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


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.