Friday, June 13, 2008

Senator Nichols "violated a requested news embargo by the Texas Department of Transportation."

State senator jumps the gun on TxDOT I-69 announcement

June 13, 2008

Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2008

A state senator’s news release Tuesday violated a requested news embargo by the Texas Department of Transportation.

TxDOT had asked that the announcement of its recommendation to build the I-69 portion of the Trans Texas Corridor only along existing roadways be held until a 10 a.m. Wednesday news conference in Victoria.

State Senator Robert Nichols of Jacksonville, a former TxDOT commissioner, issued the release Tuesday night opening the “floodgates” for media outlets to use the information. State legislators and media statewide had been briefed on the announcement earlier in the day.

“Maybe we weren’t clear on the ground rules, but one legislator sent something out Tuesday night,” said TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott.

“The CBS television affiliate (KHOU) in Houston picked up on it and it was all downhill from there. We begged and pleaded that they not use it, but to no avail.

“That was the crack in the dam. I feel bad for the other media who struck to our agreement.”

The Associated Press ran a story about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

The highway department held a news conference in Victoria on Wednesday to make the announcement of the recommendation to the Federal Highway Administration news conference it had hoped would be the first news of the recommendation.

“We wanted a uniform release time. Victoria was to be the kickoff point. The folks in Victoria were as engaged as anyone across the state about using existing roadways,” said Lippincott. “We wanted to make the announcement there to honor those people.”

The Advocate abided by the requested embargo until early Wednesday morning when it became apparent other media had already run the story. A story was then posted to about 8 a.m.

Nichols, who also sits on the Senate Committee on Transportation and a select committee on Private Public Partnerships, was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Sonny Long is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. He can be reached at 361-580-6585, by e-mail at, or comment on this story at
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© 2008, The Victoria Advocate

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