Saturday, April 21, 2007

Toll Moratorium Amendments: Just what the pork doctors ordered.

Toll Road Moratorium Bill...Just a Placebo?


By: Peter Stern
(statesman blogs)
Austin American Statesman
Copyright 2007

Senator Jeff Wentworth sold-out Texans

What Wentworth says and does are 2 different things

There's no nice way to put it. Senator Jeff Wentworth just sold-out Texans with the latest in toll conspiracy legislation HB 1892.

During the past decade, the Texas legislature has become adept at "end around" power-plays for their special interests. One such maneuver has been the recent legislation presented and approved for a 2-year "moratorium" on toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). It is a placebo law that attempts to appease and quell the public's anti-toll sentiment.

In Senator Wentworth's article printed in several local newspapers, including the Waxahachie Daily Light, he presents his opinion that "democracy is alive and well in Texas and is healthy as a horse". Is that one of hundreds of healthy horses that still are being sent to two of the horse slaughterhouses in northern Texas?

Confucius many years ago told us to "Beware of the man who blows hot and cold with one breath." Apparently one such man is Senator Jeff Wentworth.

With one breath he praises the people of Texas for speaking out against toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor and yet then he supports a bill that provides the same power to local governments afforded CAMPO and Regional Mobility Authorities (RMA's) that determines road policy and development, which then will ensure the creation of approximately 24 little RMA's. Voters should ask why the legislature shifted that power to local government. The response by many legislators would be similar to what Wentworth tells the people, that it is the democratic way to delegate power to the people, while in reality, it permits an "end around" power-play for TxDOT and toll proponents to work their crusade on smaller populations so that the anti-toll groups won't be as powerful.

Also, yesterday Wentworth made it seem as though he made a 180-degree turn-around when he filed a bill attached to the "moratorium" legislation to keep two roads in San Antonio off the toll agenda. While he made a lot of people in SA happy with that modification, in truth it's an insignificant gesture, another placebo in a long list of veiling the truth.

Toll road proponents are NEVER going to stop their crusades for the Corridor, toll roads and/or "managed lanes" until voters get rid of all the special interest vermin managing Texas, from the governor on down-the-line. There is a long list of them and it includes Senators John Carona and Jeff Wentworth; and House Reps. Speaker Tom Craddick and Mike Krusee. Voters need to wise-up fast before the Texas and "free" roadways they once knew evaporate before their eyes. Vote these people out in their next reelection attempt, but for now, bombard them with communications.

In addition, HB 1892 includes a passage, Section 1 (c-3), that highlights the term "managed lanes", which is a different terminology for "toll roads". In this section the legislature excuses "managed lanes" from the legislation, which enables TxDOT or the new local entity to develop contracts for "managed lanes. "A rose is a rose is a rose..." and toll roads are toll roads!

Furthermore, even though the bill acknowledges the new powers of county commissions a "legislative study committee" must be formed to review the proposed plan. The 9 members will be selected as follows: 3 by the Governor, 3 by the Lt. Governor and 3 by the House Speaker. Obviously, much of the control remains with the state and NOT with the local government ---- Section 1 d) 1,2,3, .

It is a shameful way to do legislative business, but unfortunately for hardworking Texans such maneuvering and diversion tactics have become the way here in Texas.

People need to wake-up and see clearly the strategy being used against their wishes. Yes, the 2-year toll road / TTC moratorium is a good thing, but not at the cost of the "end around" distribution of RMA power to local county commissioners, because it is just another way for toll proponents to get the job done even during the "moratorium".

During the past several years Wentworth has become a huge disappointment to his constituency and he does NOT deserve to be reelected in 2 years --- but that doesn't help us now.

Voters need to contact Wentworth and Senator John Carona, Chair of the Committee on Transportation & Homeland Security to tell them that their "sleight of hand" on the toll road issue is NOT appreciated and that they need to vote against any bill that helps toll road special interests, such as this one.

Bottom-line is that the majority of Texans don't want the Trans-Texas Corridor or other toll roads and the legislature should heed the will of the people. Get involved now! Don't let the special interests win the Corridor, toll road and "managed lanes" battle.

Be informed and contact your elected officials.

To read HB 1892 go to:..

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