Saturday, November 04, 2006

Former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D) Missouri- now a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, pushes Perry's TTC

Dick Gephardt: Public-private links can be beneficial


Dick Gephardt
Special to the San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2006

Once again, we are in the midst of an election season. While there are plenty of issues sparking spirited debate along partisan lines, there are others, such as the Trans-Texas Corridor, that should be acknowledged for their potential to unite us.

Government partnerships with private companies are positive tools that state governments can use to address public needs within strained budgets, while creating tens of thousands of jobs for skilled workers.

Joining private resources and expertise with tangible public oversight and vision is not the same as selling off the responsibilities of government to the highest bidder. The private sector often is capable of delivery of services in ways that the government is not — to the benefit of the public good.

The transportation public-private partnerships taking shape in Texas today reflect a progressive and democratic tradition of pragmatic public works that have served working people well and driven the state's prosperity. These partnerships make political sense for both Republicans and Democrats because good public policy serves every constituent who drives on our roads, every worker who builds and maintains them and every community whose local economy is strengthened by opportunity through improved access.

Significant American success in building and running toll roads through private partnerships attests to this. Under the administration of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, for example, the lease of the Chicago Skyway for almost $2 billion allowed the city to pay off its debts, create a sizable reserve fund and pay for neighborhood improvement projects and social programs.

As seen in Virginia and in proposed projects in Ohio and elsewhere, this innovative approach is being employed by public officials — Democrats and Republicans alike — who are charged with the fiduciary responsibility of managing state budgets while meeting the growing needs of citizens and businesses. Public-private partnerships are a means of solving problems that otherwise would be ignored.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels faced a $3 billion shortfall in road building funds. The public-private partnership he developed for the Indiana Toll Road allowed him to resolve the pending transportation crisis without a gas tax increase and still maintain control of a vital state asset.

In each case, private partners have brought to the table significant funding and expertise without the need for the public to carry a debt, have created thousands of jobs for the building trades and have improved the infrastructure of the local community — all essential to maintaining a strong economy.

In a time when some industries are sending American dollars and jobs overseas, the Trans-Texas Corridor project achieves just the opposite — it attracts billions of foreign dollars to the state and creates thousands of jobs right here at home. It is, in a sense, reverse outsourcing. This "insourcing" creates a means by which the state can build and improve roads that would not — and in some cases could not — otherwise be built or improved without new debt for the state and new gas taxes for drivers.

Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature are moving ahead with the nation's most aggressive program of new projects that rely on private investment.

Successful public-private partnerships for transportation demonstrate to the domestic and global business communities that Texas is committed to working with the private sector and improving its infrastructure. These partnerships also demonstrate to our citizens responsible stewardship of state resources, and they create local and regional economic opportunities.

Such public policy successes should be a force uniting us as citizens, not dividing us as partisans.

Dick Gephardt is former minority leader of the U.S. House and a consultant to companies interested in partnering with government.

Also in TTC News Archives: Dick Gephardt lobbys for private toll roads in California: CLICK HERE

© 2006 San Antonio Express-News:


Quid Pro Toll: "It's the money interests that get to call the shots, instead of the electorate."

Donors with stake in toll roads give Perry $1.2 million


Lisa Sandberg, Julie Domel and Kelly Guckian
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2006

AUSTIN — Charles Lawrence has donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to Gov. Rick Perry over the past six years, by far the largest amount of anyone with a vested interest in the governor's controversial Trans-Texas Corridor.

Lawrence is chairman of Kirby Corp., a Houston-based transportation company operating the nation's largest fleet of inland tank barges and towing vessels.

His donations, totaling nearly $229,000, make him the largest contributor to Perry of anyone with a strong interest in transportation in general and the Trans-Texas Corridor in particular, according to a database analysis by the San Antonio Express-News.

Perry, a Republican, received upward of $1.2 million over the past six years from individuals or political action committees that, like Lawrence, have a stake in the proposed $7 billion system of toll roads and rail lines Perry has championed. Lawrence did not return calls for comment.

That's 71/2 times the amount transportation interests gave Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an independent gubernatorial candidate, in the same time period. She came in second of the four major candidates in such donations, according to the Express-News survey.

In 2001, Strayhorn expressed support for toll roads as a way to improve transportation without raising taxes but has opposed the plan touted by Perry, saying it amounts to "the largest land grab in Texas history."

Chris Bell, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, took in $1,750 in transportation-related contributions since he announced his bid for statewide office last year and began filing campaign finance records, the newspaper found. Independent candidate Kinky Friedman received just under $68 since last year. Both Bell and Friedman have campaigned hard against the toll project.

The Express-News survey was not exhaustive, but analyzed names of participants at two Texas Department of Transportation hearings this year regarding transportation issues.

Campaign donors and recipients contacted for this story said donations to public officials had no effect, in their view, on government contracts or public policy.

"There is not a quid pro quo," said Joe Householder, a spokesman for the San Antonio-based debt collection firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP.

That firm or individuals associated with it have given Perry at least $125,000 over the past six years, putting them fourth among Perry donors with transportation-related interests. The firm would stand to profit if the Trans-Texas Corridor was constructed and it was selected to collect delinquent tolls.

A spokesman for Perry adamantly rebutted the notion that political contributions influence the political process.

"There is no link," Robert Black said. "The governor has lots of contributors. Thousands of contributors. ... They give money because they believe in what he wants to do and where he wants to lead Texas. If they have any other motivation, they need not give."

Grass-roots anti-toll activists said the evidence is as plain as the brand-new highways being built across Texas.

"It's the money interests that get to call the shots, instead of the electorate," said Terri Hall, regional director of the San Antonio Toll Party,which boasts 5,000 members and whose leaders say there's no level playing field because members don't have the resources to contribute to politicians.

The issue of money in the political system surfaces virtually every time a big donation is made, a billion-dollar contract won or a highway paved.

Do politicians make public policy decisions without regard for the contributions they receive?

In 2005, a consortium led by Cintra of Spain and Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio signed a contract with TxDOT to develop a plan for a 1,200-foot-wide super-corridor linking Mexico with Oklahoma.

Texas would own and control the roads, but Cintra-Zachry would maintain them and collect tolls for 50 years.

Critics objected to the contract's secretive nature — details were released only in late September — the planned seizure of enormous tracts of land, the involvement of a foreign company and the idea of a pay-as-you-go transportation system.

Zachry family members have given Perry $141,700 since 2000. A Zachry political action committee has given an additional $5,000.

Zachry spokeswoman Vicky Waddy said the $2.4 billion company was awarded the contract because of its work, not its contributions. "We benefited because we have an 80-year history of being a quality company," Waddy said.

Black said neither Perry nor his office had anything to do with the awarding of the corridor contract. It was solely TxDOT's decision.

Andrew Wheat, research director for Texans for Public Justice, an Austin-based group that pushes for campaign finance reform, said he believes there would likely be "a fair amount of discretion involved in something this complicated." And contract award decisions would rest with Perry appointees.

Householder said if his firm's contributions swayed the bidding process, the company would have won the two-year, $1.39 million contract a competitor snagged in June to collect delinquent tolls along the Central Texas Turnpike project.

Perry's top transportation donors also happen to be among Strayhorn's biggest transportation donors. Lawrence, for instance, No. 1 transportation donor to Perry, ranked eighth among those donors to Strayhorn, giving her $5,000.

Perry's second-largest transportation contributor, Dannenbaum Engineering, was Strayhorn's top contributor, giving her $45,000 compared with Perry's $197,500. Perry's fifth-largest, Union Pacific Fund for Effective Government, was Strayhorn's second-largest.

Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders said contributions to Strayhorn from transportation interests have all but dried up.

"Her money is older money," Sanders said, referring to the donations made mostly before 2003.

News Researchers Kelly Guckian and Julie Domel reported from San Antonio.

© 2006 San Antonio Express-News:


Strayhorn: "Scrap the Corridor."

Gubernatorial candidates take stand on Trans-Texas Corridor


San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2006

Where they stand

The gubernatorial candidates stake out their plans for Texas' transportation future:

When voters approved the Texas Mobility Fund by a 2-1 ratio in November 2001, authorizing bonds and toll roads, few likely knew that state officials would take that as a mandate to build as many toll roads as possible.

Two months later, Republican Gov. Rick Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile network of corridors up to 1,200 feet wide that would include toll lanes, railways and utility lines. Private companies would finance, build and operate the corridors in return for collecting tolls and user fees for up to 50 years.

Perry says rapid growth in population and international trade is straining highways, and it will get much worse without adding several billion dollars' worth of projects a year. Private sector involvement and toll roads will raise money without increasing taxes and speed up construction.

Here's what his challengers would do:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn — independent

Would scrap the corridor, which she says is the biggest land grab in Texas history and puts special interests and foreign companies ahead of Texans.

'I'm going to blast the Trans-Texas Catastrophe right off the bureaucratic books,' she said.

Also opposes tollways in cities, and does not support a state gas tax increase because the state is awash in money. The biennium transportation budget doubled to $15.2 billion in six years, and $7 billion in bonds are available.

Long-term solutions include adding lanes to highways such as I-35 by using existing rights of way, increasing efficiency of rail lines and ports and expanding telecommuting.

Chris Bell — Democrat

Would try to stop the corridor because it would confiscate too much land, reeks of backroom favors to road builders and gives too much control to foreign companies.

Toll roads in cities are OK if put in new locations and supported and overseen by local governments. Putting toll roads on existing rights of way and replacing free highway lanes with frontage roads isn't fair.

Opposes any increase in the state gas tax but would allow voters to raise gas taxes at local levels. Other ways to get more money are to squeeze more efficiency out of the state transportation department, stop diverting gas-tax funds to other uses and push hard for more federal funds for highways and transit.

Kinky Friedman — independent

Opposes all toll roads and would work to purge the corridor and toll plans in cities, and also try to convert existing tollways to free roads.

Saying 'pay roads need to go the way of the pay toilet,' Friedman would seek an aggressive hike in the gas tax and other new funding measures but did not provide details.

James Werner — Libertarian

The problem with the corridor and other toll plans is that government is involved, and confiscating land to benefit private corporations is wrong and probably illegal.

The private sector is the answer to traffic problems, but firms should negotiate land deals and finance construction for toll roads on their own. Government should auction its existing roads to the highest bidders, and the gas tax along with all other taxes should be abolished in favor of a point-of-purchase sales tax on new goods and services.

'Virtually anything that the government can do, the private sector can do better,' he said.
Compiled by Express-News transportation writer Patrick Driscoll

© 2006 San Antonio Express-News:


Friday, November 03, 2006

"Residents along the path see it as government betrayal."

Coming Sunday: Small towns vs. Trans-Texas Corridor

November 03, 2006

By Roy Bragg
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2006

Plans to build a superhighway running parallel to Interstate 35 have driven thousands of farmers and small town residents to the point of rhetorical rebellion.

The first leg of the planned Trans-Texas Corridor, a tollroad that will cut through the heart of Central Texas, has become more than a war of words over progress. Residents along the path see it as government betrayal and a symbol of declining regard for Texas' agrarian tradition and the people who are trying to keep it alive.

Business and government leaders, while acknowledging the sacrific of rural landowners in the path, tout TTC as a plan to keep the state out of perpetual gridlock and keep the state's economy moving.

"The world is changing and Texas is right in the middle of it,'' said Temple Mayor Bill Jones III.

"A lot of goods will be moving through Texas and a lot of it is going to stop here, too. We've got to be ready for it."

But for opponents such as Jesse Mills, who campaigns daily for anti-TTC candidates on the courthouse square in Corsicana, the plan to pave thousands of acres of farmland has turned a traditionally quiet and conservative niche of the Texans into a well-oiled activist machine.

In public, they meet, they rally, they network and they campaign. In the ether of the Internet, they exchange reports, maps, and rumors.

And when they're alone, they cry and fret over their future.

Read the full report in Sunday's San Antonio Express-News.

© 2006 San Antonio Express-News:


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Texas Rep who enabled the TTC will get 'crossing over' voters this election.

Flier Fails to Note Candidate Is Dead

November 02, 2006

The Associated Press
Copyright 2006

A slick new campaign mailer shows a smiling state representative and reminds voters of her many notable achievements in education, economics and politics.

The ad doesn't say that Republican Glenda Dawson died in September.

Dawson's campaign still continues. Campaign officials hope she will win re-election for a two-year term over the Democratic challenger. If she wins -- likely in this heavily Republican district -- Gov. Rick Perry will call a special election to fill the vacancy.

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, who is overseeing the Dawson campaign, said that Dawson's daughter had mailed out a letter two weeks ago noting her mother's death and asking voters to continue to support the campaign.

Bonnen said the new flier was prepared as a 'tribute' to the late Dawson, 65, and did not attempt to conceal her death, although there's no mention of it on the mailer. She died of complications from a short illness, according to a statement from her family.

'We don't suggest that there's a great thing she's going to accomplish for the voters in the future,' Bonnen said. 'We had already made it clear to voters in one piece that she had passed away. We didn't think it was necessarily necessary to repeat it.'

© 2006 The Associated Press:


Who voted for the TTC?

Texas House of Representatives
The motion (HB3588) prevailed by: 146 Yes; 0 No; 1 Present not voting; 3 absent.

Yes votes - Allen; Alonzo; Bailey; Baxter; Berman; Bohac; Bonnen; Branch; Brown, B.; Brown, F.; Burnam; Callegari; Campbell; Canales; Capelo; Casteel; Chavez; Chisum; Christian; Coleman; Cook, B.; Cook, R.; Corte; Crabb; Crownover; Davis, J.; Davis, Y.; Dawson; Delisi; Denny; Deshotel; Driver; Dukes; Dunnam; Edwards; Eiland; Eissler; Elkins; Ellis; Escobar; Farabee; Farrar; Flores; Flynn; Gallego; Gattis; Geren; Giddings; Goodman; Goolsby; Griggs; Grusendorf; Guillen; Gutierrez; Haggerty; Hamilton; Hamric; Hardcastle; Harper-Brown; Hartnett; Heflin; Hegar; Hilderbran; Hill; Hochberg; Hodge; Homer; Hope; Hopson; Howard; Hughes; Hunter; Hupp; Isett; Jones, D.; Jones, E.; Jones, J.; Keel; Keffer, B.; Keffer, J.; King; Kolkhorst; Krusee; Kuempel; Laney; Laubenberg; Lewis; Luna; Mabry; Madden; Marchant; Martinez Fischer; McCall; McClendon; McReynolds; Menendez; Mercer; Merritt; Miller; Moreno, J.; Moreno, P.; Morrison; Mowery; Naishtat; Nixon; Noriega; Oliveira; Olivo; Paxton; Pen~ a; Phillips; Pickett; Pitts; Puente; Quintanilla; Raymond; Reyna; Riddle; Ritter; Rodriguez; Rose; Seaman; Smith, T.; Smith, W.; Smithee; Solis; Solomons; Stick; Swinford; Talton; Taylor; Telford; Thompson; Truitt; Turner; Uresti; Van Arsdale; Villarreal; West; Wilson; Wise; Wohlgemuth; Wolens; Wong; Woolley; Zedler.

Present, not voting - Craddick.

Absent, Excused - Garza.

Absent - Castro; Dutton.

Texas Senate
The motion (HB3588) prevailed by: 31 Yes; 0 No.

Yes votes - Armbrister, Averitt, Barrientos, Bivins, Brimer, Carona, Deuell, Duncan, Ellis, Estes, Fraser, Gallegos, Harris, Hinojosa, Jackson, Janek, Lindsay, Lucio, Madla, Nelson, Ogden, Ratliff, Shapiro, Shapleigh, Staples, VanideiPutte, Wentworth, West, Whitmire, Williams, Zaffirini.


"They brought us NAFTA, they brought us CAFTA, and now they want to give us the 'SHAFTA.' You know I don't like it."

A Day In The Life Of Carole Keeton Strayhorn

Nov 2, 2006

Keith ElkinsReporting
CBS 42 (Austin)
Copyright 2006

Independent candidate for governor Carole Keeton Strayhorn issued a challenge to Governor Rick Perry Thursday.

Strayhorn challenged the governor to come out from what she calls political attack ads and meet her face to face on the campaign trail.

So far, Governor Perry hasn’t responded.

CBS 42 News spent Wednesday on the campaign trail with Strayhorn as she traveled to Waco and Fort Worth.

Only five days away from the election and this Independent candidate is determined to fight it out with Governor Perry till the very end.

They were members of the same political party. But don't get the wrong idea, Carole Strayhorn and Rick Perry rarely if ever agreed with each another.

As Republicans, they've been hurling attacks and insults at each other for years. And now that she calls herself an Independent, the rhetoric is heating up even more since the governor unveiled a new ad campaign calling Strayhorn a politician woman.

At 5’1” tall this 67-year old grandmother is a spitfire calling for change.

"I understand, teachers work is never done," Strayhorn said.

She was the first woman mayor of Austin, first woman elected Austin School Board president, and first female state comptroller of Texas.

"I don't believe I was the top vote getter in the state based on my good looks," Strayhorn said.

Now she is slugging it out with incumbent Governor Rick Perry hoping to take his job.

She insists education is her top priority.

"What he calls Trans Texas Corridor I call trans Texas catastrophe and as governor I will blast it off the bureaucratic books,” she said.

But everywhere she goes her toll road opposition seems to draw the biggest applause.

"It is a $184 billion boondoggle, it was negotiated behind closed doors, secret contracts all Texans didn't get to participate in that,” Strayhorn said. “All of our contractors didn't get to participate in that. And even after they made 1,600 pages public you still don't know where that route's going and you're not going to know until after Nov. 7 because that's the name of the game.”

Angry voters like Charles and marry Whitaker support Strayhorn because they believe Governor Perry is forcing them off their land.

"Certainly, we are independent people. We make our living in the dirt and they don't, " Mary Whitaker said.

"They brought us NAFTA, they brought us KAFTA, and now they want to bring us shafta you know I don't like it," Charles Whitaker said.

Strayhorn doesn't like Governor Perry’s latest political ads either, which refer to her three times as a politician woman.

"I called out the governor on these political attack ads and his response from Washington, D.C. was, 'I must be missing something',” Strayhorn said. “Well, I certainly agree with that he is missing something."

In rapid fire fashion she predicts voters agree with her and are ready for a change.

"This campaign is going off like a roman candle,” Strayhorn said. “Next Tuesday, Nov. 7, the people of Texas are going to elect the first independent governor since 1859 because they know Carole Keeton Strayhorn will shake Austin up and get things done and stop the dividing and have a united Texas.”

Hoping to win over voters like Tracy Mulgrove.

"Normally I vote Republican and I’ve been very disappointed with a lot of the Republican aspects,” Mulgrove said.

Hoping to turn that disappointment into enough independent votes for change.

Strayhorn says its going to be a very close election and spends every minute reminding voters every single vote will count.

With five candidates in this race, whoever ends up with the most votes wins even if they're not supported by a majority of Texans they represent.

Early voting ends Friday and election day is next Tuesday.

© 2006 CBS Stations Group of Texas L.P:


"Our representative voted for the Corridor as well as for eminent domain. Since they all have opponents, we have a clear choice."

Oppose Trans-Texas corridor when voting


The Cameron herald
Copyright 2006

If all the meetings on the Trans-Texas Corridor proved one thing, it was that the majority of the people, both Democrat and Republican, are against it. We still have one more chance to show our strong opposition and that is at the ballot box on Nov. 7.

Since the contract for the corridor would run for 50 years, maybe more, by which time gasoline will only be a memory, how does it make any sense to build an ethanol plant in Temple while destroying the blackland prairie needed to grow the corn to process there? It doesn't!

Since the motivating factor behind most of the strong supporters of the corridor is greed, be sure to check out their background and also those of all elected officials. I know of one strong supporter who owns a gravel pit and expects to make a killing selling sand and gravel to the corridor builders.

Since it was in the legislature where the cow ate the cabbage, be sure to check out how our elected officials voted. I mean from the Governor down to dogcatcher. We already know that the corridor is our Governor's pet project. We also know that our representative voted for the corridor as well as for eminent domain. Since they all have opponents, we have a clear choice.

This is Texas, our Texas, so let's show that we're not about to let a bunch of foreigners exploit and profit from this boondoggle about to be perpetrated upon our landowners. Texans, in the past, have been able to solve, without outside interventions, our transportation problems and will do so now and in the future. Keep Texas for Texans is our rallying cry for Nov. 7.

Hilda Kuzel Burtis


It's important to vote; Just do it

The election scheduled for Nov. 7 is predicted to be a light turn out for the American people. I surely hope people vote, however I recognize the fact that the citizens of this free nation can exercise his/her right not to vote, too.

The Republicans boast of having a small government and keeping spending to a minimum, but the present administration has out-spent all other administrations put together. This is a fact. Are they hypocritical?

God is being pushed out of our public lives and the Supreme Court is getting the blame. The Republican Party claims the Bible belt of our country, yet seven of the nine Justices were selected by the Republican presidents. This is a fact. Are they hypocritical?

The Republican Party has the White House (Administrative Branch) , both houses in Congress (Legislative Branch) and seven of the nine justices of the Supreme Court (Judicial Branch) so, do you think all is well in the U.S.A.? Do you see any hypocrisy here?

Now let's talk about WMD and the war in Iraq. I am concerned about the size of our volunteer military and wonder if this nation will enact the draft (selective service) in the near future.

Now the “Stay the Course” slogan has been abandoned. The Republican Party's house of cards is falling apart from the national level to Milam County. Have you heard of the Milam County chairman resigning his chair last week?

Being 'conservative' is good compared to what? How about the increase of the national debt and budget?

It is hypocritical to say one thing and do another. Yes! It is time for a change. If you agree, vote Democrat. If you disagree, vote Republican or Independent tickets. Whatever you believe, I hope all registered voters exercise their right to vote. Every election is important. Your individual vote is important, so don't give me the Electoral College argument here.

Just do it!

James T. Hubert, Jr


Public, private entities profit at expense of landowners

My wife and I own property in Milam County that has been in her family since 1893 and we both attended Cameron Schools. We are proud of our Yoeman heritage and bleed Maroon and Grey. However,we are not proud of the actions of the Marlow Water Supply Corporation or its board.

We were asked sometime ago to provide an easement across our property for a water line. We assumed it was for a home owner and only after asking questions did we find out it was to provide water for a truck stop/rv park near Little River bridge.

We said no to the easement because there are other easements that would provide the service and now our land is being condemned. I realize there are good people on the Marlow water board but the bottom line is we will have a permanent easement on our property not to serve the public good but to profit an individual.

The water company gets a new water line, the truck stop gets water and the land owner gets hosed. Allowing this permits a situation where an individual attempts to purchase land/easements and is told no, so he finds a government entity to do the work for him via emminent domain. It may be legal but it does not make it right.

Greg Poole

Just the Facts or an opinion?

Keeping up with the recent back and forth initiated by the GOP lawsuit in Milam County, it seems to have deteriorated into personal character attacks. While the concurrent theme is “just the facts” I don't see how anyone can think name-calling denotes fact and not opinion. That kind of hostility is sometimes the first sign of a sinking ship - just my opinion, of course.

While I don't live in Milam County and not particularly familiar with the current local political issues, I am a Cameron native and can credit all my small town values with the formative years of that small town life. And isn't it through those central beliefs and values we filter all the information and events we experience. It's that we must rely on if we're not to be the “Stepford wives” of the marketing experts.

For where we are today on a national level, my mind goes back to a foreshadowing event during the Bush/Gore presidential race. Laura Bush told a story on the Tonight Show which set off an alarm in my filter. She said that as a newlywed, Barbara (her mother-in-law) had given her advice not to criticize George. One evening they were returning from one of his first political speeches in a local Texas race. George was driving, and as they pulled into the garage, he asked how she liked his speech. She told him she didn't like it. He ran the car through the back wall of the garage.

While the audience laughed, I couldn't believe she was telling this story on national television. Was that the kind of temperament we needed in the most powerful leader in the world with his finger on the “button”? The events of 9/11 soon showed we needed someone with the Wisdom of Solomon - not the guy that has to be “right” I guess you've heard he is staying the course if only Laura and Barney, the dog, are still with him. We're under insurmountable debt, the middle class is disintegrating, the war in Iraq is a catastrophe and we are about to embark on a new cold war of nuclear escalation - just my opinion, of course.

So do we keep drinking the administration's Kool-Aid? Right now the polls show that a large majority aren't imbibing. And as far as wire-tapping goes - who knows? I have heard there are people in Milam County who “wonder’” kind of silly probably. But don't worry, Mr. Gonnela, you would get high marks if they tapped yours since you’'re part of the 33-34 percent that's still enjoying the Kool-Aid.

Marilyn Willie,


Former Milam Country Resident

© 2006 The Cameron Herald:


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Todd Staples never voted against a single bill regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor."

Toll roads top issue in race for agriculture job

Candidates argue about who is most opposed to Trans-Texas Corridor.

November 01, 2006

By A.J. Bauer
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2006

The Texas Department of Agriculture might have nothing to do with the Trans-Texas Corridor, but that hasn't stopped it from becoming one of the most contentious issues of this year's race for agriculture commissioner.

The race pits Democrat Hank Gilbert against state Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine. Libertarian Clay Woolam is also running.

Both Staples and Gilbert are East Texas cattlemen, and both oppose the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile plan for tollways, railroads and utilities lines proposed by Gov. Rick Perry that will require governmental acquisition of thousands of acres of private property.

But Gilbert has been painting Staples as a supporter of the corridor, an accusation that has both candidates fighting each other for who is the true corridor-opposition candidate.

Gilbert claims Staples' opposition to the corridor is insincere. He cites the senator's record of supporting the legislation that established the corridor — a broad transportation bill that the Senate unanimously passed in 2003.

"Staples never voted against a single bill regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor," Gilbert said.

However Staples, who has been endorsed by myriad agricultural groups including the anti-corridor Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, authored the Senate version of a corridor "cleanup" bill in 2005.

Staples' bill required a public vote for all conversions of free roads to toll roads and also limited the possible uses of government-taken land to only those that "directly benefit users of a state highway toll project."

Gene Hall, spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said Staples' bill also allowed landowners to participate in franchising agreements for businesses built on property the government takes from them for the corridor.

Gilbert alleges that the 2005 "cleanup" bills only restored a few restrictions on the condemnations of private land but will still lead to vast land-grabs of some of the state's prime farming and ranching land.

Hall said the corridor's need for governmental acquisition of vast amounts of private property, a great deal of which is land used in agricultural production, causes the high opposition to the corridor among farmers and ranchers.

"Really the corridor doesn't have anything to do with the agriculture department," Hall said. "But no one in agriculture doesn't consider it of prime import."

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said campaigning on a highly visible issue, even if the candidate has little control over it, is a common tactic of down-ballot statewide races.

"For example, attorney general candidates always run on a law-and-order theme even if they have little to do with it," Jillson said. "People think the position must be concerned with law and order, so candidates feel they must speak to those issues."

Jillson said Staples is in the uncomfortable position of essentially running on Perry's Republican ticket even though he opposes the governor's policy on the corridor.

"He's trying to say to [rural voters] 'You normally vote Republican. I know you're nervous about the corridor and I have some issues with it, too. I'll raise these concerns with the governor and he'll listen to me,' " Jillson said.

Despite the agriculture commissioner's lack of power over the issue, both Staples and Gilbert say, if elected, they plan on being the voice of the agriculture community against the problems associated with the corridor. Jillson said they have little other choice.

"Anything that impacts rural Texans should be the concern of the agriculture commissioner," Jillson said. "And right now, that's loss of farm land to the Trans-Texas Corridor."

© 2006 Austin American-Statesman: www.


"Leaders" of both political parties are the ones doing this to our country, without paying so much as a political price.

Terrorists? Nope, it’s Bush & Co. who’ve blasted our infrastructure

All in the name of killing government

November 2006

Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer
Volume 8, Number 11
Hightower Lowdown
Copyright 2007


Screaming, flashing, neon-bright, God Almighty RED!!! Not just a single disaster, but multiple, biblical-level catastrophes are being plotted by a diabolical, heretofore unnamed network of terrorists who’re out to destroy America with an unprecedented series of attacks.

They have their sights on our busiest airports. Also our dams, with the potential for horrific mass destruction. In addition, our municipal water systems and unified electric-power grids are on their list.

Plus, we have proof that these ruthless cowards, in zealous pursuit of their own narrow ideology, have already spread into every area of our country with copycat plans to bring down countless numbers of America’s schools, directly targeting our children.

These terrorists are not connected to Osama, the “Axis of Evil,” or any other foreign-based network. Instead, they are homegrown extremists, and they are doing more long-term, systemic damage to our country than al Qaeda could possibly imagine, much less pull off.

Their leaders are sitting undetected in the White House, Congress, governors’ mansions, and city halls from coast to coast.

They do not attack overtly but covertly by passively allowing such essential public works as our highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, levees, water-purification plants, pipelines, chemical-storage tanks, libraries, and schools to deteriorate, erode, corrode, leak, collapse, fossilize, and otherwise come apart, sapping our nation’s strength and security.

If there were the merest suspicion that some group of Arabic speaking Islamic extremists was plotting even a fraction of this damage, George W’s hair would burst into flames, Congress would throw open the doors of Fort Knox to fund retaliation, martial law would be declared, and every Muslim in America would be rounded up. But our “leaders” of both political parties are the ones doing this to our country, without paying so much as a political price, much less being shackled and hauled off to Gitmo.

They have escaped public exposure and punishment because (1) “infrastructure” is a non-sexy, mostly silent asset; (2) the destruction of America’s vital infrastructure is happening by acts of omission, not commission, and (3) the Powers That Be have found a way to make their assault a point of political pride, spinning it as a valiant effort to cut taxes and defund Big Government.

From George W to George W

Granted, people (including me) don’t like Big Government, but as we learned from Bush’s Katrina fiasco, we damned sure do want essential government. This has been the case from the start of our nation, and the boneheaded, shortsighted, self-aggrandizing, “kill government” ideologues of today are enemies of history, common sense, progress, and America’s public welfare.

The first W--George Washington --was on board with using public funds to provide the new country with a solid infrastructure, including an extensive system of postal roads and canals. Jefferson stepped up with tax dollars for the Louisiana Purchase. Even in a time of civil war, Honest Abe saw the need for a transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act, and a public system of land-grant colleges. Teddy Roosevelt--a Republican-- pushed for our sterling network of national parks and created the National Forest Service. FDR put America to work building courthouses and dams, planting windbreaks and arbors, creating music and plays--jewels that are still with us. Ike, a fiscal conservative, saw the need to launch the Interstate Highway System. Lyndon Johnson fought for crucial investments in hospitals, schools, water systems, and parks.

From the early 1950s into the 1970s, total public spending on America’s physical plant (including money put up by local, state, and federal agencies) amounted to about 3% of our Gross Domestic Product. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, this investment in the public good fell victim to posturing budget whackers and dropped well below 2% of our GDP--a cut of more than a one third.

The situation has worsened under the Bushites, who are sworn enemies of public investment in anything but the military and their corporate cronies. While federal infrastructure outlays in the 1960s were equal to the amounts spent by state and local governments, locals are now putting up three times what the feds spend, with the federal investment shrinking this year to an abysmal 0.7% of GDP.

Of course, George W has a fib to fit every figure, including this deceit: “Infrastructure is always a difficult issue,” he said recently. “And I, frankly, feel like we’ve upheld our responsibility at the federal level with the highway bill.”

Well, frankly, George, you haven’t. Not even close.

Experts point out that your $286 billion bill is more than $30 billion short of the bare minimum needed simply to bring America’s once proud highway system up to the low standard of “adequate.” And what you provide is way short of what’s required for rail, mass transit, smart highways, and other transportation needs.

Instead of offering an overarching vision of a forward-thinking transportation plan for our growing, sprawling population, this blob of a bill is a catchall for special-interest projects funded on the basis of insider influence, not need.

Citizens Against Government Waste reports that the bill so loudly touted by Bush puts $1 out of every $14 into pork projects.

Included, for example, is $223 million for a ridiculous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, linking the small town of Ketchican to Gravina Island (population 50)--locations which are already linked by a seven-minute ferry ride running every half hour. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens wanted this piece of pricey pork so badly that he threatened to quit Congress if his colleagues did not approve the bridge. Now, there was a golden opportunity to make two gains for the public interest in one stroke! But, alas, Congress and the White House sided with Stevens.

Third World USA

Any homeowner knows that if you ignore a leaking roof, you’ll soon find your ceiling buckling, sheetrock crumbling, paint peeling, studs rotting… and a world of misery. The same is true of our national house, and the decay is increasingly obvious and ominous.

  • We now know that the ghastly drowning of New Orleans was not the result of Hurricane Katrina, but the failure of presidents, Congress, and the Army Corps of Engineers to fortify the levees--a disaster that had been predicted and was preventable. The people of this iconic American city (60% of whom have yet to return), are victims of right-wing, antigovernment theorists who insist on reducing public safety to “cost-benefit” formulas-- cold calculations that do not count consequences that occur only sometimes. Thus, no need to have a First World levee system (a lá the Dutch), since Category 4 and 5 storms aren’t that frequent… even though they are inevitable and catastrophic.
  • Two years ago, during what was supposed to be a brief interruption for routine maintenance on locks and a dam on the Ohio River, upstream from Louisville, the system had to be shut down for eight weeks because deterioration was far worse than expected. This meant that coal being barged to power plants that supply electricity throughout the Midwest was stopped. A power blackout was only narrowly averted in this case, but such shutdowns of locks on the Ohio and Mississippi are increasing as infrastructure funds dry up. “If I had more money,” the head of civil works says solemnly, “I could reduce these shutdowns to a level that I might consider satisfactory.” The Commission on Public Infrastructure reports that half of the Corps of Engineers’ 257 locks on our inland waterways are functionally obsolete.
  • The bursting of even a small dam can be a disaster. We regularly drive over dams, but we can’t see the internal structures, so we don’t give dam safety any thought-- until a dam fails. Then the TV has saturation coverage of the issue-- but soon it disappears again. Since 1998, the number of unsafe dams in the U.S. has risen by a third to more than 3,500, with the number of “high-hazard” dams up by 1,000. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reports that $10.1 billion is needed over the next 12 years just to fix dams that are in such critical shape they pose a direct risk to human life.

  • After the school-shooting horror in Pennsylvania Amish country, George W convened a quickie, made-for-TV “conference” on school safety, designed more for midterm electioneering than for producing any action. No one mentioned, however, that our leaders are letting America’s school facilities deteriorate so badly that schoolrooms themselves have become unsafe. Collapsing ceilings, lead paint, crumbling stairways, broken windows, asbestos, radon, malfunctioning heaters and plumbing, lack of insulation, massive overcrowding, toxic waste, and other problems persist and are growing worse as maintenance and construction budgets are shortchanged at all levels of government. A 1999 federal report found that 14 million of our children were attending dilapidated schools--a record so sorry that the feds have refused to issue any safety reports since. But according to the National Education Association, at least one third of America’s 80,000 schools are in need of extensive repair or replacement. In 2000, the NEA estimated that $268 billion is needed just to bring school conditions up as far as “good.” “Excellent” requires much more.
  • Thanks to deteriorating water works and polluted water sources, it’s no longer an oddity to have health warnings and “boil water” mandates attached to our tap water. A 2003 survey of conditions in 19 cities by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that one (Chicago) rated excellent in water quality and five could claim good, while eight earned only fair and five poor. Yet as of last year, federal funding for upgrading our drinking-water infrastructure was less than 10% of the national need, and the Bushites continue to hold it at this inadequate level. The watchdog group Food and Water Watch says that to protect public health, America needs to invest $277 billion over the next 20 years in improving our 55,000 community drinking-water systems.
  • Road and bridge conditions all across the country aren’t just a mess--they’re deadly. ASCE reports that bad and congested roads are a hidden tax that runs us $54 billion a year in car/truck repairs and excess operating costs, forces us to spend an average of 47 hours a year stuck in traffic (burning 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline in our idling vehicles), and--worst of all-- causes some 13,000 highway deaths each year. Bridges, too, are a threat; ASCE finds that 27% of America’s spans are now structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, requiring $9.4 billion every year for the next 20 years to repair the deficiencies.
America’s backbone

George W insists that he has made America “strong and safe,” referring to the hundreds of billions of dollars he has dumped into Iraq and homeland security. Actually, he has failed the strength and safety test even on his foreign watch. But internally--where such essential physical networks as schools, dams, water systems, libraries, power lines, rails, parks, and airports are the vertebrae of our nation’s backbone--the no-tax/no-government mantra of Bushite ideologues (with the complicity of spineless Democrats in Congress) has left America a fragile and vulnerable nation.

Last year, ASCE compared the conditions in 12 categories of our nation’s infrastructure to conditions in 2001. From wastewater to the power grid, schools to airports, the 2005 overall grade had slipped down to a D from the D+ it got four years earlier. Of the 12 categories, only 2 had a slightly improved grade, 3 stayed the same, and 7 grew worse. No category rated either an A or B – only C’s (mediocre) and D’s (poor). The highest grade for any category was a C+. ASCE president William Henry blamed this pathetic, Third World level of performance directly on our current “patch and pray” approach to America’s crucial infrastructure.

Infrastructure is more than just enjoying good roads and bridges. It is the key to a functioning society-- to attaining good jobs, supporting a middle class, producing a high quality of life, and achieving the common good. For all of their pretensions about being self-made, self-reliant entities, the corporate powers could not function without the public infrastructure that so many of them scorn, try to privatize, and seek to defund.

One delightful example of the power of public works is the 2.5 mile Riverwalk that meanders so beautifully through the heart of downtown San Antonio. With its broad walkways, 21 unique bridges, 31 native sandstone stairways, numerous public plazas, and gorgeous flora, this “Paseo del Rio” along the banks of the San Antonio River has become a tourist magnet. Drawing millions of visitors, it’s home to a plethora of shops, restaurants, bars, strolling musicians, festivals, and fun. Riverwalk is second only to the Alamo as the city’s defining attraction, and the local business establishment touts it worldwide as a masterpiece of the American marketplace.

What the corporate honchos don’t broadcast, however, is that Riverwalk was a WPA project, built between 1939 and 1941 with federal money as part of FDR’s National Recovery program. At the time, business moguls derided it as a “make-work” project.

Why not excellence?

ASCE’s scorecard concludes that America must invest $1.6 trillion just to bring our basic infrastructure up to a grade of B, which is still short of “excellent.” Though “good”is better than the “poor” level where we now reside, is that an acceptable aspiration for the richest country on earth? Come on--the Bushites are weak, but the American people are strong, with far bigger dreams of what our society can be than merely “keeping up” with the middling nations.

Let’s reinvest in ourselves! Bring the troops home, move money out of the bloated corporate-military machine, put the ultrarich back on the tax rolls--and put millions of Americans to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure to the world’s top level.

Let’s also tap into our country’s deep well of grassroots ingenuity, can-do spirit, and commitment to the common good in order to update and extend our infrastructure into the new age. If we build a national network of renewable energy systems, for example, we will achieve energy independence for ourselves and future generations. And if we are truly to be a world leader, we must quickly build a public, information-age infrastructure that provides highspeed broadband connections and computers for every American in our land.

Not only can we do all of this, we must. To start, we have to spread the word about the disastrous decline our leaders have wrought and put what I call “pothole politics” up front on our local, state, and national agendas. Potholes don’t get fixed until people scream.

© 2006 Public Intelligence,Inc. :

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Gas taxes to subsidize Central Texas Toll Roads

Judging toll road success a tricky matter

Long-term estimates put three-road project in the red without tax support.

November 01, 2006

By Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2006

The television news reporter, as Steve Pustelnyk remembers it, posed himself in the middle of the Central Florida Greenway, holding a bowling ball. The toll road, which had opened just weeks before in 1987, was so deserted, the reporter said, he could roll that ball down the road and not hit anything.

"Today, if they tried that, they'd be hit by a car within a split second," said Pustelnyk, who worked for the Orlando toll road agency for a long time and is now the communications director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. "And if you look at traffic projections for that road now, they're right on the mark."

Toll service attendant Natasha Hill blocks lanes at the toll plaza on the Loop 1 extension before its opening Tuesday. Officials estimated in 2005 that, after a year, the plaza will see 38,000 cars a day, more than plazas on Texas 45 North and Texas 130.

With Tuesday's opening of Central Texas' first three toll roads, a debut occurring in a heated political environment, the natural tendency will be to make snap judgments.

If the 15 miles of Texas 130 opening now have relatively few cars, as is likely, well, the road must be a failure. Or if the new portion of Loop 1 has steady traffic — again, a likely scenario — that road will probably get a collective thumbs-up.

But Pustelnyk and others in the toll road business, familiar as they are with the course of American toll roads over the past 10 to 15 years, caution against declaring any winners or losers right after kickoff. And they say that even the concept of success is a tricky one for toll roads.

For drivers, particularly those with a reasonable amount of disposable cash and thus the ability to pay tolls, the mere existence of the road as a speedy alternative will constitute a public policy success. In fact, the emptier the road, the better, from their point of view.

The investors who loaned the Texas Department of Transportation $2.2 billion to build nearly 66 miles of Loop 1, Texas 45 North and Texas 130 will have a different perspective. They want to be paid, and so the more traffic, the better.

And that has by no means been a sure thing in recent years. Cherian George, a managing director and head of transportation at Fitch Rating in New York, said that up to 80 percent of toll projects have struggled to one degree or another over the past few years.

"There have been a number of projects around the country where bondholders have lost value," George said this week.

Several tollways have had to refinance their debt after traffic has fallen short of expectations in the early "ramp-up" period.

"But in good time, our experience worldwide has been that once the access is there, people will use it, and people will use it in good numbers," George said. "The question is one of pace."

Complicating all this is that the roads will be free for two months and then free or discounted for toll tag users for two more months. In the middle of all this, in December, another 13.8 miles of Texas 130 will open. Then in March, a fourth toll road feeding the system from the northwestern suburbs, U.S. 183-A, will open. And by late next year, another 20 miles of Texas 130 will come on line.

"Once the tolls begin being feathered in (in January), we're going to see a drop in traffic," said Phillip Russell, the state Transportation Department's turnpike director. "Then it will rebound. It's better to wait until April or May at least. Then we can start to get some definite conclusions about what it's going to be."

Financially, at least, the Transportation Department has covered the investors in a number of ways.

The agency borrowed extra money, called capitalized interest in the industry, to make debt payments in the early years and has been making payments since 2002. With about 41 miles opening nearly a year early, that means many months of income rolling in before it was supposed to begin.

And the bond documents, George said, stipulate that the Transportation Department will pay for operations and maintenance on the road if necessary, allowing toll revenue to go to debt as a first priority.

One traditional measure of success for a toll road, of course, is for traffic on the roads to meet projected volumes. The state hired consultants to do detailed traffic and revenue projections before borrowing the money in 2002 and then updated those projections a year ago.

According to that 2005 update, the main toll plaza on Loop 1 should see about 38,000 cars a day at the end of a year, and the Texas 45 North plaza near Parmer Lane would get 21,000 or so vehicles. Expectations are far more modest on the Texas 45 North plaza in Pflugerville — 9,400 a day — and even lower for Texas 130.

The report predicts 4,500 to 9,100 toll transactions at various plazas at the end of a year. On a four-lane road that could easily accommodate 50,000 cars a day, the predicted numbers presage a very roomy highway.

Even at those volumes, the three-road system would be able to make its debt payments and eventually turn a profit. After a fashion.

According to a Transportation Department cash flow and debt service table, the roads would generate $8.7 billion between now and 2042. Debt service would amount to $7.1 billion, and after paying various operations expenses, the project would have $476 million available.

But the chart also indicates that there would be $1.2 billion in "commission support" for operations and maintenance over the years. That is, money contributed from the Transportation Department's other revenues, primarily the gasoline tax. Without that, the estimate would show the project in the red by more than $700 million.

Central Texas, on the other hand, will have the use of 66 miles of road for those 35 years.

"It's important to recognize that we are judging toll roads differently than we are judging nontoll roads," Pustelnyk said. "I suspect that if you look back at I-35 that it was not jammed the day it opened."

© 2006 Austin American-Statesman: www.


"They are taking public expressways and turning them into toll roads for the first time in our country."

Toll Roads Open To Mixed Reaction From Drivers

Nov 1, 2006

Julie Simon Reporting
Copyright 2006

Tuesday was the sneak peek. Wednesday toll roads in Central Texas officially opened to drivers.

The Texas Department of Transportation held its toll road ribbon cutting Wednesday morning.

This is now the second night in a row commuters here are getting to use the newly built toll roads to get where they are going.

It's happened in stages but toll roads are now on State Highway 130 from U.S. 79 to U.S. 290, the MoPac extension north of Parmer and State Highway 45.

For TxDOT, Wednesday was a milestone.

And with that TxDOT officially welcomed toll roads to Texas. Elected officials, who helped bring them here, called it a momentous day for Texans.

“Folks this is a big deal, it really is,” said Robert Nichols, former member, Texas Transportation Commission.

“We are not satisfied to live with the congestion that exists in downtown Austin so we will reduce congestion over the next 25 years,” chair of the Texas Transportation Commission Ric Williamson said.

Round Rock's mayor Nyle Maxwell called it a wonderful day.

Toll road project manager Tim Weight spent many nights and weekends overseeing construction. He's looking forward to a little down time.

“That’s number one on my mind right now-getting to know my kids again but we still have work to do,” Weight said. “We have another year of the project. This is just the first phase. More phases will be coning online.”

Drivers took the toll roads Wednesday and had mixed reactions.

“It's hard getting to work in the morning,” driver Rachel Gallagher said. “I think everyone is bunched up on it. It took me about 20 minutes longer because of everyone coming on the toll roads.”

“I think there are a lot of people like myself taking a cruise on the tollways seeing what its like, what problems there may be,” driver Bill Ullman said. “Overall, I think it's going to be a good thing.”

More tolls will continue to open after the first of the year and into 2007.

Toll roads in Central Texas are a controversial issue. Some people feel they are a form of double taxation.

“Phase One tolls, which were voted in year 2000, these are taking public expressways and turning them into toll roads for the first time in our country,” said Sal Costello, who is fighting the toll roads.

Costello says he will continue to fight the next phase of toll roads.

© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc.:


Governor Perry: 'Clayton Williams Lite?'

Strayhorn: Perry sexist in ad that calls her "politician woman"

Associated Press
Copyright 2006

WACO, Texas - Independent governor candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn claimed Wednesday that Republican Gov. Rick Perry's new radio attack ad is sexist because it suggests a woman, and her in particular, is incapable of being governor.

"The implication is certainly, is certainly, that a woman is not tough enough to be governor," Strayhorn told about 40 supporters at a park beside the Brazos River in Waco.

The Perry radio ad that began airing Tuesday spoofs a popular beer jingle and calls Strayhorn "Mrs. Corrupt Comptroller Politician Woman," much like another Perry ad calls Democrat Chris Bell "Mr. Way Too Liberal For Texas Guy."

Strayhorn said the ad against her is a desperate move by Perry in the last days of the campaign.

"Politician woman, woman, woman, woman," she said, mocking the ad. "That is sad. I thought that was gone decades ago, and here he is talking 'politician woman.' "

Perry campaign spokesman Ted Royer said he found it curious that Strayhorn was only complaining about the word "woman" and not "corrupt."

"We'd run a similarly titled ad if Texas had a corrupt comptroller politician man," Royer said.

The four major candidates for governor were campaigning in vastly different ways Wednesday with six days until Election Day. Bell held rallies in the Coastal Bend; Kinky Friedman spent his 62nd birthday having lunch with reporters at a Jewish deli in Houston; and Perry planned to speak to capital reporters about border security after a fundraiser in Washington Tuesday night.

"Who knows how many dollars he's getting from D.C. lobbyists?" Strayhorn said.

Royer said Strayhorn has no room to criticize.

"This is coming from a politician who has taken millions of dollars from individuals who are seeking tax refunds from her office," Royer said, referring to about $2 million Strayhorn has received over four years from officials with Ryan & Co., which helps companies dispute taxes with the comptroller's office.

Perry also released a television ad in English and Spanish touting his accomplishments in office. Those gains included a record budget surplus, more job opportunities, more money for schools and a more secure border, according to the ad.

Strayhorn, 67, often points out that she was the first woman elected Texas comptroller and the first woman to hold other previous political posts.

Strayhorn emphasized her usual themes that she's looking out for the children of Texas and that she's running outside of a political party because she wants to "shake Austin up."

A number of her supporters held campaign signs opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive toll road project proposed by Perry. Strayhorn repeated her opposition to the $184 billion project she calls the "Trans-Texas Catastrophe."

Darlene Ray, 54, said she drove from Collin County north of Dallas to attend the Waco event because she's so mad about the Trans-Texas Corridor. Ray, who works in sales, said she has 52 acres of farm and ranch land in Collin County that sits in the corridor path.

"I think Texans deserve a vote on something like this."

Chris Bell campaigned in the Coastal Bend on Wednesday with help from U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, a legend in the heavily Democratic region.

Speaking to about three dozen elderly people at the Robstown senior citizens center, Bell said state leaders have to stop drafting policies that hold Hispanics down.

"Todos estamos in esto juntos - We are all in this together," he said.

Later, Bell said cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program and the state's dropout crisis are disproportionately affecting Hispanics.

At the Robstown Democratic party headquarters, Pura Garcia firmly grasped Bell's hand and told him, "You've got to get us out of this mess."

Garcia, a 77-year-old retired teacher's assistant said teachers are being paid "peon's salaries" and their classrooms are too full.

"Those Republicans got us pretty bad," she said. "I mean we're sinking."

Bell also attended a rally in Corpus Christi and planned to participate in similar events in Victoria and at Texas A&M University later Wednesday.


Kelley Shannon has covered Texas politics and government based in Austin since 2000; Associated Press Writer Liz Austin contributed to this report from Robstown.
Click here to find out more!

© 2006 The Associated Press:


Van Os: "Corporate interests are running roughshod over the people of Texas."

Abbott focuses on kids, Van Os on tolls, greed

November 1, 2006

Associated Press
Copyright 2006

The candidates for attorney general are talking past each other.

Republican incumbent Greg Abbott is emphasizing efforts to protect children online and fight cybercrime. Democratic challenger David Van Os says he's trying to protect the people from a "reign of greed."

Mr. Abbott, 48, has served as attorney general since December 2002 and was previously a Texas Supreme Court justice and a state district judge in Harris County. He recently joined Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to push for tougher laws on sexual online predators.

"I want to continue using the laws of the state to help protect children," Mr. Abbott said. He said that his office has collected record child support payments.

He said fighting cybercrime will be a priority.

"The methods used on the Internet to take people's money are growing worse and worse," Mr. Abbott said.

Mr. Van Os, 56, is a San Antonio lawyer who has worked for the Communication Workers of America and the Texas AFL-CIO. He said he is running because he believes we are living "under a reign of greed perpetuated by self-promoting, power-seeking politicians and robber-baron corporate interests who are running roughshod" over the people of Texas.

If elected, Mr. Van Os said, he would create a people's watchdog division that would enforce laws pertaining to antitrust, price-gouging, labor and environmental protection.

"That's just not being done right now," said Mr. Van Os, who also contends that the Trans-Texas Corridor, a combined toll road and rail system from the Oklahoma line to Mexico, is unconstitutional.

Jon Roland, a 62-year-old Austin computer programmer, is running as a Libertarian.

© 2006 The Associated Press:


"Perryman report is a house of cards built on a foundation of questionable assumptions provided to the consultant by TxDOT."


Report Released by TxDOT Inflates Economic Benefits of the TTC

Fayetteville, TX 78940-5468
Copyright 2006

FAYETTEVILLE – cautions Texans to be wary of glowing benefits predicted from construction of the Trans Texas Corridor.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a press release this week together with a report it commissioned, both tout economic benefits to Texas from the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC).

"It is a bought and paid for attempt to justify a project that TxDOT has already committed to," says David Stall founder of an organization that has been challenging the wisdom of the Trans Texas Corridor for more than two years. Stall contends that, "This report is a house of cards built on a foundation of questionable assumptions provided to the consultant by TxDOT." "It's just more lipstick on the pig," says Stall.

After reviewing much of the document Stall concludes that fact and fiction are woven together with some reasonable and other highly suspect projections. The end result is a misleading document that does what those who paid for it want it to do, it touts the TTC as a source of future prosperity. challenges that conclusion.

Some of the basic premises for this report are in serious error. One example is the claim that, "traditional approaches and resources can only meet about 36% of significant needs." Stall contends that the dollar value of the state's transportation needs have been grossly inflated since 2003 and that despite the overstated expenditure requirement our traditional resources can indeed meet that need.

One traditional resource is fuel tax. For more than a decade the state's gasoline tax has remained at 20-cents per gallon failing to keep up with inflation and transportation infrastructure costs. A significant increase in the state's fuel tax would pale in contrast to the average $3.85 per gallon effective tax that TTC tolls will impose on Texans. (vehicle MPG multiplied by projected 15-cents per mile toll)

Another basic premise is that the TTC will stimulate business activity and investment in areas along the corridor routes. believes that assumption is in error. Toll roads do not produce the same kind of economic stimulus as free roads.

The primary justification for the TTC is the state's projected population growth. That growth however will occur in the state’s urban centers. The result will be more traffic concentration within the urban centers, not just more traffic passing through urban areas.

As the population grows in our urban areas more trucks will depart and arrive within those areas.

The major source of urban congestion however is travel between home and work. The TTC will not provide any added capacity within those areas to address that certain impact of the state's population growth.

In promoting the TTC the report points to benefits that are particularly suspect such as greater public safety and improved environmental conditions. Neither is likely to be improved. Toll roads are among some of the nations most dangerous roads. They have higher speeds which result in higher fatality accident rates. Much of the proposed TTC route will be distant from emergency services such as hospitals. Another result of higher speeds is consumption of more fuel and production of more air pollution. Couple this with the longer travel distance of the TTC between urban centers and the adverse impact to the environment compounds.

The Perryman Group previously issued a report on the economic benefits of the TTC based on what they called described in 2002 as extensive study. Between the 2002 report and this week's report the projected economic benefits have been given quite a boost. In 2002 it was projected that TTC construction activity would result in $252.5 billion in gross state product and 4.423 million person-years of employment. The most recent projections include a broader economic stimulus associated with development and benefit estimates have ballooned the earlier numbers to $1.429 trillion in gross state product and 14.829 million person-years of employment.

In this newest report the Perryman Group takes a page from the governor's office and TxDOT's public relations division and adds to the "Myth vs. Reality" debate. In his final assessment Stall says, "Clearly this report is intended as more than a serious study on the economic impact of the TTC. The liberal addition of rhetoric and fluff demonstrates that it is also a failed attempt to come to the rescue of TxDOT to defend an ill conceived project that is in danger of being exposed for what it is, a boondoggle." agrees that infrastructure is essential to achieving long-term prosperity and that Texas needs to enhance its highways and other transportations systems. However, the Trans Texas Corridor is neither the only solution nor the best solution for the citizens of Texas.

© 2006 CorridorWatch:


Monday, October 30, 2006

"I have been a staunch Republican supporter for many, many years. The Texas governor's race is about to change that!"

Campaign '06: A Texas-Size Race for Governor

Thanks to an unusually crowded field, Governor Rick Perry will probably win reelection — but he may not have much to celebrate

Oct. 30, 2006

Time Inc.
Copyright 2006

Texas has had some pretty famous leaders over the last century, from Lyndon Baines Johnson to John Connally and more recently, of course, George W. Bush. But Rick Perry, the man who slid into office when Bush decamped for Washington six years ago, could easily become the longest-serving governor in the history of Texas even if a majority of voters cast their ballots against him on Nov. 7 — and recent polls show they plan on doing just that. Perry is leading a gubernatorial pack of five, but with the support of less than 40% of likely voters.

How could this happen in the resolutely Red State that propelled the Bush family, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove into national politics, fueling the Republican revolution? The simple answer is that there are just too many contenders this go-around. The more complicated answer lies inside the Republican Party of Texas, where Perry has nurtured issues dear to social conservatives but alienated the older wing by pushing a new business tax and a privatized toll road plan. Republican voters, as a result, will split their vote this year between Perry and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the 67-year-old Republican state comptroller who is running as an independent.

Strayhorn, who bills herself as "One Tough Grandma" and is the mother of ex-White House spokesman Scott McClellan, has turned Perry's toll road "fiasco," as she calls it, into the centerpiece of her campaign while attracting teachers upset about school finance. But even Strayhorn, one of the state's most popular officeholders, has been unable to break out from the "anti-Perry" pack. She stumbled during the lone gubernatorial debate, leaving an opening for the little-known Democratic candidate Chris Bell. The 46-year-old Bell, a former U.S. Congressman who filed the first ethics complaint against DeLay, hit all the talking points that so anger the state's Democratic minority, from school finance to failing health care and underfunded state parks. But a post-debate infusion of $2.5 million in cash and loans from a single trial lawyer still left his $5 million campaign treasury far short of Strayhorn's $15 million and the governor's $30 million. The Libertarian candidate, James Werner, wasn't even invited to the debate.

That leaves the wild card of the election: Jewish cowboy Kinky Friedman, 61, the singer/songwriter/novelist who is trying to recreate a southern-fried version of wrestler Jesse Ventura's 1998 unlikely gubernatorial win in Minnesota. Friedman, also running as an independent, has outpolled both Bell and Strayhorn at times, but his bad prep and repetitive one-liners ("Why the hell not?" is his campaign slogan) are beginning to seem stale and tired. He has come under attack for his flip remarks, like one calling Katrina evacuees in Houston "crackheads and thugs", but he has refused Bell's calls to withdraw. "This is not an election. This is a moment in history," he tells supporters. "This is what Davey Crockett died for at the Alamo."

With such a divided field, the governor's job has always been Perry's to lose. Thanks to Texas law, he only needs to win a plurality, not a majority, of votes. He certainly looks the part: rugged (he grew up on a West Texas ranch), athletic (he does triathlons) and telegenic. But the 56-year-old Perry, dubbed "Governor Good Hair" early on in his tenure, struggles to get respect. He preaches to the party choir (literally in some cases) on issues like God, guns and gays. He has advocated for — and won — a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He has kept taxes low, attracted record numbers of new jobs to the state, and rammed through tort reform. In September, the conservative Cato Institute ranked him as No. 2 governor in the nation on fiscal responsibility — "a better governor," they said, than Bush.

The Texas race, however, is raising larger questions about the Republican Party's ability to govern, says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, the alma mater of First Lady Laura Bush. After Hurricane Katrina and the state's embrace of evacuees from New Orleans, Perry was touted as a possible vice presidential material for 2008 and jumped in the polls (to 52% approval). But this summer, his ratings sank over a variety of issues, ranging from school finance (a perennial problem in Texas) to his vision of toll roads speeding NAFTA goodies through the border. The realization that a changing Texas faces a new set of problems — working-class people struggling to make ends meet, health care costs rising, tuition up 40% at the University of Texas — has hurt the governor, according to Jillson. "Republicans will still rise to the defense of George Bush but you don't find people defending Perry. They are sullenly supporting him," says Jillson.

Perry, like the President, is now in negative territory, attracting more disapproval than approval among Texans polled, including over 50% for both men, according to SurveyUSA in October. "This suggests Texas is not impervious to national trends," says Bruce Buchanan, government professor at the University of Texas. And the loudest complaining comes from within Perry's own party. Some moderate Republicans remain angry about a new gross receipts tax on business that Perry pushed so the state could cut property taxes — a cut that, in turn, has failed to register with homeowners yet. "It's unimaginable that a Republican in Texas would pass the biggest tax increase in history," says Steven Hotze, a long-time Republican fundraiser and Perry supporter who's sitting on the sidelines for this gubernatorial race. "It's caused a rift in the state party."

Ironically, Perry's greatest vision — a 4,000-mile network of highways, truckways and railway called the Trans-Texas Corridor — is drawing the most heat.

The state party's platform has twice rejected the idea because of the land required to build it. Conservative bloggers are angry because the plans would let foreign companies run the for-profit toll roads for 50 years and would open up the border to Mexican truckers. Oil woman Anne Holland, a member of the Republican Inner Circle for years, is so irate she is voting independent for Strayhorn. "I have been a staunch Republican supporter for many, many years. The upcoming Texas governor's race is about to change that!" she says.

Some Republican activists, however, think Perry's woes are less indicative of the national scene, than his own background — as a former Texas rural Democrat. "He's a farmer from Haskell. Pragmatically, he is a conservative Democrat," says former Texas G.O.P. political director Royal Massett. "They don't see him as John Connally with that charisma, or Lyndon Johnson with his sense of get it done." But what Perry loses from the corporate Republican crowd in Dallas and Houston, he gains in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley and in rural areas. While his TV ads stress border security, he works hard on relationships with Mexico and calls the idea of a border wall "ludicrous."

In recent polls, the Democrat Bell has picked up steam, Friedman has started to fade fast and some 20% of voters remain undecided — an unusually high number for so late in the race. The problem for Perry's opponents is that Texans traditionally vote straight ticket 60% of the time. This year, the entrance of two independents into the race, however, has thrown old political calculations to the wind. "If this was a two-person race, he'd probably be in trouble, but as long as there's a four-person race, Perry wins with unimpressive numbers," says UT's Buchanan. Perry, defying all the negativity, is now talking about running for a third term. If he wins this time, he will already own a place in the history books, right up there with Lyndon Johnson.

© 2006 Time Inc.:


Adkisson: "What 'smells' is the fresh air of citizen — not-lobby-driven — public policy!"

Ranger: 'What is going on here? Something doesn't smell right'


Roddy Stinson
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2006

Roddy's Rangers never sleep ...

RANGER: "Roddy, at last week's Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson was 20 minutes late because he was at the Bill Miller's restaurant across the street in conference with San Antonio Toll Party regional director Terri Hall.

"At the last several meetings, he has been speaking from talking points prepared by her.

"Not a lot of toll roads are being proposed for the precinct he represents in East Bexar County.

"What is going on here? Something doesn't smell right."

RODDY: Your insinuation that Adkisson is a puppet for the anti-toll road crowd didn't sit well with the Precinct 4 commissioner.

His verbal jabs in response:

"If I believed I needed to hide my meeting with Terri Hall, I would have never visited with her where there was no lack of highway lobbyists lunching."

"Your (informant) is no ordinary citizen. He or she is likely a card-carrying member of the local highway lobby."

"As we speak, plans are being made to toll I-35 and 1604 East in my precinct ... to say nothing of the Trans-Texas Corridor, which is planned to run right through my precinct."

"What 'smells' is the fresh air of citizen — not-lobby-driven — public policy!"


To contact Roddy Stinson,

call (210) 250-3155 or e-mail

His column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

© 2006 San Antonio Express-News:


Corridor Opponents Support Strayhorn

Election 2006: Notes from the campaign trail

October 30, 2006

By AP and WDL writers
Waxahachie Daily Light
Copyright 2006

Friedman to appear on Letterman

Independent candidate for governor Kinky Friedman is stepping into the national spotlight again before Election Day with an appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show, his campaign said Friday.

Friedman is taping his segment for Letterman’s CBS program Monday, and it is scheduled to air on Nov. 3, campaign spokeswoman Laura Stromberg said.

“We just hope a lot of Texas voters are going to be watching,” she said. “Being on David Letterman three days before Election Day couldn’t possibly hurt.”

Friedman faces Republican Gov. Rick Perry, independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Democrat Chris Bell and Libertarian James Werner in the Nov. 7 election.

In battling the big campaign accounts the other major candidates have, free television appearances like the Letterman show help keep Friedman’s profile high, Stromberg said.

Friedman, a mystery writer, comedian and former leader of the band “Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys,” has previously appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Corridor opponents supporting Strayhorn

Several opposition groups to the Trans-Texas Corridor have announced their support of independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

David Skrabanek, chairman of the Blackland Coalition PAC leading the fight against the Trans-Texas Corridor, believes that the corridor/freeway toll corruption issue will be this year’s litmus test.

“The corridor is now in the top three issues. But it should be No. 1,” Skrabanek said in a recent press release. “In the debate, Rick Perry tried to make it just an issue of farmers losing their land and - incredibly, claimed that we voted on this. And the Democratic candidate (Chris Bell) keeps attacking our champion - Carole Keeton Strayhorn. This is really about two-party corruption, folks.

“That’s why many Republicans and Democrats I know are splitting their ticket in November and voting for ‘Grandma’ at the top,” Skrabanek said.

Sal Costello, a Democrat and founder of People for Efficient Transportation PAC, which is also known as the Texas Toll Party, said he was recently called by Rick Perry’s spokesman Robert Black, “a front for Carole Keeton Strayhorn.”

“True to form, Black (and Perry) got things backward. Actually, Carole has been out in front of our anti-corruption movement for two years,” Costello said. “And, what a laugh. Perry’s been fronting for a foreign corporation and the road lobby, sneaking though a major corruption scandal with a secret contract - that remains secret. Now that’s a front of tornadic proportions and why we’re raising money to get our 30-second educational ad up all over the state.”

Terri Hall, founder of the San Antonio Toll Party and a Republican, after watching the debate said, “The real anti-corridor/anti-freeway toll/anti-corruption candidate in the debate stood up to Rick Perry and told the truth.

“The people never voted on this - and she said what she would do,” Hall said. “She said she would ‘bust that secret contract,’ she would go to the legislature to get the legislation overturned, and if all else fails she would ‘get out her mighty veto pen.’ There are some good Democrats running in this election who we believe are really against the corridor and tolls. And, listen carefully, they’re not the ones who are attacking Carole Keeton Strayhorn.”

Linda Curtis, founder of Independent Texans, who took a job with the Strayhorn campaign when her organization decided to support Carole instead of independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman said, “There was a game show in the 1960s called ‘What’s My Line?’ where the audience was lied to by two of three people posing in particular roles ranging from lion tamer, to international undercover agents. Within 10 minutes of questioning, the audience got to know who the real ‘lion tamer’ or ‘former CIA agent’ was by the imposters staying seated and the real candidate standing up.

“In this election cycle, it’s slightly different,” Curtis said. “The real independent is the one who’s been standing up all along.”

Perry announces criminal justiceprograms

In a recent series of press releases, Perry announced he had awarded more than $14.4 million in grants to 122 programs that focus on reducing crime and improving the Texas criminal and juvenile justice systems. These grants are awarded under the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

The State Criminal Justice Planning Fund supports programs that enhance the criminal and juvenile justice systems through essential services and assistance. Grant recipients include local units of government independent school districts, non-profit corporations, hospitals, universities, colleges, community supervision and corrections departments, law enforcement agencies and councils of governments.

Perry also announced the award of $508,809 in grants to 53 Crime Stoppers programs across Texas. These grants are awarded under the state Crime Stoppers Assistance Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

These grants are distributed to state-certified Crime Stoppers programs to support a 24-hour informant hotline and provide training for law enforcement officials, students and faculty sponsors.

Perry also announced the award of $200,094 in grants to the Texas Department of Public Safety to support the Criminal Law Enforcement Reporting Information System and the Texas Amber Alert Network. These grants are awarded under the federal Byrne Formula Grant Program and the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

CLERIS affords law enforcement across the state the ability to store, access and share criminal history information through a secure database system. The Texas Amber Alert Network provides 24-hour support to local law enforcement agencies that report and investigate child abduction cases, and issues both regional and statewide public alerts for emergency child abduction cases.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

Republicans hoping to keep hold on Congress

WASHINGTON - Republicans on Sunday said a major voter turnout effort would help them stay in power after the Nov. 7 elections, while Democrats claimed momentum as they seek to tap into voter unhappiness over Iraq.

Both sides agreed that the war in Iraq was a leading, if not central, issue in the contests to decide control of the House and Senate.

“This election is becoming more and more a referendum on George Bush, his failed policies both overseas and at home with a rubber stamp Congress,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee.

His Republican counterpart, Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, said Iraq and the broader fight against terrorism were important issues, but “President Bush's name is not on the ballot.” Democrats, she said, were trying “to make it a national referendum.”

Schumer and Dole were among the politicians and party leaders who sparred on the Sunday talk shows just nine days before the elections.

Democrats need a gain of 15 seats to win control of the 435-member House and six seats to claim the 100-member Senate.

With approval slumping for both the war and the president, recent polls show Democrats have their best chance to reclaim the House since the GOP swept them from power in 1994, and a shot at capturing the Senate as well.

Democrats hope for gains in Texas House

AUSTIN - After a 30-year backslide into minority status, Texas Democrats hope 2006 will mark a new era of gains in the Legislature.

In races across the state, Democrats hope to pick up a handful of House seats and start chipping away at the Republicans’ 85-64 majority. It’s unlikely that the GOP will lose its majority hold on the chamber this year, but Democrats are looking to pick up a handful of seats.

“I wouldn’t call it a sea change, but we’ll see a sea change in the next two or three years,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, a longtime House Democrat from Alpine. “In Texas, it’s just the beginning of the wave.”

Four years ago, Republicans swept the Legislature and maintained the grip on every statewide office it had held since 1998. It was the first time the GOP led the state since Reconstruction.

When Democrats picked up a House seat in 2004, it was the first time they had increased their numbers in more than 30 years.

“It’s a good year for” Democrats, said Republican consultant Bill Miller, who has worked closely with House Speaker Tom Craddick. “I expect them to pick up a couple of seats. And any gain is a good gain.”

Miller said voters are feeling “general fatigue” with Republican leadership and said that trickles down from Washington, where scandal and opposition to the war in Iraq are threatening GOP candidates.

While Democrats don’t have a universal issue with which to hammer Republicans, they are waging some tough campaigns in individual districts.

In Houston, Republican incumbent Rep. Martha Wong, part of the 2002 Republican takeover, is facing a strong challenge from Ellen Cohen, head of the Houston Area Women's Center, a group active in women’s and family issues. The two have raised more than $1 million in campaign funds.

Like other Republicans, Wong has been criticized for her votes in favor of making it more difficult for families to enroll in the state's Children's Health Insurance Program. Nearly 152,000 children fell off the CHIP rolls in the year following the budget-tightening legislation.

In Arlington, Rep. Toby Goodman, a 16-year veteran, is in a competitive race with Democrat Paula Hightower Pierson.

On the Texas coast north of Corpus Christi, Republican Rep. Gene Seaman has been portrayed as too cozy with the insurance industry. As vice chairman of the House Insurance Committee, Seaman has been the beneficiary of campaign contributions from the industry. His challenger is Juan Garcia, a Naval flight instructor and Corpus Christi attorney.

In Houston, a once-powerful Republican is fighting to get back into office. Talmadge Heflin led the House budget-writing committee in 2003, when lawmakers slashed the state budget. He was defeated in 2004 by political newcomer Hubert Vo.

Vo enjoys the advantages of incumbency, but Heflin has the support of establishment Republicans.

In a couple of open seats, Republican candidates are waging campaigns that could jeopardize districts held by Democrats.

Former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat from Hale Center, announced his retirement earlier this year. The district is heavily Republican, but former Crosby County Judge Joe Heflin, a Democrat, is in a competitive campaign against Republican Jim Landtroop, who owns an insurance agency in Plainview.

In a competitive San Antonio district, Democratic Rep. Carlos Uresti left his seat open when he ran for state Senate. Republicans have thrown their support behind George Antuna, who is trying to upset Democrat Joe Farias.

Republican Rep. Glenda Dawson of Pearland died last month, but her name will remain on the ballot. If she wins - a likely outcome in the conservative Republican district - Perry will call for a special election to replace her.

Little change is expected in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 19-12 majority.

On the Internet

Chris Bell campaign site:

Kinky Friedman campaign site:

Rick Perry campaign site:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn campaign site:

James Werner campaign site:

© 2006 The Daily Light: