Saturday, October 14, 2006

'Grandma' airs TV ad highlighting Gov. Perry's TTC Boondoggle

Strayhorn ad attempts to breakdown Perry support


The Associated Press
Copyright 2006

Details of a new television campaign ad from independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn:

TITLE: "Beyond"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

PRODUCER: Alex Castellanos, media consultant; WF of R Inc., media placement.

AIRING: Started Friday in most markets; will be airing statewide by Monday.

SCRIPT: Carole Keeton Strayhorn: "Tolls across Texas?

"Gov. Perry's plan is beyond anything we've ever known. It's the largest land grab in Texas history. A deal to seize more than a half million acres of private property and hand it over to a foreign company, so they can charge us tolls.

"I believe Texas property belongs to Texans, not foreign companies. And I believe we ought to protect our property rights and stop this land grab. Austin doesn't.

"It's time to shake Austin up."

KEY IMAGES: The ad is shot in the same style as all of Strayhorn's have been so far - the candidate wearing a red blouse under a black jacket, standing before a white background and talking to the camera.

ANALYSIS: Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor has been contentious - farmers and ranchers oppose selling their land for the massive transportation network, drivers oppose having to pay tolls and others have criticized the contractor's European ties. The issue is an easy target for Perry challengers and Strayhorn has led the charge against it. By putting the issue on television, she's taking it directly to voters - who may not have been paying close attention before now - and offering them an alternative. Strayhorn continues to poll below Perry, but she hopes that ads like this will breakdown enough of his support to give her an edge.

FACT CHECK: She calls the project the "largest land grab in Texas history." While the state plan could eventually include as much as 4,000 miles of highway, the state authorized 7,500 miles of farm-to-market roads in 1946. That grew to 35,000 miles in 1962 and included 41,755 miles by 1989. Strayhorn's campaign argues that the farm-to-market road system is still smaller than Perry's corridor because the rural roadways are not as wide as the swath planned for the new highway system.

Strayhorn contends the land will be "handed over to a foreign company." The contractor, Cintra-Zachry, is a consortium made up of Spain-based Cintra investing 65 percent and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction in for 35 percent. They've partnered with 16 other firms, which include two European-based companies.

Texas will own and control the roads, but Cintra-Zachry will maintain the roads and collect the tolls.

Strayhorn herself issued a press release in 2001 saying the Texas Department of Transportation should build more toll roads. Her campaign said she never envisioned such a sweeping toll road plan as Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor plan, adding that the transportation department's budget has increased enough in recent years to build roads without tolls.

Analysis by April Castro, Associated Press writer.

© 2006 The Associated Press:

Associated Press' FACT CHECK Wrong - OCT. 15, 2006

Copyright 2006

The Associated Press released analysis of a campaign ad today erroneously stating that Spain-based Cintra holds a 65-percent equity position in Cintra Zachry LP. That's wrong. The correct equity position is 85-percent with Zachry Construction holding the small 15-percent equity balance. Zachry holds a larger 35-percent position in their collaboration with Cintra on SH-130 segments 5 and 6.

Associated Press also questions the claim, "largest land grab in Texas history." The AP compares the 4,000 miles of the TTC to 41,755 miles of Texas farm-to-market roads (1946-1989).

In doing so they miss the glaring difference of added land being taken for utilities, rail and other purposes. Land taken for farm-to-market (and ranch-to-market) roads range typically from 60-feet to 90-feet in width and many were constructed where roads had already existed. The TTC, with a width of 1,200-feet, requires 13 to 20 times more land than a farm-to-market road. All the farm-to-market roads built over the last 50-years do not consume anywhere near as much land as the TTC.

© 2006