynn grabbed Johnson and forcibly removed him.
The victim, Luke A. Johnson filed an Austin Police Department report against the Mayor for "Assault by Contact".
Hours earlier, I saw the Mayor at Opal Devine's on 5th Street at 3:00 pm. I was drinking a coke as I waited for my associate for a meeting. I noticed the mayor was not standing totally balanced - just about everyone was getting trashed since it was St. Patrick's Day.
A KVUE report says that Johnson called the police and said that Mayor Will Wynn choked him. Johnson said he was taken to a hospital and has X-rays documenting his injuries. The Statesman did a Metro brief while the San Antonio Express produced a whole article.
What was the Mayor's spin of this outburst? He requests a full time police officer to keep HIM safe. Perhaps Mayor Wynn is right about having a full time cop escort him - that could protect the public from the Mayor.
Since March 2006, every few months, I've asked for the public records about this incident, and I've been denied every time. Like some in the press, I wanted to contact Luke Johnson to ask his version of what happened. Requests for the public information have been blocked by the city every time:
Dear City of Austin,On Nov 14, 2007 the City last responded that records will still be held back:
With the rights granted to me under the Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, I request these documents:
1) A full incident report of March 17th, 2006, 13:07, report # 2006-761976 involving Mayor Will Wynn assault on Luke A. Johnson (born 1/4/1980)
2) The officer's written portion of the incident report of March 17th, 2006, 13:07, report #2006-761976 involving Mayor Will Wynn assault on Luke A. Johnson.
3) 911 tape (cd preferred) and CAD report made by Luke A. Johnson on March 17th, 2006, 13:07, report #2006-761976 involving Mayor Will Wynn assault on Luke A. Johnson.
"Grace, Cary" <> wrote:
Mr. Costello,Sergeant Rick Shirley in APD's Integrity Crimes Unit contacted the County Attorney's Office today as a result of your request, and the prosecutor's office advised Sgt. Shirley that the status of the case is still unchanged. Accordingly, APD continues to rely on the AG's ruling that allows it to withhold the requested information at this time.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
From TIME Magazine to a blogger called "Dead Dog Walking", just about every knows there's a problem with the new 130 toll road in East Central Texas. Except the Statesman has yet to report the issues of low traffic and the fact that SH 130 toll has already failed based on the official statement for 130 bonds from 2002 (see below).
"Dead Dog Walking" Blogger takes the new Central Texas Toll Road 130 for a test run, and sees almost NO traffic and $9.00 a day taken out of his pocket for the round trip cost. I did the same test run last week, and saw shockingly low traffic, and it was 5:10pm on a weekday! "Dead Dog Walking" says:
Austin has decided to add toll roads to ease the congestion on the I-35 corridor from just north of Georgetown to south of Austin. Toll road 130 now runs from Georgetown to hwy 71... Just north of downtown where all the congestion actually is. Well the good news for me (or so I thought) is that I live just west of where the toll road stops, so maybe I could save time and headaches....And most people have NO IDEA that Sen. Waton's Prop 1 from the year 2000 diverted $67 million bond dollars (promised for freeways) into the 130 and 45N toll roads. The other tolls across Texas also spend our tax AND Bond dollars (that were promised to be spent of free roads!).
I work six days a week. That comes to $54... About the same amout that I spend on gas in the same time period. Over $200 a month. That's more than my light bill... And I have an old, non energy effecient house.
Totaled up that is a whopping $2800 a year. I could buy a huge Plasma screen TV. I could fly home to North Carolina to see Ma every other month. I could go to Europe on vacation.
TIME Magazine did an article in 2004 about the $1.5 Billion dollar SH 130 called "The next wave in super highways or a Big, Fat Texas Boondoggle?".
Here's the real kicker about SH 130...
An Official Statement for SH 130 bonds from 2002 says the revenue forecasts in the Traffic and Revenue Report are based on the "assumption that motor fuel will remain in adequate supply" and "motor fuel prices will not exceed $2.50 per gallon", over the next 40 years.
Read that last sentence again, and you tell me what gas costs per gallon TODAY - not to mention what it might cost in the coming decades.
By June 2008, the city of Houston will use the same military drone aircraft currently used to hunt down terrorists overseas to write speeding citations on Texas freeways. Local television station KPRC exposed the Houston Police Department's plan by using the station's news helicopter to spy on what was supposed to be a confidential gathering of area law enforcement personnel where the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities were demonstrated. The test took place seventy miles northwest of Houston in Waller County.
While police have used aircraft to issue speeding tickets for years, the practice can be quite expensive. The cost to operate an aircraft such as a Cessna 182 can run beyond $200 an hour, which cuts into ticketing revenue. The UAV manufactured by Insitu, however, can stay aloft for up to twenty hours using just over a gallon of gasoline. While it only cruises at 55 MPH with a top speed of 86 MPH, its powerful onboard camera can zoom in on a vehicle from a distance of 60 miles with full night-vision capabilities.
Although Houston Police Executive Assistant Police Chief Martha Montalvo told reporters that the main mission of the device would be homeland security, KPRC confirmed that the department's traffic unit played the lead role in the demonstration.
Read the rest of the article HERE.
"Do the lies ever end? Why are those who pretend to represent us always trying to use our tax dollars to create another revenue source?" —The Muckraker
Friday's letter to editor. The state’s privatization contract with Cintra-Zachry for the 40-mile stretch of Texas 130 includes the option for the state to lower the amount of money that it could have to pay the toll operator in the future by taking measures to push traffic from free state roads to Texas 130.
More hurdles to road construction
Re: Nov. 6 article “Toll deal could reward state for I-35 speed cut.”
Is anyone else appalled that the state’s contract includes a provision to pay Cintra-Zachry if “state projects interfere with Texas 130 toll traffic over the next 50 years?”
In other words, if the state improves or builds new roads to alleviate congestion, and traffic on Texas 130 drops, taxpayers are going to pay even more money to private entities.
As if construction costs alone weren’t enough to prevent the construction of necessary highways, now we have penalties.
The corruption of our state of Texas is prevalent, as our tax dollars are spent to shift our freeways to tollways.
From Republicans like Gov. Perry and Rep. Mike Krusee to Democrats like Sen. Kirk Watson, our so called representatives blatantly lie, in an effort to detract taxpayers from the fact that they profit by ignoring their fiduciary duty to the people. And if we look close enough, you’ll find that every time a politician ignores the will of the people, they personally benefit - note the details of a just a few ways Sen. Kirk Watson profits here.
The corruption these crooks cause along with the layers of bureacracy they create (to hide behind) and the billions they divert for pet projects seems to be limitless.
For years, the married Republican State Rep. Mike Krusee, the chair of the House Transportation committee, and lobbyist Melinda "Redkitty" Wheatley have had an intimate relationship.
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.
TransCore, one of Wheatley's transportation clients, landed a multi million dollar contract in 2005 to produce 500,000 TxTAG's for TxDOT toll roads. According to the Comptroller report, "A Need for a Higher Standard", Wheatley also received NO BID contracts from the local tolling authority, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA).
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.
Read all about Wheatley here.
And, in September, Wheatley was found to have violated state law and had to pay a $10,000 fine - after I filed a formal complaint the year before.
So, those links above will bring you up to date with what happened last week....
I parked in the underground parking of Whole foods downtown, to run in to get a loaf of Ciabatta bread.
As I’m walking from my car to the escalator, I pass a woman who I hardly notice, who maybe looks slightly familiar but I don’t think about it too much, since my mind is on my long “to do” list for that day.
Then I hear, “Sal, Sal Costello”, and I turn around smiling, and for a moment I can’t place her. I figure it’s someone who recognizes me, and I expect to hear a “Thank you” for the work I’ve done, which I’ve heard many times before over the past few years of being on the TV news for fighting freeway tolls.
“Hi, I’m Melinda Wheatley”, she says as she reaches out to shake my hand with a nice pleasant smile. The obsessive perfectionist in me notices a “dead tooth”, a slightly discolored tooth. One of the upper front centrals.
I remember, my overall reaction of the first moment was that she’s kind of charming.
Then in the same moment, my brain spins a 360.
I can’t compute why Melinda Wheatley would ever wish to introduce herself, since in the past months and years I’ve raked her over the coals by exposing her affair (and everything else - see links above) with the married Rep. Mike Krusee.
Then I get it. This is how politicians act, she’s playing politician, I'll just let her talk, I tell myself.
Then Wheatley takes the surprising introduction a step further, and says, “I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve put me through”.
Yup, you read that right.
Wheatley surprises yet again by saying, “I pray for you”.
Well, isn’t that a sharp little backhand...oh she's a handful, I thought.
I say, “It’s never been personal, I’m just focused on getting something done”. While I continue to listen to Wheatley’s strange confession.
Wheatley tells me how my exposing her, made her realize that she was “just focused on making money” - her words, not mine. And she tells me that she’s a better person because of my work.
Wheatley also tells me that she used to be an activist, and she’s “getting into human trafficking”. I only assume she’s means that she’s working to stop it, not profit off it (but maybe I’m naive).
While she’s sharing, I consider asking her questions about Krusee, but at that moment I really don’t feel like playing reporter.
So, I remember I had wanted to get back to my day. I got bored, I told her to "take care", she says good-by and I go back to my quest for Ciabatta.
Now folks, if you know Rep. Mike "Freeway Toller" Krusee, make sure he reads every word of this article. There are a couple hidden keywords I placed so only Krusee and Wheatley would understand what's coming next week - on this blog. Happy Thanksgiving.
A BUNKER BUSTER MUCKRAKER EXCLUSIVE COMING SOON: A Married Republican State Representative and his Mistress advertise on a Swingers “Sex Swap” website.
clicking on the envelope below.
Toll Authority Execs Raise Toll Rates, Then Fly First Class at $7k a ticket To Party it Up in Vienna - On Your Dime! (A MUST WATCH VIDEO!)
The report gives a snapshot of how unaccountable and wasteful toll taxes really are - especially when they shift our freeways to toll ways using our tax dollars (TxDOT's latest trick)!
For the first time in US history, NTTA and TxDOT are in the process of shifting a public highway (SH 121) to a tollway. It's been reported that over $1 Billion in tax dollars and public right of way is part of this toll tax revenue scheme. When you toll a public expressway, you create a monopoly and the toll authority becomes an unaccountable taxing authority, since no person on the toll authority is elected.
Demand accountability! Contact your state representative and senator and ask that these employees be FIRED immediately!
This Star Telegram editorial advocating State Highway 161 be shifted to a toll road to collect money to leverage more debt to build more toll roads is - insane. The editorial board fails to mention the most important group involved - the taxpayers.
Our tax dollars and our existing freeways should not be used as an unaccountable taxation scheme. The people who set the toll rates for our freeways converted to tollways are NOT even elected. AND the money collected goes into a slush fund to leverage more debt for more toll roads.
These shouldn't even be called toll roads, since a toll road gives the impression that the money you pay goes to pay for the road you are driving on. That is not the case here.
This is corruption at it's worse, and I'm shocked so many great state of Taxes editors have no clue when it comes to revenue accountability.
by Harvey Kronberg
The Quorum Report
Key Senators say the cuts reflect transpoortation funding crunch, a House member says TxDOT using cuts to get their way on private toll roads.
TxDOT announced last week that it was proposing significant cutbacks in spending, mostly in what the agency spends on engineering consultants and acquisitions of right of way for future highway projects.
The logic is that with the federal government taking back transportation funds (what is known in the bureaucratic jargon as rescissions), the rising costs of construction materials and the increasing inadequacy of the motor fuels tax, many highway projects currently on the books simply wont get built. So if no new funding is in the offing soon, TxDOT argues that it doesn't make sense to hire those engineers or to buy that right of way.
In the Legislature, lawmakers who were active in the highway funding debate last session were alternately dismayed or allayed by TxDOT's proposal.
House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) said he received no word of the impending cuts, claiming that he didn't know anything about them until a reporter called him for reaction. Chisum said such a move was "typical TxDOT. They dont tell anybody anything; they just do what they want to do."
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), author of the original amendment last session placing a two-year moratorium on public-private toll road partnerships, told QR that she, too, was not notified of TxDOTs proposed cuts.
Kolkhorst was skeptical of TxDOT's stated motivation for the cuts. She said that she thought the transportation agency was trying to put the squeeze on lawmakers to force them toward public-private toll partnerships.
The agency thinks it "imperative that they create the crisis so that you can solve the crisis their way," she said. She added that the Texas 161 project in Dallas County was another example of TxDOT creating a crisis to force a resolution favorable to its position in favor of expanded private equity.
Read the rest of the article HERE
Toll Authority (CTRMA) Chair Benefits From Central Texas Toll Road 183A - Click here to Read "The Crooked Get Richer"
"The chairman of the CTRMA board (Bob Tesch) has a substantial interest in more than 254 acres of real estate within two miles of the proposed US 183-A right of way. He began making land acquisitions in the vicinity of US 183-A less than a month after the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) adopted plans for the road."
For years in Denton Texas, TxDOT has placed children in danger, by not providing sidewalks. TxDOT has kids walk in the road with moving traffic, at times moving at 50 mph according to this Denton Record article. Numerous parents have complained that the students’ walk to school is not safe. TxDOT said it plans to add the sidewalks "someday".
NEW YORK (CBS) ― While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pleads poverty and says it has to raise your fares and tolls, a CBS 2 HD investigation uncovered tens of thousands of chosen bureaucrats who are getting a free ride.
It's an appalling investigation that led David Moretti, the head of the MTA's Bridge and Tunnel division to avoid being questioned by CBS 2 HD. Moretti was so anxious to get away from CBS 2 HD cameras, in fact, that he hid in a classroom for 45 minutes before a scheduled MTA fare hike hearing.
What was he hiding from? He's running from questions about free rides.
At a time when the agency wants to raise fares, it's giving free orange EZ passes to nearly 24,000 people to get across the MTA's nine bridges and tunnels.
That's 3.3 million trips.
"It's outrageous. It makes me completely angry," says Jana Glowatz of East Meadow.
Councilman Michael McMahon, D-Staten Island, testified passionately against the fare hike. He was stunned to learn of the free pass scheme.
"That's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard, and if it's true, whoever's doing it should go to jail," he said.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.
TxDOT sitting on $1.2 M that Congressman Earmarked to help a Contributor Build a Road Through Golf Resort
This is par for the course in the corrupt world of Texas politicos being generous with our tax dollars. Pun intended.
Bureaucracy costs everyone more.
TxDOT is sitting on $1.2 million in federal funds that TxDOT may not ever spend, thanks to a special earmark from U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla who wanted to help a contributor build a private road through a golf resort he belonged to, which since has gone bankrupt. The rest of the story is here, in the Houston Chronicle today:
The owner of the resort, Stephen Smith, donated $2,500 to Bonilla's campaigns, and Bonilla owned a membership in the resort — valued as high as $75,000 — that its Web site says is available only to property owners. Bonilla, who was voted out of office in 2006, owns no property in Lajitas.And, surprise surprise, nobody wants to talk about it:
A call to Smith's cell phone couldn't go through. A call to his bankruptcy attorney, Mark Petrocchi, was not immediately returned.
Several attempts to reach Bonilla through his campaign treasurer were unsuccessful.
When you think of Bonilla and his corrupt ways, think of Perry, Krusee, Watson, Williamson and all the other crooks who are cut from the same cloth - who refuse to represent the people, and only look out for themselves.
Andrew Wheat, a research director for the nonpartisan watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, said that Bonilla distilled "all that's wrong with American politics into a simple anecdote."
"Every civics textbook in Texas should tell the story of the congressman who services his big donor pals by earmarking a million tax dollars to pave one mile of a remote, desert playground for the rich," Wheat said.......Since 1999, Smith has donated more than $300,000 to Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission records.
In 2005, Bonilla's American Dream PAC spent more than $17,000 at the resort for a fundraiser, records show.
The relation of short yellow timing at intersections and ticketing revenue has been at the forefront of public discussion of photo enforcement since at least 2001 when a congressional report raised questions about the practice.
This week, investigative reporters in two different states reported on shortened green time as a factor in red light camera ticketing. Lufkin, Texas motorist Nathaniel Shaw told KTRE-TV's investigative reporters about what he saw as a trap laid at the intersection of Chestnut and Timberland.
"I can guarantee you it does not stay on green when you cross over Timberland it does not stay on green more than three seconds," Shaw said. "More than five seconds at the most. Maybe three cars get through then all of a sudden you have to stop."
Although Texas Department of Transportation standards suggest the signal should stay green for a minimum of eight to ten seconds, KTRE timed the light at between three and five seconds of green. Shaw and others find this to be an inadequate time to clear the intersection, and each time someone fails to slam on the brakes in time, Lufkin will pocket $22.50, the state of Texas takes $22.50 and German red light camera vendor Traffipax earns $30. Officials say the timing results from programming designed to optimize traffic flow during peak traffic periods.
Read the rest of the article HERE
KXAN-TV (Austin, TX)
It approves billions of dollars to build roads in Central Texas, but the Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO, has no way to track the money it hands out.
An open records request found that CAMPO spent nearly $2.3 billion since 2001.
The organization, however, does not keep a complete list of finished road projects to present to board members on a regular basis.
Read the rest of the KXAN story HERE
Blogger Dicky Neely of Corpus Christi says TxDOT's poor design of South Padre Island Drive has caused numerous car accidents. And, now TxDOT is trying to fix the mistakes they made with ramp reversals and more:
South Padre Island Drive has suffered from poor design and planning from the beginning. TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) has recently embarked on an ambitious program to move, reverse and alter many off and on ramps to correct errors inherent since the earliest days of the freeway.
Their success has been mediocre at best and has caused many chain reaction, multi car crashes. Who knows how long this will go on?
A diversion of nearly $1 Billion tax dollars (intended for free roads) subsidize this state highway to tollway conversion in Dallas.
Pro Toll Guru and editor of TollRoadsNews.com Peter Samuel says that the Perry/TxDOT Trans Texas Corridor 69 plans just unveiled is a definite retreat, as the TTC 69 plan pretty much abandons the new corridor concept and instead expands existing highways:
"This is a major political retreat. It may be a necessary one given the way the legislature rolled TxDOT policies on concessions with the moratorium written into SB792, but it is a retreat nonetheless."I agree this is a small win, but even if TxDOT proceeds with this plan, there are different problems. Under this model TxDOT would not steal private rural land, but instead, it would steal existing right of way we’ve paid for with our tax dollars over the years and decades, and the new lanes would be built with our tax dollars, just like Sen. Watson's double tax tolls vote in Austin last month which diverted $910 million tax dollars to build toll roads. This model is a Double Tax.
Samuel also says there could be less tolling with this type of TTC 69 plan:
"Upgrade will likely reduce the role of tolling since tolls are more difficult to pitch to the public for an upgraded existing road than for a new one."IS TXDOT RETREATING?
Perhaps this is another sign. A source told me that TxDOT’s chair, the chemically imbalanced Ric Williamson, has become too much of a political liability:
“Williamson is about to get the boot, too. Or should I say "re-assigned."In Central Texas, Rep. Mike Krusee became too much of a liability as he was at the forefront of shifting existing Austin freeways to tollways on CAMPO for 2.5 years. Sen. Kirk Watson was brought in to replace Krusee as the lead in January 2007 and Krusee didn’t say another word as a board member. By October, Watson had his double tax toll votes lined up and CAMPO voted to spend nearly 1 billion tax dollars to shift existing freeways to toll ways.
So, is this a retreat or just musical chairs?
In the last couple of days, I've heard whispers from sources saying that Rep. Mike Krusee will retire. Eye on Wilco and Capitol Annex are also reporting the same.
And WilCoWise blog says this about Krusee possibly getting a promised appointment at TxDOT in exchange for him stepping down:
What sort of “state transportation job” would he be qualified for? Is there an office for selling pigs in a poke somewhere in TxDOT? Well, uh, now that we think about it, there might possibly be one over in their toll road marketing section. Fer sure, there must be a spot for Squeaker over in the Cintra - Zachry contract negotiation section. What more could they possible want — we gave them the baby and the bathwater, with the horses and the barn thrown in for good measure. My sources say R's want Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell (one of the "Sleazy Six") to run in Krusee's place.
More to come...
Just a few days before Veterans day, TxDOT landscapers mowed down nearly 100 signs honoring South Texas Veterans.
The signs are part of a yearly “Highway of Honor”. Proper permits were obtained from TxDOT in advance by the American Legion and a local church - but that didn't stop TxDOT from the disrespectful destruction.
The signs were shredded and turned into countless fragments of trash as they were spread along 20 miles of FM 2100, North East of Houston.
KTRK (ABC news) in Houston has the story:
Past American Legion Commander Anselmo saw the crew mowing right over the signs Friday morning. He says he tried to stop them, but the crew didn't speak English.What is the solution to change this rogue agency?
Anselmo, who served two tours in Vietnam, ran up ahead to grab his sign and those of his five family members. He saved those, but says he couldn't save many others or the respect that each soldier or Marine is due.
Anselmo laments that he now once again has that empty feeling that he felt upon returning from Vietnam.
"Whenever I got off the plane and they were spitting on me, I felt like I was being spit on again," he said.
Make it accountable to the voters. Top TxDOT leadership should be elected, not appointed.
Currently Ric Williamson, the chair of TxDOT who is a Gov. Perry appointee, is a holdover.
Ric Williamson is a key problem with TxDOT. TxDOT under Williamson's leadership, is stealing our roads and our land to double tax Texans. This YouTube video of Williamson proves he doesn't care how much it costs our families.
for years, and one man has put a stop to it.
I've submitted hundreds of information requests to TxDOT, MPO's, RMA's, County and City governments in the past 3.5 years.
I also recall asking Mr. 39% for his emails, and the response was - he didn't have any. This guy isn't even a Texan, and he's stepping up to fight corruption. Ask yourself this - what can you do for Texas today?
From the Austin American Statesman...
After learning that Gov. Rick Perry has his staff destroy e-mail records after seven days, a political activist decided last week to do what he can to stop the practice. John Washburn, a Milwaukee-based software consultant, programmed his computer to automatically send out two requests a week for all government e-mail generated by Perry staffers. Under state law, records aren't supposed to be destroyed once somebody has asked for them.
"I've kind of put a stick in the spokes of the wheel," Washburn said.
"The whole point of public records is to make those ongoing transactions and government policy decisions more transparent to the public. If they're gone, by definition, that's about as opaque as it gets,"
Read the rest of the article HERE
The City Council of Austin unanimously voted to install 15 red light cameras for downtown intersections just days ago. The $15.8 million contract went to Redflex Traffic Systems.
How does the red light camera scam work?
1) Slippery politicos say that Red Light Cameras create safer roads while numerous studies across the country prove they cause MORE accidents.So, is there a real way to reduce accidents and red light runners?
2) Once the camera's are installed, and the key council members like Jennifer Kim get campaign contributions from the Red Light Camera company profiteers, they shorten the timing of the yellow light to make more money (SEE BELOW!).
3) The Contractor and Politicos gets paid first. Taxpayers pay for the machines and maintenance. Taxpayers also pay via tickets and more accidents after the timing of the yellow lights are reduced.
YES, It's simple, but NOT profitable. Lengthening yellow lights to 5-6 second does more to reduce accidents than Red Light Camera's.
AND, remember when Legislators pushed for half the funds of RLC's were to go to emergency rooms and trauma centers? That money is being diverted too, says many new reports!
Also, read this new article below...
on Short Yellow Times
A local news investigation has found that the city of Dallas, Texas depends upon short yellow timing to maximize red light camera profit. Of the ten cameras that issue the greatest number of tickets in the city, seven are located at intersections where the yellow duration is shorter than the bare minimum recommended by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), KDFW-TV found.
The city's second highest revenue producing camera, for example, is located at the intersection of Greenville Avenue and Mockingbird Lane. It issued 9407 tickets worth $705,525 between January 1 and August 31, 2007. At the intersections on Greenville Avenue leadding up to the camera intersection, however, yellows are at least 3.5 or 4.0 seconds in duration, but the ticket producing intersection's yellow stands at just 3.15 seconds. The yellow is .35 seconds shorter than TxDOT's recommended bare minimum.
"For 30 miles per hour, if your yellow time was less than three and a half, you would not be giving that driver enough time to react and brake and stop prior to getting to the intersection," TxDOT Dallas District office transportation engineer supervisor Chris Blain told KDFW.
A small change in signal timing can have a great effect on the number of tickets issued. About four out of every five red light camera citations are issued before even a second has elapsed after the light changed to red, according to a report by the California State Auditor. This suggests that most citations are issued to those surprised by a quick-changing signal light. Confidential documents obtained in a 2001 court trial proved that the city of San Diego, California and its red light camera vendor, now ACS, only installed red light cameras at intersections with high volumes and "Amber (yellow) phase less than 4 seconds."
Read the rest of the story HERE.
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The Daily News
GALVESTON — Seawolf Marine Patrol employees have long been accused by ferry passengers of sleeping on the job, leaving their posts vacant for hours and refusing to screen cars, among other things.
State records reveal the Texas Department of Transportation found enough merit in the allegations to warrant numerous reprimands against the company in its 15 months of service.
Seawolf Marine Patrol security officers charged with screening vehicles at the Galveston-Bolivar ferry landing walked off in a pay spat in late September. The state had to find another company to take over the job.
Two days before that, transportation department officials said the pay issue had been resolved. “We are satisfied with the service the company is providing,” said (TxDOT) department spokesman Norm Wiginton.
Meanwhile, Seawolf CEO Mike Fletcher said the company was not in financial trouble.
A month ago, The Daily News filed an open records request requesting all complaints filed with the transportation department about the security company.
Those records revealed Seawolf Marine Patrol was generating complaints and receiving reprimands the entire time it was in charge of screening.
After nearly 1 year of community pressure, and wasting money to do the job twice, TxDOT finally properly resealed a 2 lane highway in SW Central Texas.
TxDOT tried to repave FM 1826 from Driftwood to Oak Hill with an unacceptable, unsafe and unprofessional “cold mix” that made the road worse than before the reseal. The tar and rocks made a ton of noise, messed up your car with tar, and would make your car slide if you had to stop fast. Trust me I drove on that mess a few times.
TxDOT claimed they did the reseal job the first time for safety reasons. WORD OF NOTE, WHEN AN AGENCY OR A POLITICO USES THE WORD "SAFETY", it should raise a red flag that they are coming after your money, and and they have something in mind that has safety problems.
No thanks to that lying snake Rep. Patrick Rose, who tried to claim the victory, the job got done right. Special thanks to Dr. Peter Stern for helping the community to keep the pressure on via his blog as he called the cold mix a "an obvious con job by TxDOT".
The results of the election on the Constitutional Amendments are here. I seriously don't get this...some of you need to stop huffing gold spray paint. I very clearly told you to vote against the Governor's 'Cancer Research' slush fund and TXDoT's 'Bend over, baby' bond issue. Some of you clearly got confused. Which makes you stupid.Read the rest of the article HERE.
The Statesman reports that
"the Austin City Council will consider a 15-year, $15.8 million contract with Redflex Traffic Systems that would put — in the beginning — camera systems on 15 intersections." Slippery politicos say that Red Light Cameras create safer roads and they are not for revenue purposes, but numerous studies across the country prove they cause MORE accidents and they give cities lots of additional revenue.
A 2001 report by the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives found:
"The changes in the yellow signal timing regulations have resulted in the inadequate yellow times. And these inadequate yellow times are the likely cause of almost 80 percent of red light entries."Thenewspaper.com states this:
"There's a hidden tax being levied on motorists today. In theory, this tax is only levied on those who violate the law and put others in danger. But the reality is that the game has been rigged. And we're all at risk.
We are told to accept the idea that our laws should be administered by machines-not human beings-because it is a matter of safety. We must accept this expansion of government and this Orwellian threat to our privacy because cameras are the solution to the so-called red light running crisis."
But why have so many people become wanton red light runners all of a sudden? The answer seems to be that changes made to accommodate camera enforcement have produced yellow light times that, in many cases, are shortened to the point that they are inadequate. And when people come upon an intersection with inadequate yellow time, they are faced with the choice either of stopping abruptly on yellow (risking a rear end accident) or accelerating. The options for those confronting such circumstances are limited and unsafe. But each time a driver faces this dilemma, government increases its odds for hitting the jackpot.
Do you (or someone you know) drive the hellish 183/Lakeline mess in the morning traveling south towards downtown Austin? The new traffic signal for the 183A toll road created huge backups on 183.
I need drivers that have experienced that nightmare to email me ASAP at Sal at TexasTollParty.com (with your phone number). Thanks!