Citizens call for immediate resignations of TxDOT's top brass


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.

TURF asks Ronnie Earle to prosecute TxDOT!


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.


Terri Hall
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.

MN bridge collapse wake-up call

Link to article about the tragedy here.


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.

FED-UP CITIZENS SEEK NEW LEADERSHIP AT TRANSPORTATION BOARD NEW appointees at City try to grab Chair position from Toll Party pick, Adkisson

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.

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

Giuliani has ties to Trans Texas Corridor


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


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


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 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!

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


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.

Wentworth sells out infuriated constituents in favor of campaign contributor & toll road bidder, H.B. Zachry


Wentworth sells out infuriated constituents in favor of campaign contributor & toll road bidder, H.B. Zachry

Austin, TX, Thursday, April 19, 2007 – In one of the most flagrant about-faces of all time, State Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, who previously wrote two letters asking for the non-toll gas tax funded plan to be installed on 281 (story about letter here and link to second one here) AND after signing onto the private toll moratorium (SB 1267), sold out his constituents in favor of DOUBLE TAXING them for roads already paid for and pilfering their pockets with an oppressively high toll contract to enrich campaign contributor H.B. Zachry (and long-time former client of his former law firm, see one of many money trails here) whose construction company is one of two bidders for the private toll contract (or CDA). Wentworth replaced favorable wording that included San Antonio toll projects in a private toll contract moratorium with wording that took them out on HB 1892 that passed out of committee yesterday.

Read about how it went down here.


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

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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:

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

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


“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 ( 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:


WHAT: Don’t Tag Texas Protest March & Rally

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.

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 (and Founder of a new statewide grassroots group called Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom or T.U.R.F.: 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: 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 is launched!


Contact: Terri Hall,
Founder/Executive Director
Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF)
PHONE: (210) 275-0640
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Citizens launch statewide grassroots group to combat privatized toll roads

San Antonio, TX, Thursday, April 12, 2007 – Concerned citizens across the state have formed a new coalition called Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public on our government’s new shift to privatizing and tolling public highways. Their concerns range from using controversial financing methods called public-private partnerships (called Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs in Texas) and the tolling of existing corridors, to eminent domain abuse (confiscating private land to give to a private company for commercial gain) and security and economic concerns with foreign management of our public infrastructure.

TURF is a grassroots group of Texans who are asking for reforms that require accountability and good public policy as well as promoting non-toll, sensible transportation solutions.

Terri Hall, who is also Founder and Director of the San Antonio Toll Party (, Hank Gilbert, rancher and former candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, and Gina Parker Ford, attorney and the Eagle Forum National Chairman for Judicial Reform serve on the Board of Directors. A long-time supporter of good government and this cause in particular, Dave Ramos of San Antonio, also serves on the TURF Board.

TURF has already been instrumental in working to gain a veto-proof majority in the Legislature for a two-year moratorium placed on private toll contracts.

“We’ve been a loosely knit group of concerned citizens for several years, and it’s time we advance to the next level forming a united, organized movement across the state,” says Hall. “The citizens of Texas want their voices heard and expect their government to act, NOW.”

"People of Texas value their land and it's heritage more than politics. The TTC is an invasion of Texans' private property rights for corporate and political gain;  to provide better transportation avenues for international goods through Texas.  Why should we sacrifice our lands to facilitate them?” asks Hank Gilbert.

“Texas farmers gave up their land to create TxDOT and the Farm-to-market road system, and again to the federal government to create the Interstate highway system.  Both were very important for transportation and U.S. commerce. The TTC is part of a national system designed to facilitate commerce for international companies so they can move their goods across the U.S. through Texas, thanks to NAFTA.  We've done our part twice out of patriotism; we will not do it again to promote others’ greed," Gilbert warns.

“Terri Hall, courageous and dynamic leader, is leading the battle for the voice of the people against foreign owned toll roads. Terri is a ‘David fighting the Goliath’ of corruption in big business and big government as she calls for transparency and accountability in government and exposes the back room deals that do not benefit Texans,” notes Gina Parker.


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