Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Enron, Abramoff, and the Trans-Texas Corridor. Big money, big manipulations, and big mistakes."

Ms. McGuffie gets the last word

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission
LOCATION: Conroe, Texas
DATE: January 26, 2006



MICHAEL W. BEHRENS, P.E., Executive Director
STEVE SIMMONS, Deputy Executive Director
RICHARD MONROE, General Counsel
ROGER POLSON, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Executive Director

(Excerpt of transcript)

MR. WILLIAMSON: Okay. Then we have Alice McGuffie. And Ms. McGuffie, as you walk to the podium, I want to tell you how much we appreciate your patience and your indulgence as we worked through the meeting. Normally our meetings do not last this long, but they did today, and we understand it's taken out a valuable part of your life and we appreciate your patience.

MS. McGUFFIE: Thank you. My name is Alice Sorsbee McGuffie, and I live in Waller County. And it sounds like this may be a history-making session in terms of length. It's been interesting for me to be here and sit and listen to the proceedings.

I do have a statement that I want to make to you, to all the commissioners.

I do not understand how TxDOT can relinquish right-of-way acquisitions for public roads to multinational conglomerates whose primary interests and talents are the making and moving of money. These conglomerates rival governments in their size and influence and some have argued they are the quasi-governments of our future.

Where is the protection for the small Texas landowner who, through no fault of his own, happens to stand in the way of these devouring giants, bulldozing their way through our precious countryside? What chance will any Texan have in getting fair justice when what is left of our government is nothing more than a proxy puppet for these financial institutions?

Thomas Jefferson said, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. But when and where did the people of Texas consent to be governed by money-making corporations?

Ms. Taraborelli, the project manager for the Montgomery County Transportation Program, told the Conroe Courier, Texas will be watching to see how the FM 1488 toll road project is handled. Ms. Taraborelli, employed by the private firm, Pate Engineers, went on to say MCPT is not bound by TxDOT's philosophy. While she may be implying that a private business may be more efficient in its operations than a governmental agency, she also seems to be suggesting that a private business may have more leeway to operate in a more aggressive way in handling environmental issues and land acquisitions. Do you sanction the public intimidation tactics used by Ms. Taraborelli toward landowners in Montgomery County?

I am very uncomfortable with the idea of a private company taking on much of the power of the government without the same accountability to the public. It appears that this aggressive approach toward building Montgomery County's new Shiloh Toll Road, at the expense of the environment and landowners, may foretell how TxDOT and its private mercenaries will handle the massive Trans-Texas Corridor.

Decades from now, historians will record our age as one of the most politically corrupt periods in American history, rivaling the gilded age of the 19th Century. Enron, Abramoff, and the Trans-Texas Corridor: big money, big manipulations, big mistakes.

Thank you.

MR. WILLIAMSON: We appreciate you reading your comments into the record. We note that we might agree with some and we might disagree with others, but we appreciate you taking your position.

Are there other matters before the commission?

(No response.)

© 2006 TxDOT