Anti-toll candidates snatch key positions in Texas

Link to this release as an article here.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terri Hall, (210) 275-0640

Anti-toll candidates sweep key races in Texas

(Austin, TX - November 5, 2014) Texas taxpayers have been tormented for more than a decade when it comes to transportation and toll roads, and their torment is finally coming to an end tonight. With the strong win by Greg Abbott, Texans will soon have a new governor who actually campaigned against toll roads. It’s a welcome departure from the agony of living under the current governor, Rick Perry, who crippled Texans with unsustainable, exorbitantly expensive, insolvent toll roads. Texans also overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure, Proposition 1, to dedicate half of the state’s oil and gas revenues to the state highway fund with 81% of the vote. The new revenue cannot be used for toll roads. 

Other big wins include Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor, Ken Paxton for Attorney General, and a strong anti-toll grassroots win for Konni Burton who took back Wendy Davis’ senate seat, Senate District 10, for the GOP in Ft. Worth. Tony Tinderholt is another big anti-toll pick-up replacing pro-toll incumbent Diane Patrick in House District 94 in Arlington. Rodney Anderson’s win in House District 105 in Irving and Grand Prairie replaces a key pro-toll member of the Transportation Committee, Linda Harper-Brown, whose penchant for public private partnership corporate toll roads and bike and pedestrian facilities also played a role in her ouster. Anti-toll Matt Rinaldi replaces pro-toll Bennett Ratliff in House District 115, representing the Carollton area.

Citizens ask cities & counties to oppose Blacklands private toll road

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CONTACT: Bryan Slaton, (469) 585-2686, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Grassroots coalition blitzes cities & counties to go on record opposing private Blacklands tollway

(Greenville, TX - Tuesday, October 14, 2014) Opposition to the controversial private Blacklands-Northeast Gateway Toll Road from Garland to Greenville east of Dallas prompted concerned citizens to hold a press conference outside the Hunt County Commissioners Court meeting in Greenville today, and do a full court press to pressure remaining cities and counties to pass resolutions opposing the toll road. Cities that have passed resolutions include: Fate, Josephine, Lavon, Nevada, Rockwall, Sasche, and Wylie. Josephine just passed theirs last night, bringing the total count to seven. The Rockwall County Democratic Party also passed a resolution opposing the tollway.

The public's outrage over a private company wielding the power of eminent domain has gotten officials to take notice. Stiff opposition forced Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) to cancel its series of ‘informal’ meetings, and the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) postponed its vote to adopt the tollway into its official plans. But without formal action nixing the project, concerned citizens continue to unite to put a stop to it.

Election victory represents power shift that will benefit anti-tollers

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Terri Hall, Founder/Director, TURF & TTH (210) 275-0640

Election victory: Power shift to benefit anti-toll cause

(Austin, TX - May 27, 2014) It was another great night for the anti-toll cause in Texas. Today was the Republican primary run-off election and voters toppled the incumbent David Dewhurst, replacing him with tea party favorite State Senator Dan Patrick for the powerful Lt. Governor seat. The campaign got downright nasty with Dewhurst hurling mud about Patrick's past mental health challenges that dated back forty years into the past, drudging up Patrick's attempted suicide to try to win votes. It clearly didn't work. Patrick beat Dewhurst 65%-35%.

Two more tea party favorites also won statewide office easily, perhaps on Patrick coattails: Ken Paxton beat Dan Branch for Attorney General and Sid Miller beat Tommy Merritt for Agriculture Commissioner. Newcomer and tea party leader Konni Burton cleaned up the senate seat vacated by Democrat Wendy Davis in Senate District 10, which if she wins in November, is a pick-up for the GOP. Burton was also one of the top anti-toll candidates tonight.

A remarkable race to watch this election night was the nail biter between incumbent State Senator Robert Deuell versus dark horse tea party candidate Bob Hall in District 2. At one point, there was only one vote separating these two and no clear winner as of 10 PM. Deuell also used dirty tactics misrepresenting the court record in Hall's divorce case from decades earlier, accusing him of being a wife beater when, in fact, the court exonerated him from all charges made by his ex-wife. Expect a recount in that race.

But there were notable losses, too. Newcomer Ryan Sitton beat former State Representative conservative Wayne Christian for Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil & gas industry. John Wray edged out grassroots favorite TJ Fabby by just 5-percentage points in the open seat vacated by State Representative and powerful Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts in House District 10.

Conservative sweep
What does all this mean to taxpayers? New conservative leadership in the Senate. Typically, the Texas House is more conservative than the Texas Senate, and conservatives counted on the House to stop bad bills. Now the roles may be reversed. The wild card is whether State Rep. Scott Turner will prevail in the Speaker's race when the legislature comes into session next year, which would make both chambers decidedly conservative and a total political upset against the GOP-crony capitalist establishment.

Under Dewhurst's leadership, Texans experienced a massive shift away from an affordable gas tax funded freeway system to a reliance on tolling (just about everything that moves). The Perry-Dewhurst regime brought us the Trans Texas Corridor, quick take eminent domain, tolling existing freeways, handing our public roads to private toll corporations who charge Texans 95 cents a mile to drive, and using gas taxes and a host of public money to subsidize and guarantee the loans on toll roads.  They took Texas from zero debt for roads to now the highest road debt in the nation at $31 billion (in principle and interest).

Closing this chapter of Texas' transportation history is a Texas-sized step in the right direction. Though Patrick has a poor voting record on transportation, he reached out to anti-toll groups like Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, which gave him an 'F' on their Report Card. But he managed to earn a 'B' in their Voter Guide, and Patrick signed onto their legislative agenda and promised to work with the grassroots to make things right. He also managed to earn Texans for Toll-free Highways endorsement in the race.

With many new, more conservative senators joining Patrick in his inaugural session as Lt. Governor, like Van Taylor moving over from the House to fill the seat vacated by Paxton and possibly stalwart anti-toll hero Lois Kolkhorst in the seat vacated by Glenn Hegar who won Comptroller, 2015 may well be the year of transportation in the Texas legislature.

Road funding is heading off a fiscal cliff when the Texas Department of Transportation's budget that has been propped up with mounds of debt disappears. The state's gas tax has been frozen at 20-cents/gallon for 20 years and revenues have remained flat even with 1,000 new residents moving to Texas per day. Current House Speaker Joe Straus just announced his plans to introduce a budget to end the 80-yr raid of gas tax for non-transportation purposes. But other diversions like the 25% of gas tax that goes to education ($750 million/yr) and the vehicle sales tax ($3.3 billion/yr) that goes to general revenue still remain. These diversions need to be addressed in order to ensure Texas' public road system is sufficiently funded.

If Patrick goes on to win in November, who he assembles as his committee chairs and transportation team will signal whether or not he's serious about reforms and righting this ship that's been run aground by his predecessors. Despite the grassroots gains from this election cycle, all politicians, regardless of party, must be held accountable for their campaign promises. Our freedom to travel, cost of goods, cost of living, and quality of life depend on it.

###



Ft. Bend Town Hall packed with corridor foes!


Link to article here.

Fort Bend folks don't care for Trans-Texas Corridor either
Friday, January 25, 2008
By Vicente Arenas / KHOU 11 News



TxDOT is finding few supporters for the plan as they conduct a series of town hall meetings
If Texas Department of Transportation officials were looking to gain support for the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor Thursday night, Fort Bend County wasn’t the place to be.

The folks who packed the Rosenberg Civic Center Thursday night were angry.

“This will wipe me out. How is this in my best interest?,” East Bernard resident Dee Bond asked of state transportation officials.

“Why can’t you work with what ya’ll got? Instead of going off in a different direction,” asked Houston resident Doug Bilbrey.

Also online
Copy of proposed route of Trans-Texas Corridor (pdf)Keep Texas Moving Web site, including schedule of upcoming public meetingsTURF, Trans-Texas Corridor opposition group Web site
Most of the 600 people who crowded Rosenberg’s Civic Center Thursday are landowners who are afraid the proposed highway will swallow up their homes and prime farmland that’s been in families for generations.

“If this is gaining so much opposition, do we want this road or do we not want this road?” said Wharton resident Dianne Coan.

The response to the state’s plan was just as hostile in Fort Bend County Thursday as residents in Waller County were the night before.

“I don’t know why they are blowing smoke and tell us what they want this road,” El Campo resident David Coan complained.

The Trans-Texas Corridor, also known as I-69, would have lanes for 18-wheelers as well as space for trains and it would stretch from the border to near Houston and on to Arkansas.

It would eventually criss-cross the state. But no one at the meeting Thursday wanted it.

TxDOT says the highways are needed to help keep up with the state’s booming population and make it easier to transport goods between the U.S., Mexico and South America.

TxDOT told the crowd the highway is still years from being built, but that was little comfort when it’s your land in the crosshairs.

Obama seeks to lift ban on tolling existing freeways

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TURF & Texans for Toll-free Highways opposes Obama proposal to lift ban on tolling existing interstates

(San Antonio, TX - April 30, 2014) It’s official. Yesterday, the Obama administration announced the president’s support of lifting the ban on tolling existing interstates. But the two leading grassroots organizations fighting for toll-free highways in Texas, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Texans for Toll-free Highways (TFF), vehemently oppose such a proposition.

“Slapping tolls on existing toll-free highways is highway robbery and double taxation. We’ve already paid for these roads, and now Obama wants us to pay for them again by charging us a toll for every mile we drive on them. We’re not going to stand idly by and let the president steal our freeways and impose such a confiscatory tax scheme without our consent,” promises Terri Hall, Founder and Director of both groups.

Giuliani has ties to Trans Texas Corridor

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Giuliani tied to Trans Texas Corridor

His law firm exclusive legal counsel for Cintra

Monday, May 7, 2007 - Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (or TURF) has learned that one of the top Republican Presidential candidates, Rudolph Giuliani, has ties to both Cintra and Macquarie, two of the major players in public-private infrastructure deals and foreign-direct acquisition deals in Texas, most notably the Trans Texas Corridor NAFTA Superhighway. In fact, both companies are actively involved in bidding on most of the public-private toll contracts currently being negotiated in Texas: Cintra on TTC-35, Hwy 130 bypass around Austin, Hwy 281 & Loop 1604 in San Antonio, Hwy 121 in the Dallas area, and Macquarie bid on Hwy 121, Hwy 281, and Loop 1604. Macquarie is also moving to buy-up community newspapers along the Trans Texas Corridor route.  Cintra and Macquarie are partners on the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway leases. Macquarie also owns a toll road in Virginia.

A freelance reporter, Diana Grassi, does an expose' on Giuliani's ties to the major players who are gobbling up control of America's highways in her article NAFTA Superhighway has Guiliani as key player. Giuliani's law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, is the exclusive legal counsel for Cintra. They negotiated the TTC-35, Hwy 130, and Hwy 121 deals. Giuliani recently sold Giuliani Capital Partners to Macquarie, March 2007, in what could be construed as a way to get campaign cash from a private corporation.

"This could explain why Giuliani has spent so much time fundraising in Texas...the monied proponents of the Trans Texas Corridor, of which there are many, would like to see this man become President," points out Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF). "The conflicts of interest are nothing short of stunning. It also explains why Cintra keeps popping up as the winning bidder."

A recent CNBC interview notes how Texans seem to be the only citizens who don't have their heads in the sand on the coming toll tidal wave and massive NAFTA Superhighway scheme that edges us closer to a North American Union.

Here's some of the most shocking revelations from Grassi's article:

"Most interesting to the whole story is not only has Mr. Giuliani’s involvement in the NAFTA Superhighway not ever having been publicly addressed, but how a foreign company is awarded the building of a mass highway system, versus maintaining it, for the first time in U.S. history, and negotiated by the law firm of the top Republican candidate running for President of the United States. And truly disturbing is how such will not only have national and homeland security and sovereignty implications but how it is deliberately being kept away from the Halls of Congress.

Giuliani fancies himself as an expert on homeland security issues and a law enforcer. And he has amassed quite the portfolio since 2002, earning $20 million in that year alone, by selling himself as such. He owns Giuliani Partners, Giuliani Safety & Security and Giuliani Capital Advisors. In March 2007 he sold Giuliani Capital Advisors, a former Ernst & Young finance company he purchased in 2002, to Macquerie Infrastructure Consortium. Not coincidentally, it is a partner of Cintra’s in its shared operations of toll roads in both Indiana and Chicago, IL.

Bracewell & Giuliani represents some of the biggest multi-national oil, utility infrastructure and financial corporations both in the U.S. and abroad. With that have come the connections that Giuliani has been able to tap into for campaign donors, essential for his presidential bid, not only in Texas but nationwide, as he has become the consummate globalist. But more troubling than potential conflicts of interest as a public servant is his lack of compunction to secure U.S. borders and then planting himself squarely in the middle of one of the most controversial and historic highway system projects since the 1956 National Federal-Aid Highway Act.

Particularly unnerving, given Guiliani’s personal experience on 9-11, is his defense of open borders at any cost while condoning the NAFTA Superhighway Corridor and by extension the North American Union, without the purview or consent of the U.S. Congress or the will of the American people.

Private toll moratorium bill passes House 139-1

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Private toll moratorium bill passes House 139-1


Citizens rejoice at historic legislative victory, hail Rep. Leibowitz a HERO


Austin, TX, May 2, 2007 - House Bill 1892 passed the House with a vote of 139-1. House Transportation Committee Chairman Mike Krusee was the ONLY representative voting against! This bill halts the Trans Texas Corridor and the sale of our public highways to the highest bidder. Though some managed lane projects were  exempted from the moratorium, Representative David Leibowitz (D - San Antonio) is being hailed as a hero for making sure BOTH 281 & 1604 in San Antonio are IN the private toll moratorium. Senator Jeff Wentworth (R - San Antonio) left that in doubt in the Senate amendment by only explicitly placing 281 in the moratorium. But Leibowitz made it clear and got ON THE RECORD that since the current San Antonio CDA is for BOTH 281 and 1604, that the intent of this legislation is that both highways are IN the moratorium! Now there can be NO legal limbo from TxDOT trying to say otherwise.


"I've never been more proud of the PEOPLE of Texas than I am today. It's their hard work, the phone calls, emails, attendance at public hearings, that made all the difference. We made it so that our representatives couldn't ignore this issue and we prevailed, convincingly!" said an elated Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

"It's also important to note that we NEVER intended to capitulate or give up on ensuring both 281 AND 1604 were a part of the moratorium. We were not going to give TxDOT, this Governor, or the highway lobby ANY ground in San Antonio, and Representative Leibowitz and our delegation agreed. He made sure both our roads are part of the moratorium, no questions asked and we applaud him for his leadership!" notes Hall. "However, those in North Texas, whose politicians exempted their projects, ought to be hopping mad that their highways are being hawked to the highest bidder, Cintra, a foreign company from Spain, for the next 50 years! These officials are going to regret it."

Now HB 1892 goes to the Governor and he has until May 14 to sign it into law, veto, or allow it to become law without his signature

Senate puts TxDOT on a leash; passes last moratorium

IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Senate puts TxDOT on a leash in HB 1892
Last private toll moratorium passes 27-4


Austin, TX, Friday, April 27, 2007 – In yet another historic move in the Legislature, not only did the Senate vote to suspend several rules to take-up the last vehicle to pass a private toll moratorium, HB 1892, early, but also senators amended the bill to put the Department of Transportation on a tighter leash during the moratorium period.

Senator John Carona, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, took key provisions from his omnibus transportation bill and added them to HB 1892. It puts a sunset on ALL Comprehensive Development Agreements (private toll contracts called CDAs) two years sooner, at 2009, and requires oversight on any CDAs not in the moratorium by the Attorney General, Legislative Budget Board, and the State Auditor’s office.


It almost completely eliminates non-compete provisions, allows the State to buy-out the contracts, requires greater transparency, and more input from the public.

“The Senate sent a clear, powerful message to this Governor. The PEOPLE of Texas and their representatives have spoken. A supermajority said ‘NO’ to TxDOT’s arrogance and power plays and has just placed what the public considers a rogue agency in a box. The Governor would be wise NOT to try and let them back out with a veto, since it’s clear it’ll be overturned,” says Terri Hall, Founder and Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF).

“Both chambers have overwhelmingly passed every version of the CDA moratorium in a total repudiation of the direction this Governor and his Transportation Commission is trying to take us. We don’t want to pay what amounts to extortion money through oppressively high tolls in the hands of foreign companies just to go to work. We don’t want the Trans Texas Corridor. We are tired of TxDOT’s bullying tactics, their flagrant push away from transportation to selling off our public highways to the highest bidder, and we’re tired of the secrecy and back room deals,” states Hall.

Senator Dan Patrick said it best, “There is a tremendous disconnect between the people and TxDOT. We couldn’t even get the Transportation Commission Chairman to sit down and meet with senators” (referring to Transportation Commission Chair Ric Williamson’s dodging tactics with Chairman Carona at the beginning of the session).

Senator Steve Ogden said taxpayers have a every right to expect two things: tolls as low as possible, and tolls to come off the roads when they're paid for. Neither of which is a TxDOT goal. In fact, the opposite is true. Williamson actually chided the Senate Transportation Committee for trying to keep the tolls and gas tax as low as possible. He feels our highways are assets to increase the value of by selling them off to the highest bidder who then charges prohibitively high tolls. TxDOT and the Governor also freely admit the tolls are never coming off these roads. They plan to fund other road projects from them...so much for tolls being a user tax when motorists on one toll road are paying to build someone else a free road.

Senator Carona defended the bill and the provisions he added saying this bill “was not entered into hastily,” and chastised the Senate for continuing to allow another $1 billion to be diverted away from highways in this year’s budget, having failed to pass any bill to return those funds to transportation nor to raise some Cain and insist the House index the gas tax (all tax bills must originate in the House).

Senator Robert Nichols, ex-Transportation Commissioner, rallied his colleagues, quieted fears about some of the new provisions, and reminded them, "If we don't pass this bill, we will NOT have another chance to pass a CDA moratorium this session."

Thanks to the tireless efforts of an engaged grassroots movement across the state, and  thanks to the many champions of their cause, they got the job done today. It's a truly historic day in Texas!

Ex-Commissioner, Former Pro-Toller files bill to STOP any further PRIVATE toll contracts

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terri Hall, Founder/Director, TURF, (210) 275-0640
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Ex-Commissioner, Former Pro-Toller files bill to STOP any further PRIVATE toll contracts

Rebuke of Rick Perry's transportation policies

Austin, TX, Wednesday, March 7, 2007 – Former Transportation Commissioner turned State Senator, Robert Nichols, filed a bill yesterday that would immediately HALT any further Public-Private Partnerships or Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) from taking effect. SB 1267 would enact a 2 year moratorium on CDAs and create a study group to investigate the impact of CDAs on the public and its roadways.

Twenty five of 31 state senators signed on to the bill which demonstrates a total repudiation of Governor Rick Perry's transportation policies by the Senate. Representative Lois Kolkhorst introduced the companion bill in the House (HB 2772). Each bill needs two thirds of each house in order for it to take effect immediately (which will also demonstrate to the Governor that the Legislature has the votes to override any potential veto). It's noteworthy that EVERY San Antonio Senator signed on to the bill. This, too, is significant since it demonstrates the massive grassroots effort to gain the Legislature's ear in the effort to beat back Perry's toll proliferation and the privatization of our public highways.

Grassroots groups all over the state are urging their members to contact their State Representatives to help garner the 100 votes needed to make this law take effect immediately. Legislators are reacting to the recently signed CDA for Hwy 121 in Dallas (http://satollparty.com/post/?p=548) that many have called "disturbing" like the non-compete clause and the formula used to escalate toll rates. Legislators in various committees that were briefed on the State Auditor's report of TxDOT (http://satollparty.com/post/?p=540) released February 23, are already asking how to buy out the 121 contract.

Locally, this bill, should it become law in time and sustain a veto attempt, would block TxDOT from signing a CDA with one of two foreign bidders (http://satollparty.com/post/?p=14) for what TxDOT has dubbed the San Antonio toll starter system (a 47 mile network on US 281 and Loop 1604) which is set to go to contract any time.  Nichols also introduced a bill (SB 1268) that would prevent ANY non-toll lane from becoming a toll lane.

For more info: http://satollparty.com/post/?p=564.

TxDOT guilty of cooking the books Enron style, citizens call for investigation of TxDOT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terri Hall, Regional Director, San Antonio Toll Party (210) 275-0640  
Organizer: Hank Gilbert, Former candidate for TX Ag Commissioner (903) 871-2424
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

TxDOT guilty of cooking the books Enron style

Citizens call for investigation of TxDOT

CITIZEN PROTEST & RALLY –

“Don’t Tag Texas” TODAY!

Austin, TX, Friday, March 2, 2007 – During a Senate Hearing on Transportation Policy and Toll Roads yesterday, the State Auditor revealed that the Texas Department of Transportation miscoded invoices to read “engineering” when the money had actually been spent on Public Relations. Angry citizens are calling on the Attorney General to investigate this corrupt agency.

“If a corporate CEO had done this to their shareholders, they’d be in JAIL!” declared a shocked Terri Hall, Director of the San Antonio Toll Party and a newly formed statewide non-profit group defending and educating citizens from the current toll policy called TURF (http://www.TexasTURF.org). Citizens gasped when the Auditor’s office revealed this information at yesterday’s hearing.

A record 800 witnesses heard this testimony at Senator John Carona’s hearing yesterday, and citizens may get his ear on this to launch an Attorney General investigation.

“Heads need to roll,” stated Hall. “This gives us that much more to accomplish at today’s protest march and rally” where citizens work to shape public policy.

“That ought to be refreshing, citizen-driven public policy!” said Hall.

For more details on testimony at yesterday's hearing: http://satollparty.com/post/?p=552.

PRESS ADVISORY

WHAT: Don’t Tag Texas Protest March & Rally

WHO:
Musical Performance by Jimmie Vaughan  along with Grassroots citizens, farmers, ranchers, Teamsters, taxpayer watchdogs groups, Corridor Watch, San Antonio Toll Party, Texas Eagle Forum, and the gamut of freedom loving Texans across the state.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
Penny Langford-Freeman, District Director for Congressman Ron PaulState Representative Nathan Macias, Gina Parker of the Texas Eagle ForumDavid Stall of Corridor Watch. or Terri Hall of San Antonio Toll Party.com (and Founder of a new statewide grassroots group called Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom or T.U.R.F.: www.TexasTURF.org)Judith McGeary, Executive Director, Farm and Ranch Freedom AllianceA host of elected representatives

WHEN: Friday, March 2, 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Protest March down Congress Ave begins: 2:00 PM [staging area: First (Cesar Chavez) & Red River at 1:30 PM]Rally begins 2:30 PM

WHERE: Protest March – Congress Avenue (from 1st & Red River)    Rally – South Capitol steps

In light of the stunning admission that increasing the gas tax and tolls are NOT NEEDED for future transportation projects as purported in a Texas Transportation Institute report called “Shaping the Competitive Advantage of Texas Metropolitan Regions: The role of Transportation, Housing & Aesthetics,” citizens and legislators alike are asking the Legislature to enact REAL reforms.

“Our Legislature cannot ignore the TRUTH and FACTS this report reveals and we believe they’ll finally take action to rein in TxDOT who is out of control and fixated on tolls. When they’ve purposely inflated their figures to push an agenda to benefit private corporations using monopolies rather than the taxpaying public, it’s time for the citizens’ voices to be heeded,” Hall contends.

Hall adds, “Given that there’s now a national coalition (“Americans for a Strong National Highway Network” see more here: http://satollparty.com/post/?p=523) fighting to keep our politicians from selling off America to the highest bidder, it’s fair to say the public awareness of this new shift to tolling is only increasing and that if we haven’t yet, we’re hitting critical mass. Politicians know they cannot afford to be on the WRONG side of this issue and expect to keep their job.”

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-

Texas Senate votes to gouge citizens with "market based" tolls

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Texas Senate unanimously votes to fleece motorists with market-based TOLLS

Cave to Governor, off to summer vacation!

Friday, May 25, 2007 – The Texas Senate unanimously passed SB 792 which is a vote to fleece the taxpayers through the HIGHEST POSSIBLE TOLLS. Bottom line SB 792 is a counterfeit moratorium because this Governor snuck in a way to charge us "market rate" on ALL tolls projects from now on. Traditional turnpikes are now off the table. "market-based" tolling has Transportation Commission Chair Ric Williamson's fingerprints all over it, and that will bankrupt the traveling public. SB 792 means the HIGHEST POSSIBLE TOLLS for our citizens.

"It does us no good if 281/1604 are some of the few highways in the private toll moratorium if they can still use our public toll authority to do the same thing. Our victory comes in the power of us sending a shot across the bow to this Governor and TxDOT that they're tricks are no longer under the radar. The jig is up, and they're in for an even bigger fight next session," said Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. "There was full disclosure on this bill. We made sure they knew what they were voting on. We know what our senators negotiated in a back room deal and they sold us out. Plain and simple. There will be a price to pay, because paying oppressively high tolls for roads we've already paid for, will not soon be forgotten. We'll take it to the ballot box."

"We will not accept market-based highways and TxDOT demanding concession fees just like Cintra. The PEOPLE'S BILL (HB 1892) was passed with 169-5 combined vote. But our Legislature didn't mean it, especially Senators John Carona, Tommy Williams, and Kim Brimer who simply played the grassroots like a fiddle and used us and our bill as leverage to broker a deal with a detested Governor. Even Ex- Transportation Commissioner Robert Nichols voted for this nightmare. Carona's March 1 hearing (read about it here) was a sham, and he spit in the face of Texans with this bill. They knew HB 1892 would never become law. They cut a deal with the Governor to stab the taxpayers in the back. We're not finished, but some of their political careers are," steams Hall.

"They all whimped out," states Hall. "But our drumbeat will not and cannot be squelched."

William Lutz of the Lone Star Report in an article on the ramifications of SB 792 notes:

"A further flaw is it allows continuation of current policy, whereby the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) may require up-front 'concession fees' in exchange for building some new toll projects. The tolls that pay these concession fees are taxes, not user fees, because concession fees result in tolls over and above the amount required to build and maintain the road. Since the fees are paid back over time from toll revenue, it increases the burden of debt on our children and grandchildren.

In short, concession fees, which are continued by the 'market valuation' language in SB 792, allow the government to raise taxes and do off-budget spending in a manner concealed to the public and without proper legislative oversight and authorization."

"The grassroots will not stand idly by and allow Rick Perry and Ric Williamson's market-based incarnation of extorting money from the traveling public to drive on highways we've already built and paid for. We will not let this Governor unleash a whole new policy initiative hatched in some back room deal with legislators who lack spines. Market value means highest possible tolls. It doesn't really matter if it's the public or private sector doing it, concession fees fleece the taxpayer. At a time when gas prices are at or over $3.00 a gallon, this policy is as foolish as it is sinister. It will bankrupt motorists and, in turn, the State," Hall concludes. "This is NOT over."

Market valuation dollars can build the TRANS TEXAS CORRIDOR!

Trans Texas Corridor alignment I-69 is already exempted in this bill. These politicians may think they will go home and say they got a moratorium under SB 792, and then TTC-69 hearings will start and the fury will begin. The way the market valuation section reads, it says the money will be used in the region, in counties contiguous to the tolling entity's boundaries. Let it be put on the record that this means they can use market valuation money to build TTC 35 segments in Guadalupe & Wilson Counties (Seguin, Floresville, St. Hegwig) and the areas touching Houston and Dallas for either TTC 69 or TTC 35. Concession fees will also free up gas tax money that can then be applied to TTC segments that are not toll viable.

Where have our leaders gone? The way of HB 3588 from 2003. Many legislators opined that they didn't know what they were voting on then, and later realized as Senator Kevin Eltife declared, "we created a monster in TxDOT." Carona and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst expressed an apparently false rage over skyhigh toll rates (read it here) and yet orchestrated a bill that does just that. Rep. Warren Chisum said, "TxDOT is an agency run amok."

"Just like in 2003, completely new language got stuck in a HUGE bill at the end of a session, they voted on it before anyone even read what was in it, and the Governor and his senate friends railroaded it through giving us more cow dung to undo next session," complained Hall.

"HB 1892 is good public policy, it's the people's bill, it slows down this toll train, and allows us to truly study the ramifications of transportation policy before making it law. Yet our senators caved to Mr. 39% voting for a counterfeit bill, SB 792, weakened the power of the Legislature, and likely ended their political careers in so doing," states Hall.

The best independent analysis of the consequences of SB 792 here.

-30-

Anti-toll candidates sweep in many key races

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anti-toll candidates sweep in many key races across Texas

(Austin, TX - Wednesday, March 5) Not a bad night for anti-toll candidates in Texas. Incumbents Sen. John Carona, Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, Rep. Bennett Ratliff, and Rep. Ralph Sheffield were all beat by their anti-toll challengers Don Huffines, Rodney Anderson, Matt Rinaldi, and Molly White. Several anti-toll candidates made it into run-offs, with one, Bob Hall, taking on a 10-year incumbent, Senator Bob Deuell.

Anti-toll TJ Fabby won the plurality of votes for the open seat in House District 10 and will face John Wray in a run-off. Collin County Commissioner Matt Shaheen also won the plurality of votes for an open seat in House District 66 and will enter a run-off with Glenn Callison. Anti-toll Timothy Wilson made it into a run-off on the Republican side and Tommy Calvert on the Democrat side for an open seat for Bexar County Commissioner Precinct 4. Others with a poor record on tolls and transportation like Rep. Diane Patrick and Rep. Lance Gooden got beat by challengers Tony Tinderholt and Stuart Spitzer.

Public drain for private gain: Prop 6 rural water raid to benefit developers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Terri Hall, Founder, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), 210-275-0640


Prop 6 public drain for private gain
Rural water raid to benefit developers, not average Texan

(San Antonio, TX - Monday, October 14, 2013) Have you ever had a kid ask for seconds during a meal before he’s even finished what’s on his plate? Well, that’s what the Texas legislature is asking of voters with Proposition 6 on November 5, pointed out TURF Founder Terri Hall at a press conference Monday at Lion’s Field in San Antonio along with a coalition of groups opposing Prop 6.

Lawmakers want Texans to pass this constitutional amendment to approve more funding for water projects. A similar measure narrowly passed in November 2011 for a $6 billion revolving fund to loan money to local government entities for water infrastructure, outside constitutional debt limitations. Now in 2013, the Texas Legislature is asking voters for permission to raid $2 billion from the state’s emergency fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to assist local agencies of government in funding water projects from the state’s water plan.

Dirty trick: TxDOT bypasses legislature to enact law using rule change

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dirty trick: TxDOT bypasses legislature to enact law through 'rule change'
Authorizes unlimited private, foreign-controlled toll roads

(Austin, TX - July 9, 2013) While the Texas legislature is distracted with a second special session, the Texas Transportation Commission is attempting to bypass lawmakers to pass its own law through an administrative 'rule change.' At a recent meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission (the body that governs the Texas Department of Transportation or TxDOT), it proposed a rule change that would, in effect, give the agency a blank check to enter into unlimited numbers of controversial public private partnerships (known as P3s, called Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs in Texas).

Indeed, they'd do it using the so-called 'availability payment' model, which they initially tried but failed to get passed as legislation,  House Bill 3650, during the 83rd regular session of the legislature that ended Memorial Day. So it appears TxDOT is attempting to do through a rule change what they couldn't get done legitimately through the legislative process.

Texans ask Perry to veto bill to hand 23 Texas roads to foreign entities

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Texas for Sale: Grassroots ask Perry to VETO bill that hands 23 Texas roads to private, foreign toll operators
SB 1730 includes I-35, Hwy 183, Hwy 290, Loop 1604 & more!  

(Austin, TX, June 10, 2013) - A crucial bill, SB 1730, that will effect the next three generations of Texans sits on Texas Governor Rick Perry's desk awaiting his signature. The bill would authorize the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), or toll entities, to enter into Public Private Partnerships (P3) known in Texas as Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs), for more than 20 projects, including rail and three bridges.

Grassroots groups across Texas are asking Perry to veto the bill, despite his avowed support of P3s. TURF, Texas tea parties, the Texas Libertarian Party, and dozens more watchdog and liberty groups, oppose P3s as sweetheart deals and corporate welfare, designed to extract punitively high toll rates from travelers with little choice other than congested free routes. Indeed, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin calls P3s 'corporate welfare' and Rachel Alexander calls them 'double taxation' and state sanctioned-monopolies.

Texas for Sale: Texas roads may be handed to private, foreign toll operators

FINAL vote on SB 1730 includes I-35, Hwy 183, Hwy 290, Loop 1604 & more!  

(Austin, TX, April 30, 2013) - A crucial vote that will effect the next three generations of Texans is up for a final vote in the Texas House today - SB 1730. The bill would authorize the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) or toll entities to enter into Public Private Partnerships (P3 or PPP) known as Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) in Texas, for more than 20 projects, including commuter rail.
 
Projects included in the bill:
-I-35 (many segments), I-820, Hwy 183, US 67, Hwy 114, Loop 12, Loop 9 (in DFW)
-Hwy 290, SH 99/Grand Pkwy, Hwy 288 (in Houston)
-Hwy 183, MoPac (in Austin)
-Loop 1604 (in San Antonio)
-Loop 375 & NE Pkwy (in El Paso)
-Loop 49 (in Tyler)
-Hidalgo County Loop, Outer Pkwy Project, Int'l Bridge Project, & COMMUTER RAIL PROJECTS (in Hidalgo & Cameron counties)
-South Padre Island Second Access Causeway Project (in South Padre)
-Hwy 181 Harbor Bridge Project (in Corpus Christi)

The Texas Conservative Coalition sent out a bulletin in support of SB 1730. However, TURF, Texas tea parties, the Texas Libertarian Party, and dozens more watchdog & liberty groups, find nothing 'conservative' about P3s and vehemently oppose such sweetheart deals and corporate welfare. Indeed, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin calls P3s corporate welfare' & Rachel Alexander calls them 'double taxation' and state sanctioned-monopolies.

P3s/CDAs...

* Extract exorbitantly high toll rates as high as 75 cents per mile (see details on CDAs for LBJ, North Tarrant Express on p. 2 here)
* Grant private, even foreign, entities state-sanctioned MONOPOLIES for 50 years
* Represent eminent domain for private gain (take land in name of 'public use,' then becomes private purpose for private gain)
* Limit expansion of free roads (guarantees congestion on the free routes) through non-competes
* Manipulate speed limits to drive more traffic to the toll road (increase speed on tollway, decrease on free route)
 
 Example -
    The CDA for SH 130 gave financial incentives to TxDOT for raising the speed limits.
    TxDOT received a $100 million pay-off from Cintra (2012) for raising the speed to 85 MPH.
    TxDOT subsequently lowered the speed limit on the free alternative US 183 in Lockhart.

* Put taxpayers on the hook for 'uncollectable tolls' from out-of-state & foreign drivers
* Keep traffic forecasts & revenue studies SECRET from the public (Transp Code Sec. 366. 403)
* Allow private corporations the power to tax
* Eliminate low-bid, competitive bidding, replaces with 'best-value' bidding, allows P3s to be doled out to the well-connected = CRONY CAPITALISM!
* Heist PUBLIC money for PRIVATE profits. Use massive amounts of public money (gas tax, PABs) & public debt (federal TIFIA loans, potentially the State Infrastructure Bank) to subsidize/prop-up toll projects that can't pay for themselves (see examples on p. 2 here).  
* Hand control of our PUBLIC infrastructure to a PRIVATE entity. Proponents argue the STATE still TECHNICALLY owns the road, however, giving a single corporation a monopoly for 50 yrs. who has the ability to depreciate the 'asset' on its taxes is, in reality, giving the entity effective ownership of our PUBLIC roads for a HALF CENTURY!

Will lawmakers be fooled by the difference between a Design-Build and a concession CDA?
Proponents are trying to lull fellow House members into voting for SB 1730 by saying it may not be a concession CDA (that hands our highways to private toll operators), but could be a design-build CDA done by a public entity (and even non-toll). So therefore 'give us the authority' and TxDOT will decide later who gains control of our public roads and whether they're tolled or not.

A design-build CDA is a truncated concession CDA. A full blown concession CDA includes design-build-finance-operate-maintain (and a 50-yr leasehold/ownership stake), whereas design-build stops short of handing operations over to a private entity. Design-build CDAs are fraught with potential abuses as well (not competitively bid, can be handed to the well-connected, no apples-to-apples bid comparison or final design to compare against, and payments to losing bidders, etc.).

Regardless of the type of CDA, the bill does not separate design-build authority from concession authority - if lawmakers pull the trigger, it could be either. So a 'YES' vote means Texas roads could be handed to PRIVATE, even foreign entities for a HALF CENTURY with no further oversight from the legislature or PEOPLE of Texas.

What Texans think
"The bill doesn't differentiate between the types of CDAs being authorized -- whether tolled or non-toll. So while it's clever to say the toll element is 'optional,' whether or not Hwy 290, Hwy 183, I-35, Hwy 288, Hwy 114, Loop 9, Loop 12, or Loop 1604 (to name a few) get handed to a private toll operator will be decided later by un-elected boards & TxDOT, not the PEOPLE. Bottom line is TxDOT would NOT be able to hand these roads to Cintra or another private entity unless this bill passes.

"The PEOPLE of Texas haven't changed their minds since the Trans Texas Corridor or the CDA moratorium in 2007 - they do NOT want Texas sovereignty over our PUBLIC infrastructure handed to PRIVATE corporations who can GOUGE taxpayers for 50 years," Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texas TURF, warns.

BACKGROUND:
P3s are the financing method behind the Trans Texas Corridor and the primary mechanism keeping aspects of it alive today. Texans went radioactive at the notion of having private land handed to private, even foreign, corporations for private gain, rather than a public use, and the idea that a private company could dictate what roads get built (non-compete agreements) and how high the tolls would be.

P3s differ from a completely private road/project and differ from the government simply contracting work out to the private sector since a P3 involves an ownership stake or a long-term leasehold. While claiming to be built with private money and transferring the risk from the public sector to the private sector, this controversial financing mechanism virtually always involves PUBLIC money and public RISK through profit guarantees and taxpayers being on the hook for potential losses.

Texans ask for leadership to enact NEW vision for road policy

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Grassroots coalition calls on Perry, Dewhurst, & Straus to lead the way on a new vision for roads
Sensible bills should not be held hostage to promote special interests, more road debt, tax hikes, and budget-busting tolls that will only burden small businesses, families, seniors, and young adults on limited income!

(Austin, TX, March 12, 2013) - On Tuesday morning, Texans from across the state converged at the capitol to stress the need for Texas Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, and House and Senate budget writers to prevent the most fiscally sound, long-term road funding solutions from being held hostage to more tolls, debt, and tax hikes.

Activist leaders Terri Hall (TURF) and JoAnn Fleming (TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee Chair and Grassroots America director) sounded the alarm to Texans that soon every major road will be tolled, and foreign corporations can take over our  roadways, driving up the cost of daily travel with unfettered tolling.

Grassroots applaud Perry's call to end diversions, reject Rainy Day raid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TURF, pro-taxpayer groups applaud Texas Governor's call to end gas tax diversions, but reject Rainy Day Fund raid 

(Austin, TX - January 30, 2013) In his State of the State speech yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his support for ending gas tax diversions for non-road purposes. Ending diversions is part of the Governor's truth in taxation plank in his Budget Compact, which means taxes collected for a certain purpose should go only to that purpose. Perry's leadership to end gas tax diversions, estimated to be $1.3 billion per biennium, is much needed and very helpful. But that alone isn't sufficient to properly fund our state highways without higher taxes (aka tolls).

The Governor also asked Texans how they'd like to see tax relief implemented in the current legislative session. The grassroots call for eliminating toll taxes and using our existing road taxes (including the motor vehicle sales tax) to expand our freeways without tolls. Unfortunately, the Governor's web site, http://www.gov.texas.gov has no option for toll tax relief.

Judge rules foreign company can take Texas land using eminent domain

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Judge rules to allow TransCanada to take Texas farmer's land for Keystone Pipeline

(Paris, TX - August 23, 2012) Today, Lamar County Judge Bill Harris ruled in favor of TransCanada, the Canadian company building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, allowing them to act as common carrier and giving them the ability to forcibly take private land from Texas farmer, Julia Trigg Crawford, and any Texans in its path, using eminent domain, despite the lack of evidence that TransCanada meets the statutory requirements of a common carrier whose pipeline is a legitimate public use.
 
"Since the Texas Railroad Commission determined way back in 2008 that it had no jurisdiction over TransCanada's interstate pipeline, it simply defies logic that TransCanada is allowed to take private citizens' land under a Texas law that requires a pipeline operator to subject itself to the Commission's jurisdiction," said Wendi Hammond, attorney for landowner. "The Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly held that if there is an incident of doubt regarding the power of eminent domain authority, then a court must rule in favor of the landowner. Unfortunately, this judge failed to do so."  
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