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Press Releases

Press Releases for the TURF organization are broken down by region. Click on the region of interest below.

Media inquiries
Contacts: Terri Hall - (210) 275-0640 or Hank Gilbert - (903) 871-2424

TURF COURT HEARING: AG admits more taxpayer money to be spent on ad campaign

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
TxDOT attorney admits ad campaign is ongoing
 
Austin, TX, December 20, 2007 – Today in Travis County District Court, Judge Orlinda Naranjo did not sustain TxDOT’s objection to the requested material’s merits to the case, but ruled TURF’s document request was worded too broadly and needs to be resubmitted as part of the discovery phase of TURF's lawsuit against TxDOT for illegal lobbying and use of taxpayer money to sell the public on toll roads.

“After tweaking the wording of the request a bit, we’ll be back in business. The Judge clearly agreed we have a right to get access to this information. She wanted to be sure we weren’t buried in piles of irrelevant documents,” notes a positive Terri Hall, Founder of TURF.

The court also granted TURF another 30 days to give them time to reword the document request and to depose witnesses based on the information discovered.

The most significant admission from the State was that the Keep Texas Moving ad campaign does have multiple phases (as the documents we presented to the court show that the State tried to deny), and that TxDOT is obligated to hand over any new documents related to any current lobbying or that relate to spending public money to promote toll roads.

“That’s HUGE! We went from a sworn affidavit saying the ad campaign is over therefore the case is moot, to an admission the campaign has multiple phases and is ongoing. We believe TxDOT is in the midst of rolling out Phase II or III of the Keep Texas Moving campaign since the public hearings for Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) 69 project start in February and are the target for the next phase of the campaign. The State admitted it MUST turn over any current information related to these allegations. It keeps the case alive and means we have a real shot at stopping the use of taxpayer money to promote the TTC!” Hall predicts.

The Attorney General Counsel representing TxDOT, Kristina Silcocks, tried to attack the merits of the case once again stating there is no ongoing lobbying of Congress and argued the Forward Momentum report sent to Congress in January that asks for legislation to allow them to buy back and toll existing interstates is in the past and cannot be explored in this lawsuit.

“Once again, TxDOT is wrong. An appropriations bill before the President RIGHT NOW includes an amendment PROHIBITING TxDOT from buying back interstates. There is CURRENT legislation pending as a direct result of TxDOT’s lobbying (in this case, as a backlash to TxDOT’s lobbying efforts). So for the State to tell the court TxDOT isn’t currently engaged in efforts to effect the outcome of legislation or support for toll roads, they’re quite mistaken,” notes Hall.

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum as well as the Texas Legislature when it tried to defeat HB 1892, a private equity toll moratorium bill.

October 18, 2007, Judge Naranjo granted TURF a 90 day continuance and allowed them to move to discovery and take depositions. On Monday, September 24, Judge Naranjo did not grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.
 
“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says Hall.
 
Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad (scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding to prevent any further lobbying or expenditure of public funds to promote toll roads.

To read about TURF’s victory in court October 18 and to read TURF’s amended petition and supplemental affidavits go here. (Scroll to the bottom for links to the petition and affidavits)
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Hearing to compel TxDOT to hand over documents regarding illegal lobbying

PRESS ADVISORY

TURF court hearing to compel TxDOT to hand over documents regarding illegal lobbying
TxDOT stalled document inspection by two weeks then left out half of the documents; TxDOT fights to keep Chair Ric Williamson from being deposed under oath

In Travis County District Court before Judge Orlinda Naranjo on Thursday, December 20, 2007, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) will ask the Judge to compel the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to hand over documents regarding its involvement in lobbying the U.S. Congress, the Texas Legislature, and other local elected officials.

WHO: Texas taxpayers through TURF
WHAT: Lawsuit seeking injunction to halt TxDOT’s taxpayer-funded illegal ad campaign & lobbying activities
WHEN: Thursday, December 20, 2007@ 2 PM
WHERE: Travis County District Court before Judge Orlinda Naranjo, 1000 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas
HOW: The press needs to register request for cameras in the courtroom in advance through the court clerk. Contact Warren Vavra at (512) 854-9093 for more information. A pool camera has been allowed in previous hearings.

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum as well as the Texas Legislature when it tried to defeat HB 1892, a private equity toll moratorium bill.

October 18, 2007, Judge Naranjo granted TURF a 90 day continuance and allowed them to move to discovery and take depositions (http://texasturf.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=262&Itemid=26). On Monday, September 24, Judge Naranjo did not grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad (scroll down to "continuing maintenance"), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

To read about TURF’s victory in court October 18 and to read TURF’s amended petition and supplemental affidavits go here.. (Scroll to the bottom for links to the petition and affidavits)
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Oil price hits 1980 high, toll roads no longer financially viable

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oil price hits 1980 high, toll roads no longer financially viable

TURF will work to NIX toll roads from State’s plans


San Antonio, TX, November 1, 2007 – Oil prices have soared to new highs closing at $96 a barrel yesterday, which will not only wreak havoc on the global economy, but also could signal the end to the push for toll roads. According to Vollmer Associates in a toll feasibility study for two tollways in Austin (read about it here), once oil hits the price equivalent to the crisis of 1980, the toll roads studied are no longer financially viable. The Associated Press article says $96 a barrel is on par with the oil crisis of 1980. TOLL ROADS ARE NO LONGER FINANCIALLY DO-ABLE! Not enough motorists will be able to afford to use toll roads with gas prices at or over $3 a gallon with no end in sight.

“We’ve been sounding this alarm for years, and now the reality of ghastly expensive oil is setting in for the long haul. It’s time to pull the plug on toll roads. Motorists are feeling the squeeze at the pump and there won’t be enough extra in the family budget to pay for tolls all over Texas freeways,” notes Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (or TURF).

“Continuing the push for new toll taxes is not only foolish but certain to bring financial disaster to the State and hence the taxpayers who will have to bail out these failed toll roads which will likely bankrupt the next generation. There won’t be enough political cover if politicians allow this to happen,” Hall warns.

“Politicians have tried their best to create a congestion crisis, but the Federal Highway Administration’s statistics show that traffic has not grown since 2005 despite increases in population. Driving stats have been flat since the steady rise in the price of gasoline started in 2005. So once again, taxpayers have been misled, but the jig is up and it’s time for real leadership in order to bring other transportation solutions to the table. Simply continuing down the path of "maxing out" the proverbial bond debt credit card with taxpayers as collateral is dangerous. Toll roads are both a political and financial LOSER,” comments Hall.

Link to AP story on oil prices topping $96 a barrel here .

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TURF prevails, lawsuit moves forward, allows depositions of TxDOT’s top brass

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 

TURF prevails as Judge grants continuance, allows discovery
TURF attorneys may depose top TxDOT officials

Austin, TX – Thursday, October 18, 2007 - In Travis County District Court today, Judge Orlinda Naranjo granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to move to the discovery phase and depose top Transportation Department (TxDOT) officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself. Allowing discovery is vital for TURF to force TxDOT to hand over key documents that they’ve been withholding via Open Records requests. TURF is seeking to immediately halt the illegal advertising campaign and lobbying by TxDOT (read petition here).

The State was attempting to throw us out of court with their favorite “get out of jail free” card (called the plea to the jurisdiction), but TURF’s attorneys, Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins outmaneuvered Attorney General counsel Kristina Silcocks to file a motion for a continuance to allow TURF to move to the discovery phase to gather evidence to show TxDOT’s top brass broke the law with the Keep Texas Moving (KTM) ad campaign and lobbying Congress to buyback interstates.

“This is a great victory for Texas taxpayers!” an elated Terri Hall, TURF’s Founder and Executive Director proclaimed. “This egregious misuse of $9 million of taxpayer money by a rogue government agency is one MAJOR step closer to being stopped.”

The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase (read it here) through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.

With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.

“I wonder what TxDOT’s top brass is saying tonight as they’re being informed they’ve now been added as defendants and may be deposed under oath about their lobbying and ad campaign activities,” pondered Hall. “My guess is the phones are ringing and the paper shredders may just get fired-up."

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.

On Monday, September 24, Judge Naranjo did not initially grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad, scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

Amended petition

Motion for continuance

Request for production

Supplemental affidavit

Response to plea to the jurisdiction

-30-
The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase (read it here) through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.

With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.

“I wonder what TxDOT’s top brass is saying tonight as they’re being informed they’ve now been added as defendants and may be deposed under oath about their lobbying and ad campaign activities,” pondered Hall. “My guess is the phones are ringing and the paper shredders may just get fired-up."

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.

On Monday, September 24, Judge Naranjo did not initially grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad, scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

Updates to TURF’s petition and supplemental affidavits will be posted soon.

Contact info for TURF's attorneys:
Charlie Riley - 210-225-7236
David Van Os - 210-821-1700
Andrew Hawkins - 512-477-2320
David Rogers - 512-301-4097


-30-

Plea to jurisdiction hearing on lawsuit to stop TxDOT lobbying

PRESS ADVISORY

TURF to present NEW evidence 


at today's hearing for lawsuit to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying


In Travis County District Court before Judge Orlinda Naranjo on Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 2 PM, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) has asked for a motion to reconsider the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to immediately halt the illegal advertising and lobbying by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) contained in the original petition (see it here) in light of NEW EVIDENCE obtained through the Public Information Act.

An August 13, 2007 memorandum (see it here) by Defendant Coby Chase confirms that TxDOT intends to spend public money for the political purpose of influencing upcoming public hearings for Trans Texas Corridor 69, and that the Keep Texas Moving campaign will continue into 2008.

TURF's attorneys Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins have also asked for a continuance of the hearing for today’s scheduled plea to the jurisdiction since TxDOT has failed and refused to provide all documents responsive to Plaintiff’s Public Information Act Request, thus preventing the opportunity to conduct written discovery and depositions.

WHO: Texas taxpayers through TURF
WHAT: Lawsuit seeking injunction to halt TxDOT’s taxpayer-funded illegal ad campaign & lobbying activities
WHEN: Thursday, October 18, 2007@ 2 PM
WHERE: Travis County District Court before Judge Orlinda Naranjo, 1000 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas
HOW: The press needs to register request for cameras in the courtroom in advance through the court clerk. Contact Warren Vavra at (512) 854-9093 for more information.

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.
TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.

On Monday, September 24, Judge Orlinda Naranjo did not grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad (http://www.keeptexasmoving.com/index.php/stay_informed, scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here . The petition before the court today seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

Updates to TURF’s petition and supplemental affidavits will be posted soon.
-30-

On Monday, September 24, Judge Orlinda Naranjo did not grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.
 
“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.
 
Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad (scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here.) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.
-30-

No restraining order, but case to STOP TxDOT's lobbying moves forward

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

No restraining order issued

Hearing on injunction still to come


Monday, September 24, 2007 – In Travis County District Court today, Judge Orlinda Naranjo did not grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) to immediately halt the Texas Department of Transportation’s Keep Texas Moving ad campaign. TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). TURF and its Founder Terri Hall, sought a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to stop its political advertising and lobbying, but the burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

The defendants counsel in the Attorney General’s office, Kristina Silcocks, presented no evidence and was unprepared to argue potential damages to the State if a TRO was granted. Judge Naranjo seemed incredulous at such a shoddy case, but not incredulous enough to grant the TRO.

“The citizens will fight on. TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT has its own special law that may allow them to get away with such a blatant conflict of interest,” says an incredulous Hall.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad (scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here.) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

The next step is a hearing on the State’s plea to the jurisdiction, likely to happen next week. Then if TURF gets past that hurdle, a hearing for the injunction will be set.

TURF will keep the press advised as to the next hearing date.

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Hearing for lawsuit to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying Monday!

PRESS ADVISORY
 

Hearing for lawsuit to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying Monday!


In Travis County District Court Monday, September 24, 2007, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) will have their petition heard before Judge Orlinda Naranjo for a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to immediately halt its illegal lobbying and taxpayer funded toll road campaign.

 
WHO: Texas taxpayers through TURF

WHAT: Lawsuit seeking Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Injunction to halt TxDOT’s taxpayer-funded illegal lobbying activities

WHEN: Monday, September 24, 2007 @ 10 AM

WHERE: Travis County District Court before Judge Orlinda Naranjo, 1000 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas 78701
 
This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here http://texasturf.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=178&Itemid=26. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

View petition and affidavits:

http://texasturf.org/images/stories/pdf/POP-and-App-for-TRO.pdf

http://texasturf.org/images/stories/pdf/Affidavit-PR-injunction3-1.pdf

http://texasturf.org/images/stories/pdf/Barkeraffidavit2.pdf


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Lawsuit to stop TxDOT's illegal ad campaign on path to fast track appeal

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lawsuit to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying postponed to Monday!

State objected to judge, will attempt to throw it in an appeals court black hole
Thursday, September 20, 2007 – In Travis County District Court today,TURF Founder Terri Hall, filed a petition for a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to immediately halt its illegal taxpayer funded, toll road campaign. Judges from all over the state are at a conference in Galveston, TX so a visiting judge, Bill Bender, was assigned the case. The lawyer with the Attorney General’s office, Kristina Silcox, representing individuals employed by TxDOT who are named in the suit, objected to the judge, and having no available replacement, the hearing for a temporary restraining order was postponed until Monday.

Judge Bender was apparently unacceptable to the State since he resides in Seguin, which happens to be in the path of the Trans Texas Corridor.

“TxDOT didn’t want this case heard before a judge whose community is deeply affected by the Trans Texas Corridor,” thinks Hall. "Every day this case isn't heard is another day TxDOT illegally spends taxpayer money on a toll road ad campaign."

Silcox also entered a plea to the jurisdiction, which is the State’s new playbook to force a strong case into an appeals court abyss (as they did with a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Planning Organizations filed in October of 2005 and is still stuck in an appeals court black hole: read about it here.). The State’s argument will not hold up but it won’t matter. The code, changed in 2005, allows the State to dump any good case it stands to lose by doing a fast track appeal as soon as they lose a motion and BEFORE the case is EVER heard! If they win the motion, the case is dismissed. Either way, they’ll call it a win.

“Not so fast,” says Hall. “These fast track appeals are the State's get out of jail free card and resemble the State's fast track eminent domain that forcibly removes landowners in 90 days. We knew they’d try this and we’ll combat it so that this case is heard and TxDOT is FORCED to comply with the LAW! I thought we are a nation governed by the rule of law, but since Governor Perry took office and started promoting his toll road schemes, he and his transportation commission rule more like an oligarchy. Even with a stacked deck, the people of Texas seek justice and will fight on.”

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have openly indicated TxDOT’s intention to directly lobby the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs.

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here . Today’s petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

“Between TxDOT’s PR campaign, report to Congress asking that all limitations on tolling be lifted including buying back existing interstates, and Chairman Ric Williamson's recent trip to D.C. lobbying for the same, it's clear they've not only crossed the line into illegal lobbying, but they leaped over it,” says Hall.

TxDOT’s report to Congress, Forward Momentum, ignited a category 5 blowback that prompted Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Representatives Charlie Gonzalez,and Ciro Rodriguez to file legislation (S 2019 and HR 3510) to halt the tolling of existing interstates and to prohibit TxDOT from buying back interstates for the purpose of tolling them (read more here). TxDOT’s actions also prompted Rep. Rodriguez to call for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on converting interstates to tollways and on TxDOT's ad campaign (read more here.).

View petition and affidavits:
Petition
Terri Hall's affidavit
Bill Barker's affidavit
-30-

TURF Founder files lawsuit to STOP TxDOT's ILLEGAL ad campaign


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lawsuit filed to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying
TURF Founder seeks temporary restraining order to halt public relations campaign

Thursday, September 20, 2007 – TURF Founder Terri Hall has filed a petition for a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in Travis County District Court and the case is scheduled to come before visiting Judge Bill Bender at 3 PM.

The petition also seeks injunctive relief, including Temporary Restraining Order against Steven E. Simmons, P.E. Individually and as Interim Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation and Coby Chase, Individually and as Director of the Texas Department of Transportation Government and Public Affairs Division.

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have openly indicated TxDOT’s intention to directly lobby the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs.

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here . Today’s petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

“Between TxDOT’s PR campaign, report to Congress asking that all limitations on tolling be lifted including buying back existing interstates, and Chairman Ric Williamson's recent trip to D.C. lobbying for the same, it's clear they've not only crossed the line into illegal lobbying, but they leaped over it,” says Hall.

TxDOT’s report to Congress, Forward Momentum, ignited a category 5 blowback that prompted Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Representatives Charlie Gonzalez,and Ciro Rodriguez to file legislation (S 2019 and HR 3510) to halt the tolling of existing interstates and to prohibit TxDOT from buying back interstates for the purpose of tolling them (read more here). TxDOT’s actions also prompted Rep. Rodriguez to call for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on converting interstates to tollways and on TxDOT's ad campaign (read more here.).

The report and ad campaign have been the topic of many editorials across Texas, including the Houston Chronicle (read more here.) and Express-News, and even TV newsrooms are weighing in with the General Manager of KSAT 12 TV in San Antonio giving a scathing review of the ad campaign (read more here.).

“The citizens of Texas are fed-up with TxDOT’s blatant disregard for the public's disdain of toll roads and their infinite attempts to cram toll roads down our throats using TAXPAYER MONEY to do it! It’s high time someone puts a stop to it!” Hall admonished.


View petition and affidavits:
Petition
Terri Hall's affidavit
Bill Barker's affidavit
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Hutchison amendment progress, but won’t stop the trainwreck just yet

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hutchison amendment progress, but won’t stop Texas toll proliferation
Citizens say step in the right direction, but a long way yet to go

San Antonio, TX, September 13, 2007 - We applaud Senator Hutchison for attempting to begin the long process of reining-in not just our rogue state agency, TxDOT, but also many of her colleagues who claim banning managed lane projects (adding new toll lanes to existing corridors to "manage" congestion, which is also a DOUBLE TAX) was a non-starter.

This amendment does little overall to stop any current toll projects in the works throughout Texas. The State can still bulldoze our existing interstates to its heart's content and re-arrange the pavement to make way for toll lanes down the middle. They call them "new lanes" but they're using our existing right of way already paid for with gas taxes. So it's still a DOUBLE TAX. The State can also continue to toll existing STATE highways, all or in part, unabated.

Consider TxDOT's tricks to replace "existing lanes" with frontage roads or to narrow the width of the existing lanes (after they destroy them, then re-build them, taking twice the construction time as a freeway at more than double the cost), it will slow down or manipulate traffic in such a way as to maximize the number of people on the tollway (or steal the entire existing freeway making second class citizens out of those who cannot afford tolls by relegating them to frontage roads).

“So it begs the question, if politicians fell all over themselves to be the first to repudiate tolling existing interstates (like Texas State Senator John Carona, State Representative Lois Kolkhorst, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, San Antonio Councilwoman Sheila McNeil), then why won’t they stop TxDOT and the tolling entities from tolling our existing STATE highways?” asks a frustrated Terri Hall, Founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF).

“The people of Texas are tired of tough talk and no action. They’re tired of politicians playing games with the plain meaning of words. TxDOT is tolling EXISTING STATE HIGHWAYS and rights of way, which is no different than tolling existing interstates, which they claim to object to. So why don’t we stop the tomfoolery and end this. If they want to build toll roads, make them completely NEW roads, but stop tolling our existing corridors (whether federal or state highways),” Hall challenges.

“So this amendment is a start, but doesn't come close to addressing the fundamental concerns of taxpayers outraged by what’s happening in this state,” notes Hall.

When the Texas A&M Study says we don't need toll roads, it's confounding that some politicians still march ahead over the people's objections.

“This battle is far from over and Senator Hutchison vows to continue to fight this DOUBLE TAXATION in its many forms. We surely hope so!” said Hall.
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Citizens call for immediate resignations of TxDOT's top brass

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lawmakers call for TxDOT to cease using taxpayer money to lobby for toll roads

Citizens call for immediate resignations of TxDOT leadership

San Antonio, TX, Tuesday, September 4, 2007 – Several Texas lawmakers, Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, and State Representatives Joe Farias, David Leibowitz, Nathan Macias and concerned citizens stood shoulder to shoulder to call for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to cease and desist from using taxpayer money to lobby for toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor. The citizens went a step further and called for the immediate resignations of TxDOT's top brass. Both also called for TxDOT to immediately install the original gas tax funded improvement plan for U.S. Highway 281 and drop all plans to convert that existing state highway into a toll road.

“TxDOT should begin (improving its relations with the public) by installing the overpasses and improvements at an estimated cost of $100 million and already paid for by our gas taxes instead building the hugely intrusive $400 million toll plan for US 281 at four times the cost (and double the number of lanes),” demanded Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who also sits on the San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Adkisson listed other failures in transportation policy, including the failure to index the gas tax, accelerate other modes of transportation, implement creative solutions like contraflow, repair Texas being a donor state giving away more of our gas taxes than we get back despite being asked to bear the burden of NAFTA related traffic, and illegal lobbying (Texas Government Code Chapter 556) by TxDOT.



Representative Nathan Macias (R- Dist 73) also insisted TxDOT install the gas tax improvement plan for US 281 saying it is DOUBLE TAXATION to toll an existing highway and noted that the highway department was cherry-picking, “There’s money in them thar hills, and TxDOT is comin’ after it.” He also pointed out that every major artery used by his constituents in the Texas Hill Country is slated to become a toll corridor including, I-35, US 281, I-10, and SH 16. Macias sits on the House Transportation Committee and led the charge AGAINST SB 792 which allows the highest possible tolls. He challenged TxDOT's cost escalation for the 281 and 1604 projects that have doubled and even quadrupled in some estimates. "The math just doesn't add up."

Representative Joe Farias (D-Dist 118) told how he introduced an amendment to put Loop 1604 and US 281 under the two-year private toll moratorium, SB 792, but explained how the Senate stripped it out. He’s gravely concerned with the economic impact to his constituents who struggle to put gas in their cars much less pay tolls, too. Farias has been threatened by a highway lobbyist for introducing that amendment.

Representative David Leibowitz, (D-Dist. 117), who also sits on the San Antonio MPO, called for the board to pass a resolution to stop TxDOT from illegally spending taxpayer money to push tolls and is also asking the Attorney General for an opinion to aid in that effort.

“I have never voted for a single toll road bill in my time in the Texas House,” shared Leibowitz as he described how he expressly placed 1604 under the moratorium through legislative intent in the House journal and now he finds that TxDOT and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) are flouting that intent and are still trying to involve private entities in tolling that highway. He also shared concerns about the disproportionate share Texas is having to pay for NAFTA.

All encouraged citizens to seek accountability at the ballot box since the vast majority of the Legislature followed the Governor down the path to toll roads (versus indexing the gas tax), which will result in “the largest tax increase in Texas history” according to Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson.

“The citizens support lawmakers’ efforts to put accountability and sanity back into transportation policy,” said Founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), Terri Hall. “With U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison introducing a bill to prevent the tolling of existing interstates this week, calls from U.S. Congressman Ciro Rodriguez to investigate the tolling of existing interstates report, and U.S. Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Congressman Charlie Gonzales adamantly opposed to it, the people may get relief on the federal level first.”

Hall echoed the calls to revert back to the gas tax funded plan for improvements to 281 and stop the tolling of our other existing highways.

“TxDOT has breached the public trust and it cannot be repaired short of cleaning house at that agency. They’ve repeatedly sworn to our faces they’re not tolling existing roads and then lobbied Congress to do just that!” fumed Hall surrounded by dozens of concerned citizens.

“It’s vitally important the public is made aware that several existing state highways and interstates are slated to become toll corridors, I-35 (between San Antonio and Dallas), I-10 (in Houston and San Antonio), 281, 1604, Bandera Rd., and others. If TxDOT and the politicians who enable them have their way, it won’t stop there,” believes Hall.

“TxDOT plans to take every single lane on existing highway US 281 and convert them into toll lanes. The only free lanes will be frontage roads, not highway lanes. The same is true for 16 miles on Loop 1604. When TxDOT already has a plan and the money to install the needed improvements on 281 without tolls and REFUSES to do so after thousands of citizens and many lawmakers have asked them to, it’s clear we have a highway department that’s out of control and not acting in the public’s best interest. In fact, they’re more interested in enriching private road contractors leaving the traveling public left holding the bag,” voiced Hall.
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TURF asks Ronnie Earle to prosecute TxDOT!

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Texas Highway Department advertising campaign prompts citizens to call on Ronnie Earle

Friday, August 24, 2007 – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) not only crossed the line, they leaped over it! And if citizens want justice, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (who took down Congressman Tom Delay) is just the guy to deliver. TxDOT gleefully announced this week that it’s spending $7-$9 million in taxpayer money to “sell” the public what Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson called “the largest tax increase in Texas history.” And what pray tell are they selling?

“Unaccountable, eminent domain abusing, runaway toll tax roads and the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC),” admonishes Terri Hall, Founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF). “It’s not just smarmy; it’s ILLEGAL!” (Chapter 556 of the Texas Government Code forbids governmental agencies from engaging in lobbying.)

As if TxDOT hasn’t heard the word “No!” from enough citizens, over 13,000 at last year’s TTC-35 hearings alone, apparently they lack the intellectual capacity to understand one of the most basic words in the English language.

“To add insult to injury, they patronize us further by thinking we just haven’t gotten the message, or that we somehow don’t understand their cash cow, land-grabbing, DOUBLE TAXING toll road policies, therefore they need to spend OUR money to further indoctrinate us into submission,” suggests Hall.

Though the advertising campaign started June 1, it’s not likely to last long since citizens have called on Travis County District Attorney, Ronnie Earle, to come to the rescue.

“The politicians who are ramming this down our throats need to realize they can’t escape the long arm of the law, especially Ronnie Earle’s. Tom Delay couldn’t, and neither will they,” warns Hall.

Read TURF’s formal complaint filed with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle below:
______________________________
Mr. Ronnie Earle
District Attorney
Travis County
509 W.11th St
Austin, TX 78701

August 22, 2007
Dear Mr. Earle:
The citizens of Texas believe the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is illegally using taxpayer money to wage a cleverly cloaked public relations campaign to push the wildly controversial Trans Texas Corridor and toll road proliferation.

According to a memorandum obtained by the Express-News entitled "Keep Texas Moving: Tolling and Trans-Texas Corridor Outreach" sent to transportation officials by Coby Chase, director of the agency's government and public affairs division, TxDOT has undertaken a multi-million dollar campaign including direct mail, billboards, and training of employees to sell the public their proposals over talk radio.

It's not only an inappropriate and wasteful use of our gas tax dollars by an agency perpetually claiming it’s out of money for roads, but it's ILLEGAL for a PUBLIC agency to take a policy position and use the public's tax money to sell them something using an under-handed PR campaign.

The State Auditor already found TxDOT "cooked the books" Enron-style on the Trans Texas Corridor mismarking funds as "engineering" when in fact, they spent it on PR. The Auditor’s office testified to this before the Senate Transportation Committee on March 1, 2007. See the report entitled “An Audit Report on the Department of Transportation and the Trans-Texas Corridor” released in February 2007 (see it here).

Please open an investigation and prosecute this agency for its repeated illegal activities. The people of Texas want justice. When Ken Lay cooked the books at Enron, he was sent to jail. The same needs to happen with those guilty of breaking the law at the highway department.

Sincerely,

Terri Hall
Founder/Director
Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF)
__________________________________

“If a corporate CEO had done this to their shareholders, they’d be in JAIL!” notes Hall.

Citizens gasped when the Texas State Auditor’s office revealed that TxDOT cooked the books at the Senate Transportation & Homeland Security Committee hearing March 1. A record 800 witnesses heard this testimony at the hearing.
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MN bridge collapse wake-up call

Link to article about the tragedy here.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Minnesota bridge tragedy causes citizens to cry foul
Collapse due to frivolous earmarks, starving the gas tax & diverting funds AWAY from roads/bridges

San Antonio, TX Friday, August 3, 2007 – Citizens against the push for privatizing & tolling our highways in order to address our Nation’s aging infrastructure see the Minnesota bridge tragedy as a transportation wake-up call.

“It’s criminal that our politicians passed a highway bill in 2005 that funded a $223 million bridge to nowhere in Alaska instead of retrofitting this bridge on one of America’s most heavily traveled interstates,” fumes an incensed Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans United for Reform and Freedom (TURF). “We have serious misplaced priorities in this country and politicians who are derelict in their duties.”

The 2005 federal highway bill  (SAFET-LU) had 6,000 earmarks for frivolous Congressional pet projects taken from our gas taxes at a time when the Bush Administration was pushing the privatization & tolling of our highways saying new taxes were necessary to address congestion and aging infrastructure. By design, they want to DOUBLE TAX toll the traveling public to plug their own leaky boat.


 
“What we have are politicians who are now blaming the taxpayers for NOT giving them enough of our money to pay for infrastructure when, in fact, it is they who have habitually pilfered and diverted billions from both federal and state gas tax funds which has caused our infrastructure to fall into disrepair. Now they are guilty of needless loss of life. Truly blood is on their hands,” reflects Hall.

In Texas, twenty-five percent of fuel taxes are diverted to public schools and another 5% to things that don’t relate to highways. The Texas Legislature has diverted $10 billion from the state highway fund in the last 20 years alone while also defrauding taxpayers into thinking the only way out of our infrastructure woes is to now toll us for what our taxes have already built and paid for and to sell our highway system to the highest bidder while STILL failing to keep our bridges and highways safe.

“Let the revolution begin! The public WILL rise-up to boot these politicians out of office if indictments don’t do it first. Heads need to roll rather than to come after us for tolls,” remarks Hall.
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FED-UP CITIZENS SEEK NEW LEADERSHIP AT TRANSPORTATION BOARD NEW appointees at City try to grab Chair position from Toll Party pick, Adkisson

PRESS ADVISORY
NEW appointees at City try to grab Chair position from Toll Party pick, Adkisson

San Antonio, TX, Monday, July 23, 2007 –  Citizens against the current toll road policies and toll proponents will square off over the election of the new Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Transportation Policy Board. In past years, the Chair position rotated between the City and the County. Ex-Councilman Richard Perez is the immediate past Chair, so tradition would dictate that it now goes to the County. Commissioner Tommy Adkisson has seniority and should be the next Chair. However, for the first time in recent memory, the Chair position is being challenged, which didn’t happen until toll roads came on the scene. (Read more background below)

WHO: Concerned citizens with San Antonio Toll Party
WHAT: Election of next MPO Chair. Citizens to testify FOR the election of Commissioner Tommy Adkisson as Chair of the MPO.

WHERE/WHEN:
Metropolitan Planning Organization
Transportation Policy Board
To elect next Chairman
Monday, July 23
Meeting begins at 1:30 PM
Vote expected to take place closer to 3:00 PM
(when Commissioner Lyle Larson is expected to arrive)

Via Metro Center
1021 San Pedro

The City’s four new appointees marched in at their first meeting (June 25) and challenged the County for the Chair position. None has ANY experience on the Board and yet Councilwoman Sheila McNeil thinks she should lead the Board. It’s no secret the City’s voting block on the MPO has been rabidly pro-toll and that County Commissioners Tommy Adkisson and Lyle Larson are staunch opponents to the toll plans.
The City claims since Larson held the Chair position for two, (2) year terms that the City is entitled to two more years as Chair. However, there is nothing in the MPO bylaws that entitles them to two more years, and logic would seem to dictate that if the City wished to challenge Larson’s second term, they should have done it when he sought that second term, not years later when they lost the seat. In fact, the City has more appointees and thus more representation on the Board than does the County. The City also wishes to give more UN-ELECTED members voting powers, like the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (tolling authority) as if the two TxDOT votes aren't enough!

Toll opponents contend this is about toll roads and controlling this all-important Board that put 281 & 1604 among others into the toll plans in July 2004, with Larson being the lone dissenting vote. Opponents are now close to having a majority vote on the Board, and they’re insisting only elected officials who answer directly to the people should have the ability to vote to make multi-billion dollar tax decisions.
"It's about accountability and having the citizens' voices heeded rather than repeatedly ignored by un-elected boards who can now vote for unlimited new toll taxes. Commissioner Adkisson has been a stalwart hero of the grassroots in our fight, he's got 9 years experience on the MPO, and the County lacks sufficient representation on the Board. By every measure, Commissioner Adkisson should be the new Chair!" notes Terri Hall, Founder/Director of the San Antonio Toll Party and Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom

Wentworth reacts to citizen outrage and amends bill to include SA roads

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Antonio, TX, Thursday, April 19, 2007
– In an amazing turn of events, Senator Jeff Wentworth responded quickly to the outrage that poured into his office since last night’s Transportation Committee hearing that took 281/1604 out of the CDA moratorium. In about 12 hours time, he changed his mind and introduced an amendment to INCLUDE 281 in the original moratorium bill, SB 1267. This move will effectively kill the 1604 deal as well. Since the two projects were linked by TxDOT, the package deal to hand over our public highways to a foreign company, Cintra, and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction, would no longer be able to move ahead as a CDA private toll project.
 
The San Antonio Toll Party anticipates that the same will occur when HB 1892 comes to a floor vote next week. While the moratorium hasn’t become law nor overcome a promised gubernatorial veto yet, the grassroots just completely changed the direction of this train.
 
“It’s so refreshing to return to citizen driven public policy in this State. For far too long our representatives haven’t represented us but those interests with the most money. I’ve long been confident that when you inform voters and they get engaged in the process, that citizens can take back their government one bill at a time,” reflected Terri Hall, Founder/Director of the San Antonio Toll Party who was present at yesterday’s hearing and witnessed what happened.
 
In fairness, the San Antonio Toll Party is asking supporters to call Senator Wentworth and thank him for changing his mind.
 
“We always make room for a politician to redeem himself,” remarked an elated Hall.
 
“We’re also grateful to Senators Uresti, Van De Putte, and Zaffirini who also supported the measure and for once again listening to and putting forward the best interests of Texans ahead of obscene private profiteering,” noted Hall.