Sunday, April 08, 2012

Important News & News Archives Below:

Latest: TURF
Latest: Truth Be Tolled
Latest: American Stewards

Latest: Independent Texans
Latest: TAG
ALEC Watch
Latest: Eye on Williamson

Latest: Keystone XL
Latest: Dallas Transpo blog


View Trans-Texas Corridor TIME LINE: [HERE]

TTCs: Dead or Alive? [CLICK HERE]

SEE'Truth Be Tolled' TTC Documentary

Texas Legislature: Same 'ol Stuff...

Trans Texas Corruption
Lobby-Driven Leadership
Tax-Subsidized Spaniards
Public Pension Pirates
Partnering with "Guv 39%."
Corporate Welfare Kings
Bills penned by toll lobbyists
Sold out constituents
Dewhurst do-overs
Highway Hucksters
Pay to play State Senators
Pay to play State Reps
Land Grab Lapdogs
Ponzi Schemers
'Cucarachas' for hire
Road Kill Rustlers

Watch them in action [HERE]
Meanwhile, at the Governor's Mansion...
Rick Perry: 'Leading' Texas (in a race to the bottom)
See just one reason grassroots Texans are 'Fed Up!' and fighting to save Texas from Perry's porky political patronage schemes.
Sorry Stats: Only 33.6 % of registered voters in Texas went to the polls in 2006...and only 39% of those people voted for Gov. Rick Perry. Texas ranks 47th in voter turnout.

Come and take it back.

Come and take it back 2

The Grassroots Road Warriors...

! Fighting for Texas !

--The Muckraker
--Porkus Maximus Tex
--San Antonio Toll Party
--Texas 391 Alliance
--Truth Be Tolled
--DFW Concerned Citizen
--American Stewards


TTC 35, 69 and priority corridors
"...concentrating on the four primary routes first,is the beginning of generating the cash flow..."- Texas Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson, Gov. Rick Perry appointee
Overview of Corridor Watch Maps: HERE


view of affected counties: HERE

view of affected counties: HERE

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Trans-Texas Conquistadors

These career politicians deserve your vote of "NO CONFIDENCE."

Rick Perry, Governor (R)

Rick Perry: "Leading Texas to the bottom, and Proud of It."

Texas is at a crossroads. In Southern folklore the intersection of two roads can be an evil place where dark forces converge. And so it seems, Rick Perry, on his political journey, discovered the "Crossroads of the Americas" and sold his soul to the devil, who promised to fulfill his ambitions. With the help of big money lobbyists, attorneys and a legion of "yes men" in the Legislature, he set in motion the Trans-Texas Corridor. Perry's $200 billion corporate welfare boondoggle program would kick tens of thousands of Texans off their property, then lease it to a Spanish Corporation, who would profit from their debt, gas taxes and toll fees for the next 50-70 years. This is happening, even though 90% of Texans, only now learning of the TTC, don't want the project. Two-thirds of Texas voters don't want Perry either. Still, he slithers into office with 39% of the vote. Why? Because there is no runoff election in Texas. When the Houston Chronicle asked Perry if he was concerned about being a minority governor, he snapped, "I don't think that matters one twit [sic]. We'll still have 100% of the authority." The Devil, you say?

Todd Staples, Agriculture Commissioner (R)

Todd Staples: "On the road to paving Texas Agriculture."

He's not as pretty as Perry, but Senator Todd Staples is following in the cloven hoofsteps of our Governor. Although Todd touts his big league experience in the Future Farmers of America, one of his more notable accomplishments as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee was his contribution to HB 2702 --which included even more enabling legislation for the Trans-Texas Corridor. This was promoted as the 'cleanup ' bill for HB 3588. But when you read the fine print, you'll see that it removed some of the last remaining legal roadblocks for the TTC. Lately Staples has been saying he's 'against' the Corridor, but we aren't fooled. Anyone who has worked with political animals will tell you to watch what they do, not what they say. Let's not get stapled again.

Leiutenant Governor David Dewhurst (R)

David Dewhurst: "Keeping Campaign Donors First"

'Lite' Governor Dewhurst is mostly invisible to regular Texans, so they may not be aware that Perry's Boondoggle couldn't have been possible without his help. Dewhurst, an ex -CIA case officer, presided over the Texas Senate, whose Transportation Committee, chaired by Todd Staples, worked diligently to get the Transportation Code and eminent domain statutes changed for the Trans Texas Corridors. Dewhurst is one of the largest recipients of TTC contractors and has aspirations for higher office. Should Perry be kicked up the ladder by the Prince of Darkness, Dewhurst would ease into the the Texas Governor's mansion, just like tricky Rick did. God save us all.

Tom Craddick, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives (R)

As speaker of the Texas House, Craddick presided over House Bill 3588 in 2003, which approved the Trans-Texas Corridors. This gave Perry's political appointees at TxDOT more power and muscle to use eminent domain. Craddick's man, Mike Krusee, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, had a whole squad of lobbyists writing HB 3588, while the rest of the castrati in the Texas Lege provided a rubber stamp. In the next Legislative session Craddick's Conquistadors passed another transportation abomination, HB 2702. If a sucker punch is supposed to teach you something, I guess we needed two. Thanks for the lesson, guys. Not long ago, Commander Craddick got into some deep doo-doo over a ‘wish list.’ Apparently he wanted to give his Speaker’s apartment in Austin an extremist makeover, which included two $1000 industrial-strength toilets--paid for by lobbyists [feel free to insert your own joke here]. Voters could give the Texas House a makeover--without the help of big money lobbyists. They won't be able to vote against Craddick directly, but they could knock him off his throne by electing a few more Democratic Representatives, or at least shipping some of those Republican bum steers to the packing plant.

Gregg Abbott, Attorney General (R)

Greg Abbott: "Protecting Corporate Predators."

In 2005, more than 200 pages of Perry's contract with Cintra- Zachry were being withheld from the public. Corridor critics were hopeful when Greg Abbott ordered TxDOT to release ALL of the information. Then TxDOT and their new boss, Cintra-Zachry, sued Abbott's office to keep it a secret. Ric Williamson, Perry's pal who was appointed Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, didn't want a skeptical public to know if they were being swindled. When TxDOT sued the AG's office, everything ground to a halt --for almost 18 months. Why was that? The Attorney General's office was apparently working both sides of the case. That's right. The AG's office was working for the public 'Gregg Abbott,' who ordered the records released, and for TxDOT 's new bosses, the private highwaymen, who were suing to keep them secret. We now see that this AG's primary goal is his own self-promotion, covering his backside and getting re-elected. There now, don't you feel safe?

Jerry Patterson, General Land Office Commissioner (R)

"Coming Soon: Jerry Patterson- The Liquidator"

Jerry Patterson was an extra in the 2004 movie 'The Alamo.' In the flick, you can see him a crowd after the battle of San Jacinto yelling "Hang 'em!" Judging from his slick campaign flyer, our gun-totin' Land Commissioner would like to be back on the silver screen--a 'Dirty Jerry,' if you will. I must say, when I found his flyer on my door step, it certainly made my day. In it, he calls himself "the Maverick," and says "Texas needs less political grandstanding." He also expresses his passion for old Bob Wills tunes. He gets rave reviews in his flyer, which calls him "A Real Person." Jerry doesn't say much about the TTC, but all you need to do is watch what he does. He touts his record of raising revenue from the state's land holdings and fostering 'public-private partnerships': The flyer reads "Jerry has expanded the revenue stream to include sound real estate investments." A 'maverick' is supposed to be someone who refuses to abide by the dictates of a group; a dissenter. No dissention here. When it comes to liquidating Texas, Jerry Patterson is Rick Perry's go-to man [LINK].
Funny how the Austin American-Statesman, in their reflexive endorsement of Patterson stated: "Patterson recognizes the potential for conflicts of interest in public-private partnership projects." Swallow that one, and I've got some property to sell you in the path of TTC-35. If Governor Perry has his way with the Trans-Texas Corridor, Texas politicians, in the name of the state, will grab another half million acres of your private property for their buddies' "revenue stream." And now, thanks to recent legislation, (refer to section 203.055 in House Bill 2702), the state can conveniently convey it to a private tolling company. How's that for slick?

If regular Texans don't wake up and smell the asphalt, guys like Jerry Patterson will keep on humming Bob Wills tunes like: 'The Spanish Two-Step, ' and' Can't Get Enough of Texas,' while the rest of us will be wailing 'Weary of the Same 'Ol Stuff.'


Friday, June 23, 2006

The Great Texas Land Grab

Texas politicians do little to protect private property rights after the Supreme Court's ruling on eminent domain.

Kelo Ruling

Revolting development ripples through the Lone Star State

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court made it official. Private property in the United States--and the Republic of Texas--was up for grabs.

The stunning 5-to-4 ruling in the Kelo vs New London case meant that our state and local officials could keep using the government's power of eminent domain to take private property, then convey or lease it to a private developer--even if it merely offers a benefit to the public.

In the legalese of case law on government "takings," the Supreme Majority used what is called a "permissive approach" in their ruling.

I'll say they did.

They gave every well-connected bureaucrat, ‘pork’ speculator, and fat cat campaign contributor the green light to grab your property--as long as the rationale is plausible enough for the average numerologist, Ouija Board scholar, boondoggle consultant, or Texas Legislator.

SCOTUS ruling

A lawyer with the Institute for Justice, called it "a sad day for the country and a sad day for the Constitution."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was born in El Paso, spoke for the minority:

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. "

The wrecking ball is in the court of the state legislatures.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing from his ivory tower, suggested we could trust our state legislatures to define what property could be taken for public use.

Say what, John Paul? Trust our elected officials?

Guess you can tell John Paul is not from Texas--even if he does have two first names.

Texas pols, not to be outdone by their brethren in Washington D.C., do much of their government "bidness" behind closed doors (click here).

Our laws and their many loopholes are ghostwritten by lobbyists, attorneys and "consultants"-- many of them former legislators-- to enrich their benefactors and cronies. And they work hard to keep it that way (click here) . More than a few Texas politicians have made their fortune through the power of eminent domain, including a former president's son and baseball team owner who happens to reside in the White House (click here and here).

Caution: Blowback may be closer than it appears

In Texas, some 95% of property is privately owned, and most of these folks are still pretty hot. Justice Stevens would be wise to take a detour around the Lone Star State if he travels this way--at least until this whole Kelo thing blows over (click here).

Even the Reason Foundation , a brain brothel with a storefront in Santa Monica California, knew the heat was coming. They advised Dubya to lie low:

Letter to President Bush: Stay on Sidelines in Eminent Domain Case

(11/1/04) The U.S. Supreme Court will decide this term whether state and local governments can use eminent domain to take non-blighted homes in the name of economic development. In this letter to the Bush Administration, Reason Foundation joins the Coalition Against Eminent Domain Abuse in urging the Administration not to file a brief in Kelo v. New London. Filing a brief against property owners in this case would be both disastrous to property rights and a serious affront to the promise of "expanding property ownership" the Administration champions.

Good call, dudes!

Porkus interruptus

Meanwhile, back at the Chicken Ranch, the Texas Legislature had already granted so many governmental and non-governmental entities eminent domain authority, they’d lost count (click here).
In the middle of their latest pork-fest, Texas Pols were caught with their pants down and their hands in the cookie jar.

Mark Twain’s saying "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session," was never more true in Texas--especially when the 77th, 78th and 79th Legislatures were at it. The greatest beneficiaries of their largesse were some of Governor Perry’s Campaign donors (click here).

Under the tutelage of the road-building lobby, the Texas legislature quietly cooked up two stealth constitutional amendments (Props 2 and 15) and a porcine transportation bill (HB3588).

The enabling legislation allowed Rick Perry's political appointees on the Texas Transportation Commission to turn TxDOT, already a multibillion dollar bureaucracy, into a monstrous special-interest pork funnel for Perry's supporters (click here).

Thanks to Governor Perry and our lapdog legislature, a host of unaccountable TxDOT bureaucrats and newly minted 'Regional Mobility Authorities' are waiting to grab private property for more than just “roads.”

They can use these new powers to condemn land and negotiate CDA’s (Comprehensive Development Agreements) with multinational corporations. A Texan's property can now be taken by the state and be dangled as an enticement for foreign and local toll road “corridor” speculators to ease the pain if their state subsidized boondoggle goes south (click here).

The Ghost of Cortez Stalks Texas

With “public-private partnerships” on the lips of every lobbyist and Enron apologist, the 79th legislature sweated last year to save Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor Plan, a massive toll road corridor and land lease scheme, big and bold enough to make any modern conquistador proud.

Trans Texas Corridor Land Grab

And now to fulfill Governor Perry’s pork-sotted “vision,” the State of Texas will need to take approximately 584,000 acres –that’s over 900 square miles of private property. In fact, TxDOT is expecting so many eminent domain cases from the TTC, that they've been lobbying the Legislature to not only increase the number of courts allowed to hear eminent domain cases, but to make the process "more efficient. "

Governor Perry backs this state sanctioned land grab--and apparently much of the Texas Legislature does too.

Forget what these porkers say. Just look at what they did.

Their actions reveal that they are little more than sock puppets for their financial backers.

Hogwash and whitewash.

Much of the public Kelo condemnation spewed by our Texas pols in 2005-- especially the weak eminent domain bill Governor Perry signed--was election year political theater of the spaghetti western genre.

The bill is so full of loopholes that it does little to protect the average property owner--and does nothing to rein in the Trans-Texas Corridor. For more on this, click here, here, here, here, here, and here.

So folks, the sad, sorry truth is that the Red Republic of Texas, with its current leadership, is flat out liberal in its use of eminent domain—and it’s about to get much worse.

Unless voters pay attention, throw these hogs out, and press for a strong eminent domain amendment, property rights, the average citizen's hedge against government corruption and abuse, will vanish faster than our Governor (a former Aggie cheerleader) can say "Adios, Mofo."


Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Santa Anna Tollway

Rick Perry's plans for border security:

Web cameras and quarter mile wide toll roads

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Texas Governor Rick Perry is touting Border Security with gimmicky Web cameras, while ignoring his own party's platform, which calls for scuttling Perry's $184 Billion Trans-Texas Corridor Plan.

With that in mind, it's worth resurrecting this comment from Peter Samuel of Toll Road News:

Santa Anna chuckling in his grave

Santa Anna must be chuckling in his grave at the coup at TxDOT. They have published a map reincorporating Texas into Mexico as its northeast province. [shown above]

Under the heading "Trans Texas Corridor - Mexico national highway system & railroads" they have a map of Texas and Mexico adjacent, their transport lines all aligned and coordinated, Texas itself protruding northeast of Mexico proper. None of the rest of the Union is in sight.

Where is Sam Houston when we need him?

Rolling in his grave, most likely.


A complete timeline of news articles and web posts related to the Trans-Texas Corridor (1999-Present) can be viewed by clicking links located in the right side bar of this page under the heading TTC NEWS WATCH.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Central Texas is in Perry's Crosshairs

TxDOT Zeros in on TTC-35 Route

Perry's cross-hairs

Are you about to be picked off by Governor Perry's private highwaymen?

At 10:00 a.m. today, Governor Rick Perry and his pal, Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson, released the draft environmental impact statement for the first Trans-Texas Corridor, also known as TTC-35.

The map shows a "narrowed" 10 mile wide area considered to be a prime target for state condemnation of private property. The land will be owned by the state for lease to a Spanish toll road builder, as well as other private developers and concessionnaires. Many of these friendly folks have contributed hefty sums (both directly and indirectly) to Governor Perry and other politicians at the state and national level.

For starters, here is what lies in the path of this half-baked scheme:
  • More than one and a half million acres, much of it prime farm and ranch land
  • Approximately one million people
  • Three major aquifers
  • Over 8,000 acres of public park land
  • More than 100 acres of federally recognized historic sites.
You will hear the mantra that the need for this sort of enormous private tollway/supercorridor is "well documented."

Trouble is, the "documentation" is coming after it was proposed by Perry and the private interests who would benefit from it. The decision was made, and the "studies" that follow are being used to sell it.

CLICK HERE for TxDOT's interactive map & Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for TTC-35

CLICK HERE for a close-up view of affected counties on the CorridorWatch web site

TTC-35 Map
© 2006 Austin American-Statesman

TTC-35 is only the beginning. Get ready for three more "priority" supercorridors, already in the works.

TTC 35, 69 and priority corridors

For a brief timeline of Perry's private pork-fest, click on the links below:

Fall 1999
I-35 Corridor Study is completed and approved (it was shelved after Perry took office).

October 2001
Perry gets campaign contributions from road builders
Prop 15 goes on the state ballot
Read Prop 15: It says nothing about the Trans-Texas Corridor

November 2001
Props 2 and 15 Added to State Constitution

January 2002
Perry's backers win big
Perry's massive scheme accomplished "under the radar."

Feburary 2002
Perry lays out "Trans-Texas Corridor Plan"

April 2002
Corridor Action Plan fast-tracked

June 2002
Trans-Texas plan is mapped out
TxDOT: "We're open for business."

July 2002
Firms put in secret Trans-Texas bids
Perry's "Vision" of Trans-Texas Corridor Stimulates More Campaign Contributions
Still, most Texans know nothing about it

May 2003
House Bill 3588 is Born
House Bill 3588: The Original Transportation Abomination

August 2003
TxDOT requests Federal Highway Administration approval to proceed with TTC-35 Corridor as an experimental program using a Comprehensive Development Agreement (“CDA”)

January 2004
TxDOT's "European Vacation" includes trip to Madrid

March 2004
Feds agree to "streamline" environmental study for Trans-Texas Corridor

April 2004
TxDOT starts first segment of TTC=35

September 2004
Strayhorn attacks Perry, CAMPO on toll roads

October 2004
Cintra Goes Public Overseas to raise funds for TTC bid

December 2004
"Light rural traffic does not justify Trans-Texas Corridor plan"
Spanish contractor to begin Corridor
Top Aide to Perry Worked for Cintra
Account of aide's role at Cintra contradicted

March 2005
Perry signs deal with Spanish Firm
Texas Rep Files Bill to Slow TTC-35

May 2005
Grassroots Road Warriors Rally in Austin
Legislators try to give Corridor a makeover

June 2005
One result of that makeover
Chronicle files freedom of information request with TxDOT
"Privately funded?" Cintra-Zachry asks Uncle Sam for a Loan
TxDOT, Cintra-Zachry file suit to keep documents secret

A complete timeline of news articles and web posts related to the Trans-Texas Corridor (1999-Present) can be viewed by clicking links located in the right side bar of this page under the heading TTC NEWS WATCH.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Corridor foes score a hit!

Proposition 9 Goes Down in Flames...

But Stealth Prop 1 survives flack
Pork Prop Down

Proposition 9: AGAINST: 53%
FOR: 47%

Proposition 1: AGAINST: 43.3%
FOR: 56.7%


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Missing in Action: Eminent Domain Amendment for Texans

There they go again: More stealth amendments, courtesy of Sen. Todd Staples and Rep. Mike Krusee, Transportation Committee Chairmen

Back in June, the Supreme Court confirmed that a Texan's land is just a politician's penstroke away from some well-connected investment banker's portfolio.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, an El Paso native, laid it out:

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. "

Around that time, many Texans were still learning, much to their dismay, that Governor Perry and the legislature had spent the last five years laying groundwork for just that sort of thing-- a state sanctioned money grubbing land "grab-and-lease" scheme--sponsored by special interest donors.

"Under the Radar"
It all began in the Fall of 2001, when Texas taxpayers and landowners unwittingly opened the door to a multinational cadre of pork-loving zealots--courtesy of Gov Rick Perry and friends.

The architects of the strike knew the odds of pulling it off were good. The Texas Legislature has presented more than 600 amendments to the state Constitution over the last 130 years and suckers like us have approved a whopping 432 of them.

Back in 2001, Propositions 2 and 15 were stealth amendments, lovingly crafted by special interest groups. We didn't know these amendments were set up for Rick Perry's $184 billion TTC corporate welfare trough, or that they would give the Guv's appointees at TxDOT an open- ended line of credit, backed by our tax dollars. But the beneficiaries of this perpetual pork machine did know--and they had already crunched the numbers:

Two Texas Constitutional amendments: $500,000

TxDOT with multi-billion dollar line of credit and token legislative oversight: Priceless.

Pandora's Ballot Box
When 67% of us took the bait, Gov. Rick Perry pulled the switch. After Prop 2 and Prop 15 were approved, he said we gave him the green light for something called the "Trans-Texas Corridor Plan,"a bloated 4,000 mile network of quarter-mile-wide, privatized, money-skimming toll roads with "ancillary facilities" leased by state, and packaged as a 'public-private partnership,'-- a consortia that would have made Benito Mussolini proud. Most folks didn't take Perry seriously, but he showed them all.

He gave his appointees at the Texas Transportation Commision thier marching orders, and in four months they were “open for business.” It wasn't long before the secret bids and campaign dollars came rolling in. As Texans snoozed through another election, Perry ascended to his throne in 2002.

Proposition 15 was the gift that kept on giving. In 2003, it allowed Speaker Tom Craddick's porkers in the House Transportation Committee to launch a juggernaut: a transportation abomination called House Bill 3588. The bill fundamentally changed Texas law, giving Perry's appointees at TxDOT the powers of eminent domain for economic development-- and it explicitly mentioned the Trans-Texas Corridor plan.

The bill also allowed for the tolling of freeways and spawned a protective layer of unnaccountable Regional Mobility Boards--lower ranking political appointees and cronies, to ram the project through. Although the Texas House and Senate unanimously approved House Bill 3588, most claimed they never actually read it.

While they're at it, maybe they could explain why they even bother to show up in Austin every two years--or why we should consider sending them back.

Good thing the people at CorridorWatch studied it, and they published it online. You can view the scheme HERE.

House Bill 3588 is a scary read, if you believe that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution actually means something. Scarier still if you are naive enough to think that your friendly Texas pols -- those stalwart champions of property rights who wear their faith and patriotism on their sleeves, wouldn't sell you down the road for a travel junket, a fat contract for a campaign donor, or some future lobbying gig with a foreign corporation.

The "clean up" bill that was supposed to fix this problem in 2005 isn't much better, because it is essentially the same fragrant sack of fertilizer, repackaged and promoted by the friendly folks who cooked it up in the first place--then spun it as something else. You can thank Senator Todd Staples and, again, Rep. Mike Krusee for that one. Kudos to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick as well. (Thanks for "winning back the confidence of Texas citizens," fellas.)

Which brings us back to the Supreme court ruling, Kelo vs New London.

When word got back from Washington D.C. that our property really was up for grabs, the legislature was about to start the first of two doomed special sessions for school finance reform. During these unsalvageable train wrecks, they had the opportunity to respond to the Kelo Case with a strong constitutional amendment --one that would protect Texans from the kind of eminent domain abuse built into their TTC plan.

Instead, they knitted together a weak eminent domain bill that was full of loopholes and exemptions for their pet projects.

In the processs, they turned a blind eye to enormous state-sponsored "land-grab-and-lease" boondoggles, like the Trans-Texas Corridor. Then, dragging their feet, they promised to "study" the eminent domain issue later.

Funny how they didn't take the time to do that sort of "studying" when they voted for the TTC in the first place.

Here are just two of the six stealth propositions waiting for you this Tuesday:

PROPO$ITION 1 preludes a juicy $20+ billion enticement for private railroads to freeload on Gov. Rick Perry's TTC Porkbarrel Express Limited. Projections show it will cost another $2 billion to repay the bonds and fees. We'll all be paying the freight on this one, thank you very much.

Brother Staples, can you spare a dime?

PROPO$ITION 9 seeks to triple the shelf life of Regional Mobility Authorities from two to six years. RMAs are a new invasive species of unelected unaccountable dysfunctionaries putting down roots in the projected pathways of the Trans-Texas Corridor--under the protective wing of thier big brother bureaucrats at TxDOT.

Just what TxDOT needs --longer terms and less accountability, courtesy of Mike Krusee.

Put them on notice

The lawmakers who are pitching this adulterated tripe may not live in your district, but you can still send them a message and do your part to derail Perry's Pork-Barrel Express by voting NO on Props 1 and 9.


    A complete timeline of news articles and web posts related to the Trans-Texas Corridor (1999-Present) can be viewed by clicking links located in the right side bar of this page under the heading TTC NEWS WATCH.

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Concrete Thinking: Toll Roads Trump Education in Texas

    Historic Blackland Prairie in Central Texas
    Blackland Prairie

    TxDOT's Blacktop Prairie
    Blacktop Prairie

    Concrete is King in Texas.

    The Lone Star State ranks 50th in the high school graduation rate, but Texas roads are ranked number one by truckers. The way things look, our legislature would like to continue that "Texas Miracle."

    As the 79th Legislative Session ended, our pols in Austin were slapping each other on the back for a job "well done."

    They failed to pass their "number one" goal, school finance reform, but the Texas Department of Transportation got almost everything they wanted, including a big "thumbs up" on the $184 billion Trans-Texas Corridor.

    The proposed TTC will be a massive network of redundant quarter mile wide toll roads and "ancillary facilities" stretching across the state parallel to existing interstate freeways. "TxDOT is as happy as can be," gushed Mike Krusee, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. And why wouldn't they be? (click here)

    A couple of years ago, Governor Perry's political appointees at the Texas Transportation Commission were granted unprecedented powers by the state legislature.

    TxDOT is a now a kingdom unto itself.

    TxDOT can negotiate comprehensive development agreements (CDA's) with foreign corporations. And TxDOT, with the blessing of our good-haired governor, is in the process of creating the biggest special interest pork funnel west of the Potomac.

    If TxDOT has its way, the first leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC-35) will be designed, built, and leased by Cintra, a Spanish public works company, for the next 50 to 70 years.

    The TTC project was pushed by Perry's appointees as the "only" viable solution to problems with urban congestion. This happened after an already completed and approved study for I-35, including rail and truck lanes--no toll roads--was dumped after Perry took office in 2001. (click here)

    That year, $800,000 in campaign contributions from toll road interests were dropped into Perry's lap. Around that time, the TTC plan suddenly appeared to our "visionary" governor. (click here, here, and here).

    Constitutional amendments, Prop. 2 and Prop. 15, marketed by some of those same contributors, were passed in 2001. (click here)

    These amendments said nothing about Perry's pork dream. (click here)

    Maybe that's because the already approved I-35 corridor plan and study, completed in 1999, would have cost $11 billion. Perry's TTC-35 pork pike alone is expected to cost at least $27 billion plus an additional 81,000 acres of private property.

    The TTC plan was unveiled by Perry in January 2002 and approved by his appointees at TxDOT five months later with NO STUDY.

    "Once the Governor decided that this is where we needed to head, he wanted to remove it from the political flow of the state, he wanted it to become policy as opposed to politics, and that was one of the reasons he asked us to move so fast, and we've done an admirable job...." --Ric Williamson, Texas Transportation Commissioner

    When the TTC plan ran into skeptics and roadblocks , it was determined that Perry's appointees at TxDOT needed more power. The lobbyists rallied again to change the state law. With the help of Rep. Krusee's lawyering squad, a massive transportation bill (HB 3588) was cooked up and rubber-stamped by the Texas Legislature in 2003.

    After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing. TxDOT courted overseas contractors in 2003 and 2004. The winning bidder from Spain, Cintra, went public on the European stock market less than two months before TxDOT picked them. Now a lobbyist and former legislator, who just happened to be working for Cintra three months before they were awarded the contract, is on Governor Perry's staff--as an advisor on transportation legislation (click here,here, and here).

    Imagine that (click here).

    The comprehensive development agreement with Cintra, quickly negotiated by TxDOT, was signed by Perry in March 2005. A substantial portion of the CDA is still being kept from the public. I guess they figured it was their business (click here).

    Sure, they hit a speed bump after their scheme got some bad press, but after a little legislative shake 'n bake to throw folks off (House Bill 2702), the Soveriegn Kingdom of TxDOT and their Trans-Texas Toll Collector were safe and sound.

    Which is why Representative Krusee's main constituents, TxDOT, Cintra and their associates, are so happy.

    If things continue to go as planned, TxDOT will be very busy in the coming years, kicking Texans off of their land for the new Spanish Corridor. By many estimates, they will need to take more than half a million acres of private property to make their whole TTC boondoggle a reality.

    As more and more information about the Corridor trickles out, folks are getting angry. You see, in spite of our school system, Texans can still read and do math. Some have done their homework and learned that the numbers simply do not add up.

    Traffic congestion occurs mainly during commuting times in the metro areas --not rural areas-- and, yes, traffic is bad around Austin. But to hear the pork doctors talk, the entire state will need ten lanes of bypass surgery-- and Quick! Never mind that their enormous scheme will cost close to $200 billion.

    Rural Texans aren't the only ones who will pay dearly for TxDOT's emerging "Toll Road State." Urban commuters will pay ever higher tolls on their local roads to finance this boondoggle. A substantial chunk of the toll tax won't even go back into Texas roads. Those dollars will be converted to Euros and wired to Madrid.

    Backland Coalition Joins Corridor Watch
    As storm clouds loomed in Central Texas, 1,000 people gathered to voice their opposition to the Trans-Texas Corridor. They learned that they were on the fast track to be paved by the "priority" TTC-35 Corridor. For more information about the Rally click HERE.

    A graphic of the proposed TTC, superimposed on the Blackland Prairie in dark green, can be seen below. The priority corridors are orange.

    Blackland Prairie TTC

    The Blackland Coalition is apparently endorsing the law firm of Barron, Adler & Anderson for legal advice related to condemnation and eminent domain.

    Among other legal developments, the Texas Attorney General has told TxDOT that Cintra's financial and development plans for their CDA cannot be withheld from the public. Also, the United States Supreme Court will soon rule on Kelo v. City of New London, and the Texas Supreme court still says the current state law for funding Texas schools is unconstitutional.

    The courts may ultimately determine if future generations of Texas dropouts must pay to drive on the best damned roads in the country.

    RELATED LINKS: The Great Texas Land Grab


    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    House Bill 2702: The "New" Transportation Abomination

    road kill

    You've got to hand it to Texas pols. They really know how to cook their books--and their bills.

    They just sauced up House Bill 3588, put it in a new package, gave it a different name, and dished it back to us on a shingle. You can view "House Bill 2702" by clicking HERE.

    After you've digested this wad of putrid pork, one thing is clear: Our elected officials and their buddies, using TxDOT as a vehicle, are determined to bend the laws of eminent domain and go into the leasing and land development business--with our property, of course.

    If you think House Bill 2702 is a great thing, think again:
    • It limits commercial leasing to within the confines of the unneccessary quarter-mile wide TTC Pork Pikes--all 4,000 miles of them.
    And it gets worse.
    • It also opens the door for TxDOT land-grabs across the rest of the state, wherever TxDOT and friends choose to build a road.
    Here are just a few tidbits:
    • According to Sec 201.1055. Private entities (such as Cintra, Zachry, Maquarie, Fluor, Transurban and their ilk) can now also acquire land for commercial facilities-- something that they couldn't do under HB3588.
    • 203.052 (b) was changed to read " (9) provide a location for an ancillary facility that is anticipated to generate revenue for use in the design, development, financing, construction, maintenance, or operation of a toll project, including a gas station, garage, store, hotel, restaurant, or other commercial facility.
    • 203.055 was amended to allow a government agency (let's say a Regional Mobility Authority) to transfer land to the state without public disclosure. The state can then conveniently convey it to a private tolling company.
    Is this cause for celebration? I think not.

    The pork doctors who wrote this bill apparently believe that TxDOT and friends should be able to take someone's land as a "revenue generator" because they can incorporate it into one of their many future toll road corridors. That way, they can have a handy "revenue stream" to dip into for the "public good."

    This new abomination still gives Perry's appointees at TxDOT and your friendly 'Regional Mobility Authority' the power to take your land and lease it to private toll road companies.

    And now they have a handy 'back door' method to convey the land they grab to those companies for their development schemes (like "gas stations, garages, stores, hotels, restaurants, or other commercial facilities").

    How clever of them and disastrous for the rest of us.

    Our lawmakers and their cronies were too tempted by the up-front cash they could grab from this "public-private" pork-fest. With the Toll Road Industry comparing its collections to those of the Porn Industry, how could they resist?

    And Governor Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor was thier inspiration.

    So don't be surprised if a new toll road corridor with some nifty "ancillary facilities" is headed your way. Your property then can become a revenue generator for the State so our politicians can say they "didn't raise taxes."

    The 79th Legislature and our governor have long since passed thier expiration dates.

    They could have looked out for regular Texans, but they chose to look the other way. In the process our land, legacy and liberty was sold out to special interests-- both foreign and domestic. They could have stepped back from their transportation abomination and put the Corridor on hold for two years to allow for genuine public input.

    What did they do? They slammed the door in our faces and thumbed their snouts at us.

    Now a bunch of political appointees are going to take our land, our livelihoods and our legacy so our governor and legislators can reward their campaign donors and cronies.

    It's time for Texans to hold their noses and start "cleaning house," when the 2006 general election rolls around.


      A complete timeline of news articles and web posts related to the Trans-Texas Corridor (1999-Present) can be viewed by clicking links located in the right side bar of this page under the heading TTC NEWS WATCH.

      Monday, May 16, 2005

      Texas House and Senate Try to Reshape Monstrous Transportation Bill: What will it mean for their Corridor?

      (Photo courtesy National Laboratory for Bad Government, Austin, TX)

      House Bill -3588
      "Face lift, liposuction, or brain augmentation?"

      With angry farmers and villagers at their door, Texas lawmakers made a show at giving their transportation abomination a bit of drive-by cosmetic surgery, according to Postcards from the Lege.

      House Bill 3588, was spawned by Gov. Rick Perry and the "Highway Twins" (Rep. Mike Krusee & Sen. Steve Ogden). It was the enabling legislation that made the nightmarish Trans-Texas Corridor possible. The bill would demolish property rights and suck the life out of rural communities.

      So far, few Texans really know about the Trans-Texas Corridor. Krusee, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, squelched House Bill 3363, which would have placed the Corridor on hold for two years while public discussion could take place.

      Instead, the Texas House debated House Bill 2702. At first glance, the bill appeared to have some merits. Apparently, it would place some limits on the Corridor with nearly 30 amendments. So, what happened next? The Senate Transportation Committee got hold of it. Now they want to cut out the language from House Bill 2702 and replace it with Senator Todd Staples' Senate Bill 1706.

      Confused? The Texas Observer explains it well enough. To view their article click HERE.

      Whatever happens, you can bet this "new and improved" version will not pass the smell test.

      Why? Because the lawyers operating behind the scenes are some of the same pork doctors who cooked it up in the first place.

      Did I mention our state senators suspended their own rules to avoid an open public meeting?

      I guess they were in a hurry.


        A complete timeline of news articles and web posts related to the Trans-Texas Corridor (1999-Present) can be viewed by clicking links located in the right side bar of this page under the heading TTC NEWS WATCH.

        Tuesday, May 03, 2005

        Grassroots Road Warriors Rally in Austin

        Anti super corridor rally in Austin, Texas (May 3, 2005).

        Citizens Against the Trans-Texas Corridor sponsored a rally attended by several hundred representatives and property owners from various anti-corridor and anti-toll road groups.

        Another blog, called Eye on Williamson County, has a great roundup of this event. You can read it by clicking HERE. Kudos also go to the Victoria Advocate for its coverage of the rally, which can be seen HERE.

        People came from Austin, Houston, Dallas, and rural areas in between to voice their outrage over Rick Perry's incompetence, Mike Krusee's stonewalling, and Ric Williamson's arrogant prattle. The rally was a last-ditch attempt to get the Transportation Committee to take action on House Bill 3363, which would impose a two-year moratorium the Trans-Texas Corridor and allow for genuine public input. CLICK HERE.

        Unfortunately, a spokesman for committee Chairman Mike Krusee had already said the panel didn’t plan to consider the bill.

        The snide remarks made by Mike Krusee and Rick Perry's mouthpiece, Robert Black, are sure to fuel the backlash. You can read more about this by clicking HERE and HERE.

        Rep. Krusee, you just ticked off a legion of voters who didn't even know you existed.

        , as usual, you're doing a heckuva a job.

        I guess the big donors think they can pull a fast one if their boys in Austin move quickly and keep the troops in line. They funded a campaign in 2001 to pass two constitutional amendments, Propositions 2 & 15.

        Those stealth amendments authorized the financing mechanisms which allowed the Trans-Texas Corridor and other perpetual toll road projects to be foisted on an unwitting public CLICK HERE.

        Propositions 2 and 15 laid the goundwork for House Bill 3588 in 2003. The corporate sponsors really shelled out the big bucks for that one.

        House Bill 3588 gave Governor Perry's political appointees in the Texas Transportation Commission the power to use eminent domain to take your property and then lease it to favored business interests through Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDA). CDA's are often used with governments of third world countries who can't manage or finance their own infrastructure.

        Rick Perry's March 2005 signing of the CDA with Cintra, a Spanish public works company, marked a new low for the State of Texas, but was hailed by his publicity machine as being "innovative."

        You really 'wowed' us with that one, Governor Perry.

        A toothless "Citizens Advisory Committee," created AFTER Perry and his pals signed off on the Corridor, will be used as a prop so they can say they received public input. How magnanimous they are! They didn't bother to ask
        Texans if they even wanted this boondoggle in the first place.

        Gee guys, thanks for that and the other TxDOT dog and pony shows you've put on. Throw us another bone, won't you? (click here)

        Expect the likes of Perry, Krusee and Williamson to keep cramming this boondoggle down our throats. They think regular Texans should all just shut up and get out of the way. To hear them talk, it's all about the money.

        They just don't get it. These folks aren't for sale.

        As the crowd chanted "Impeach Perry!" silent Rick was nowhere to be found. He was out of touch, naturally, and out of reach from the REAL Texans pictured below:











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