"Under traditional bidding rules, a public body wouldn't vote on a contract until it had been made public, debated and questioned. "
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Texas Department of Transportation officials are fighting the perception that a former lobbyist now working for Gov. Rick Perry unfairly influenced the selection of a private company from Spain to build a $6 billion toll road from the Metroplex to San Antonio.
Dan Shelley worked for the company, Cintra, for about a year before leaving in September to take a job as Perry's legislative liaison.
While with Cintra, Shelley visited state transportation officials privately on behalf of the company, which beat out two other companies in the selection process last month.
While perfectly legal, back-room meetings can become easy targets for criticism. This is particularly true with the Trans -Texas Corridor , the governor's long-term plan to build high-speed roads across the state, which abides by a new set of state laws that allow more decisions to be made out of public view.
When companies submit competing proposals to build a corridor route, the details can be kept confidential for months after the winner is announced. The information remains secret while the state's Transportation Department negotiates a contract with a winner, then negotiates a consolation stipend for the losers.
Under traditional bidding rules, a public body wouldn't vote on a contract until it had been made public, debated and questioned. The Trans -Texas Corridor works in reverse, and that fuels suspicion, especially among those skeptical about toll roads in the first place.
Gordon Dickson, (817) 685-3816 firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2005 Star-Telegram, Inc.
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