WND: Citizen unearths document on North American Integration signed by 90 leaders

Link to article here. While many politicians are still claiming there's no plot to form a North American Union, the evidence just keeps pouring in throwing yet more egg all over their faces. The Founder of the Oklahoma sister to Corridor Watch, which notes below that he was inspired by Corridor Watch and the Texas Toll Party, has unearthed a document about the coming merger signed by 90 leaders. Read on, and encourage your friends and family to wake-up and connect the dots. The grassroots uprising is spreading, and just in time!

'Declaration of North American Integration' unearthed
Activist points to mayor's endorsement on document signed by 90 leaders
July 25, 2007
  By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com



Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett
The endorsement by a major city mayor of a document described as "The Declaration of North American Integration" represents a long-term effort by local governments to bypass state and federal governments and work directly with Mexico and Canada to create agreements that integrate the continent below the radar screen, charges an activist. Adam Rott, founder of watchdog blog Oklahoma Corridor Watch, brought to light the document signed by Mayor Mick Cornett.

The document was presented at the May 2004 summit meeting of the North American International Trade Corridor Partnership, or NAITCP. According to an Internet-archived summary report of the meeting, held in Kansas City, Mo., the document was signed by 90 people.

Rott told WND he created Oklahoma Corridor Watch because, "I saw the efforts in Texas by Internet blogs such as Texas Corridor Watch and Texas Toll Party to get the word out in Texas about the Trans-Texas Corridor. I wanted to warn Oklahoma about plans to extend the Trans-Texas Corridor along Interstate 35 north into our state."



Rott said it should be clear to everyone "that the international business interests and government officials working with them do not intend to stop the four-football-fields wide TTC-35 at the Texas border with Oklahoma."

"Oklahoma has been at work for almost 15 years to get I-35 designated as a NAFTA superhighway," Rott said. "I want to wake Oklahomans up to the reality that Oklahoma is on the front lines of the battle being waged by investment bankers, foreign investment consortia and politicians who stand to benefit to expand the TTC-35 north into Oklahoma."

WND contacted Cornett's office for comment, but the mayor did not respond.

"What is so diabolical about Cornett's signature is that it has largely remained hidden from view since 2004," Rott charged. "It is disturbing to think that councilmen and councilwomen who live in our communities are working for North American integration in the mistaken notion that globalism will result in local economic development."

Roth is skeptical of the promise North American integration holds for economic development in Oklahoma.

"What we see is the sovereignty of the U.S. being compromised at a local level, and we have yet to see where globalism has benefited Oklahoma City," he said. "Our manufacturing base is deteriorating in Oklahoma City as plants close and multinational corporations outsource from Oklahoma to get cheaper workers in international markets."

Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon agrees.

Brogdon told WND he believes "the ramifications of what Oklahoma City Mayor Cornett is doing is to destroy U.S. national sovereignty and to grab property like we have never seen before."

Brogdon was outspoken in his opposition to North American integration.

"Economic development at the expense of our sovereignty is not a fair trade as far as I am concerned," he said.

On June 24, 2005, NAITCP signed a memorandum of understanding with the North America SuperCorridor Coalition, or NASCO, effectively absorbing NAITCP into NASCO. An archived NASCO webpage no longer displayed on the current NASCO website documents that NAITCP had its origin as a "non-profit organization in Mexico dedicated to economic development and improving trade relations through the heartland of America to Canada and Mexico."

NASCO also did not respond to a request for comment.

WND previously reported Brogdon entered an amendment to an Oklahoma bill that would have required that the state's Department of Transportation "shall be prohibited from participating or entering any negotiations or agreement with NASCO."

Brogdon's amendment further specified, "No state funds or federal funds dedicated for state use shall be used for any international, integrated or multi-modal transportation system."

In a series of complicated maneuvers, the bill died.

Still, Brogdon is determined to press forward against NASCO.

"In this next legislature," he said, "I am going to add amendments to legislation that will continue to require the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to get out of NASCO. We have spent $481,000 in Oklahoma since 1995 to be a member of NASCO, and we have yet to receive any benefit."

In the last legislature, Brogdon also sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 10 urging the U.S. to withdraw from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and any other activity that seeks to create a North American Union, and to oppose any NAFTA superhighways.

The resolution passed unanimously in voice votes in both houses of the Oklahoma legislature, Brogdon noted.

"Hopefully, he said, "the legislature is waking up to all the subversive legislation that is trying to be sneaked past us by the George Bush Security and Prosperity Partnership agenda and interests such as (Texas) Governor Perry, who has pushed TTC-35 through despite the objections of the Texas legislature."

NASCO's website adamantly rejects the idea that a North American Super Corridor could ever be a "NAFTA superhighway."

Yet, the NASCO website documents that in addition to the state of Oklahoma, the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, is a member. As fully documented on the TxDOT website, the department does plan to build a new Trans-Texas Corridor parallel to Interstate 35, and NASCO has yet to repudiate these new superhighway construction plans.

'Shared vision'

The NAITCP 2004 summit brochure initially presents the signed document, on Page 2, as the "Kansas City Declaration." Yet later, in a conference summary on the last page, the document is identified as "The Declaration of North American Integration."

The summary page notes "more than 90 North American leaders signed an important document entitled 'The Kansas City Declaration' to officially record their shared vision of future cooperation for communities along the NAFTA Trade Corridor in Canada, the United States and Mexico."

The summit brochure lists Mayor Cornett as a signatory.

Oklahoma Corridor Watch expressed concern that, "It is becoming increasingly more apparent that our government officials have been working overtime behind the scenes to bring in the "North American Union" and often in relative secrecy away from their constituents and from scrutiny."

Last month, Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill brought superhighway proponent Robert Poole to Oklahoma to give presentations on the virtues of "public-private partnerships" designed to advance the interests of private investment consortia seeking to build or lease state toll roads.

Poole, a mechanical engineer who has advised the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to privatize U.S. highways, estimates more than $25 billion in public-private partnership highway projects are planned or approved in the U.S.

Among the other named signatories were two professors prominent in the push to create a "North American Community," Stephen Blank of Pace University and Robert Pastor of American University.

Blank is known for organizing the "North America Works" conferences held annually since 2005 in Kansas City. Pastor, a prolific author on the subject of North American integration, holds annually holds a student North American model parliament, an activity organized by the American Forum on Integration, of which Blank and Pastor are both directors.

Rott also documented that Cornett called for the economic integration of North America in a video interview given at the Conference of Mayors in Boston in 2004.

"This signifies how local governments across the nation are either moving forward with, or directly supporting, the economic integration of North America, also called the North American Union," Rott wrote on his blog. "While such a pursuit may seem like the stuff of conspiracy theories, it is increasingly becoming more apparent that our government, with the direct support of private sector participants, is building a union in North America comparable to the European Union."

The 2004 NAITCP "Kansas City Declaration" was also signed by Kay Barnes, then Mayor of Kansas City, Mo.; Michael Haverty, chairman and CEO of Kansas City Southern; Chris Guiterrez, president of Kansas City SmartPort; and Francisco Gil Diaz, secretary of finance and public credit in Mexico.

According to the NAITCP brochure, the Kansas City Declaration reads in part, "We have come to realize that our communities in Mexico, Canada and the United States are closely linked to each other, and that we share profoundly in this emerging North American economic system.

"The answer is to move forward together," the declaration continued. "We will deepen the ties among our communities. The economic vitality and social integration of our communities demand open, dynamic and secure borders. We encourage our respective governments to dedicate sufficient resources to create 'smart' and efficient borders. Likewise, we urge our governments to assist us in forming a 'North American Transportation and Infrastructure Committee' that will formulate a strategic vision for an integrated regional logistics system."

WND: Controversy erupts over Macquarie, toll operator compared to Enron!

Link to article here.

Controversy erupts over leaser of U.S. toll roads
Foreign firm part of public-private partnerships funding highway network


By Dr. Jerome Corsi
World Net Daily
July 20, 2007

Investment analysts in New York and Australia charge that Macquarie, the Australian conglomerate leasing U.S. toll roads, is a "house of cards" that has made billions by spinning off the highway assets into over-valuated investment trusts controlled by the bank.

Macquarie has been an active participant in the "public-private partnerships" sponsored by Mary Peters when she was head of the Federal Highway Administration.

As documented on the FHWA website, Macquarie recently concluded long-term leasing deals on the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road.

In both projects, Macquarie has partnered with Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A., the Spanish investment consortium also involved in financing and leasing the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The criticism of Macquarie can be traced to a paper published last year by John L. Goldberg, an honorary associate at the School of Architecture, Design Science, and Planning at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Titled "The Fatal Flaw in the Financing of Private Road Infrastructure in Australia," the paper argued equity investors in Macquarie investment trusts are likely to suffer heavy losses by excessive valuations Macquarie makes of financed toll roads that are packaged together to be sold to pension funds and other institutional investors.

Goldberg also argued that government guarantees on Macquarie projects are often buried in the confidential part of toll road "comprehensive development agreements," such that the public taxpayer liability only comes to light when a toll road project fails.

Jim Chanos, a founding principal in the New York investment firm Kynikos Associates, has been equally critical of Macquarie.

Kynikos, founded in 1985, specializes in short-selling the stock of companies the firm believes are overvalued by the financial markets and likely to fall in price. Chanos distinguished himself as one of the most active critics of Enron prior to the company's fall.

In a May 30 radio interview with Australian talk-show host Mark Colvin, Chanos charged that the "Macquarie model" was seriously flawed.

"The bank scours the world buying assets," Chanos told the radio audience, "buying assets, everything from toll roads to bowling alleys and selling them into separate trusts that the bank controls. This generates triple fees for Macquarie Bank: one for the up-front purchase; a second for selling the assets into the trust; then ongoing management and performance fees from the funds."

Chanos charged that the loser in the scheme was the investor.

"If you look at the financial accounts of the trusts," Chanos explained to the Australian talk show, "you'll see that in almost all the cases the companies are using Australian re-valuation accounting which is legal under [Generally Accepted Accounting Practices] in your country to write up the value of the asset annually and put that through operating income and into equity."

Chanos argued that the practice only works in a financial environment in which cheap credit is readily available and valuations for infrastructure projects are generally rising.

"You need a credit environment that looks the other way, or you need a credit environment where the people lending are just lending on reputation or not numbers," Chanos said.

Eventually, he contended, the self-dealing between Macquarie and the Macquarie-controlled funds into which the infrastructure assets are sold is likely to crash.

"All I would tell your listeners," Chanos said in the radio interview, "is simply just go to the trusts, the financial statements, and simply extract out the asset re-valuation number, which is basically management's guess as to how much, what the asset's worth and just see what the cash flow looks like. In many cases, the cash flows are diminished or actually go negative. That's the simple litmus test to the Macquarie model."

Still, Chanos argued that despite the problem in the underlying cash flows, Macquarie makes hefty profits.

"Capital gains alone in the fiscal year 2007, just for flipping these types of assets into the trusts, accounted for half of the pre-tax income of Macquarie Bank," Chanos asserted.

Macquarie Bank has hit back strongly against both critics.

According to newspaper reports in Australia, Macquarie Bank executive Warwick Smith complained to University of Sidney Vice Chancellor Gavin Brown, demanding that the university dissociate itself from Goldberg over his critical research.

In response, Brown issued a statement clarifying that Goldberg is not an employee of the University of Sydney, though he has been given the title of honorary associate by the Faculty of Architecture. In his statement, Brown claimed Goldberg "speaks as an individual and the university accepts no responsibility for his comments which it does not endorse."

In the subsequent controversy that erupted in Australia, Goldberg was featured as a case study in "Silencing Dissent," a book critical of the administration of Prime Minister John Howard, published in Australia by Clive Hamilton, the executive director of a prominent Australian think-tank, and his co-editor Sarah Maddison.

In the book, Hamilton and Maddison charged that the Howard government used strong-arm tactics to challenge the tax status of non-government organizations and ruin the reputations of academics who were critical of governmental policies, including the sale of highway infrastructure leasing rights to private investment concerns in Australia.

Macquarie used a similar personal attack to discredit Chanos following the interview on Australian radio.

In a May 31 statement posted on the Macquarie website, the investment group charged that Chanos, "a hedge fund short-seller of equities," had an economic self-interest in advancing "incorrect claims" that could cause the stock price of Macquarie to fall.

When contacted for comment, Macquarie's New York representative referred WND to the company's online statement, in which Macquarie asserts that all assets acquired by funds controlled by Macquarie are valued directly from the market and subject to the approval of independent directors of the funds.

The published Macquarie response to Chanos also cited a May 25 Bloomberg report which quoted Chanos as saying Kynikos maintains a short position on Macquarie.

Short-selling is a Wall Street practice in which an investor borrows and sells stock the investor does not own, anticipating the stock will go down in value. The short-seller profits by buying shares at a lower price to replace the shares that originally were borrowed and sold at the higher price.

Short-sellers lose money if the price of the stock increases and the cost to purchase shares to replace those borrowed is greater than the price for which the borrowed shares were sold.

Macquarie Infrastructure Group is a separate subsidiary from Macquarie Bank.

The website of Macquarie Infrastructure Group bills the company as "one of the largest private developers of toll roads in the world."

Toll road proponents say motorists can and should pay more

WARNING: Reading this article may cause you to throw things and kick the dog...or worse! Solution: VOTE THE BUMS OUT!

We warned the Texas Legislature this would happen if they passed that "compromise" bill, SB 792, that Rick Perry rammed through in the last weeks of the 80th session. TxDOT would use these new market-based tolls to rob us blind and them come back for more...without accountability, without representation. Toll taxes, especially market-based tolls, are runaway taxation without representation, and it's the POLITICIANS WHO ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN that will pay dearly!

When people can scarcely fill their tank with gas at $3/gallon, it boggles the mind to think there's a stitch of validity to this argument that motorists can and should pay the highest possible tolls. The bond buyers in an investment grade toll viability study for 183A in Austin said toll roads are no longer viable at $3 a gallon for gas. So from whence shall the toll money come? Short of taking food off the table and shoes off our children's feet, there's only so much the family budget can pay toward transportation before other necessities suffer. These are the same politicians who fail to fix runaway annual appraisals that lead to out of control property tax rates that, in turn, have caused every major Texas city to be in the top 10 for foreclosures in the country! Mad yet? Read on and then VOTE THE BUMS OUT!

Jaime Castillo: Toll road proponents: Motorists can — and should — pay more
San Antonio Express-News
07/22/2007

They say you don't kill the messenger, but can you at least throttle him?

The "him" in this instance is Dye Management Group Inc., which recently completed a draft audit on toll roads for the Texas Transportation Commission.

After taking a look at existing toll rates of 10 to 15 cents a mile in Dallas, Houston and Austin, the firm determined that local toll authorities aren't charging drivers enough.

The logic — a term that should be used loosely — is that motorists can and will pay more, which would bring in more cash for the state's yawning road needs.

"Tolls charged by local authorities are lower than studies indicate that their customers would be willing to pay," the audit reads. "As a result, congestion goals will not be met."

Translation: "If you want to raise funds for other projects, keep jacking up the toll price until drivers cry 'uncle,' and then back it off a penny or two."

As reported by Express-News transportation writer Patrick Driscoll, the audit "mirrors much of what officials have been saying for years."

Hope Andrade, a transportation commission member from San Antonio, told Driscoll:

"It just confirms the emergency situation that we're in. We can no longer support toll rates that are not market value."

If this were part of a political handbook on winning support for toll roads from a skeptical public, charging "market value" — or as much as you can get — on tollways would be relegated to the section titled: "How to lose even more support in 30 seconds or less."

And this isn't the fault of people like Andrade, either. State and federal lawmakers continually saddle transportation officials with a losing poker hand.

In the last 16 years, the state's population — and construction costs — have grown exponentially. Yet, the gas tax — the primary source of highway funding — has been frozen since 1991.

And not only has it remained static in an ever-changing world, state lawmakers can't keep their hands off of it either.

Continuing its long-running budgetary shell game, the Legislature's latest two-year budget will see one-tenth, or $1.6 billion, of the highway fund diverted from building and maintaining roads.

With fiscal constraint apparently off the table, raising the gas tax must be looked at seriously. While difficult with gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon, it could be done if the entire state leadership — the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — supported the change.

That way, lawmakers, who already quietly concede that the gas tax is too low, could stick their necks out and not fear being singled out as the pigeons that supported higher taxes.

The alternative is to unnecessarily gouge those who will use toll roads. If the recommendations by Dye Management Group are the guide, toll riders will soon have the privilege of paying the highest tolls possible and paying the 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

A recent trip to the car dealer landed me in a shuttle van with several other car-less souls.

The shuttle van driver, exasperated by a 15-minute wait to go a couple of miles on U.S. 281 North, said to no one in particular:

"This almost makes you want to see toll roads."

To which, a homeowner who lives near the intersection of 281 and Bulverde Road blurted out:

"I don't care what they do as long as they do something soon."

With that kind of captive — and infuriated — audience, state and local transportation officials are banking that they will get their way eventually.

But it still doesn't make it right.

TxDOT promotes charge by mile scheme...highest possible tolls

Well, here ya have it black and white, folks. This shift to tolls is all about MONEY, a whole new tax on driving to generate REVENUE. It's not about anything else. What they've been telling us about (it being a tool to speed up road projects) for more than 2 years has all been DOUBLE TALK and smoke and mirrors to bide time until they got some private firm to cook-up a study that says they HAVE TO TOLL, and that it has to be the HIGHEST POSSIBLE TOLL, and that it's NECESSARY to rob from Peter to pay for Paul's roads.

It hasn't even been a year since the Texas A&M Study was released that blasts a GIGANTIC HOLE into these claims. Let's review, for those with short-term memory loss at TxDOT and in the Legislature. The Texas Transportation Institute report stated it is NOT necessary to toll a SINGLE ROAD to meet our future transportation needs in Texas. NOT ONE! They gave 4 different options for indexing the gas tax. As we've said from DAY ONE, the gas tax system is FAR more affordable than UNBRIDLED NEW TOLL TAXES in the hands of an UN-ELECTED Transportation Department or tolling authority. With toll rates as high as $1.50 a mile in Austin, you better be prepared to leave your wallet at the toll booth, because you're not going to have much left in it when they're through.

Thankfully, WE THE PEOPLE aren't through, and we're not going to let them DOUBLE TAX TOLL our existing roads or gouging citizens so politicians can amass a slush fund! Note how the report claims even charging the highest possible market rate tolls won't be enough. Of course not, no matter what we're forcibly taxed and have to fork over to BIG GOVERNMENT, it'll never be enough. That's why it's up to us to restrain THEM!

A desire to keep the rates low could torpedo toll road goals
By Patrick Driscoll
Express-News
07/20/2007

Motorists should pay higher fees on Texas toll roads, including those planned for San Antonio, but even that won't be enough to fix growing traffic problems, a new report says.

The trouble is local toll agencies don't want to set rates any higher than needed to cover financing of their own roads, says the draft audit by Dye Management Group Inc., which was presented this week to the Texas Transportation Commission.

So not enough profit is being raised to fund other projects, the executive summary says. Drivers pay about 10 to 15 cents a mile on tollways in Dallas, Houston and Austin.

"Tolls charged by local authorities are lower than studies indicate that their customers would be willing to pay," it states. "As a result, congestion goals will not be met."

The audit, commissioned by the Texas Department of Transportation, which the Transportation Commission oversees, mirrors much of what officials have been saying for years.

"It just confirms the emergency situation that we're in," said Hope Andrade, a commissioner from San Antonio. "We can no longer support toll rates that are not market value."

Keeping rates "reasonable" is one reason why the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority last month took over planned toll lanes on 47 miles of U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 on the North Side.

But forcing such local agencies to maximize profits, or at least get healthy returns, is why a provision was slipped into a law last spring that requires state and local officials to agree on toll rates for new projects.

Reasonable rates and market rates are not necessarily at odds, since some surplus is good if used on other needed projects, said Bill Thornton, chairman of the Mobility Authority.

But that still leaves room for debate on how high toll fees should be.

"I do not see conflict in the debate," he said. "I see it as a healthy discussion."

Those differing views could gel, or not, later this summer when a market valuation is finished for the U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 toll system.

Toll critics see the valuation as a way for government to use its monopoly on roads to squeeze money out of motorists trapped in congestion.

"Anybody can make money off of that," said Terri Hall of San Antonio Toll Party. "It's really for unlimited runaway taxation of the likes we've never seen before."

Nevertheless, charging at or near market rates for tolls won't be enough, the report says.

For one thing, toll roads are mainly solutions for big cities, since that's where the congestion is. And erosion of gas taxes will escalate because of rising construction inflation and more cars getting better mileage or using alternate fuels.

A long-term answer is to switch from a tax on gas to a tax on how much people drive, called a vehicle miles traveled charge or VMT charge. Oregon finished testing such a system in March and a report is due this summer.

"Texas needs to lay the groundwork to move to a VMT charge over the next 20 years," the report says.

Andrade agreed that a VMT charge should be looked at.

"We're at a point when we must explore everything," she said. "That would be difficult but not impossible."

Hall said that would hand government yet another unbridled tax as well as another tool to intrude on privacy by tracking the movements of vehicles.

"We knew that was coming all along," she said.

Texas still needs to build more toll roads and lease what they can to private operators, the report says. The Dye Management report is one of five audits that will be a starting point for a sunset review of TxDOT, which the Legislature is scheduled to wrap up in its 2009 session.

High gas prices causing biofuel demand and food price crisis

Clearly a global economy isn't serving the best interest of the United States much less the world's poor. Due to rising demand for gas and now food in China, it demonstrates how China is becoming the world's superpower while the U.S. buries its head in the sand and continues to sell 2-3% of our national wealth to foreign investors every year. Our enemies have figured out how to win the West, bring your checkbook, buy up controlling interest, and squeeze consumers with the rising domination of the East. Here's a sampling of the total failure of leadership in this country that's bringing the world's wealthiest Nation to her knees (with poverty and hunger).

Link to article #1 here. Link to article #2 here.

UN warns it cannot afford to feed the world

By Javier Blas and Jenny Wiggins in London

Financial Times

Published: July 15, 2007

Rising prices for food have led the United Nations programme fighting famine in Africa and other regions to warn that it can no longer afford to feed the 90m people it has helped for each of the past five years on its budget.
The World Food Programme feeds people in countries including Chad, Uganda and Ethiopia, but reaches a fraction of the 850m people it estimates suffers from hunger. It spent about $600m buying food in 2006. So far, the WFP has not cut its reach because of high commodities prices, but now says it could be forced to do so unless donor countries provide extra funds.

Josette Sheeran, WFP executive director, said in an interview with the Financial Times: “In a world where our contributions are holding fairly steady, this [cost increase] means we are able to reach far less people.”

She said policymakers were becoming more concerned about the impact of biofuel demand on food prices and how the world would continue to feed its expanding population.


The warning could re-ignite the debate on food versus fuel amid concerns biofuel production will sustain food inflation and hit the world’s poorest people.

The WFP said its purchasing costs had risen “almost 50 per cent in the last five years”. The UN organisation said the price it pays for maize had risen up to 120 per cent in the past sixth months in some countries.

Biofuel demand is soaking up grain production as is rising consumption in emerging countries for animal feed.

“We face the tightest agriculture markets in decades and, in same cases, on record,” Ms Sheeran said. Global wheat stocks have fallen to the lowest level in 25 years, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Ms Sheeran added: “We are no longer in a surplus world.”

_________________________________________

July 16, 2007
Ice-cream makers frozen out as corn price rises

Suzy Jagger and Carl Mortished
The Times, London
What’s the connection between ethanol, the biofuel produced from corn, and a cherry vanilla ice-cream?

Answer: the first is responsible for pushing up the price of the other.

This month, the price of milk in the United States surged to a near-record in part because of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price in a year as demand has grown for the grain to produce ethanol.

Christina Seid, whose family have been making ice-cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for 28 years, said yesterday that she expected to have to raise her prices, along with all competitors in the short term. “We are holding out as long as we can, but prices will rise,” Ms Seid said.

Related Links

Milk price soars as drought hits industry
British dairy farmers on way out too soon

Amy Green’s Ivanna Cone ice-cream emporium in Lincoln, Nebraska, has already raised its prices for a small cone to $3.50 before tax, up from $2.95 a few months ago. She also estimates that she is paying $150 more a week for the butterfat that she uses in her ice-cream.

The squeeze on ice-cream makers, chocolate manufacturers and pizza companies – all of whom use dairy produce as a raw material – is set to tighten as the price of a gallon of milk in the US – up 55 per cent in the past 12 months in some American states – is now the same as a gallon of petrol, with dairy prices accelerating faster than the cost of fuel.

Prices for dairy products have also risen because of increasing demand from China and the Middle East along with the drought in Australia, reduced subsidies in the European Union and the rocketing cost of corn.

Editorial: Stop filching from highway fund!

Link to article here. Kudos to the Express-News for calling for a return to fiscal accountability in our State. We need our taxes to go for their intended purpose and stop this leaking boat. Until that gets fixed, don't expect the public to tolerate paying a penny more on transportation!

Editorial: Put brakes on filching from state highway fund
San Antonio Express-News
07/11/2007

Texas is the nation's fastest growing state.
New figures from the Census Bureau show that Texas gained 2.7 million residents between 2000 and 2006, an increase of 12.7 percent. Nineteen Texas cities are among the 100 fastest growing communities in the country. And six Texas cities are among the 25 most populous, with San Antonio number seven.

All those new Texans — some of whom are born here, some who move here — place increasing pressure on municipal and state infrastructure. Nowhere is the strain of population growth more obvious than on Texas roads.

Sixty percent of Texas highway funding comes from state fuel taxes and motor vehicle license and registration fees. The biggest chunk comes from the gas tax. And while the population has been growing and inflation rising, the gas tax has been fixed at 20 cents per gallon since 1991.


A report from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs lays out the issue in dollars and cents. The Texas Department of Transportation estimated in 1997 that the state needed to spend $11 billion annually on highway, bridge and aviation projects between 1997 and 2006. Actual spending for the period was $3.1 billion annually, or a shortfall of almost $8 billion per year.

TxDOT said the state should spend $4.9 billion annually on maintenance alone. The annual shortfall in the maintenance budget has been $1.8 billion.

Rather than spending more money on road infrastructure, the Texas Legislature has been finding ways to do the opposite. One-quarter of the State Highway Fund is diverted to public education.

Despite a budget surplus of $14 billion for the biennium, Express-News Staff Writer Patrick Driscoll reports that lawmakers diverted another tenth of state highway dollars to such unrelated purposes as the arts and mineral rights litigation. And the Senate quietly beat back a hair-brained scheme from the House to suspend the gas tax for summer vacation.

The first step toward getting Texas back on the road to a growing future is to stop filching the highway fund. Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, and Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, each sponsored legislation that would have ended the diversion of highway dollars. Both measures died in committee.

But even that wouldn't fill the pothole in funding. The population and construction and maintenance costs are increasing. Texas needs a revenue source for roads that keeps pace with those increases.

State leaders can't fight the numbers. The unpopular choices are to raise more tax revenue for highways, charge people to drive on them or sell or lease them as moneymaking operations to private interests. Those choices will only become more unpalatable — and the transportation crisis more serious — the longer they wait to act.

Ron Paul (anti-corridor, SPP & NAU) has more cash than McCain

Here's a presidential contender that's opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor and all the NAFTA Superhighways, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and the North American Union driving it (who twice introduced a resolution against them in Congress)...Texas Congressman RON PAUL, and he's #3 in fundraising! His grassroots support cannot be underestimated. What a perfect wake-up for the establishment elite who try to pre-ordain insiders who are bought and paid for to run this country rather than letting WE THE PEOPLE run a candidate of the people and FOR preserving our Constitutional Republic! He and Duncan Hunter are the ONLY candidates talking about this. Check out Ron Paul...

Link to article here

Ron Paul Tops McCain in Cash on Hand

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July 06, 2007 1:14 PM

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports: Though often regarded as a longshot candidate for president, Republican Ron Paul tells ABC News that he has an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising an equal amount during the second quarter, putting him ahead of one-time Republican frontrunner John McCain, who reported this week he has only $2 million in the bank.

In an exclusive interview taped Friday and airing Sunday on "This Week," Paul said his campaign is on a better trajectory than McCain's.

"I think some of the candidates are on the down-slope, and we're on the up-slope," said Paul.

Paul's cash on hand puts him in third place in the Republican field in that important metric, although he is well behind leader Rudy Giuliani, who has $18 million in the bank, and Mitt Romney, with $12 million.

Paul, who polls show with support in the low single digits, said his surprisingly strong fundraising is the best measure of his support.

"I think people have underestimated the number of people in this country who are interested in a freedom message," says the Republican congressman from Texas, who has strong libertarian leanings.

Click HERE to watch a clip from the interview.

Expose' on Trans Texas Corridor & North American Union shoots up best-seller charts

Link to article here.

'Late, Great USA' nation's No. 1 non-fiction book

Expose of North American Union shoots up best-seller charts
Posted: July 11, 2007
1:49 p.m. Eastern

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com


"The Late Great USA," currently the No. 1 nonfiction and No. 1 political book in America according to Amazon.com.
The book, in which New York Times No. 1 best-selling author and WND columnist Jerome Corsi exposes the multifaceted plan to turn the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American version of the European Union, has shot to No. 14 overall.

Corsi has been widely featured on radio and TV recently, including a marathon interview last night on George Noory's "Coast to Coast AM" radio show.

The U.S. government's controversial – many say outrageous – unwillingness to enforce immigration laws and border security is, at least in part, a result of the plans Corsi exposes in "The Late Great USA.

Understanding the plan to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada, says Corsi, is "the only context in which the current immigration travesty makes sense – and it must be stopped." Corsi is the co-author of the No. 1 New York Times best-seller "Unfit for Command" which many credit with having cost John Kerry the presidency in the 2004 election.

 
 

In "The Late Great USA," Corsi shows how the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, an agreement signed in 2005 by President George W. Bush, Paul Martin of Canada and Vicente Fox of Mexico, is nothing less than a full-frontal assault on American sovereignty.
This aim to create a North American Union between the United States, Mexico and Canada is the real reason behind "comprehensive immigration reform."

Says Corsi, "Bush's goal to create a North American Union – with no borders, a shared currency, and utterly no voice for average Americans in their own futures – is the real reason he won't enforce immigration laws."

Utilizing thousands of documents released as a result of the Freedom of Information Act, "The Late Great USA" shows how unelected bureaucrats in faceless agencies such as the Department of Commerce have been given the power to foist the NAU on the American public incrementally.

"The European Union, which now holds millions of voiceless, voteless Europeans in thrall to a heedless Brussels bureaucracy, was put into place little by little over a 50-year period," Corsi writes, "not by the citizens of the member states, but by elitists who disguised their goal of a regional government."

In the book, Corsi details:

1. The tactics unelected globalist business leaders, bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded academics are using to lead to the merger of the United States with Mexico and Canada

2. How the state of Texas is seizing millions of acres of privately owned land so foreign investors can cash in on a NAFTA "super-highway" from Mexico to the Canadian border.

3. How China, through its proxies in Mexico, plans to bring the world's sole superpower to its knees economically – without firing a shot.

"A North American Union would not just be the end of America as we know it," claims Corsi, "but the beginning of an EU-like nightmare – a bureaucratic coup d'etat foisted upon millions of Americans without their knowledge or consent."

"The Late Great USA" is a meticulously researched story of deceit, the chapters of which are being written in secret.

"The Security and Prosperity Partnership is not just unconstitutional, but an act of treason at the highest levels," he says. "Anyone who cares about the future of this country – our children’s future – must act now against a North American Union and the underhanded way in which our sovereignty is being compromised, one illegal alien at a time."

Enron whistleblower calls Macquarie toll road business model financial house of cards!

Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) is a worldwide toll operator and has bid to takeover several toll projects in TX including 121 in Dallas area and 281/1604 in San Antonio. Macquarie is also tied to Rudy Giuliani. The plot just got thicker as Jim Chanos, investor who was the first to expose Enron, calls Macquarie's business model a "house of cards" and "unsustainable." The fact that U.S. federal and state pension funds are beginning to make their way into these infrastructure deals that are more akin to a ponsi scheme than sound investments, Macquarie's model makes Enron look like child's play. Read on...


ABC Online

PM - Macquarie Bank model cannot last: Chanos

[This is the print version of story http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1938221.htm]

PM - Wednesday, 30 May , 2007 18:18:00

Reporter: Stephen Long

MARK COLVIN: Jim Chanos was the first big US investor to expose Enron as a fraud.
Tonight, he's told PM why he thinks that Macquarie Bank is a 'house of cards'.

Macquarie's staff have made billions by buying assets around the world and spinning them off into funds and trusts controlled by the bank. The bank collects fees all along the line.

But Mr Chanos says this economic model can't last. His key concern is that the Macquarie Bank funds pay their shareholders not out of income they earn, but from borrowed money.

They continually revalue their assets, then borrow against the asset values to fund payments to investors.

He also says the structure encourages serial overpaying for assets, and that Macquarie is relying more and more on unsustainable self-dealing between the bank and its funds to make money.

This report from our Economics Correspondent Stephen Long.

STEPHEN LONG: Jim Chanos has made a fortune picking stocks that are ripe for a tumble.

He was the first big investor to say Enron was a fraud.

He's not saying there are crooks at Macquarie Bank. Simply, that the model that's made the bank billions is unsustainable.

JIM CHANOS: I guess the heart of our criticism of the bank is the model itself, this so-called Macquarie model.

STEPHEN LONG: The Macquarie model is now world famous. The bank scours the world buying assets, everything from toll roads to bowling alleys, and selling them into separate trusts that the bank controls.

This generates triple fees for Macquarie Bank: one for the up-front purchase; a second for selling the assets into the trust; then ongoing management and performance fees from the funds.

There's been much discussion in Australia about whether this raises a conflict of interest.

Jim Chanos' critique is more fundamental.

JIM CHANOS: The underlying economics, in my opinion, are flawed. Being the top bidder for these assets and then flipping them into the trusts leads to an unsustainable economic engine at the trust level. And when that breaks down all of the fees and whatever's being paid begin to break down.

STEPHEN LONG: Macquarie's funds pay their investors out of borrowed money and that's one of Jim Chanos' key concerns.

They revalue the assets they own then borrows money against the re-valuations to fund the payments to investors, a strategy that could founder when, inevitably, the period of cheap credit and asset price inflation comes to an end.

JIM CHANOS: And this is the real crux of the problem on an ongoing basis. If you look at the financial accounts of the trusts you'll see that in almost all the cases the companies are using Australian re-valuation accounting which is legal under GAAP (Generally Agreed Accounting Principles) in your country to write up the value of the assets annually and put that through operating income and into equity.

STEPHEN LONG: And your worry then is that the payments to the stockholders are being funded essentially by debt and re-valuation not out of income.

JIM CHANOS: Re-valuating and borrowing against that stream. So you need willing lenders, you need a credit environment that looks the other way, or you need a credit environment where the people lending are just lending on reputation and not numbers.

STEPHEN LONG: The man who blew the lid on Enron has other concerns, too. He says the fee structure encourages serial overpaying for assets because Macquarie gets fees based on the size of the assets it spins into its trusts.

He says the Macquarie model relies increasingly on unsustainable self-dealing between Macquarie and its funds.

And then there's the huge levels of debt and leverage.

JIM CHANOS: Capital gains alone in the fiscal year 2007, the year ending March 2007, capital gains alone of Macquarie flipping these types of assets into the trusts and elsewhere accounted for half, roughly half, of the pre-tax income of the bank. And that alone should be enough to call into question the quality of earnings.

STEPHEN LONG: If we came to the end of this extraordinary period we've been in, of cheap credit and escalating asset prices, asset price inflation, where would that lead Macquarie in terms of those capital gains?

JIM CHANOS: Well, I think that they would be greatly diminished or non-existent.

STEPHEN LONG: Although they're perfectly legal and transparent, Jim Chanos says the techniques Macquarie Bank uses have some similarities to those used by Enron.

JIM CHANOS: Let's just say, Stephen, I'm apparently not the first one to make those observations. That's exactly what they appear to be doing.

STEPHEN LONG: Macquarie Bank's boss Allan Moss says short of complete disaster, people will keep driving on toll roads no matter what.

Jim Chanos says that misses the point.

JIM CHANOS: All I would tell your listeners, Stephen, is simply just go in to the trusts, financial statements, and simply extract out the asset re-valuation number which is basically management's guess as to how much, what the asset's worth and just see what the cash flows look like if you take that out.

In many cases the cash flows are diminished or actually go negative. That's the simple litmus test to the Macquarie model.

STEPHEN LONG: Well, Jim Chanos, how concerned should we be that pension funds in Australia are major investors in the Macquarie Bank trusts?

JIM CHANOS: Well, if I was a pensioneer, in your country and my pension fund accounts owned some of these trusts, I would urge the managers to look at the financial accounts closely and not just look at the yield they're getting but look at how that yield is being received.

Is it actually from the economic output of the assets or is it from asset re-valuation which is simply writing up the paper value of the assets and borrowing the money against it.

These pension funds, which are answerable to the pensioneers in your country, if they're comfortable with that, well, great. If I was a pensioneer I wouldn't be.

STEPHEN LONG: Plenty of people disagree. Brian Johnson of JPMorgan is Australia's top rating banking analyst. He says Jim Chanos will join a long line of people who've lost money betting against Macquarie.

BRIAN JOHNSON: A lot of money is being lost basically shorting Macquarie Bank over the years. And while the model is certainly not without risk, the fact is the size of this potential market is absolutely massive.

STEPHEN LONG: So take your pick. Macquarie is either poised to run the world or heading for trouble.

MARK COLVIN: Stephen Long.

We were told Macquarie Bank's Chief Financial Officer, Greg Ward, would respond to Stephen Long's story, but he is yet to call.

Legislature diverts another $1.6 BILLION away from roads, further starving the gas tax

Pat Driscoll nails it in this article. It sums up the long and short of our Legislature's total failure to address fundamental solutions to our sweeping transportation problems in Texas. The diversion of yet another $1.6 BILLION away from transportation in the new budget demonstrates a complete betrayal of the Legislature's fiduciary duty to fund our highway system properly with the taxes we already pay. Lest we forget the $14 billion surplus...the surplus coupled with the diversions, and the A&M study PROVE without a DOUBT there's plenty of money for highways WITHOUT THE NEED TO TOLL A SINGLE ROAD.

We don't need a new TAX on driving, what we need is a NEW Legislature...let the anti-incumbent drumbeat begin and let's have it culminate at the ballot box! Potential candidates: start your engines, it's time to throw the bums out!

Link to blog and story here.

Draining the highway fund
By Pat Driscoll
Express-News
July 09, 2007

State lawmakers did plenty of bellyaching about toll roads in the spring legislative session, yet curiously were bent on hamstringing transportation funding more than ever.

Draining more money from the highway fund and continuing to hobble the 20-cent a gallon gas tax, while at the same time clumsily trying to slow down private-sector toll projects, may sound like lip service to average Joes.

But lawmakers in the thick of a labyrinth of transportation bills last session put it this way: Legislators, collectively, are ... well ... stupid when it comes to tackling transportation woes.

New York Times: Politicians neglected highway maintenance in favor of getting their names on new roa

Link to article here. This article echoes our concerns about transportation financing, but doesn't call politicians out on their fiscal malfeasance. They essentially admit in this New York Times piece that they'd rather push building new highway projects so they can get their names on a road in a some selfish legacy-building enterprise than maintain our existing infrastructure before needless deaths occur. Sounds like Texas Governor Rick Perry, doesn't it? He vetoed the PEOPLE'S eminent domain protection, the PEOPLE'S moratorium bill among others so that he can have his name on the Trans Texas Corridor. The people be damned. The farmers and ranchers be damned. Where is the outrage from these reporters???? With an admission like this, there should be indictments!

Also, they malign the Minnesota Republican Governor for having vetoed gas tax increases, but they neglect to mention it was because the state was running a $2.1 billion SURPLUS. Texas has a $14 billion surplus and they still tell us there's no money for roads with straight faces. This is a shell game and we're not falling for it. The Legislature had $8 billion in overtaxation and rather than give it back to the taxpayers or use it for transportation, they put it in a rainy day fund rather than release those funds to build/maintain roads. If ever there were a rainy day when we need the funds, it's now! You don't have to be a rocket scientist to conclude they're purposely not funding infrastructure so they can continue to create a crisis and push a toll tax agenda (while claiming they're not raising your taxes). Government has figured out how to make billions off our infrastructure and they're going to tap the vein no matter what the fiscal situation.

August 7, 2007
Bridge Collapse Revives Issue of Road Spending

By SUSAN SAULNY and JENNIFER STEINHAUER
New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 6 — In the past two years, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota twice vetoed legislation to raise the state’s gas tax to pay for transportation needs.

Now, with at least five people dead in the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge here, Mr. Pawlenty, a Republican, appears to have had a change of heart.

“He’s open to that,” Brian McClung, a spokesman for the governor, said Monday of a higher gas tax. “He believes we need to do everything we can to address this situation and the extraordinary costs.”

Even as the cause of the bridge disaster here remains under investigation, the collapse is changing a lot of minds about spending priorities. It has focused national attention on the crumbling condition of America’s roadways and bridges — and on the financial and political neglect they have received in Washington and many state capitals.

Despite historic highs in transportation spending, the political muscle of lawmakers, rather than dire need, has typically driven where much of the money goes. That has often meant construction of new, politically popular roads and transit projects rather than the mundane work of maintaining the worn-out ones.


Further, transportation and engineering experts said, lawmakers have financed a boom in rail construction that, while politically popular, has resulted in expensive transit systems that are not used by a vast majority of American commuters.

Representative James L. Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent out a news release last month boasting about Minnesota’s share of a recent transportation and housing appropriations bill.

Of the $12 million secured for the state, $10 million is slated for a new 40-mile commuter rail line to Minneapolis, called the Northstar. The remaining $2 million is divided among a new bike and walking path and a few other projects, including highway work and interchange reconstruction.

The $286 billion federal transportation legislation passed by Congress in 2005 included more than 6,000 earmarks, which amounted to blatant gifts to chosen districts, including the so-called Bridge to Nowhere in rural Alaska (that earmark was later removed after a political uproar).

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a telephone interview Monday that earmarks for transportation in federal legislation were “almost always new construction and not maintenance.” Earlier, Mr. Schumer said that he would introduce legislation next month to double a proposed federal transportation bill appropriation, with a focus on upkeep to $10 billion.

“The bottom line,” Mr. Schumer said, “is that routine but important things like maintenance always get shortchanged because it’s nice for somebody to cut a ribbon for a new structure.”

Last week, Representative John L. Mica of Florida, the ranking Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, met with advisers to the Bush administration to urge a nationwide plan to address transportation needs. Rebuilding the I-35W bridge would be only “a Band-Aid” Mr. Mica said, “to a much more serious problem.”

“We don’t have any kind of strategic plan to deal with infrastructure, and we’re falling behind,” he said.

In statehouses across the country, legislators tried this past session to fill some of the void by passing bond acts or allocating money to improve roads, bridges and other pieces of the transportation system.

In Arkansas, lawmakers set aside $80 million, 15 percent of which will be used to repair county roads, 15 percent for city byways and the rest for its highways. New Mexico approved a $200 million plan for local and tribal road projects, and in Texas, $700 million was allotted for state transportation projects over the next two years.

Voters in California this year authorized nearly $20 billion in transportation bonds to pay for repairs and make other improvements to its taxed system.

“We still barely scratched the surface,” said Adam Mendelsohn, the communications director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. “The governor is very concerned about the lack of attention that the federal government has given to infrastructure. It is probably no more acute than in California because of the tremendous strains from population growth.”

The federal budget for transportation comes largely from excise taxes, particularly on gasoline, set by Congress at 18.4 cents in 1993 and eroded over time by inflation and fuel efficiency. As such, over the last decade, state legislatures in 14 states have voted to raise the state gas tax 19 times. And several states are looking at toll roads and congestion pricing initiatives to help shore up the roads.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, a group with members from all 50 states, is calling for a 3-cents per gallon increase in the federal gas tax.

C. Michael Walton, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, helped write a series of reports issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers that have repeatedly found the nation’s highway system with insufficient money. “Continually falling short of the actual needs,” Professor Walton said, results largely from “our backlash to increases in taxes.”

Professor Walton said states had been looking to the federal government for leadership. “I am not sure transportation falls to the top of the priorities as it should barring a catastrophic failure,” he said in reference to state government spending.

A study released in May by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young found that 83 percent of the nation’s transportation infrastructure was not capable of meeting the country’s needs over the next 10 years. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its latest national report card, gave transportation infrastructure a D.

Meanwhile, there are urgent needs. The Interstate highway system turned 50 last year and is showing signs of age and inadequate upkeep. Around St. Louis, for instance, old bridges, rocky roads and tight ramp loops have led to a shutdown of parts of Interstate 64/Highway 40 — one of the most important corridors in the state — until late 2009.

“It’s so easy to let this stuff slip,” said Robert Dunphy, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute.

The national highway system, originally called the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, came into being under the Eisenhower administration. (The country’s population was 169 million then, and there were about 54 million registered vehicles on the roads.) It was spurred by fears that Americans would have a mobility crisis if the country were attacked in a nuclear war. By the 1970s much of the system was completed.

But since then, the nation’s highways have eroded with age and use, especially in areas like the Southwest where population booms have far outweighed the ability of roads to carry the new drivers.

Typically financing for capital transportation projects comes from the federal government matched with funds from states, which are then charged with maintaining the roads and bridges. But the federal government and states operate trust funds, filled with revenues from various excise taxes, which have been unable to maintain existing roadways adequately or finance capital expenditures.

But it may often be less the amount allocated for transportation than how it is doled out that leads to eroding highways, some critics say.

“Highway funding is supposed to be on the basis of need,” said Raymond Helmer, a transportation consultant in Houston who has worked on transportation projects for over 50 years. “There is supposed to be cost-benefit analysis, and every state does a study as required by federal government and comes up with needs, but then politicians say, ‘I don’t want that road here, I want it here.’ ”

Some transportation experts also said that though light rail and other public transportation projects made sense in cities, investing in them in sprawling suburban regions might not, even if the systems were supported, in theory, by the public.

“Too many American cities are spending far too much money on expensive rail transit projects, which are used for only 1 to 2 percent of local travel, and far too little on highway projects which are used for 95 to 99 percent of local travel,” Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, said in an e-mail interview.

There has also been more emphasis nationwide on building new roads than on the maintenance and upkeep of old ones. Steve Ellis, the vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that monitors federal spending, said that might help move traffic in some places, but it left many others with the equivalent of a leaky roof.

“It would be irresponsible of me to go out to dinner if I couldn’t fix a leak in my roof,” Mr. Ellis said. “But that’s essentially what we do. We don’t take care of what we’ve got, but we talk a lot about building more and new.”

Susan Saulny reported from Minneapolis, and Jennifer Steinhauer from Los Angeles.

Highway Dept. corruption in Kentucky, steered contracts to political supporters

Link to article here.

Road contracts linked to politics
Ex-official testifies in plea bargain
By Stephenie Steitzer
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Courier-Journal

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Former state Highway Engineer Sam Beverage gave private testimony yesterday about possible legal violations regarding road contracts allegedly steered to Gov. Ernie Fletcher's political supporters, a prosecutor said.

Beverage's testimony was part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to official misconduct in connection with the investigation of the Fletcher administration's hiring practices under the state merit system.

Beverage, who originally faced a felony charge of perjury, could serve up to a year in prison, although Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland said probation is likely. Beverage will be sentenced June 29 in Franklin Circuit Court.

While Beverage's sentencing will bring the merit-system investigation to an end, it could mark the beginning of new scrutiny regarding the administration.


As part of the plea agreement, Beverage provided an hour of "open and frank discussion" about matters he was involved in at the Transportation Cabinet, Cleveland said yesterday.

He said Beverage provided a written statement and discussed, during a videotaped session, the steering of state road contracts to political supporters.

"Oh, we got information about contracts and hiring, all sorts of interesting things," Cleveland said.

Asked if Beverage's testimony indicated possible legal violations, Cleveland said, "Oh, yeah."

Beverage, who was the second-highest-ranking official in the Department of Highways, specifically mentioned Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert and Highway Commissioner Marc Williams, Cleveland said, noting, "Those names came up."

Cleveland declined to say whether Beverage's testimony directly implicated Nighbert or Williams in any potential wrongdoing.

Cleveland said he would consult with the office of Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who led the merit-system investigation, to determine which law enforcement agency should get Beverage's testimony.

"I prosecuted the case they wanted me to prosecute, and I'm finished at this point," he said.

Speaking on behalf of Nighbert and Williams, Transportation Cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan said the fact that Beverage had been charged with perjury, and then pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of official misconduct, "calls into question the person's credibility."

"I think that puts this story into a little better context," Hogan said.

Williams has been charged by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission with allegedly trying to steer a state engineering contract to a specific but unnamed firm in 2005.

If the commission finds Williams guilty, it can impose a fine of up to $5,000, issue a public reprimand and recommend that he be fired.

The commission already has settled a case against Beverage for his involvement in the same matter. Under the settlement, he admitted misconduct, was reprimanded and was fined $1,500.

Beverage has agreed to cooperate as the commission continues its investigation.

He was charged with perjury in the merit-system scandal after telling a grand jury in 2005 that politics played no part in the promotion of Highway Department employees in Eastern Kentucky.

He faced a sentence of up to five years in prison for the perjury charge.

Beverage's attorney, Burl McCoy of Lexington, said his client accepted the plea deal because it reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and allowed him to avoid an expensive trial.

Beverage was among nine state officials fired by Fletcher in September 2005, based on the governor's review of his administration's personnel practices.

The grand jury's merit-hiring investigation resulted in the indictments of 15 named individuals, including Fletcher. Fourteen other indictments were sealed.

Fletcher pardoned everyone charged in the case except himself and Beverage, whose crime had not occurred at the time the blanket pardon was issued. The charges against Fletcher were dropped in a deal with Stumbo's office.

The offices of both Fletcher and Stumbo declined to comment yesterday.

While the ethics commission did not identify the company involved in its charge against Williams, a report by the Transportation Cabinet's Office of Inspector General says it was DLZ Kentucky Inc., formerly Brighton Engineering, of Frankfort.

DLZ ultimately did not get the contract, and it has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The charge, which is pending, alleges that in March 2005 Williams indirectly tried to influence members of a cabinet selection committee in connection with a design contract for a bridge in Harrison County.

The charge says Williams violated the committee's purpose, which is "removing favoritism and outside influence" from the process of awarding contracts to engineering consulting firms.

ATLANTICA, Canada's NAFTA Corridor, draws citizen opposition

It should come as no surprise that citizens in Canada, like Texans, are galvanizing their opposition to their NAFTA supercorridor in the northeast from Nova Scotia into New York. They've figured out as we have, that it does little to benefit Canadians and has more to do with transporting cheap Chinese goods into the United States at the expense of each country's sovereignty due to the Security and Prosperity Partnership or SPP .

Groups speak against Atlantica proposal
By Robyn Young
Halifax Daily News (Nova Scotia, Canada)
June 14, 2007

Canada's largest citizen advocacy organization spoke out against Atlantica yesterday.

Maude Barlow, national chairwoman for the Council of Canada, was the main speaker at the talk at the Scotia Bank Auditorium, Dalhousie University.

She highlighted what she called the dangers of the Atlantica proposal made by the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies to integrate the Canada's East Coast with the northeastern United States.

"This scheme will give the United States greater access to Canadian resources without benefiting Canadians," she said.


Atlantica is part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which aims to create a common market between the Maritime provinces, Newfoundland, parts of Quebec, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York.

Barlow said the plan would erase border restrictions and regulations and create a huge transportation corridor to send Asian goods and energy resources to the United States.

"They're planning this Atlantic gateway megaport," she said.

If this happens, the council is concerned it could lead to highways through Nova Scotia as wide as 12 lanes across to carry the "mega" transport trucks to the U.S.

Scott Sinclair, spokesman for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, explained to the crowd gathered at Dalhousie that the implications of the Atlantica are far reaching.

The high-volume roadway would increase environmental damage in the form of emissions from massive transport trucks, said Sinclair.

"The largest vessels can carry up to 10,000 containers," he said.

Along with the environmental impact, Sinclair said Atlantica will increase energy exports from eastern Canada to the U.S. at a time when Canada's reserves of natural gas are already beginning to decline.

TxDOT fails to keep its promises, needs to be reined in

This is NOT new information to ANYONE who has been following the proliferation of toll roads in Texas or to the communities on the receiving end of them. TxDOT leaders are bullies, they're proven liars, and the Legislature had the golden opportunity to rein them in but FAILED to override the Governor's veto of HB 1892. Mark my words, it WILL come back to haunt them.

TxDOT Attacks More Communites

posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007, Texas Monthly blogsThe Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) promises many things to Texans and their elected officials, but seldom does the agency follow through on its words. For TxDOT, false promises and statements are a way of life. More communities are finding out first-hand how autocratic TxDOT has become.
In the New Braunfels area TxDOT is pushing for a loop around the town whether or not it is in the best interests of the community. Many residents there are upset by the "commando" tactics of TxDOT for its special interests. Several local homeowners are worried the newly determined route will cut through their homes and backyards.

mysanantonio.com


Another incident last May 5th at a meeting with TxDOT scheduled by Rep. Patrick Rose at the State Capitol approximately 50 Hays County Residents heard TxDOT engineers Bob Daigh and Don Nyland “whine” that TxDOT didn’t have the financial resources to resurface a “shoddy” and unprofessional job it had performed 6 months ago on FM 1826. The residents left the meeting with “a bad taste in their mouths” for TxDOT and the knowledge that the agency did not assume responsibility for the poor job and that in addition, it would not resurface the roadway any time in the near future.

oakhillgazette.com

After residents filed a formal complaint against TxDOT with the Senate Committee on Transportation as well as additional pressure applied on TxDOT by Hays and Travis County officials, the agency did a complete turnaround and stated that it would resurface FM 1826 with a hot mix material from FM 150 to Hwy 290. Residents were told that the job would be completed by the end of summer.

Currently, TxDOT again has “changed its mind” regarding scheduled repaving. According to a 6/20 letter sent by Rep. Rose, the agency has 2 additional roads needing similar work; therefore, it will request outside bids to perform the 3 jobs. FM 1826 is the primary, larger job, would begin in the Fall.

Bottom-line is that TxDOT is hard to believe and its motives generally are for special interests and not for the community good.

First one must assume that somehow, miraculously, TxDOT “found” the money to perform 3 road jobs when first it stated it hadn’t the financing to reseal FM 1826.

Secondly, it is apparent that schedules determined and made public by the agency can not be taken seriously and may be modified or completely changed at any time.

The facts show that TxDOT promises many things, but its words cannot be taken seriously by the public and elected officials, which should be noted more seriously by those who want to contract partnerships with the agency via road bonds and other ventures. How can anything TxDOT says or promises be taken seriously? Who has authorization over the agency if not legislators and the people of Texas?

Voters via legislators must stop the TxDOT autocracy. It is a shame that TxDOT cannot be trusted by community taxpayers who have paid for its creation and who must rely on it for building, maintaining and improving roadways.

Clearly, there is a trust issue. TxDOT is an agency in need of revamping and more oversight is needed by an independent committee to ensure that it operates in the best interests of the community.

To permit the ongoing behavior and "commando" actions of TxDOT is unacceptable. Currently, TxDOT is counter-productive and falsely advises the public and legislators re: the status of its financial “well-being”. Few are aware of how much tax dollars TxDOT has and the Senate Committee on Transportation should follow the paper-trail to see how the agency spends our tax dollars and monitor more closely areas of conflict and special interest motivations.

Regarding TxDOT’s motivations, at best the agency has conflicting affiliations with private industry and various questionable individuals --- even former convicted criminals, e.g., the infamous Pete Peters. Its prospective plans first must be scrutinized to ensure integrity and validity. If the agency can’t control itself, then it is the responsibility of state government --- guided by the people --- to “reign-in this wild stallion”.

Taxpayers and voters are the “bosses” of TxDOT and elected officials. It is not vice-versa, as it appears to be and how TxDOT believes it to be.

Texans deserve better!

Contact members of the Senate Committee on Transportation and ask them to investigate and revamp TxDOT for the good of the Texas community:

senate.state.tx.us

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pstern.statesmanblogs.com

The need for a law to allow Texans to recall a governor

The Need For Gubernatorial Impeachment Legislation
posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 @ Texas Monthly blog

The Need For Gubernatorial Impeachment Legislation In Texas. Why Gov. Rick "39-percent of the votes" Perry Should Teach Political Science 104: "How to Lie to Texas Voters."

From the "git-go" Gov. Rick Perry has lied to Texas voters and has pushed the legislature to approve special interest bills and actions.

Never in the history of Texas politics has a smooth-talking governor "pulled the wool over the eyes" of taxpayers and voters the way Perry has. In the last election Perry was reelected by 39 percent of the votes cast for governor and won simply because Texas law doesn’t require a run-off.

Some of Perry’s sleight of hand:

Perry provided a sample state budget filled with zero’s to help guide legislators; it took 3 tries for the lege to get the budget approved by the Comptroller


He campaigned hard state-wide to eliminate "frivolous" medical liability lawsuits

Perry "turned the other cheek" when the home insurance industry doubled premiums overnight; months later he and the Tx Dept. of Insurance promised to return a piddly 10 percent back to customers — that never happened and the premiums remain doubled and the highest in the nation

He wanted to finance public education by charging taxes at Gentlemen Clubs — that didn’t catch on even with his party

Perry cut various vital social services including children’s health care and one year later returned some of those dollars, all the while crusading that he had championed and financed those needed programs and services

Perry stepped away from the limelight to let D.C. Congressman Tom "the Hammer" DeLay into the state capitol to brandish the sword for redistricting

Perry promised to provide relief to homeowners for 6 years of astronomical property taxes, crusaded for a 13-percent reduction after three years — after which property taxes rose again and canceled out the relief promised

The governor crusaded to deregulate higher education tuition after which UT and other institutions raised costs 3 different times

Perry pushed to deregulate electric companies after which many increased their rates to customers

Perry accepted special interest money and perks, e.g., trips to the Caribbean, which influenced his decision-making

Perry touts he created thousands of new jobs, but the truth remains that millions of Texans are without work

The governor used his Executive Authority to force sixth grade girls to receive vaccinations against cervical cancer even though doing so won’t necessarily prevent the disease — the serum manufacturer is Merck, a large contributor to Perry’s campaign.

All in all Gov. Perry has been pro his special interest campaign contributors and against Texans and their families. Seldom are the actions of the governor in the best interests of the Texas community at-large.

Currently Texas law does NOT permit voters to impeach the governor. The people must pressure the legislature to provide the legislative means to do so to ensure that the interests of the Texas community prevails against special interest unethical gubernatorial behavior and actions. The legislation is needed to protect Texans from scoundrels like Rick Perry.

Businessweek: Peak oil looming, means catastrophe for U.S. economy

JUNE 25, 2007

IDEAS -- OUTSIDE SHOT
By Eugene Linden
Businessweek
From Peak Oil To Dark Age?
Oil output has stalled, and it's not clear the capacity exists to raise production

With global oil production virtually stalled in recent years, controversial predictions that the world is fast approaching maximum petroleum output are looking a bit less controversial. At first blush, those concerned about global warming should be delighted. After all, what better way to prod the move toward carbon-free, climate-friendly alternative energy?

But climate change activists have nothing to cheer about. The U.S. is completely unprepared for peak oil, as it's called, and the wrenching adjustments it would entail could easily accelerate global warming as nations turn to coal (see BusinessWeek.com, 4/19/07, "Rx for Earth: Sooner Not Later"). Moreover, regardless of the implications for climate change, peak oil represents a mortal threat to the U.S. economy.


Peak oil refers to the point at which world oil production plateaus before beginning to decline as depletion of the world's remaining reserves offsets ever-increased drilling. Some experts argue that we're already there, and that we won't exceed by much the daily production high of 84.5 million barrels first reached in 2005. If so, global production will bump along near these levels for years before beginning an inexorable decline.

What would that mean? Alternatives are still a decade away from meeting incremental demand for oil. With nothing to fill the gap, global economic growth would slow, stop, and then reverse; international tensions would soar as nations seek access to diminishing supplies, enriching autocratic rulers in unstable oil states; and, unless other sources of energy could be ramped up with extreme haste, the world could plunge into a new Dark Age. Even as faltering economies burned less oil, carbon loading of the atmosphere might accelerate as countries turn to vastly dirtier coal.

GIVEN SUCH UNPLEASANT possibilities, you'd think peak oil would be a national obsession. But policymakers can hide behind the possibility that vast troves will be available from unconventional sources, or that secretive oil-exporting nations really have the huge reserves they claim. Yet even if those who say that the peak has arrived are wrong, enough disturbing omens—for example, declining production in most of the world's great oil fields and no new superfields to take up the slack—exist for the issue to merit an intense international focus.

The reality is that it will be here much sooner for the U.S.—in the form of peak oil exports. Since we import nearly two-thirds of the oil we consume, global oil available for export should be our bigger concern. Fast-growing domestic consumption in oil-exporting nations and increasing appetites by big importers such as China portend tighter supplies available to the U.S., unless world production rises rapidly. But output has stalled. Call it de facto peak oil or peak oil lite. It means the U.S. is entering an age when it will have to scramble to maintain existing import levels.

We will know soon enough whether the capacity to raise production really exists. If not, basic math and the clock tell the story. All alternatives—geothermal, solar, wind, etc.—produce only 3% of the energy supplied by oil. If oil demand rises by 2% while output remains flat, generation of alternative energy would have to expand 60% a year. That's more than twice the rate of wind power, the fastest-growing alternative energy. And all this incremental energy would somehow have to be delivered to transportation (which consumes most of the oil produced each year) just to stay even with the growth in demand.

Nuclear and hydropower together produce 10 times the power of wind, geothermal, and solar power. But even if nations ignore environmental concerns, it takes years to build nuclear plants or even identify suitable undammed rivers.

There are many things we in the U.S. can do (and should have been doing) other than the present policy of crossing our fingers. If an oil tax makes sense from a climate change perspective, it seems doubly worthy if it extends supplies. Boosting efficiency and scaling up alternatives must also be a priority. And, recognizing that nations will turn to cheap coal (recently, 80% of growth in coal use has come from China), more work is needed to defang this fuel, which produces more carbon dioxide per ton than any other energy source.

Even if the peakists are wrong, we would still be better off taking these actions. And if they're right, major efforts right now may be the only way to avert a new Dark Age in an overheated world.

Views expressed in Outside Shot are solely those of contributors.

Williamson’s spin on SB 792: “The moratorium doesn’t affect TTC-35"

Get the impression TxDOT is just begging for a lawsuit or for the Legislature to stop them from continuing work on the Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35? The legislative intent was clear...it was to halt the TTC pending further study. The people of Texas are in an ALL OUT WAR against this Governor and his minions at TxDOT who are really a front for Cintra.

Toll boss clarifies moratorium
By Pat Driscoll
Express-News
June 27, 2007
A construction contract for a Trans-Texas Corridor toll road from Austin to Dallas could be ready within two years, and a new moratorium law wouldn't stop it, state officials said today.

SB 792 bans leasing of many new toll projects for two years, the state's preferred way to finance its border-to-border TTC network, but the restriction does not apply to TCC plans along Interstate 35, said Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson.

RIC WILLIAMSON1.jpg
Ric Williamson
That's because a TTC-35 development contract signed in 2005 covers upcoming construction contracts, he said. And that means those projects can be built using otherwise prohibited concession agreements, which raise upfront cash in return for letting companies collect tolls for up to 50 years.

"The moratorium doesn't affect TTC-35," Williamson said. "I don't know what else to say."

State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, got an assurance read into the House record for SB 792 last month that says no construction of TTC-35 projects, except for Loop 9 around Dallas-Fort Worth, would start over the next two years.

Gov. Rick Perry's office told her that work couldn't start within two years anyway because environmental studies won't be finished.

But today, in a conference call Williamson and other officials held with reporters, Texas Department of Transportation Assistant Director Amadeo Saenz said otherwise.

A big-picture environmental study for TTC-35 could get federal clearance this summer and the first second-phase studies to determine specific alignments could be finished in a year or year and a half, Saenz said.

TxDOT announced two weeks ago that they're ready to pursue 87 toll projects statewide, including three four-lane TTC-35 tollways — one from I-35 south of San Antonio to I-10 near Seguin, a segment from Austin to Dallas and another from Dallas to Oklahoma.

Williamson said today that a construction contract could be ready within two years for the toll-road from Austin to Dallas.

But that doesn't mean the state will sign the contract right away, he said, not without giving lawmakers a chance to weigh in at the 2009 legislative session, when TxDOT itself and the ability to enter into concessions come up for sunset reviews.

"We'll be very judicious about that kind of stuff," he said.

Dallas toll agency grabs 121 toll road from Cintra!

Link to article here.

Another multi-billion dollar deal dies for Cintra. They're not faring too well in Texas...let's keep it that way!

Dallas agency wins toll road
By Pat Driscoll
Express-News
June 28, 2007

The Texas Transportation Commission voted 4-1 today to let a local agency develop the Texas 121 tollway in North Texas rather than give it to Cintra of Spain for 50 years

Chairman Ric Williamson said it was the board's first split vote.

But board member Ted Hougton didn't cast the dissenting vote because he was opposed to letting the North Texas Tollway Authority finance and operate Texas 121.

He's not happy because the order as written excludes the Texas Department of Transportation from helping the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council negotiate a contract with NTTA.

"This is part of the state highway system and I don't think we can abdicate our responsibility," Houghton said. "We have a role in that negotiation."

Williamson said TxDOT's reputation has been dragged through the mud enough over the issue in the past couple of years. State officials can watch negotiations, he said, and steer locals away from illegal rabbit holes, but that's it.

"There is absolutely no benefit to our inserting our staff in this process to be once again blamed," he said. "If we are in the negotiations it will inevitably fail."

Williamson and Houghton did agree on something, and that was grousing about having to go through another dog and pony show over who develops Texas 121. Williamson said this is the third time around, and a contract with Cintra has been sitting for months ready to be signed.

"Talk is cheap," the chairman said.

SB 792 from the last legislative session opened the latest round by invalidating a year-old protocol in which NTTA agreed not to bid on the project. Now the agency has made a bid, and the region's transportation council recently voted 27-10 to accept the offer.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent a letter to Williamson to make sure he got the message.

"Local control was the legislative directive embedded in SB 792, and I feel this is the proper way to proceed with current and future transportation projects," the letter says.

NTTA proposed paying more than Cintra in up-front cash, to be used for other area projects. But the agency also takes on the risk of traffic being lower than expected, which could mean higher tolls on its other roads.

Now NTTA has 60 days to hammer out an agreement with the transportation council and 45 days after that to come up with the money. If officials can't do that, then TxDOT can sign with Cintra.

Public tolling agency knocks out Cintra on 121 deal

Link to article here.

I wouldn't exactly get giddy over this, but it's a MAJOR step in the right direction. Senator Florence Shapiro fought to give public tolling entities (versus private, foreign companies like Cintra) the first dibs on toll projects, but the problem is, now they're using up front concession fees (as was added last minute without public debate to the Governor's private toll moratorium compromise bill, SB 792, allowing public agencies to use this sort of market based tolling on PUBLIC projects, just like the private companies would) which translates into the HIGHEST POSSIBLE TOLLS.

Market based tolls mean the poor chaps using the toll road will be funding the rest of the region's roads since now the users will be paying tolls high enough to cover the concession fees (a sum of money determined by a "third party" appraiser who decides how much the road is worth on Wall Street and how much money they can get away with charging) and not just the actual cost of building the road and retiring the debt. The concession fees, the money over and above the cost of building the road, will then go to fund the rest of the region's road projects at the expense of the users of a single highway while everyone also continues to pay the gas tax for roads!

What NO ONE is reporting or talking about is the fact that 16 miles of this 26 miles project is already BUILT AND PAID FOR with GAS TAXES and DOESN'T NEED TO BE TOLLED! This is why they're calling 121 the "crown jewel" of toll projects. It's so lucrative because all but 10 miles is PAID FOR. They're going to reap about $100 billion in new toll taxes over the next 40-50 years simply to build one 10 mile stretch of road!

NTTA gets OK for 121 toll project
State board must still approve deal

11:01 AM CDT on Tuesday, June 19, 2007

By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER and JAKE BATSELL
/ The Dallas Morning News

The North Texas Tollway Authority won the strong support Monday of local officials charged with deciding who will build the lucrative but controversial State Highway 121 project.

The Regional Transportation Council voted 27-10 to recommend that the state reverse course and award the contract to the tollway authority – and not to the Spanish construction firm Cintra.

The decision marks a reversal from last winter when the Texas Department of Transportation had tentatively awarded the contract to Cintra, which had beat two other private bidders with a promise to pay the state government nearly $3 billion for the right to collect tolls on the 26-mile road for the next 50 years.

"It's probably been the toughest decision that I've had to make in the 10 years I have been on this committee," Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said just before casting his vote for NTTA.

Mr. Whitley said the authority's bid promised even more up-front money to the state than Cintra.

"If we go with Cintra, we do leave money on the table," he said. "We leave money on the table up front, we leave it on the table in the payments over the 50 years. ... So, sure it is a risk, but this the crown jewel of toll projects in the state, and maybe even in the country."

The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to render a final decision on the project at its June 28 meeting in Austin.

Over the last two weeks, Cintra had tried again and again to underscore the risks it said were inherent in the NTTA bid. The authority offered more money up front, Cintra said, but it did so at a risk of increased toll rates in the future if traffic volume forecasts are not met.

Many of those casting the 10 votes in favor of Cintra seized on those arguments, and on analyses by the Texas Department of Transportation and global accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers that reached similar conclusions.

"We cannot gamble on this," Denton County Commissioner Cynthia White said. "We have to go with what is a for-sure deal. Cintra comes out ahead against NTTA, and that is the cold hard facts. Theirs is the only proposal that guarantees a [financial] return to the region at the end of the contract."

NTTA chairman Paul Wageman had countered earlier in the day, however, that council members should go with the bid by the entity they know best, and with the project that paid the biggest amount of money up front.

"In the end, I think it was that our proposal was a superior financial deal, and because of our track record in this region," a smiling Mr. Wageman said after the vote.

Jose Lopez, the president of Cintra's North American operations, said the bidding process was fair. But he said his company's proposal was clearly better.

"We will just have to wait and see what the TxDOT commissioners have to say, since they are the ones that have the final say," Mr. Lopez said. "We respect the decision by the RTC, but we still are certain that our proposal was better, way better, for the region."

The Texas Transportation Commission's five members, all appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, are not bound by Monday's vote.

That worries state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who attended Monday's vote.

Ms. Shapiro noted that the two Transportation Department's representatives on the Regional Transportation Council voted in favor of Cintra's bid. Last week, TxDOT's chief financial officer said his department would recommend Cintra for the contract – if commission members asked for an opinion.

"That's probably pretty indicative of what they're going to do on the 28th," Ms. Shapiro said. "I am very concerned about it and intend to be there to listen and to watch and to see how it's handled.

"The commitment that ... [Texas Transportation Commission members] made – and I heard it with my own ears – was that whatever the region decided was what they would move forward with. This was overwhelming, 27-10, and I think that is a very strong message to take to TxDOT."

Bill Hale, one of two TxDOT employees on the council, said he expects Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson to give great weight to Monday's vote.

"That's what he has said in the past they intend to do," said Mr. Hale, the top engineer on TxDOT's Dallas-area staff.

Mr. Hale, who voted in favor of awarding the contract to Cintra, said he will now support NTTA's involvement in the project.

Ms. Shapiro's concern reflects the mood of many state lawmakers.

The transportation commission gave Cintra preliminary approval for the Highway 121 contract in February. Immediately, lawmakers reacted angrily to the prospect of signing a lease with a foreign company to operate toll roads that will span generations. And they quickly pressured the RTC to invite the NTTA to submit a bid, paving the way for a rival to Cintra.

"It is exactly what I had hoped would happen," Ms. Shapiro said. "We gave them the opportunity today, but they had to perform and they had to produce. And they did."

Fort Worth City Council member Wendy Davis said that if the contract ends up with NTTA, North Texas may lose out on private investment in the future.

"What we are going to do today is not just going to impact our decision on Highway 121, but I can assure you that it will impact our ability to attract private businesses in the future," she said. "If I was Cintra, I would learn a valuable lesson. And that lesson is that no matter how many steps are put in place to make sure the process is fair, the deck is going to be dealt in such a way that favors" a public entity such as NTTA.

Still, Richardson City Council member John Murphy, who voted for NTTA, encouraged his colleagues to feel good about the vote, no matter which side they favored.

"This is about the future and the future has changed for us," Mr. Murphy said. "Not long ago we were at a point where we were saying, 'Oh my gosh, where are we going to get the money to build roads?' Now, we're saying instead, 'Show us the money.' "

More on the battle over 121 here.

Feature: Giuliani tie to Trans Texas Corridor

An article in this month's issue of Manufacturing News tells of Giuliani's ties to Cintra and Macquarie (partners and two of the largest, most expensive toll companies in the world), and, hence, his connection to the Trans Texas Corridor. We've been shouting this from the rooftops and now it's starting to get traction.

Link to view the PDF of the front page story here.