TxDOT hearings continue into the evening, turn testy

TxDOT hearings continue into the evening, turn testy

by Michael Lindenberger, Dallas News

After hours of mostly polite, if often pointed, questioning by members of the Sunset Advisory Commission, a hearing in Austin turned uglier late Tuesday.

Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, questioned the honesty of TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz when he said he couldn't immediately recall the details of State Highway 281 in south Texas. "After we started off on such a positive start, and after all this talk of honesty and transparency, you sit here in front of us and say you do not know."

No, Mr. Saenz repeated, he did not have the details in front of him, but said he would get the information and meet separately with the commission members when he did.

Ms. McClendon and the 11 other members of the advisory committee are grilling TxDOT today over allegations that the agency has lost its way.

Other areas of disagreement that led to sharp questioning by the lawmakers include the question whether TxDOT is illegally spending millions of dollars to advance its preference for toll roads and, in many cases, private toll roads.

State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, asked TxDOT executive Coby Chase how much the agency had spent in the past year on Keep Texas Moving, the agency's public campaign supporting its road-building agenda. "$4.5 million," he said, to the guffaws of some in the audience who have seized on the spending as evidence of the agency's improperly politicizing transportation.

State law prohibits state agencies from lobbying, and Rep. Kolkhorst said TxDOT spending money to promote toll roads is just as illegal as if the education department ran ads encouraging vouchers.

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Anonymous said...

o boy some heads need to roll at txdot now. i hope this is the beginning of change with those goons.

Anonymous said...

I, Dan Jasinski, was present from start (8:45 a.m.) to finish (~10:00 p.m.) taking only one 5-minute break ~11 a.m. I found this Sunset hearing quite informative and entertaining! The Sunset staff and panel members (their questioning and listening/HEARING) are to be commended for their exemplary demonstrated efforts and sincerity! As one of the last grass roots testifiers after 9:00 p.m., I can attest to the actual fireworks beginning around 6:00 p.m. with a grand finale occuring after my own inputs with (1) two long-term, former TxDOT employees testifying to internal TxDOT corruption (begun 2002 timeframe by new political supervisors replacing en masse old guard retirees), (2) a New Braunsfel decorated veteran surgeon testifying to obvious fraudulent TxDOT planning documents that would allow eminent domain land seizures, and (3) a TURF/co-chair exposing yet another TxDOT "work-around" against legislative oversight. TxDOT/CEO Amadeo Saenz returned twice to respond to panel questioning and Amadeo's bumbling performance has certainly painted a darker future Sunset for TxDOT. I was able to relay this info to American Statesman editor Fred Sipp (I was pleasantly shocked he actually picked up his publicized phone number) because Ben Wear obviously left the Sunset meeting prior to any entertaining fireworks base upon another unprofessional (i.e. incomplete like a 4th-innning baseball score and/or inaccurate -- hey, Ben, you missed the fat lady singing and must think Dewey beat Truman!) newspaper report by Ben in today's paper (Dallas newspaper did report on the first Saenz recall, or memory lack thereof). BOTTOMLINE -- Sunset is still accepting remarks 7 or 10 more days. I, for one, intend to provide them another thought-through input emphasizing the "new and improving" TxDOT regime operations demonstrated and documented during the July 15 Sunset hearing as we present did experience.

Anonymous said...

TxDots upper management and management overall is very undesirable. between the good old boy attitude and in the bed with contractors and consultants with the gratuities and prizes awarded is disgusting. Not bad being an area engineer or District enineer either when you can play golf and win motorcycles, golf clubs etc without even your name being drawn from the bucket. Corruption within management is appalling. Half the time you can see state vehicle located everywhere but where they are suppose to be. and a whole lot of you scratch my back I'll scratch yours. TXDOT needs to be ran by an elected official or appointed official from the state congress or committee, No Governor Perry, He is the good old boy.

Anonymous said...

Talk about good old boys and who you know and corruption, who do you think was District Engineer in the Pharr District when Chano Falcon was hired. He was offered this job about 3 years before and he decided not to take it at the time and the job was closed and nobody was hired. Three years later Falcon decides he wants the job and they re-open it and he got it. Its pretty said when the TxDots top man is good friends with a person of this caliber.