Monday, March 15, 2010

"Todd Staples doesn’t want to talk about the Trans-Texas Corridor because his voting record speaks for itself. "

Staples Dodges Questions On Role In Trans-Texas Corridor

Lies About Record Of Protecting Property Owners


Hank Gilbert for Agriculture Commissioner
Copyright 2010

TYLER-Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples last week dodged and weaved his way around questions about his role in helping establish the Trans-Texas Corridor, the disastrously unpopular tollway project originally slated to include more than 8,000 miles of quarter-mile wide tollways and take hundreds of thousands of acres of Texas farm and ranchland from its owners through eminent domain.

Staples made the comments last Thursday during an interview on “East Texas Live,” the morning show on Tyler NBC affiliate KETK-TV.

When asked about comments made during the primary by Democratic contenders in the Agriculture Commission race about Staple’s role in creating the Trans-Texas Corridor, Staples dodged the question:

QUESTION: [By Interviewer] We want to get to some comments that Kinky Friedman made on this show about the Trans-Texas Corridor and your role in that, can you tell us a little bit about it?

ANSWER: [By Staples] You know Kinky is funny, but he has a little issue telling the truth on that matter…The facts are these though: I have a very strong record protecting the rights of both home and land owners. I’ve been supported by the Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association….and Texas Realtors because of the number of years I’ve worked on behalf of land and property owners.

Later in the interview, Staples also noted that, “I have worked on legislation to protect landowners and look forward to continuing that work.”

The reality, however, is very different from Staples’ claims.

“Todd Staples is dodging the issues. He doesn’t want to talk about the Trans-Texas Corridor because his voting record speaks for itself. He voted for HB 3588, the bill that created the underlying legal framework for the TTC and privatized toll roads. He also authored legislation to allow TxDOT to leverage even more money for the development of toll roads, irresponsibly allowing TxDOT to create enough debt to sink every taxpayer in this state,” said Hank Gilbert (D-Whitehouse), the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

Gilbert also said that Staples’ self-proclaimed record of “working on legislation to protect landowners,” is non-existent.

“Where is his record of working on legislation to protect landowners? If he was so adamant about protecting land and property owners, why-during his three terms in the Texas House and one term in the Texas Senate-did he not author and pass a single bill relating to property owner’s rights or to help protect property owners from eminent domain?” Gilbert inquired.

In addition, Gilbert said Staples’ effusive praise of the recently passed Proposition 11, a constitutional amendment passed by Texas voters in 2009, was misguided.

In the KETK interview last Thursday, Staples noted about Proposition 11: “what it said was that if you have to use eminent domain, it can only be done for a truly public purpose.”

“Proposition 11 contains a massive loophole,” Gilbert noted.” Proposition 11 allows the Texas Legislature to pass laws granting eminent domain authority to entities without specifying exactly what types of entities could be granted these powers. It could even include private corporations,” Gilbert noted. “Staples is willfully ignoring that loophole in a desperate attempt to deceive voters regarding his role in helping to sell out roads to private corporations,” Gilbert continued.


Staples’ Record On TTC, Property Rights, Speaks For Itself

FACT: Todd Staples voted for HB 3588, the legislation that created the Trans-Texas Corridor. [SOURCE: Senate Journal, 78th Texas Legislature, pp. 3044, 5047]

FACT: Todd Staples was slow to criticize the Trans-Texas Corridor-until Hank Gilbert made the Corridor an issue in his 2006 run for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Staples’ own website includes news articles quoting Staples as failing to criticize the project in early January of 2006:

“Staples did not criticize the Trans-Texas Corridor…” [Tyler Morning Telegraph, January 24, 2006, via Todd Staples campaign website [LINK]


“Change brings about cause for concern,” Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, said Wednesday.

“We know there’s a mobility crisis in Texas today,” Staples said. “The status quo won’t do. Change must occur. We want change to occur in the most user-friendly manner as possible.” [SOURCE: Lawmakers taking critical look at Trans Texas Corridor, Associated Press State & Local Wire, February 9, 2005.]

FACT: Todd Staples never, during his tenure in the Texas House or Senate, authored or passed legislation to protect property or landowners from eminent domain abuses. [SOURCE: Bills Authored By Todd Staples, 74th Texas Legislature; 75th Texas Legislature; 76th Texas Legislature; 78th Regular Session, Texas Legislature; 79th Texas Legislature.

FACT: Todd Staples authorized legislation which would have expanded the ability of the Texas Department of Transportation to fund construction of toll roads. [SOURCE: Senate Bill 1706, 79th Texas Legislature]

This fact was noted by the media:

“Staples’ bill removes an $800 million-a-year lid on tax subsidies of toll roads…” [SOURCE: Austin American Statesman, May 12, 2005]

FACT: Proposition 11 does not stop the taking of property through eminent domain unless it is for a “truly public purpose,” as Todd Staples claims. In fact, Proposition 11 could increase the number of entities that could be granted authority to use eminent domain, and allows the Legislature to enact legislation granting eminent domain power to an “entity” without defining what types of “entities” are eligible for such legislation. Private corporations could benefit from this amendment. [SOURCE: Focus Report: Amendments Proposed For November 2009 Ballot, House Research Organization, Texas House of Representatives, August 20, 2009, p. 27]

© 2010 Hank Gilbert for Agriculture Commissioner:

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