There is no one silver bullet to stop the TTC land grab or the shift of our public highways to tollways. But, like a carpenter finding a wrench for the first time, we've got another way to bog down Gov. Rick Perry's highway henchmen (TxDOT).
It's called CHAPTER 391. REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS, and it's found in Texas law.
Here's the kicker. From what I understand, it looks like any local elected officials, from any part of the state, can form a commission to ask TxDOT and the feds questions, which can help bog down the TTC. Start talking to your elected officials and to get additional commissions started today!
HOW TO FORM A 391 COMMISSION:
Anyone interested in learning how to form a 391 Commission to require TxDot to Coordinate the TTC with their local community needs to read the article prepared by attorney Fred Kelly Grant titled "The Creation of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission" on our website a www.stewards.us. This is the most complete explanation of how easy it is to form a Commission, and how effective it can be.
Here's a great article from the Houston Chronicle today:
Putting up a roadblock of questions
By LISA FALKENBERG
LUFKIN — Mae Smith, the 64-year-old mayor of the teeny Central Texas town of Holland, seized the civic center lectern like a dragon-slayer ascending the throne.
In a fiery red pantsuit and a voice that echoed without the help of a malfunctioning microphone, she and her cohorts revealed to a crowd of about 50 souls clad in denim and plaid a little-known weapon against the foe of all in the room: Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor.
The weapon, Smith said, doesn't involve marching on the Texas Capitol, like more than 1,000 did last year, some on tractors and horses. It doesn't involve clever Web sites that have been launched with cartoon characters and screaming rainbow text. And it doesn't involve confronting TxDOT big shots at public hearings across the state, like thousands did last year.
No, the mighty sword revealed by Smith is something called the Eastern Central Sub-Regional Planning Commission.
"It's a mouthful," Smith acknowledged quickly of the bureaucratically nebulous name. "You ought to try saying it with a lisp."
Re-conquest of Texas
Smith insists that such a commission is the best way for rural communities to empower themselves and fight the massive highway-tollway-rail project, slated to cover 4,000 miles, cost up to $183 billion and take a half-century to build.
The corridor, pitched by TxDOT as the answer to Texas' urban traffic crisis, is perceived by many rural folks as a land grab, an assault on rural life, the Spanish re-conquest of Texas by the Madrid-based company Cintra, which won the first contract.
But since Smith and three other mayors of nearby towns in Bell County formed their nine-member commission in August, they've already had an influence on the process.
Just since October, several representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation have traveled to Holland — population 1,180 — to meet with Smith and her cohorts, not once, but twice, to discuss citizens' concerns over the project. The most recent chat lasted four hours.
The fine folks of the Environmental Protection Agency paid a visit in January.
"They wouldn't be coming to us if they didn't have to and if a law wasn't on the books saying they had to," Smith said.
The law to which Smith is referring is found in Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code. Strengthened in 2001, the provision requires state agencies, "to the greatest extent feasible," to coordinate with local commissions to "ensure effective and orderly implementation of state programs at the regional level."
In other words, the law may require TxDOT officials to sit in a room for hours, months, years, maybe even decades, as members of the Eastern Central Sub-Regional Planning Commission dwell on how the corridor might affect their water lines, EMS response times and any unforeseeable impact on their rural way of life.
ECSRPC commissioners plan to prolong the "coordination" process until, as Smith puts it, "they do it right or change their mind. I have no time limit, honey."
Read the rest of the article HERE.