Austin, TX – Saturday, April 5, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) hosted thousands of citizens for a march up Congress Avenue and the Don’t Mess with Texas TURF protest rally to stop the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) and tolls across Texas on the South Capitol steps. Front row center was a contingent from the City of Kendleton, whose Mayor Carolyn Jones spread misinformation telling constituents the “TTC-69 project was dead so you don’t need to go to that rally Saturday.” One of her constituents quipped that “she must think we didn’t learn to read or write. Well, we did and we’re not stupid. We couldn’t wait to get to this rally.”
A similar contingent from Walker County attended in protest of Senator Steve Ogden's (R - Bryan) comments stating the TTC-69 project was "dead" (though he modified his remarks to claim he said "dead in Walker County"). TxDOT's official statement in response said the project is "not dead," and they, in fact, just extended the public comment period for TTC-69. Some folks believed the rumors, which made constituents hopping mad. Saturday's rally couldn't come soon enough.
Texas farmers, ranchers, and ordinary citizens from all over Texas (East Texas, North Texas, Houston, San Antonio, and everywhere in between) as well as folks from out of state (as far away as Michigan) attended the rally.
Oklahoma Senator Randy Brogdon (R – Owasso) told participants the TTC is a threat to liberty and to our sovereignty. Brogdon mentioned a transportation bill he helped kill in the Oklahoma State Legislature that had the potential to erase our borders and destroy our country’s sovereignty, giving unfettered access to Mexican and Canadian truckers on U.S. interstate highways and would have erased Oklahoma’s 11th Amendment rights.
“Folks, it is plain to me that anything designed to tear down and eliminate our borders is a direct attack on the sovereignty of this Nation. And anyone involved with helping to destroy our Nation’s sovereignty is involved in a treasonous act and should be held accountable,” Brogdon proclaimed with conviction.
Brogdon’s also spoke of the needed u-turn in the TTC when it hits the Oklahoma border.
“Well, Governor Rick Perry is going to have to build the largest Texas turnaround ever built in the State of Texas, because the NAFTA Superhighway ain’t crossing the Red River into Oklahoma,” roared Brogdon to the enthusiastic crowd.
Texas State Representatives David Leibowitz (D- San Antonio) and Nathan Macias (R – Bulverde) both encouraged grassroots supporters to continue the fight to stop the TTC and tolls.
“Our congressional delegation was asleep at the switch when NAFTA was passed. They didn’t ensure Texas got enough funding for the increase in traffic due to NAFTA and now they’re asking us to pick-up the tab,” noted Leibowitz.
“Thank you for your commitment to the cause, and please don’t give up the fight,” emphasized Macias.
Macias noted the Republican Party platform from 2006 had a plank against the TTC and against tolls on existing corridors. He stated the platform is a document created by the grassroots. He recognized many legislators aren’t listening to the citizens, and he encouraged them to stay involved in order to return our State government to one that’s of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Mae Smith, Mayor of Holland and Chair of the first Sub-Regional Planning Commission putting a roadblock in the way of TTC-35 gave attendees the tool they can implement TODAY to stop the TTC. By forming a commission allowed by Local Government Code Chapter 391 in the Texas Statutes, it forces TxDOT to coordinate with local units of government before they can proceed with building the TTC.
The booklets explaining the 391 commissions compiled by two private property rights groups called American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range went flying off the TURF table.
Other speakers touched on themes of loss of sovereignty, runaway taxation, eminent domain abuse, outsourcing of jobs, and the overall threat to the freedom to travel.
Participants also enjoyed some home-grown entertainment by The Texicans (singers/songwriters of Trans Texas Corridor Blues) and Jack Motley (featured in Truth Be Tolled.com movie).
Speeches and photos from the event will be posted shortly on the TURF web site.
Next year's rally will be on Saturday, February 28, 2009 on the South Capitol steps.
View Photos of the Event
Speeches from some that attended the event, and letters from some who could not attend:
Letter - Marcy Kaptur (OH Congresswoman)
Letter - Virgil Goode (VA Congressman)
Letter - Ron Paul (TX Congressman)
Speech - Randy Brogdon (OK Senator)
Letter - Jimmy Hoffa Jr. (Teamsters)
Speech - Terri Hall (TURF Founder)
Link to article here.
Trans-Texas Corridor foes march on Capitol
Critics say proposed toll-rail-utility routing will usurp property rights and harm the environment.
By Patrick George
Sunday, April 06, 2008
For Peyton Gilbert, the battle over the Trans-Texas Corridor is reminiscent of the moment in 1836 when Lt. Col. William Travis drew a line in the sand at the Alamo and invited those willing to fight thousands of Mexican soldiers to step across.
"That line in the sand is the Trans-Texas Corridor, and it's a threat to our sovereignty again, just like at the Alamo," said Gilbert, 14, who is from Whitehouse, near Tyler.
Gilbert was among a large crowd of people who marched down Congress Avenue to the Capitol on Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against the proposed highway-rail-utility corridor and the placement of toll roads on existing freeways. The corridor would go from the Texas-Mexico border to the Oklahoma state line and have special trucking lanes, rail lines and communications and utility cables.
Opponents say Gov. Rick Perry's plan for 4,000 miles of cross-state tollways will usurp private land, will use private companies to operate toll roads and could hurt the environment. The corridor is slated to be built by private contractors, primarily Spanish firm Cintra.
"In a nutshell, we are against it because of the devastation it's going to cause rural and urban landowners, the effect it will have on the middle class and the consequences it will have on our liberty," said Hank Gilbert of Texas TURF, or Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, the San Antonio-based group that organized Saturday's rally.
"TxDOT says these corridors are for trade out of Mexico and ultimately China, but it's Texans who will have to pay out the nose for it," said Gilbert, Peyton's father.
Both spoke at the rally.
Supporters of the corridor and toll roads say they are the only way to accommodate the state's growth without increasing gasoline taxes.
"Texans need and deserve real solutions to our growing traffic challenges, not just blind opposition to new lane and highway construction," said Bill Noble, a spokesman for Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation, a pro-tollway group. "Every day we delay building new roads means higher construction costs and more frustration for drivers."
In the warm, breezy spring weather, most rally participants carried signs with slogans like "No TTC!" and "Who does TTC benefit?" while listening to the band the Texicans play "The Trans-Texas Corridor Blues."
Many sported shirts and paraphernalia from Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign, expressing their support for the Libertarian-leaning lawmaker.
"Ron Paul stands up for the Constitution," said Charles Walker, who hails from Lake Jackson, which is in the lawmaker's district. "He was one of the original people to oppose the corridor."
Link to article here.
April 5, 2008
Toll road opponents rally in Austin against Trans-Texas Corridor
© 2008 The Associated Press
AUSTIN — A crowd marched through the heart of downtown Austin to the state Capitol on Saturday to protest Gov. Rick Perry's plan for 4,000 miles of toll roads across Texas.
The Trans-Texas Corridor, a proposed network of superhighway toll roads, rankles opponents who characterize it as the largest government grab of private property in the state's history and an unneeded and improper expansion of toll roads.
Rally participants carried signs with slogans like "No TTC!" and "Whodoes TTC benefit?" while listening to the band the Texicans play "The Trans-Texas Corridor Blues," the Austin American-Statesman reported for its Sunday editions.
"In a nutshell, we are against it because of the devastation it's going to cause rural and urban landowners, the effect it will have on the middle class and the consequences it will have on our liberty," said Hank Gilbert of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom.
Texas Department of Transportation officials and Perry have defended the project as necessary to address future traffic concerns in one of the nation's fastest-growing states. They also say the project is vital because of insufficient road revenues from the state gas tax and the federal government.
Cost of the project has been estimated at approaching $200 billion, and it could take as long as 50 years to complete.
Supporters of the corridor and toll roads say they are the only way the state's growth can be accommodated without hiking gasoline taxes.
"Texans need and deserve real solutions to our growing traffic challenges, not just blind opposition to new lane and highway construction," said Bill Noble, a spokesman for Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation, a pro-toll roads group. "Every day we delay building new roads means higher construction costs and more frustration for drivers."