Friday, May 02, 2008

"Many legislators, including myself, have lost confidence that TxDOT and its past policies are working in the best interests of Texas taxpayers."

Status Quo at TxDOT


Sen. Glenn Hegar, District 18
Texas Weekly
Copyright 2008

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he had appointed Deirdre Delisi, his former Chief of Staff, as the new Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

As of today, I will not vote to confirm her appointment in the next Legislative session.

Ask almost any Texan, especially those who have the need to travel frequently on US Interstate Highway 35, about our Texas transportation system and they will tell you that many of our roads have extreme congestion, while other construction projects have experienced significant cost overruns.

Last year, TxDOT notified the public that they had experienced a billion dollar accounting error, spent millions of dollars in an effort to persuade Texans that we need to pursue the proposed Tran-Texas Corridor even though the Legislature had just passed a two-year moratorium on public private agreements.

Next legislative session will be a critical time as we work to ensure that TxDOT can once again gain the trust of Texans and to overcome the low opinion of what was once the most respected highway department in the nation.

In the Legislature, relations with TxDOT are also at an all-time low. Lawmakers' questions and concerns about the Trans-Texas Corridor, the agency's policies, funding schemes, budget, and construction priorities have oftentimes been met with contempt and disdain by TxDOT officials. The result is that many legislators, including myself, have lost confidence that TxDOT and its past policies are working in the best interests of Texas taxpayers.

That is why I had high hopes that Gov. Perry would use the vacancy created by the untimely passing of former Transportation Chair Ric Williamson as an opportunity to appoint someone to lead the commission who would work to change the status quo, reach out to lawmakers, and work cooperatively with the Legislature to address the concerns of the citizens we represent.

I view Ms. Delisi's appointment as a squandered opportunity.

It appears that rather than choose someone to head the commission who will reach out to lawmakers and work cooperatively with legislators, the governor instead has chosen a political "yes man" with little or no practical experience involving transportation issues other than carrying out the Governor's myopic vision that relies solely on building more toll roads and selling our highway infrastructure to the highest bidder, usually a foreign owned company.

I currently serve as the Vice Chairman of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. In 1977, the Legislature created the Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The 12-member Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies every 12 years. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency's operations and activities. Currently, the Texas Department of Transportation is undergoing its 12-year Sunset review.

I also serve as a member of the Senate Nominations Committee, the committee that will have to vote to confirm Ms. Delisi's appointment when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2009.

One might expect that the Governor and Ms. Delisi would have contacted all members of these key committees to discuss their plans to reform TxDOT in the Sunset process and to ask for our vote in the upcoming Nomination process. Unfortunately, like most of my colleagues, I learned about the appointment from the news media.

The Governor can certainly appoint anyone whom he sees fit, but as a state senator who takes his constitutional "advise and consent" responsibilities seriously, I would have hoped Gov. Perry would have sought out the advice of legislators before asking for our consent at this critical juncture in Texas history.

The Texas Department of Transportation's vision statement says that the agency will work to: "Promote a higher quality of life through partnerships with the citizens of Texas and all branches of government by being receptive, responsible and cooperative."

The Governor's and Ms. Delisi's recent actions with regard to this appointment are certainly not in keeping with that vision statement, but instead reflect a vision of non-cooperation and non-responsiveness to both lawmakers and the constituents they serve.

I certainly hope that Ms. Delisi will prove me wrong. Likewise, I hope that between now and her Senate confirmation hearing next January she will attempt to change my perception that she will not be an agent of the status quo at TxDOT. If so, she may still have an opportunity to earn both my confidence and my vote, and the taxpayers of our state and those who use and depend on our vast transportation system will be well served.

© 2008 Texas Weekly:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"If the Legislature wanted to stop this stuff, it could - even when Perry plays hard ball."

Will new commissioners improve TxDOT?


by William Lutz
Volume 12 Issue 26
Lone Star Report

Gov. Rick Perry appointed two new members of the Texas Transportation Commission April 30, his former chief of staff, Deirdre Delisi of Austin and William Meadows of Fort Worth, a member of the North Texas Tollway Authority Board.

The appointment of a former Perry staffer to a key government post is consistent with Perry's appointment pattern, which isn't always well-received at the Capitol.

Some Capitol hands view Delisi's appointment as a sign the Legislature can expect more of the same from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, even tried to discourage Perry appointing her.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation, but in the past, some GOP senators - despite talking a good, independent game early in the session - don't seem to have much stomach for a fight with the Governor in mid-May of session years. Therefore, Delisi's confirmation is likely.

Still, the agency has an opportunity here. Its reputation with legislators and grass-roots conservatives has nowhere to go but up. And it will need some credibility because its authority to sign comprehensive development agreements expires in 2009.

(A comprehensive development agreement is a contract whereby the state rents right-of-way to a private company and gives it the exclusive right to build and operate a toll road.) Here are some areas the new commissioners need to address, if the commission wishes to improve its reputation.

Current transportation policy was sold to lawmakers under false pretenses. That is, the omnibus transportation bill of 2003 was promoted to lawmakers as "local control" and "more tools in the toolbox." Lawmakers thought they passed a bill that let local leaders use new financing tools if they wanted to for building local highways faster.

But that's a far cry from what was delivered. No one told lawmakers in 2003 or 2005 that the Texas Department of Transportation was going to try to shake down the Harris County Toll Road Authority for cash when it wanted to build new toll roads. Nor did anyone tell them the transportation commission would favor private contractors over local non-profit toll authorities for the right to build and maintain roads. Nor did anyone mention that the primary driver behind building toll roads was the desire to raise tolls artificially high to generate cash that could be siphoned off to other roads that can't be built with tolls. The bills passed in 2007 were an attempt by the Legislature to fix all of these problems.

Had the agency let local leaders help decide how much revenue to extract from local motorists, the issue wouldn't get as much blow-back at the Capitol.

The public doesn't understand the state's transportation dilemma and doesn't trust TxDOT. Lawmakers and others have pointed this fact out repeatedly to the agency. Yet its response was to run a political PR campaign promoting privatized toll roads.

There's a difference between being transparent and building trust and using government resources for political purposes. Lawmakers wanted the former. TxDOT provided the latter.

The clarity and transparency of the agency's explanations of the state's financial situation could use improvement. There is also a need for the agency to explain and justify the fact that construction costs have risen dramatically faster than inflation.

The agency and its supporters have shown flagrant disregard for the public's right-to-know. If these comprehensive development agreements are really so great - as Perry claims - then why is the agency afraid to let the public see them before they are a done deal and the state is stuck with them for 50 years?

A provision was quietly slipped into a transportation bill in 2005 that exempts any part of any proposal for a comprehensive development agreement from public disclosure - even under criminal subpoena. This blanket secrecy provision, found in section 223.204 of the Transportation Code, includes draft contracts between the agency and private vendors (like Cintra). This provision became a campaign issue in 2006, when Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and the Houston Chronicle demanded the release of the draft agreement between Cintra and the Texas Department of Transportation to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor 35 project.

The public explanation usually given when this provision is published is that a draft contract between the state and a private company is proprietary and contains trade secrets. The problem with that argument is that state law has always provided an exception to public disclosure for real trade secrets - provided that the Attorney General and the courts agree that the material is actually proprietary.

In short , it is fair to question whether the rationale for the blanket exemption from public disclosure is driven by politics. If the public can't see contracts that bind the state for 50 years until after they have been approved and are then a done deal, then opposition is less likely to materialize. There will be less debate over the toll rates and non-compete clauses, for example.

Thanks to Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), in 2007, the Legislature passed a "truth in tolling" provision that requires the agency to publish toll rates and other key information before finalizing a toll contract.

But shouldn't the public have the right to see the whole contract in advance of its approval? Will the new commissioners support additional public disclosure of toll road contracts or will they defend secret, special-interest government at its absolute worst?

The agency has not shown the Legislature the respect it deserves. The current executive director of TxDOT has made some improvements in this area. But in 2005, 2006, and early 2007 the agency and the commission showed an appalling lack of respect to lawmakers. Commissioners would seldom attend legislative hearings and regularly picked petty fights with key legislative players.

Carona - the chairman of the Senate committee overseeing TxDOT - had to go to the House and create a big public showdown in 2007 just to get a meeting with the then-chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. Simply respecting the process - as TxDOT has begun to do in recent months - will go a long way toward building bridges with lawmakers.

The agency is perceived as having a "my way or the highway" approach. It seems that every action the agency takes is designed to build support for privately-run toll roads.

If the commission came up with and supported a more balanced approach, it might get a more receptive audience for its ideas. Not every road has to be a toll road built and financed by Cintra.

A little common sense will help, sometimes. TxDOT seems to have a way of dumping gasoline on the fire. A good example was right after the 2007 legislative session (when the Legislature banned cities from issuing speeding tickets with automated cameras) when TxDOT put up automated cameras in a rural part of Interstate 10 to issue speed warnings. No wonder rural folk don't trust TxDOT!

TxDOT is still under the Governor's control and its tolling policies have not been repealed, largely due to a lack of legislative will-power.

If the Legislature wanted to stop this stuff, it could - even when Perry plays hard ball. Lawmakers can override vetoes. They can brave special sessions. They could make life unpleasant for the governor by holding hearings into the revolving door between the governor's office and certain transportation contractors (including issuing subpoenas to transportation lobbyists who used to work for Perry). They can propose new ethics and campaign contribution legislation.

The agency is up for Sunset in 2009, and the Legislature could easily have someone besides the Governor appointing its board. Or it could allow Comprehensive Development Agreement authority to expire.

But if the new commissioners take a more cooperative approach to transportation, the Legislature may conclude that none of the above steps are necessary.

In other words, the new commissioners are coming in under a cloud, but they also still have an opportunity to make changes - if they want to.

© 2008 The lone Star Report:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"Better quality of life for the few and lower quality of life for the many. "

Congestion Pricing: The Sad Truth


By Charles Tarlow
CityWatch (Los Angeles)
Copyright 2008

As “Congestion Pricing” is being implemented, my anger and frustration are turning to sadness. I confess that I don't understand how anyone can support this egregious injustice. Toll roads and high priced parking. Now a suggested “access toll” to go to the airport. What's next?

Whatever the next travel toll, fee, or tax, you can bet its intent will be crystal clear: Get the insignificant people out of the way of the important people.

How sad is it that the people with money and power choose to selfishly use that power to redirect public resources for their own purposes. And sadder still that the very people charged with the public trust are betraying the people they are chartered to serve.

To be fair, the problem did not originate in Los Angeles. It wasn't born in the State of California. The problem is a design of the Federal Government under the guidance of the Bush Administration.

It is no accident that the Feds are using money to coerce states and cities to convert their infrastructure to service the rich.

I suppose it should be no surprise either, but what surprises me the most is the ease with which they are doing it.

The “Congestion Pricing” spinmeisters tell us that raising the cost of driving is good because it takes cars off the road. They tell us it is good for the environment and good for commuters.

What they don't tell us is that the cars they are taking off the road are not theirs ... they are ours! The commuters they are helping are those willing and able to pay the tolls and the parking. The rest of us are out of the equation.

You would think that we would have a natural resistance to a separate highway system; toll roads for the affluent and back roads for the masses.

You would think we would oppose high priced parking for the rich and “nada” for the rest of us. Are we deaf dumb, and blind?

How is it possible that we have bought into the idea that exclusion is a good thing?

In America!

I don't think we are stupid. Most of us are uninformed, uninvolved in the political process, and up to our necks in our personal challenges. The fact that we are not players in this rigged game condemns us to our two-tiered fate.

Congestion pricing will give mobility to those who can afford to pay and exclude everyone else. Better quality of life for the few and lower quality of life for the many.

How sad is this.

© 2008 CityWatch:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"The selection of a chairman based on cronyism ... It's what Texans have come to expect from the increasingly oblivious leadership of Rick Perry."


Perry errs in choice for top TxDOT job


San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

Perhaps Gov. Rick Perry is right. Perhaps Deirdre Delisi is the most qualified person in Texas to lead the state Transportation Commission. There's no denying that the Duke University graduate, who also has a master's degree in international policy studies from Stanford University, is a very bright and competent individual.

But there's also no getting around the fact that the primary reason Perry tapped the 35-year-old Austin resident to head the commission is that she worked for him for nine years as chief of staff, senior deputy chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and director of Perry's 2002 gubernatorial campaign, as well as serving on his staff when he was lieutenant governor and working in his campaign for that office.

In a February interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the no-nonsense chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, offered his opinion about the rumored appointment.

“We don't need political hacks in that position,” he said. “We need people who understand the business. We need people who understand transportation. We don't need someone who's unpopular with the Legislature.”

Major missteps and public relations fiascos have destroyed public confidence in the Transportation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation. The interim chairmanship of Hope Andrade, after the sudden death last year of Ric Williamson, had begun to repair some of that damage. The selection of a chairman based on cronyism will further erode public trust.

What makes Delisi's appointment more galling is that Perry is replacing Andrade on the commission. The move means that between the chairman and four commissioners, none lives in South Texas, denying an often-neglected region representation on the crucial commission.

A governor who wasn't tone deaf to public criticism wouldn't make that kind of mistake. Unfortunately, it's what Texans have come to expect from the increasingly oblivious leadership of Rick Perry.

© 2008 San Antonio Express-News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rick Perry's water boy for the Trans-Texas Corridor gets sloshed and hits the road

State Rep. Mike Krusee arrested for DWI

May 1, 2008

Copyright 2008

GEORGETOWN, Texas (AP/KXAN) -- A state lawmaker who helped pave the way for major toll road projects across Texas faced drunken driving charges.

Rep. Mike Krusee of Round Rock is the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee. He was charged with first-offense driving while intoxicated after a state trooper noticed his car moving erratically in northwest Austin Wednesday night. The license plate on the vehicle also had expired last December.

Elected state officials all have personalized license plates. Therefore, the trooper would have known he was pulling over a state official before asking for identification.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety also said Krusee failed a field sobriety test. When asked if he had been drinking, Krusee said he had had one glass of wine.

Krusee sponsored House Bill 3588, which opened the door for the state's tollroad system. It also included the driver responsibility program, which charges a $1,000 surcharge for first-time offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated, with additional penalties for repeat offenses.

Krusee isn't seeking re-election this year.

Under state law, Krusee's license is automatically suspended for 180 days for refusing a breath test. He was released from Williamson County Jail in Georgetown Thursday morning after posting a $1,000 bail.

First-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by probation to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Krusee has served in the House since 1993. He's a close ally of Gov. Rick Perry on transportation issues and in 2003 sponsored the law that opened the door for major toll road expansion.

© 2008 WorldNow and KXAN:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Delisi in the driver's seat - Krusee on the rocks

Williamson Rep. Mike Krusee accused of DWI

Julie Simon
Copyright 2008

A Texas state representative from Central Texas who pushed for tougher DWI laws now finds himself accused of driving while intoxicated.

Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, was arrested Wednesday night. He was taken to jail and posted bond Thursday morning.

It was around 10:15 p.m. when a Williamson County deputy reported he noticed Rep. Krusee driving his BMW erratically down Anderson Mill. He pulled him over a couple blocks later, gave him a sobriety test and according to this paperwork. The lawmaker failed that test.

Krusee was driving down Anderson Mill, presumably on his way home, since he lives just a few blocks form where he was stopped. According to the arresting officer, Krusee was 'weaving from one side of the lane to the other.' He also had expired license plates.

The deputy says Krusee told him he had one glass of wine.

Arresting paperwork alleges that Krusee's clothing was disorderly, the smell of alcohol on him was strong, and his eyes were watery and bloodshot.

Krusee announced last November he is not running for re-election. While in office, though, he authored a bill called the Driver Responsibility program. It's now the law and requires DWI offenders pay a $1,000 surcharge for their first DWI and more money for subsequent DWI convictions.

Constituents that spoke to CBS 42's Julie Simon Thursday of Krusee's were not pleased.

"Somebody like that -- they are going to be representing our community," said Krusee constituent Jim Crawford. "I feel like he made a bad judgment and I don't trust somebody if they can't even control their own judgment."

The case still has to make its way through the justice system. Because this is a first offense, it will be a misdemeanor charge handled by the Williamson County attorney.

A CBS 42 News crew went by Rep. Krusee's home Thursday, but he was not there.

When Krusee announced he would not seek re-election, there was speculation he would be tapped to head the Texas Department of Transportation. But on Wednesday that position went instead to Deirdre Delisi, Gov. Rick Perry's former chief of staff.

© 2008 KEYE-TV:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Krusee loses control

Leading Toll Road Proponent Arrested for Drunk Driving

Krusee is not running for re-election

May 1, 2008

By Jim Forsyth
Copyright 2008

The road has just gotten a lot rockier for one of the state's major proponents of toll roads, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board has learned.

State Rep. Mike Krusee, a Republican from Round Rock, was arrested by Texas State Troopers early this morning for drunk driving.

Michael reports a trooper saw Krusee's car 'moving erratically' through north Austin.

Krusee, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, has been Governor Perry's key leader in the legislature on issues like the Trans Texas Corridor and the construction of toll roads.

He has clashed frequently with anti-toll groups, and unlike his Senate counterpart, Democrat John Carona, Krusee has been a constant and solid backer of toll roads writing the 2003 law that opened the door for toll road construction in Texas.

Troopers said Krusee also had an expired vehicle registration. Because he refused a breathalyzer test, by a law Krusee helped pass, his license is automatically suspended for 180 days. He was released from the Williamson County Jail this morning after posting a $1,000 bond.

© 2008 KQTX:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"They say it's not about the money."

2 cities hit hard with toll road speeding tickets

May 1, 2008

Copyright 2008

When it comes to getting a speeding ticket, a News 8 investigation shows there are two North Texas cities where the odds are against you.

Over a one-year period of time and on a total of just six miles of road, the two communities wrote a combined amount of $775,000 in tickets.

Why so many tickets? Here's a hint; they say it's not about the money.

News 8 collected speeding ticket data from all the cities along the Bush Turnpike and the Dallas North Tollway.

Between the cities of Dallas, Plano and Frisco, there is 22.5 miles of toll road. During a recent one year period on that stretch of road, those cities wrote a combined 100 speeding tickets.

However, Irving, which has four miles of toll road, wrote nearly 2,000 tickets. And then there is the city of Garland. While it has a tiny two-mile stretch area on the Turnpike, it wrote more tickets than any other city, almost 2,500 of them. Garland collected almost $400,000 in revenue.

"From the police departments standpoint, no," said Joe Harn, a Garland Police Department spokesperson, when asked if the tickets were about money. "Ours is about safety."

News 8 shared findings with attorney Everett Newton, who defends motorists at traffic court.

"It's kind of like if you go fishing, you go to the pond where the fish are," he said. "You don't go fishing where there aren't any fish."

And here's what makes the Bush Turnpike a good pond, the speed limit is set artificially low.

"I think it creates a really, really bad situation, potentially for drivers who drive on that stretch of roadway," Newton said.

In a series of reports, News 8 has shown that the North Texas Tollway Authority did not follow state guidelines for setting speed limits. Transportation sources say within the year the NTTA plans to raise the current speed limit on the Bush Turnpike from 60 to 70. Meanwhile, they have been set at 60 for years.

"I don't believe the speed limits have, in any way, set a traffic trap for motorists," said Sherita Coffelt, the NTTA's spokesperson.

Eleven local police departments along the toll system can patrol its roads. But most, like Dallas, Plano and Frisco, leave patrols to the State Highway Patrol. For that service, NTTA pays $2.5 million a year to have the Texas Department of Public Safety patrol.

"Do you think they're not doing a good job, DPS? Do they need more help?" Schechter asked Garland's Joe Harn.

"I think DPS does a good job," Harn said when asked of how he thought DPS was doing. "During that time period, what we were addressing were the wrecks."

Garland said during the year News 8 looked at, the city saw a 23 percent spike in accidents on the Bush Turnpike. It wrote tickets to encourage drivers to slow down. That year, one of every five tickets in Garland were written on the Turnpike.

"What we do is we respond to an area," Harn said. "And usually when we show up, and people see us out there and we are issuing tickets, then the speed or the problem is lowered, then we move on."

The Irving Police Department said spot checks of speeds on the Bush Turnpike show that 88 percent of the drivers go faster than 60 mph. It said it patrolled that road in an effort to bring speeds down.

The NTTA said it appreciates the additional patrols provided by some local communities and that it makes for safer roads, but that's not how everyone sees it.

"Those are ducks sitting on a pond for some local police officer to sit out there, and just get people as they go by and raise revenue for the city," Newton said.


© 2008 WFAA-TV:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deidre Delisi, Perry's former chief of staff, takes Ric Williamson's place at the Texas Transportation Commission

Daughter-In Law Of Local Lawmaker Will Chair Transportation Commission

April 30, 2008

KWTX Channel 10 News
Copyright 2008

Gov. Rick Perry named Deidre Delisi, the daughter in law of State Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, to chair the powerful Texas Transportation Commission Tuesday.

Delisi, who succeeds the late Ric Williamson of Weatherford as chairman, was appointed to a term that expires on Feb. 1, 2013.

Perry also named William Meadows of Fort Worth to the commission.

Over the last 12 years, Delisi has served as Perry’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff, a special assistant to Perry when he was lieutenant governor, and as a policy advisory to the presidential campaigns of Lamar Alexander and George W. Bush.

Meadows is chairman of Hub International Rigg and serves as vice chairman of the North Texas Tollway Authority and as a trustee of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

“Texas faces serious challenges in providing a transportation infrastructure that will sustain our state’s rapid pace of population and trade growth,” Perry said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Both Deirdre and Bill have the integrity and expertise to ensure that these needs are met efficiently and responsibly.

“I am confident their contribution to the commission will maintain the momentum of the late Commissioner Ric Williamson’s pioneering vision, and secure comprehensive transportation solutions that will reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and keep our state’s doors open to economic growth and success.”

Williamson, 55, died of a heart attack in December.

He was a longtime friend of Perry’s and lead advocate for Perry's Trans Texas Corridor project.

He was 55.

Williamson and Perry were conservative Democratic colleagues in the Texas House during 1980s before both joined the GOP.

Williamson served in the Legislature for more than 20 years before Perry named him to the transportation commission in 2001.

Williamson became chairman in 2004.

The five-member commission oversees the Texas Department of Transportation.

© 2008 Gray Television Group, Inc.:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"Toll roads — and private toll roads — will continue to be on the state’s agenda."

Perry's picks for Texas Transportation Commission highlight commitment to toll roads

April 30, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

A week after Gov. Rick Perry said in a speech that he’ll fight to keep toll roads at the center of any plans to solve Texas’ transportation needs, he proved it by naming his former chief of staff to lead the Texas Transportation Commission.

Mr. Perry also reached inside the board room of the North Texas Tollway Authority Wednesday, selecting that agency’s vice chairman to also serve on the five-member commission, which sets policy for the nearly 15,000-employee Texas Department of Transportation.

The new chairman is Mr. Perry’s former aide, Deirdre Delisi, 35 of Austin. Ms. Delisi replaces Hope Andrade of San Antonio, who had been serving as interim chairman.

The appointment of NTTA vice chairman William Meadows, a Fort Worth businessman, fills the vacancy left open by the December death of commission chairman Ric Williamson. By appointing Mr. Meadows, the governor satisfied demands by North Texas lawmakers who had insisted that the Dallas-Fort Worth area be represented on the commission.

Commissioners meet once a month, and often travel throughout the state. They are paid $15,914 per year.

Mr. Williamson was an old friend of Mr. Perry’s whose outsized personality had helped push TxDOT’s pro-toll road policies through several sessions of the Legislature, until they ran into a road block last session.

Like Mr. Williamson, Ms. Delisi is a close ally of the governor, and is expected to use relationships she built with lawmakers as the governor’s chief o staff to shepherd the agency through the 2009 session, which is expected to be no less bumpy than last year’s.

“Texas faces serious challenges in providing a transportation infrastructure that will sustain our state’s rapid pace of population and trade growth," Gov. Perry said in a statement. "I am confident (Mr. Meadows’ and Ms. Delisi’s) contribution to the commission will maintain the momentum of the late Commissioner Ric Williamson’s pioneering vision.”

Mr. Perry had been said to favor appointing Ms. Delisi months ago, but had been bogged down in discussions with her state senator, Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, a leading critic of the transportation department.

Wednesday’s announcement indicates Sen. Watson has lifted those objections. In an interview last week, the senator complimented the governor for allowing him the time to meet several times with Ms. Delisi to discuss the approach she would bring to her new role.

In an interview just after her appointment, Ms. Delisi said she had promised to be honest, and make the agency more transparent.

“I have made a commitment to provide as much transparency as possible,” she said in an interview. “That is especially the case when it comes to the agency’s finances. People want to know how much money we have, where is the money coming from, how the money is being used.”

Toll roads — and private toll roads — will continue to be on the state’s agenda, she said, but she also said the commission will be looking for other solutions to build the new roads Texas needs.

“I am looking from a global perspective. I am not real interested in process, all I care about are results,” she said. “These solutions have to be come to us from a very cooperative approach. We want to see as many options on the table as possible.”

The appointment of Mr. Meadows takes the vice chairman of the one agency other than the Legislature with whom TxDOT has clashed most often, the NTTA, and makes him one of five members who will set transportation policy for all of Texas.

Mr. Meadows said his appointment forecasts a more harmonious approach. “I have a very good conversation with Gov Perry,” he said. “What I recognized first and foreman is that transportation is, if not the top priority, one of the very top priorities of this governor. These challenges are huge and must be met.”

He said he believes his appointment comes at a time when NTTA itself is looking for a more conciliatory approach with TxDOT, after nearly two years of bruising and highly visible clashes between the two.

“I think the board recognizes, and I know the commission does, that we need to work cooperatively,” Mr. Meadows said.

Those predictions will likely be tested not just in the Legislature, where NTTA and TxDOT are expected to fight over revisions to last session’s toll legislation, but also in the coming negotiations over the Trinity parkway, Southwestern Parkway and other North Texas-area toll projects.

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

North Texas Tollway Officials 'pork out' on commuter toll taxes

Donuts, Pizza and Play Time At NTTA


Bennett Cunningham
CBS 11 News (DALLAS)
Copyriht 2008

They say they're busy building new toll roads, but it appears some North Texas Tollway officials have plenty of time to dine out. While gas prices sky rocket, tolls increase, and you count every penny, it appears they're spending your money on expensive dinners, wine and catered lunches.

For the last 5 months, we've been building a database, monitoring how the North Texas Tollway Authority [NTTA] spends your money. We found receipts for thousand-dollar feasts, personalized M&M candies and customized birthday cards. But the one common thread we found is that tollway officials don't like meeting without eating.

Is it a toll booth or a tip jar? Tollway officials are using your money to pay for more than $100,000 in food, entertainment and much more.

Most motorists we spoke to told us things like "that's not what it's supposed to go to," "I don't think it should be spent on that," and "it's supposed to better our roads, not parties."

CBS 11 reviewed credit card receipts dating back to 2006. Here's what NTTA officials did with your money:

$100,000 spent on food--and $40,000 of that was for catering. A lot of that money was spent to feed Tollway board members at monthly meetings. Nearly every meeting was catered with fresh fruit and a full spread for lunch for up to 50 people. See some of the receipts here, here, here, here and here.

There are only nine people on the board.

Michael Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, a consumer watchdog group in Austin, told us "they [NTTA] violated the trust of the people at the Tollway." He calls this type of spending irresponsible and outrageous. "This is a culture that says, 'Hey, it's free money. This money belongs to someone else so I can go mad with it.'"

Tollway records show over the last two years:
  • One Tollway official spent $2,000 on donuts, making a run to a donut shop at least once a month.
  • The NTTA spent $3,500 for pizza.
  • They also spent about $1,000 at Party City for tiki lanterns, beverage and lunch napkins, and many other party items.
Jorge Figueredo is Executive Director of the NTTA. He was hired in the summer of 2007. "We have to remember we are public servants and this is the public's money," he said. After about six months of being at the helm, he told us "I have changed the rules, hired an internal auditor, so this doesn't happen again."

But does he really mean it this time? Last year, we followed five Tollway officials to Vienna, Austria for an international Tollway meeting. We watched as they partied and skipped meetings that you paid for. In November 2007, Figueredo told us, "I'm disappointed. There is a culture I want to instill in this place that hasn't taken root yet."

But records show the party wasn't over yet, and according to Michael Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, "That's the only culture that I have seen changed--that they are going for a different flavor of food."

One month after our first interview, Figueredo allowed Tollway employees to use your money for the following:

  • On December 11th there was a $576 grocery bill for a holiday dinner, including about a dozen turkeys and the fixings
  • Three days later, the NTTA held a department meeting at Pappadeaux's seafood. Employees munched on crawfish and shrimp and 15 desserts - including crème brulee, chocolate brownies and key lime pie. The bill was $529.
  • A few days later, and NTTA threw another catered Christmas dinner. This one cost $500.
  • Two days later they had another catered holiday meal--the fourth one in the month of December. The cost was $912.
  • The next day they held Christmas celebration number five. This one was at Texas de Brazil, a Brazilian style steak house, for $626.
  • And a Christmas Eve lunch--holiday meal number six--at Dickey's Bar-B-Que cost $243.We've posted all of these receipts from December, 2007 in this .pdf file.

There were also orders from Honey Baked Hams. The NTTA spent $1,100 for those and hundreds of dollars in gift cards for managers. We asked Figueredo if anyone was going to get fired over this. He told us since the policy was broadly written, no. But, he said, from this point forward people violating the policy will lose their jobs.

But as we came to discover, the policy wasn't "broadly" written. Tollway officials later admitted there was no policy. That's why under Figueredo's watch, the NTTA was allowed to pay $1,000 for managers to spend the day at Dallas Speed Zone, which is an entertainment venue where you can race cars. The receipt shows they paid a "group time play fee" there.

And according to this receipt, Figueredo joined other staffers, including the Tollway's then-C.F.O. Susan Buse, for fine dining at the Crescent Court's private dining club. You paid $100 a plate for their food and drinks.

Figueredo also attended an appreciation dinner for a former NTTA colleague. That dinner cost you $1,400.

We asked Governor Rick Perry about the NTTA's spending habits and he told us the spending was "indefensible."

A day after our interview with Executive Director Figueredo, he announced the immediate suspension of all lunch and dinner meetings, parties/farewells, grocery items, gifts, gift certificates, cards and flowers. The credit card policy is being thoroughly reviewed. Also, the Tollway has reigned in the 50+ credit cards that floated around the agency. Figueredo also canceled catered meals for board meetings earlier this year.

© 2008 CBS Stations Group of Texas:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Sen. Kirk Watson's Fat Chance

Watson: Appointees Could End TxDOT "Us Versus Them Mentality"


Richard Whittaker
Austin Chronicle
Copyright 2008

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who doesn't normally weigh in on appointments, just called the Newsdesk to talk about Gov. Rick Perry's announcement earlier today about putting his former chief of staff Deirdre Delisi and North Texas toll road policy maker William Meadows on the Texas Transportation Commission.

"I knew they were coming, and my hope is that what we see with these two appointments is a change in direction," said Watson. He hopes this could indicate a shift from the "us versus them mentality at TxDOT," and place more emphasis on local control over decisions about road infrastructure.

With the failure of the lege to pass a meaningful state-wide toll road moratorium last session (mainly because many Dallas-area and North Texas planning stakeholders fought so bitterly against it), if Watson's right this could mean a partial end to the 'one size fits all' approach to road planning in Texas.

© 2008 Austin Chronicle:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"We don't need ideologies and a fixation on 100-year privatized highways."

Perry's transportation picks trouble San Antonio officials

April 30, 2008

The Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry today named his former chief of staff and a North Texas tollway official to the state Transportation Commission, filling the vacancy left by Ric Williamson's death and replacing San Antonio member Hope Andrade.

Perry's appointment of past chief of staff Deirdre Delisi, 35, and Fort Worth insurance executive Bill Meadows, 55, who serves on the North Texas Tollway Authority, leaves South Texas without a member on the powerful panel.

The news of Andrade's departure was taken badly in San Antonio, where officials feel the city over the years has tended to lack a voice on the Transportation Commission and often has been shortchanged on highway funding.

"Of course, this is not good for us," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. "She's going to be sorely missed; I can guarantee you that."

Delisi was designated by the GOP governor to lead the commission, a spot that Perry had given Andrade on an interim basis after Williamson's death in late December.

Delisi, who has been a political and policy adviser to Perry, left as chief of staff last year after she and her husband, Ted, became parents of twin boys. She was Perry's 2002 campaign manager and worked in George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

Meadows, senior vice president of an insurance and financial service company, is a former Fort Worth city councilman who serves on the tollway authority. He will give Dallas-Fort Worth the representation that the area's leaders have said it should retain in the wake of the death of Williamson, who was from Weatherford.

The commission also includes Ned Holmes of Houston, Ted Houghton Jr. of El Paso and Fred A. Underwood of Lubbock.

Change is coming in the wake of a rocky relationship between the Legislature and the Perry-appointed Transportation Commission. Some top lawmakers have publicly butted heads with commissioners over the direction of Texas transportation as the commission seeks to implement Perry's vision of leaning on toll roads and private investments as the primary strategy.

Lawmakers last year sought to rein in public-private partnerships on tollways, and they have questioned transportation officials' figures in the face of ever-growing mobility needs and funding that doesn't keep pace.

Some have questioned whether Delisi is the right pick. Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee chairman, was quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this year as opposing Delisi, saying, "We don't need political hacks in that position."

Others praise Delisi's intelligence and said she would be able to work with lawmakers.

"I think Deirdre is a very smart and capable person who understands the governor's transportation policy and also understands the politics of the Legislature. So I think she'll be an asset to the commission," said Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.

Krusee isn't seeking re-election and has been rumored to be in line for such an appointment himself.

The appointments require Senate confirmation. Delisi lives in the district of Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee vice-chairman. Watson, who as her senator could block the appointment, said Tuesday he doesn't discuss such pending nominations.

"You've got to check with the governor's appointments office," Watson said. "I take this responsibility very seriously and have spent a significant amount of time working on this issue, visiting with Ms. Delisi and others regarding this appointment."

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, a Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee member, said, "What we need is a pragmatic debate on mobility needs, including mass transit. What we don't need is ideologies and a fixation on 100-year privatized highways."

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, a Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee member who served on the Transportation Commission before being elected to the Legislature, said of Delisi, "He (Perry) obviously has a working relationship with her and feels comfortable with her. I've worked with her before. She's a smart lady."

Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, also a member of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, said she believes Meadows can work well with the Legislature.

Meadows lives in the district of Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, who said in a statement, "I have urged Gov. Perry to appoint someone from the DFW region to the Transportation Commission. We are ground zero for the state's transportation challenges. The challenges we face affect the entire state, given how critical our region is to the state economy."

Andrade, who also has served on the now-defunct Texas Turnpike Commission and the VIA Metropolitan Transit board, joined the Transportation Commission in 2003 when it was expanded from three members to five. Out of 37 commissioners since World War II ended, she is just the third from San Antonio.

As Andrade stepped into the job, the commission was starting full-tilt to toll new road lanes whenever feasible and invite private involvement when possible. Also, bonds and a new fund supported by traffic fines were beginning to pump up construction statewide, a bubble that in recent years more than doubled highway projects in San Antonio.

Local leaders say having Andrade in Austin only helped.

"Having Hope Andrade there has been a great asset for us. Losing Hope will be a great loss," said Bill Thornton, chairman of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, which plans to start construction this year on the U.S. 281 tollway.

Wolff tried to be positive.

"We've got a lot of goodies in the last few years," he said. "I guess we've got to be thankful for what we got while she was there."

© 2008 Houston Chronicle:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

“Change anything? No. It’s still going to be hardball.”

Perry's transpo pick mirrors toll road views


Peggy Fikac and Patrick Driscoll
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry’s pick of his former chief of staff to head the Texas Transportation Commission shows his continued focus on an issue that has sparked battles with top lawmakers.

The GOP governor’s support of private investment in public tollways as a key avenue for needed infrastructure is echoed by former aide Deirdre Delisi of Austin and a second commission appointee announced Wednesday, Bill Meadows of Fort Worth.

Both appointees see private investment as an important part of the picture, though not all of it, and said they want to work with lawmakers. The Legislature has sought to curb such projects, alarmed the state would go too far in ceding control of Texas’ infrastructure.

Sparks flew again with the announcement that Perry was appointing Delisi, his longtime politics and policy adviser. Her nomination drew praise but also concern from those who dislike Perry’s vision and style.

Meadows — who as vice chairman of the North Texas Tollway Authority helped lead an entity that’s had turf battles with the Texas Department of Transportation, which the commission oversees — isn’t as high-profile a target. He also suits those who pushed for an appointment from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation, though Delisi and Meadows are expected to be seated at the commission’s May meeting. Meadows fills the vacancy left by the death of former chairman Ric Williamson, a Perry friend who often butted heads with key lawmakers. Delisi succeeds Hope Andrade of San Antonio, whose term expired.

“I think the Bill Meadows appointment is a very good one. He is well-recognized in the community, and he has certainly positioned himself as a leader on transportation issues,” said Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, who as chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee was often at odds with Williamson.

Carona said Delisi is intelligent and that he would “make every effort to have a successful relationship with her,” but whether he votes to confirm her when the Legislature next meets in 2009 “will depend on her conduct and her performance between now and January.”

“Both Republicans and Democrats have described her in the past (in her job with Perry) as being difficult to work with and not particularly cordial,” Carona said. Asked about his past critical comments of her possible appointment, he said, “I think that she is a political hack. I’ve said that before. It would be probably senseless for me to deny it.”

Delisi brushed aside the slap: “My response is that I’m looking forward to working with all members of the Legislature, just as I’m looking forward to working with the local officials, to solve our transportation problems. ... Our first and foremost concern should be how we get our transportation infrastructure built as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Toll roads and private leases to fund transportation “are certainly one of the tools that are available to local officials and the state,” Delisi said. “It is part of the solution; it’s probably not the only solution.”

Meadows said he wants to work in a respectful way with the Legislature.

“There is no question that the public-private partnership will be a critical and important part of meeting the transportation demands of the future. ... But I think at the end of the day, that’s not the only answer,” Meadows said. “And I think the governor’s transportation policy is broader than just that.”

Commission member Ted Houghton Jr. of El Paso said he knows Delisi and Meadows and is excited about the appointments. As for the effect on the commission’s relationship with lawmakers, he quipped, “The only way is up from here.”

The appointments won praise from groups including the Texas Association of Business, Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation, Greater Houston Partnership, Texas Recreational Vehicle Association and Texas Motor Transportation Association.

Critics of the direction taken by Perry and TxDOT, including founder Sal Costello and David Stall of CorridorWatch, said they didn’t expect any substantive change with Delisi as chair.

“Change anything? No. It’s still going to be hardball,” said Stall.

Delisi doesn’t see herself in the bulldog role that Williamson was known for.

“My philosophy in managing is it’s a team effort," she said. "These are big challenges, big challenges. To think that one person is going to be responsible for solving them is a fairy tale. It’s going to take a cooperative effort from the top all the way down, from the agency to the Legislature to the local officials.”

© 2008 San Antonio Express-news:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

More toll road conversions in store for Arlington and Mansfield

Texas officials take step toward tolls on 170, 360


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2008

Environmental studies approved by the federal government years ago for future freeway extensions of Texas 170 near Alliance Airport and Texas 360 in Arlington and Mansfield will be updated so the projects can be built as toll roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation, which owns the rights of way and existing frontage roads for both projects, on Tuesday gave the North Texas Tollway Authority permission to conduct the environmental studies.

The roads have already passed environmental muster once, but federal law requires that the records be updated if a project is changed from a freeway to a toll road, a state official said.

The roads are among more than a dozen projects that the tollway authority intends to undertake in the coming years to improve mobility in the Metroplex.

The Transportation Department also asked the tollway authority to provide a timeline for conducting a market valuation of both roads. State law requires the two agencies to mutually agree on a valuation -- or dollar value -- before a road can be built as a toll project.

Why? In many cases, the tolls can be used to pay for not only the road in question, but also others in the region.

GORDON DICKSON, 817-685-3816

© 2008 Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"That sucking sound..."


Questioning the corridor

April 30, 2008

The Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2008

Plausible rationale?

Thank you for bringing to the attention of Chronicle readers the proposed I-69. (Please see "TRANS-TEXAS CORRIDOR / Inside a swath of land TxDOT is studying for the proposed route live Texans who fear losing their property and their way of life," Page One, Monday.) More explanation should be given to the article's jump-page headline on Page A6, which stated: "Route's goal is to speed traffic past Houston." This begs the question: Speed from where to where? The proposed route does not connect any major cities in Texas or follow any current traffic flow; the vast majority of Texans heading to/from south Texas or to/from Texarkana will be coming to/from Houston.

The Texas Department of Transportation has not produced any evidence that the massive growth that it projects in Texas (thereby justifying the road) will occur anywhere along the route between the Valley and Texarkana. Given the lack of population centers on the route (and there is no indication that the route is intended to create job centers in Texas), such spontaneous growth seems highly unlikely.

The only plausible rationale is that the route's goal is to speed trucks from Mexico past Houston, indeed past Texas, carrying containers of goods manufactured elsewhere. Just as the public has begun to recognize the need to reduce carbon output, TxDOT proposes that we sacrifice what remains of Texas' open space and air quality to facilitate the distribution of consumer goods primarily from Asia, by the most carbon-intense method possible.

Goods manufactured under 19th century labor conditions, transported by 20th century technologies, is not what Texas needs for the 21st century.


What they don't see

It is beyond belief that the Texas Department of Transportation and Gov. Rick Perry continue to push the Trans-Texas Corridor/Toll Road that no one wants except some politicians.

I have lived and worked in Germany, where major industry uses the German autobahns (interstate equivalents in the United States) to move commerce across Western Europe. These are not toll roads. There is no excuse for going around major cities such as Houston if you see how it is done in Germany. But Perry and TxDOT do not want to see how it has been done successfully in Germany.


Renamed process

If I understand the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, Texans' land will be expropriated by eminent domain. The land will be deeded over to a Spanish corporation that will use Chinese and Indian engineers to design the project and illegal immigrants to build the roads. Then, Texans will be charged a fee to use the Spanish highway.

Today, this process is called globalization. When I was in college, the process was called colonialism.

That sucking sound we hear is the sound of American taxpayer dollars being siphoned off by foreign corporations in the global economy.


"The height of irresponsibility."

Not serious on roads

April 30, 2008

Waco Tribune-Herald
Copyright 2008

Rick Perry can’t be serious.

He says he is — seriously devoted to building and maintaining highways. But he is just as devoted to fencing state government into fiscal straits that make these goals impossible without privatizing highways through tolls.

Perry last week said that going full-bore with toll roads is the only way for Texas to build new highways. That’s not so. The history of Texas tells us it’s not.

Toll roads have their function without question. But so do bonds. So does a gasoline tax that has not kept pace with inflation. So does a reexamination of how Texas funds highways in general — including a look at how highway funds are siphoned off for non-highway purposes.

“This is a place for big challenges, not big excuses,” Perry told a Texas Transportation Department meeting last week. Nice sentiments, but words do not concrete make.

The last Texas Legislature bowed its back at Perry’s my-way-or-no-highway fixation on toll roads. Part of this regards blowback against the Trans-Texas Corridor, an entity that seems to have some Frankenstein in it — a life form unto itself owing only to Perry’s TxDOT laboratory.

What lawmakers are saying is that the agency must be accountable to the legislative branch as well as the executive.

“The Legislature must understand that ‘no’ is not a solution,” Mr. Perry said. “It is an abdication of responsibility.” No argument, there. But the logjam goes both ways.

With rapid growth, Perry said the cost of building and maintaining the state’s roads is far beyond what tax revenues will pay for. That’s only if leaders like Perry refuse to look at revenue sources other than tolls.

Waco is made to feel that the only way Interstate 35 can be expanded through town is toll lanes. The choice is framed as firing squad or firing squad.

Lawmakers have serious questions about long-term costs of toll roads and about contracts with private companies that, say state auditors, have been too cushy.

At the same time, lawmakers have a nasty habit of using dollars from the gasoline tax to pay for any number of things that don’t build and maintain roads.

Perry is right to deride lawmakers’ “addiction to gas tax money” as a budget-balancing tool. But, then, he signs the budgets.

The height of irresponsibility at this point is for the state to say basically that it can spend money on construction but not maintenance, or vice versa.

Texas has the resources to do what it needs. Through bonds, through the gasoline tax, through better budgeting, and through judicious use of tolls, it can get moving.

Take any of the above off the table and you’re not serious.

© 2008 Waco Tribune-Herald:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"This must mean that he believes we Texans are either dimwitted or have very short memories."

Perry should rethink his third-term bid

April 30, 2008

Letters to the Editor
Abelene Reporter-News
Copyright 2008

For Rick Perry to even suggest that he will run again for governor means he must think he could win.

This, in turn, must mean that he believes we Texans are either dimwitted or have very short memories.

I sincerely hope that voters will remember the extravagant junkets he has taken, including to Spain -- home of Cintra.

I hope we all remember that he is the main force behind the Trans-Texas Corridor fiasco.

Because most of us are opposed to the corridor, last year our Legislature passed a two-year moratorium on it, so that impact, etc., could be studied. Governor Perry vetoed that bill.

Most of all, I hope we all remember that Governor Perry is the one who also vetoed the bill that would have prevented our homesteads and land from being condemned and taken for use in developments, such as the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Sandra Cantrell


© 2008 Abelene Reporter-News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE