TxDOT's Hot Seat Gets Even Hotter For Feb 5th!

Ric Williamson might be dead, but his
arrogant spirit lives on in TxDOT!

Over the past couple day's I've mentioned three different story lines (TTC-69 hearings, TxDOT illegal lobbyists, Joint Feb 5th Senate TxDOT hearing) - that are now coming together like a fine wine - according to this Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express article today:
"A state Senate committee chairman said Wednesday the Texas Department of Transportation may have stepped over a legal line as it pushes the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor and toll roads.

"There is a possibility they may well have crossed a legal threshold because of the restrictions that exist in lobbying by state agencies," said Sen. John Carona, Transportation and Homeland Security Committee chairman.

"The even greater issue is just why they would continue with an agenda that is so unpopular with the public. That is the most distressing thing of all," Carona, R-Dallas, said after an anti-toll activist group released documents obtained from TxDOT in an ongoing lawsuit against agency officials.

The TxDOT documents include invoices from a firm that the agency contracts with totaling $63,450 including lobbyists and a poll, and an e-mail on "draft quotes" sent to local officials for their approval or edits.

The poll was conducted by Baselice & Associates. Mike Baselice also is Gov. Rick Perry's pollster.

Noting a Feb. 5 joint hearing on TxDOT by his committee and the Senate Finance Committee, Carona said, "TxDOT has a lot of explaining to do.

"In this next legislative session, I look to see even tighter reins placed upon TxDOT and the commission by both the House and the Senate, and I think that's regrettable" because it shows a loss of trust, he said.

Ted Houghton of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees TxDOT, said he's confident the agency hasn't violated the law as it works to secure resources and inform the public."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am most anxious to see what solid information is brought forth from TxDOT in the February 5 meeting of the two senatorial committees.
The meeting is to discuss TxDOT's 2008-2009 appropriations. I’m hoping this will entail getting supported documented facts from TxDOT as to why TxDOT now (said in November 2007) says it "had fewer funds than anticipated" in order to meet its promises to fund half of the $1.45 billion plan voted for by CAMPO the previous month, October.

If TxDOT "HAD" the funds, $725 million as of October 2007 when they promised them, why do they use the term "than ANTICIPATED." Anticipated funds are not funds you already HAVE. Anticipated means future anticipated revenues.
I’m sorry if I’m being obtuse, but am really trying to understand what TxDOT is saying. I hope the senators will similarly demand clarity and transparency from TxDOT.

Another thing I am unclear on is whether that reported $910 million in tax dollars diverted from originally intended free roads to the (CAMPO) freeway tolling plan was made up of tax dollars already collected and in hand by TxDOT or was that figure all or in part made up of future revenues.

To me, members of the Texas Senate and House, when Perry vetoed those two important anti-corridor and toll road bills last session that were overwhelmingly voted for by both chambers, could have found a way to FORCE a special called session so that those vetoes could have been overridden. Some say Perry just outfoxed the legislature, but I think Perry and the legislature just outfoxed we the people.