The Dukes family doesn't want the truth to get out. The Austin Chronicle is reporting that the "Dukes family has fired back with their own defamation complaint" and the Chron posts the youtube video that I produced for AustinTollParty.com above:
The complaint continues that the "gist of the Ads is that the entire Dukes Family is corrupt." If you click on the link above you'll see the Dukes family and lawyer filed suit against opponent Brian Thompson for the video - they apparently failed to see the end of the video, where it says AustinTollParty.com.
I don't fear much, and I certainly don't fear telling the truth about Dukes corruption. Read the 2004 Statesman report about the Dukes contract in 2004 HERE.
FIRE Dawnna Dukes by hiring Brian Thompson - he's a good egg and he's endorsed by our group. Tell everyone you know in East Austin to "Fire Corrupt Dukes"!
Hidden behind layers of companies handing out tax funded contracts and subcontracts, elected representatives profit by getting paid with our tax dollars while they ignore the public and vote for unaccountable TxDOT toll roads.
A reliable source within TxDOT tells me that Stacy Dukes-Rhone of Grier-Bankett Consulting Inc. “arranged” for her sister, Rep. Dawnna Dukes, to received a subcontract to provide the "field office" for the MLK Feasibility Study headed by TxDOT.
According to the MLK Feasibility Study website, the field office location was 3218 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (see location photo above). Travis County tax records confirms that this building is owned by D M DUKES & ASSOCIATES, which is Rep. Dawnna Dukes company.
Like the end of a bad movie, when the audience thinks the bad guy is dead, and everything is safe - Ric Williamson, the late chair of TxDOT, rises from the dead to force tollways down our throats. Well, not exactly, but close.
Mary Ann Williamson, Ric Williamson's the old lady, says Williamson's toll and pave everything policies should continue, and that we don't "have a choice", according to this new Statesman article:
What? We don't have a choice? Is that arrogant or what? Hell, I was under the impression this was a democracy, not a dictatorship. And, not a dictatorship run by an arrogant corpse.
As for Williamson’s policies, Mary Ann Williamson said they should continue.
“Even if you don’t care for some of these things,” she said, “I don’t think you have a choice.”
Go fly a kite lady. We've had enough of your family, Gov. Perry, Sen. Watson and all the rest of the crooks rooting around in our pockets.
2/28 MUCKRAKER POLL RESULTS: Which one toller would you choose to be forced out of Texas (kicking and screaming) and sent off to New Jersey?
Sen. Kirk Watson - 8%
Gov. Rick Perry - 78%
Rep. Dawnna Dukes - 8%
Rep. Mark Strama - 0%
Commish Gerald Daugherty - 1%
Mike Heiligenstein - 1%
Brewster McCracken - 2%
Total Votes: 200
Rep John Zerwas demands "No Action" on the TTC, "No questions asked" at the TXDOT TTC-69 Public Hearing at Waller High School on February 27, 2008.
Rep Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale tells TxDOT that this issue is "Like a forest fire" and that he has had "phyiscal threats about this issue" as he slams the TTC at the TXDOT TTC-69 Public Hearing at Waller High School on February 27, 2008.
“I’ve walked through my cow pasture plenty of times. I’ve seen plenty of piles of crap, and the TTC is the biggest, stinkiest thing I have ever heard of” says Joseph Mathis, Waller County citizen. Joseph reads a letter from his brother, a marine who is now fighting in Iraq, who says, "Leave us the Hell alone!".
As I've mentioned before, bond houses are getting tougher with toll road debt, after years of broken promises and flawed traffic and revenue forecasts. Texas tolls are the new pyramid scheme, and it seems like everyone is just now figuring that out.
SH 121 freeway to tollway conversion in Dallas gets a little harder as the local toll authority (NTTA) gets downgraded and all future ratings get dropped.
According to Business Wire article today:
"Fitch Ratings has downgraded its rating on $1.3 billion in outstanding North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Dallas North Tollway System revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'A-' and simultaneously withdraws them. All debt ratings for this issuer are also withdrawn at this time. Fitch will no longer provide rating coverage of the North Texas Tollway Authority."
Ron Paul, a great opponent of TTC/NAFTA superhighway and freeway to toll way conversions, has switched focus from his presidential bid to secure his Congressional seat say a variety of sources from the Houston Chronicle to Alex Jones.
Sadly, the low number of delegates Paul has received has made it mathematically impossible for him to get the nomination at this stage of the game.
I'd love to see Ron Paul run for Texas Gov. in a couple years (2010).
Re: "More room on the road – Managed lanes project on I-635 is critical to North Texas, says John Carona," Monday Viewpoints. Too many slick politicos are now telling citizens we need managed lanes. What they don't tell drivers is that "managed lanes" is too often just another word for "toll road." By not using the nasty T-word, politicos can keep the sheep calm. I didn't see the word "toll" used once in Mr. Carona's column. These managed lanes are built with our tax dollars, and then drivers need to pay a toll tax to drive on them again. Keeping drivers who can't afford to pay twice off the road is not a traffic congestion solution. Sal Costello, founder, People for Efficient Transportation, Austin
Re: "More room on the road – Managed lanes project on I-635 is critical to North Texas, says John Carona," Monday Viewpoints.
Too many slick politicos are now telling citizens we need managed lanes.
What they don't tell drivers is that "managed lanes" is too often just another word for "toll road." By not using the nasty T-word, politicos can keep the sheep calm. I didn't see the word "toll" used once in Mr. Carona's column.
These managed lanes are built with our tax dollars, and then drivers need to pay a toll tax to drive on them again. Keeping drivers who can't afford to pay twice off the road is not a traffic congestion solution.
Sal Costello, founder, People for Efficient Transportation, Austin
I urge everyone to send letters to the editor of your local newspaper often - about freeway tolls and the TTC land grab. Feel free to use any words you find on this blog to get you started.
Shine the light on the cockroaches by always use the name of a key elected person to educate others. And, it's free! But YOU need to take responsibility for your community and write. 150 words or less, include your name, address and phone for verification.
so why would they have any respect for the dead?
The desecration of historic cemeteries, unmarked graves and prehistoric camps dating back many generations isn't a problem for Gov. Rick Perry's TxDOT, as they force their Spanish Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) land grab on Texans. From the Victoria Advocate:
"It’s going to take years to excavate these sites,” said Bill Birmingham, an archaeology steward for the Texas Historical Commission. “The best thing would be to preserve them for future research.”
The threat has sent the historians and archaeologists scurrying to locate and map as many of these sites as possible. That information will then be presented at the Texas Department of Transportation."
About twenty five years ago, China made the move to toll tax every road they could, much like Gov. Perry's TxDOT.
How's that working out?
Today the China National Audit Office (NAO) reported that Chinese municipalities have collected $3.2 billion in illegal tolls from drivers. From TheNewspaper.com:
“In 1984, the Chinese government turned to tolling as a means of boosting the country's infrastructure.”THAT sounds like Gov. Perry’s TxDOT is reading right from the Chinese playbook! And, here’s the heart of what the report found - some toll road bureaucracy tricks:
"The audit report found that government at the local level had taken advantage of this system for purposes other than paying off construction debt. Sixteen of the eighteen provinces surveyed had set up a total of 158 illegal toll booths that had collected 14.9 billion yuan (US $2 billion) in illicit revenue. In addition, eight regions raised tolls beyond the legal level, generating another 8.2 billion yuan (US $1.2 billion) and inspiring motorist outrage.
The audit also identified systemic management problems. Some regions artificially increased the size of the road construction debt so that they could continue to collect tolls over a longer period. Profits from a number of related revenue sources, such as roadside advertising, were diverted to purposes unrelated to debt repayment. Local agencies created their own overstaffed bureaucracies with personnel bringing in large salaries. For example, the Zhongxiang Bridge in Hubei Province could operate collect tolls with just 30 staff, but it employs 144."
"As a result of the findings, the audit office urged the adoption of reforms designed to increase the number of free roads and to reduce the costs of operating toll routes."
In December 2005, PET Inc. (a group I founded) and AGUA, filed a lawsuit to stop the toll conversion of Hwy 281 in San Antonio. We figured it would buy about 2 years, and it did.
A second lawsuit was filed yesterday by AGUA and TURF represented by Save Our Springs Alliance, just in time to stop TxDOT again, as it was was ready to start up on 281 without a proper FULL study in hand. SA Express tells the story the best.
In 2005 we won our first lawsuit against the new toll authorities (RMA's). Judge Byrne ruled RMA's were unconstitutional and the CTRMA had to pay $19,331.98 (for the cost of what we had to pay for legal services).
But, in my opinion, the most important lawsuit we (PET, Inc) filed was against Gov. Perry and MPO's.
We won that one, but it's been stuck in appeals for the past year. I'd guess that suit will come back up in just a matter of weeks, and it will most likely pluck Sen. Watson and others from the CAMPO board.
One of the prongs of the lawsuit claims that Legislators serving on MPO boards violate the separation of powers provision of the Texas Constitution. Legislators should not be serving on the MPO administrative boards. Stay tuned.
We've got another good lawsuit perched, cocked and ready to go for Central Texas - but as you know, timing is key. : )
"Austin-based Gila Corp., through its business unit Municipal Services Bureau, was recently awarded a contract with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
can be purchased at cost, for only $2.99 - order it HERE today.
Gov. Rick Perry is on the short list - Perry is one the top three picks Bill O'Reilly gives today, to be John McCain's running mate. Bill O'Reilly of the "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News says :
"And the third name is Texas Governor Rick Perry, a conservative with an edge who would pull few punches in going after big government Democrats."God help us if Mr. 39%, that land grabbing - freeway tolling freak, has any chance of being a Vice Presidential nominee. Perry is already jumping threw hoops, salivating for his dream, as he slams Obama and Clinton every chance he gets in the press.
Over the past year numerous accidents had taken place on 71W in West Austin, just minutes from my home. The media has reported how this stretch of road was clearly overburdened and unsafe since the many accidents and deaths. Everyone agreed 71W was a major problem, except the greedy.
In August of 2007, I wrote a blog article about how Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty (above) irresponsibly voted to approve the development of 1,500 homes on 71W - even though the road clearly couldn't handle traffic it already had:
This vote proves that Commish Gerald Daugherty cares more about his contributors profits, than the safety of our families.Commissioner Ron Davis used common sense and voted 'No'. According to the 8/22/07 Statesman article Davis stated:
"the county should turn down the subdivision because it presents a general threat to the safety and welfare of people living in southwestern Travis County."Sadly, just last week another major tragedy took place.
3 teens were killed, 5 other injured - from the Statesman (2/17/08):
Austin High School student Audrey Ducote and Marble Falls High School student Randall H. Hibler, both 16, were killed in the wreck. Lauren Hoffman, 17, of Waco was also killed. Saturday's rainy weather was a factor in the collision, which occurred at 1:08 p.m. on Texas 71 at Bee Creek Road, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said.and from the same article:
Over the past year, residents and elected officials have raised concerns about safety along the stretch of Texas 71 where Saturday's wreck occurred. There have been multiple fatal wrecks on the portion of the highway that winds from the Village of Bee Cave to the western edge of Travis County.Like all special interest politicians, Daugherty ignores the public and listens to his greedy developers/real estate fat cats pals - they could care less about our families. They only care for the almighty dollar.
After these deaths, and political pressure TxDOT says they will add rumble striping.
Commissioner Gerald Daugherty also pushed for and voted for tolling Austin roads we've already paid for in 2005 and 2007, even though an overwhelming majority of citizens said "No".
There are some signs that TxDOT might be releasing it's death grip on one portion of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC). The Longview News-Journal reports:
"...a high-ranking Texas Department of Transportation official said Thursday he regretted his agency's communication failures and said one proposed version of the corridor, a 10-lane super highway with rail and utility pathways, will "probably not" be built in East Texas, based on the overwhelming resistance to the idea expressed at public hearings on the project this month."We've all seen the endings of the movies where the evil character (who everyone thought was dead), comes back to attack again. We'll just keep beating down on the toll tax loving TxDOT (and the politicos who enable them) till the pulse is gone - just to make sure.
Today Sen. John Carona has an Op-Ed in the Dallas News. The article was created to sell "magical" managed lanes to Dallas drivers:
"The I-635 Managed Lanes Project involves the complete reconstruction of the LBJ Freeway between I-35E and North Central Expressway to feature the latest in highway design and provide welcome relief, as well as improve I-35E between LBJ Freeway and Loop 12."In an effort to deceive the public, slick politico’s like Carona tell folks we need “managed lanes” to solve our traffic congestion problems. WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU IS: Managed lanes is just another word for a toll road.
By not using the nasty "Toll" word, politicos keep the sheep calm. Managed lanes are built with our tax dollars, and then we have to pay a toll tax to use them again. We pay more, special interests reap profits. Restricting those who can't afford to pay twice (congestion taxing) is not a solution.
Sen. Kirk Watson was pushing managed lanes last year.
A US DOT study reveals the public is highly skeptical of congestion taxing (managed lanes is a form of congestion pricing/taxing) and conversion of freeways into toll roads, says theNewspaper.com today:
"Few respondents expressed positive opinions about the system from the start because few believed the government would follow through on its claims."
Gov. Rick Perry will be at Bookpeople in downtown Austin this Wednesday night to present his new book called "On my Honor".
I'm sure Perry's press people asked the media to come, so here's your chance to get interviewed. Tell tens of thousands of people how the honorable Perry is stealing your land and/or freeways. Bring your "TTC Land Thief!", "Double Tax Toller Perry" signs. Oh, and don't forget your pitchforks.
Tonight on MSNBC's Hardball TV show, Chris Matthews introduced the Sen. Kirk Watson "Hardballed" T-Shirt ON THE AIR! - the one I created just last night! (see my post below)
My intention was to get one more local news day out of Watson's already nationally famous gaff, but my jaw dropped as I was watching "Hardball" tonight (one of my favorite political shows) and Chris threw up the image of the T-shirt and the close up as you see above.
The segment was called "Watson Wear". Chris Matthews said:
"(Chris laughs) Now apparently there's a T-shirt to commemorate that moment. There it is, it costs $20 and 99 cents. And it looks as if there are eight colors to choose from, I want mine in Royal!"And, the best part - before he introduced the Watson "Hardballed" T-shirt - he ran the whole clip of Sen. Watson getting caught with his pants down - AGAIN! THE WHOLE CLIP.
You can't buy that kind of national coverage. So, I'm please with myself, that I extended the clueless Watson gaff for one more news day. No matter what Watson does, he'll always be known as the guy that didn't do his homework. But we always knew that, with his voting to divert $910 million tax dollars to shift our freeways to tollways, and his back door deal with Intel, and his profiting off directing billions of road dollars as CAMPO chair.
That one hour of design work I did between midnight and 1 in the morning paid off in spades. THAT is the kind of efficiency I live for. We've got 2 years to soften you up Watson, before your next election, we are going to stay on you like white on rice.
Elise Hu of KEYE is live Photo Blogging right now at the Capitol in downtown Austin - The massive outdoor Barack Obama Rally has most roads around the capitol blocked off for the event. Thousands are lining up now - Obama arrives after 9pm.
Pat Driscoll's San Antonio Express Blog covers how the CNN failed to include the TTC question in the debates last night. Linda Curtis, of Indepenent Texans, who was promised by CNN that they would ask the TTC question - wrote Sam Feist, CNN Political Director:
Dear Mr. Feist:
You called me the other day to request that we stop a barrage of emails to CNN requesting that someone ask Senators Obama and Clinton a question about the Trans-Texas Corridor in last night's debate. Read the rest of the letter, and article HERE.
You told me that you were already planning such a question. I trusted that your word (sic). I also assumed that because CNN, Time Magazine and The New York Times had covered this issue this month, you understood how profound this issue is to Texans and to the nation. Sadly, I was wrong.
Sen. Kirk Watson's embarrassing "Deer-in-the-headlights" moment on Chris Matthews Hardball is now imprinted into our national culture (order your T-shirt by clicking on the link below) - after millions of people across the nation has seen video of Kirk Watson depth. A Barack Obama supporter, Watson was unable to name one of Obama's accomplishments on MSNBC on 2/26/08, after Chris Matthews put him on the spot. This crushing national blunder was reported on nearly every major news outlet in the country. Watson will forever be known for his national flub.
Hillary Clinton even mentioned Watson's gaff in the Austin, Texas presidential debate on 2/28/08, as Watson had the nuts to show up and sit in the audience. Locally, Watson is known for being a polished special interest politician who just recently voted to divert nearly $1 billion tax dollars to shift Austin's freeways to toll roads. A massively unpopular double tax.
Now, you can capture this now famous moment by getting your own Kirk Watson "Hardballed" T-Shirt - right HERE on Cafe Press!
CNN didn't pose the TTC/Nafta question at the debate, as they suggested to Linda Curtis in the article below. That is a major disappointment, to us, and Lou Dobbs, who was also very vocal and eager to hear the question asked.
So, how do we get these candidates to face this issue? Let's hear your creative ideas - in the comment area below.
I broke the news a couple days ago (see below) that CNN will ask presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton a Trans Texas Corridor (TTC/NAFTA) question tonight at the live debate on CNN at 7pm CST. They better be prepared.
Above is a Lou Dobbs video on this important subject from Tuesday night's broadcast. The report, like many, made a mistake by assuming TTC-69 is the whole TTC, when it is just one leg of the Trans Texas Corridor/NAFTA Superhighway. The map and copy on this page tells the real story.
The great audit of TxDOT's fluffed up numbers (to support the TxDOT craving to toll our freeways) made national news! My favorite snips from the Reuters article:
"The transportation agency projected a $3.6 billion shortfall by 2015. But Lt Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick said it failed to include a total of $8 billion of transportation bonds and faulted its forecasts for higher maintenance costs."
"Texas has the nation's biggest privatization program -- a $50 billion multiyear plan -- that Republican Gov. Rick Perry says is needed to keep traffic from stalling growth.
But legislators enacted curbs last year that they say were needed to help prevent developers from enriching themselves at taxpayers' expenses.""The state auditor, asked if he would examine privatization issues in his review, replied: "We will look at what the letter asks us to and any other things that come to our attention."
"Keel, who is appointed by the Legislature, said his staff will aim to finish the audit by the end of the state's fiscal year on Aug. 31.
The list of subjects that the House and the Senate, which Dewhurst controls, asked the auditor to probe included forecasts for higher maintenance costs that do not "seem to show a complete and accurate financial picture," they wrote."
Thompson Hits Rep. Dukes Hard For Her Toll Road Vote (and her sisters toll road contracts!) With TV Spot!
I broke the news first about Gov. Rick Perry's book some weeks ago.
The book is called, "On My Honor". It's about Perry's experience in the boy scouts. Maybe the target audience is former boy scouts who are now con men pretending to be conservative Republicans?
Anywho, Mr. 39%, er, I mean Gov. Rick Perry will appear on Hannity & Colmes tonight to push his new book. Do you think they will ask Perry about Sen. Kirk Watson's national gaff? I'll bet they shame Watson a tad more more, if that is even possible.
“A fantastically awkward mix of dead air,
stuttering, laughter and repetition ensued.”
– Huffington Post
“It was not pretty.”
– Texas Observer
I've seen on tv in a long time.”
– The Plank
– Ground Report
Well, when it happened last night, I wrote the post below. Karma is a bitch, it's just too bad that it has to make a presidential candidate look bad.
Sen. Kirk Watson is a snake. In October, Sen. Kirk Watson voted to ignore the public and divert nearly a Billion tax dollars to convert portions of Austin existing freeways (183, 290W, 290E, 71E, and 71W) into tollways.
This double tax, of tolling drivers to use public expressways to drive to work, school and shop, benefits Watson contributors, developers he was hired to lobby for and the City of Austin, who pays Watson $450 an hour to do land deals.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick asked TxDOT for a formal audit of "the entire financial process of TxDOT" yesterday - says the Houston Chronicle.
The state auditor will dig deep on this audit. The State Auditor found Billions of dollars worth of lies with TxDOT's numbers, from just skimming the surface last year:
- AUDITOR: $45 Billion in error or undocumented 4/07.
- AUDITOR: TTC-35 alone would cost $105.6 Billion 2/07
Via Texas Monthly Burka Blog:
What we are seeing here is that TxDOT without Ric Williamson is a paper tiger. There is nobody who understands the Legislature from the inside out the way Williamson did–or, for that matter, can defend the Perry plan the way he could, as a true believer. I don’t see how Deirdre Delisi or Mike Krusee can fill his shoes. I seriously doubt that the Senate will confirm anyone to the Transportation Commission who is viewed as a Perry sidekick. This letter, and the looming Sunset review of the agency, do not bode well for TxDOT. I don’t think that it is any coincidence that this letter was sent during a primary election. Both Craddick and Dewhurst are hearing from members that the public is still mad as hell about toll roads.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball just eviscerated Sen. Kirk Watson on national TV tonight.
Matthews asked Watson, who was there to represent Texas democrats for the Obama campaign, to name one accomplishment of Sen. Obama's.
Watson was absolutely dumbfounded.
All Watson, who voted to toll Austin's freeways in October, had to do was 2 minutes of homework before the show, to properly know and represent his own candidate.
This MUST watch video (click the arrow above) on Rep Dawnna Dukes, by KEYE News, tells the story on how Dukes doesn't pay her bills. Dukes has actually been sued for nonpayment by:
- City of Austin
- Travis County
- Austin Independent School District
- Travis Hospital District
- San Antonio Federal Credit Union
- Austin Community College
- Sub Contractors
You must see the video above. Now, for what I've found (what the report above doesn't cover).
1) Rep. Dukes, who voted to toll Austin freeways like Sen. Kirk Watson, is a certified contractor with TxDOT. I've put in a FOIA request to ask how much she's been paid by TxDOT and if she's been paid by the local Toll Authority (I'll report back to you on this blog when I get answers in about 10 days).
2) Also, Capitol Annex reports that Rep. Dukes is putting up legislation for developers, then getting contracts in return.
After years of special interests claiming that a toll road is better maintained than a free road (because of it's revenue stream) it turns out NOT to be true. The Federal Highway Administration and a pro toll guru have crunched the numbers:
"41% of toll authority bridges around America are classed as "Deficient" versus 23% of bridges on highways owned by state departments of transportation."
Over the past week, CNN got swamped with emails from members of numerous anti-TTC citizen groups, which were clamoring for a debate question about the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) for the upcoming presidential debate. The outpouring of emails were sent in hopes that the candidates, Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton, would share their positions on the TTC, one of the largest eminent domain land grabs in our history.
Linda Curtis of Independent Texans (one of the anti-TTC groups that spoke out) received an email from CNN today that stated:
“'you have a very loyal and active following, and we're getting hammered. Now, would you please allow us to get our work done.The Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) is a wildly unpopular plan of 4,000 miles of toll roads created by Gov. Rick Perry. The TTC ignores private property rights all across Texas, and the Comprehensive Development Agreements allow the deals to be secret. It will cost about $200 Billion dollars and half a million acres would be stolen from Texas families. The TTC is also known as the first phase of the "NAFTA Superhighway".
We already have a question prepared for the Corridor and its relationship to NAFTA."
Read about the TTC HERE and find years of TTC news archives HERE.
Barack Obama has been slamming Hillary Clinton about her years of NAFTA support (which some estimate has cost the US over 1 Million jobs). Obama has been underscoring Clintons NAFTA stance on the campaign trail and via diract mail in Ohio. See and read the complete Obama mailer HERE.
The debate will be held at the Univeristy of Texas (UT) this Thursday night and will be broadcast live on CNN.
According to the previews aired yesterday, Dukes is running a defunct company that has accepted state dollars, her car has been repossessed, and subcontractors have sued her for non-payment.Early voting starts this week, if you know anyone who lives in East Austin, make sure they vote for Brian Thompson to fire double tax toller Dukes. I'll get the report on youtube, and post it here tomorrow.
UPDATE: It looks like some good investigative reporting from a blogger on Dukes and Catellus could be what the story tonight is about.
And a google search shows Dukes company, DM DUKES & ASSOCIATES, INC. is a contractor for TxDOT?!
Gov. Perry's TxDOT, has been crying wolf for years, claiming it’s run out of money in an effort to scare Texans into using our tax dollars to toll our public highways. Just days ago we learned TxDOT made a $1 Billion dollar error (counted it twice) and exaggerated it's financial crisis.
It’s now revealed that TxDOT has been giving away cash bonuses. Over $1,000,000 has been handed out to TxDOT managers and other employees according to WOAI’s report:
We've uncovered that TXDOT has enough money to give more than $1 million in bonuses to employees in the past three years. That includes top management. We got our hands on these state documents, that show before he retired last August, TXDOT Director Michael Behrens gave several of his top managers cash bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 each.
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a member of the newly formed Sunset Advisory Commission, just blasted the rogue agency for it's push for toll roads. This could signal Gov. Perry's TxDOT is in for a most extreme makeover, as the Sunset Commission is poised to put forward state laws to "fix" TxDOT for the next session. According to The Monitor:
Two local state senators are questioning whether the Texas Department of Transportation is exaggerating its funding crisis to garner public support for private toll roads.Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa is the only member of the Sunset Commission that has spoken since being appointed just weeks ago, but other appointies have a history opposing toll road highway robbery, and/or the TTC land grab:
“All along it’s been pretty obvious they have an agenda and it’s toll roads,” said state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, who along with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, has joined a coalition of other legislators to challenge TxDOT.
“It’s amazing to us; they’re pretty much a rogue agency.”
Sen. Glenn Hegar, appointed by Dewhurst to beThe year long process of TxDOT's Sunset Review is just beginning.
Vice Chair (Hegar ran against TTC!)
Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst (one of the MOST
outspoken Reps. on tolls and TTC since 2005!)
Michael Stevens (public appointee - part of task force
that released critical report on TxDOT in 2006)
Rep Linda Harper-Brown (had a couple battles
with TxDOT and Williamson)
This is how the Sunset Review works. The Sunset staff puts together recommendations from research and public feedback then public hearings then take place. The Sunset Advisory Commission members decides on recommendations to the ledge.
If a bill is not created and filed with the ledge to modify the agency, then the agency is abolished. If the bill passes, the agency is modified. If the bill fails, the agency is automatically abolished.
Since Sunset’s inception in 1978, 52 agencies have been abolished and another 12 agencies have been consolidated. The public hearings are expected to start in a number of weeks, I'll post the dates here on this blog as soon as I find out.
One week after TxDOT got a thrashing in the Senate transportation hearing, TxDOT is still postponing projects, still giving out the same excuses and still "sitting on" and refusing to use $9 Billion of approved bonds for free roads as they continue to postpone projects - a Texas sized hissy fit for not being able to sell toll roads to special interest pals.
According to a Corsicana Daily Sun article today, by reporter Janet Jacobs, TxDOT is suspending a project in Navarro County, as well as hundreds of other projects across Texas. I just spoke with Jabobs and she told me TxDOT gave her the interview YESTERDAY.
Interestingly enough, TxDOT gave every excuse in the book for the project being delayed, but they failed to tell the reporter about the $1 Billion dollar error.
New Scam: Red Light Cameras - "When the choice comes down to safety versus the money, safety doesn’t stand a chance."
A new Car and Driver article boils down the red light camera scam with one line, "When the cameras go up, the money comes in: shorten the yellow to boost the take".
Hundreds flooded the hall in Nacogdoche last night, to the point that more chairs had to be brought in. One man decried the "selfish Austin politicians" and "greedy foreign investors" he said were pushing the highway on unwilling taxpayers. Tommy Ellison, CEO of Commercial Bank of Texas, said he was sympathetic to landowners, but said the area would benefit from improved transportation provided by the corridor. "I'm supportive of a project that would bring better transportation out of Houston up through rural East Texas," he said. Ellison said improved rail infrastructure in particular would benefit the area. Jack Heiss, a TxDOT project manager for the TTC-69 claimed he heard one concern that he's never heard of before, EVEN THOUGH WE'VE BEEN TELLING TXDOT THIS ISSUE FOR 4 LONG YEARS!: And the public has provided new and useful information. Heiss said his agency had not previously considered concerns about the risk of terrorist attacks on the corridor. "With the number of comments we got, we're definitely looking into that," he said. "We'll have to make a risk assessment about how realistic a concern it is."
"Testimony that continued late into the night overwhelmingly opposed" TTC-69 says the Daily Sentinel.
Only one person of the many hundreds that showed up supported the TTC land grab. And, it happened to be a banker. Bankers are one of the key profiteers, as debt must be created to build toll roads, so they benefit big time:
Tommy Ellison, CEO of Commercial Bank of Texas, said he was sympathetic to landowners, but said the area would benefit from improved transportation provided by the corridor.
"I'm supportive of a project that would bring better transportation out of Houston up through rural East Texas," he said. Ellison said improved rail infrastructure in particular would benefit the area.
Jack Heiss, a TxDOT project manager for the TTC-69 claimed he heard one concern that he's never heard of before, EVEN THOUGH WE'VE BEEN TELLING TXDOT THIS ISSUE FOR 4 LONG YEARS!:
And the public has provided new and useful information. Heiss said his agency had not previously considered concerns about the risk of terrorist attacks on the corridor.
"With the number of comments we got, we're definitely looking into that," he said. "We'll have to make a risk assessment about how realistic a concern it is."
A new Government Accountability Office report exposes that there is NO "FREE MONEY" in privatizing toll roads. We already know that the public private partnerships deals are just another layer of pigs at the though.
Many tollers, including Sen. Kirk Watson, want to keep the billions for their own special interest pals. Watson opposes PPPs but still pushes to toll our freeeways. Watson is one of the leading founders of Frontier Bank of Texas. Bankers love toll roads since they benefit big time from the massive debt.
Journal of Commerce says:
The report said that while there are cost benefits to public-private partnerships (3Ps), they could be overshadowed, for example, if a private toll road operator uses its market power to charge excessive tolls. Where 3Ps have been successful, the government has established performance and other standards at the outset.
Washington has had little experience so far with 3Ps, but the Department of Transportation has been actively promoting them.
So far little consideration has been given to public-interest concerns, the report said. The DOT disagreed with several findings in the report.
Ready to help stop the TTC?
Citizens for a Better Waller County (CBWC) has produced a free guide for anyone in Texas to effectively give input to TxDOT in regards to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Trans Texas Corridor/I-69 route (TTC-69).
“What people have to understand is that DEIS public hearing process is an opportunity to make technical objections to the DEIS on a number of issues, such as environmental, natural resources, social, economic, historical and transportation,” said Don Garrett, CBWC president. “In order to be effective, citizens need to focus on these areas.”
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Texans say they are ready to bear arms and protect their property from land grabbing "terrorists" (TxDOT). The line has been drawn in the sand for what might be called the "TTC land grab war".
Texans are being pushed into a corner, as TxDOT continues to ignore 99.9% of Texans who oppose Gov. Rick Perry's Trans Texas Corridor land grab (NAFTA Super Highway).
Texans are now saying they will use firepower to protect their land says the Lufkin Daily News:
Some compared Gov. Rick Perry to Bin Laden, arguing the government was terrorizing the Texas people, while many more voiced fears that such a massive corridor would serve as one big target for terrorists.
"This is a terrorist's dream," said T.J. McFarlen of Trinity County. "One hit could cripple our state.."
McFarlen added that his father had always told him there were two things he should never sell — his land and his gun.
"If you come after my land I will show you the working end of my gun," McFarlen said. Others voiced the same threat.
I've been getting a lot of emails over the last couple of weeks. And it looks like Satan, uh, I mean to say, Sen. Kirk "Double Tax" Watson, has deceived Austinites yet again.
On the surface, it looks like Sen. Watson is fighting to stop Austin freeway tolls. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Watson continues to work hard to make sure his pals are rewarded with Billions of toll tax revenue, and no one else.
Under Sen. Watson leadership, CAMPO voted for the freeway tolling scheme, which diverts $910 million tax dollars, intended for freeways, just a couple months ago. Since then, Watson found out that TxDOT is trying to steal the toll roads back, for thier own special interest spanish pals, by privatizing them.
This is the equivalent of bank robbers fighting over who will get the loot.
In the Statesman this week:
Texas Transportation Commission members, said state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, "have an agenda. And that's to privatize the second-largest (highway) system in the world. And you are hell-bent-for-leather to do that."The truly evil part of the toll plan is this: No city in the country has ever shifted it’s freeways to toll ways. Toll ways have always been built AFTER the public expressways were completed, to give people a choice between free expressways or toll ways. Most people don’t have a problem with those traditional types of toll roads.
The Perry/Watson double tax uses our tax dollars to create tolled expressway monopolies, which shift our public highways into revenue generating machines that will take in Billions of toll tax dollars.
Over the next 40 years, the Perry/Watson double will take in Billions of dollars in revenue. But, as Ben Wear just found out, MOST OF THE MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO TOLL ROAD SPECIAL INTERESTS.
For example, a TxDOT preliminary revenue analysis for only one of the toll roads - the new 290E toll, shows the toll authority plans to take in $625 Million, and 75% of that ($468 Million) is expected to go to special interest profiteers!
Since Perry’s waterboy Rep. Mike Krusee handed the reigns to Sen. Watson last year, Watson has led the charge on the CAMPO board to toll portions of 183, 290W, 290E, 71W and 71E with our tax dollars.
People, it doesn't matter if it's Spain is taking our families money at the toll booths or Sen. Kirk Watson's special interest pals. Our families will still pay Billions more.
You could ask Sen. Kirk Watson yourself (firstname.lastname@example.org). But don’t expect a reply. He’s well known for not responding to peons, uh, I mean constituents.
Watson on the Special Interests Payroll
The debate is scheduled on Thursday Feb 21st at UT in Austin, Texas. A Statesman article says that students will be invited as well. I'm a good date. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. From CBS News:
No public tickets will be available to the presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the University of Texas campus Feb. 21.
The Obama and Clinton campaign will distribute the tickets by invitation only.
Yet another TxDOT TTC public hearing. From KPRC Houston:
"George Washington, Sam Houston would vomit on you people," one attendee said.
"I'd like to see a show of hands here of anybody that approves of this corridor," Chris Zora said. "Is there anyone in this room who approves of this corridor? Raise your hands if you approve of it."
KPRC Local 2 did not see anyone raise his or her hand in response.