Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Rick Perry, bolstered by his primary win, will continue his plans to push the Trans Texas Corridor piece by piece all the way up to the Red River."

Trans Texas Corridor routes moving at freight train speed


Terri Hall
Copyright 2010

After Rick Perry's highway department announced the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) route known as TTC-35 was "dead" in 2009, we find out post-election in 2010 that it, along with free trade, is very much alive and well. Canadian officials have shown renewed interest in a multi-modal trade corridor along I-35. Winnipeg recently announced its intention to build an inland port similar to those in San Antonio and Dallas. One such inland port in Kansas City has ceded sovereign United States territory to Canada and Mexico with the flags of all three countries flying over it. Officials in Winnipeg said it also intends to run a logistics and trade corridor to include rail and high speed highways all the way to Mexico as an Asia-Pacific gateway connecting to Toronto and Montreal.

It should surprise no one that former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and tolling authority (Alamo RMA) Chairman Bill Thornton took a trip to Toronto in 2006, partially at taxpayer expense, to promote Trans Texas Corridor-style trade connections and to be certain it includes the Port of San Antonio.

Norris Pettis, Canadian Consul General in Dallas, notes in the latest San Antonio Business Journal that "of all the urban centers I deal with, San Antonio is right up there in preaching free trade." The article also said Canadian officials observe an anti-trade sentiment in the U.S. as a whole, but see an open door in Texas, which they say doesn't share "protectionist policies."

Thank you, Rick Perry.

Tullos Wells is part of the Lone Star Rail project (pushing an Austin-San Antonio commuter rail line) and also traveled with Hardberger. He also happens to work for the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, one of the biggest players in pushing the privatization of our public roads (and represents Spain-based Cintra on private toll deals here in Texas) as well as pushing these multi-national trade corridors. Read more about the Bracewell & Giuliani connection here. It's not rocket science to conclude this is why Rick Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President in 2007.

The Trans Texas Corridor has always been about exploiting Texas landowners and taxpayers to open up new trade corridors to facilitate the free flow of goods among the three countries to benefit private corporations. Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Amadeo Saenz, admitted in public testimony February 1 (watch it here), that though TxDOT says the TTC is “dead,” it could change its mind tomorrow and still move forward with the Trans Texas Corridor since the statutory authority to do so remains in the Texas Transportation Code. This is one time we can take them at their word. They are indeed moving forward.

While most Texans have no problem with trade, many have expressed dismay with so-called "free" trade. It'd be more aptly called government managed trade, which is heavily tilted in favor of foreign countries, fails to insist on reciprocity, and overly taxes American goods while providing tax breaks on foreign imports. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has done more to hurt the U.S. manufacturing sector than any other government policy in recent history. In fact, more than one million Americans have lost jobs due to NAFTA. Given the grim state of the economy and high U.S. unemployment, now more than ever, the U.S. needs to reconsider NAFTA.

A handful of U.S. lawmakers recently renewed calls to repeal NAFTA. President Obama once spoke of his support for renegotiating parts of NAFTA, but seems to have reversed himself since taking office, now battling members of his own party to push for yet more "free" trade agreements to be signed with many other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei on an Asia-Pacific regional free-trade agreement, South Korea, Panama, and Columbia.

Stop the freight train...

Within days of Perry winning the Texas primary March 2, TxDOT revealed its intention to extend the SH 130 toll road northward. SH 130 from Georgetown around Austin extending south to San Antonio is the first leg of the Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35. So as predicted, Perry, bolstered by his primary win, will continue his plans to push the TTC piece by piece all the way up to the Red River.

With Winnipeg moving a multi-modal trade corridor southward along I-35, and the expansion of US 281 south of San Antonio underway (which feeds into the I-35 corridor) moving the corridor northward, it proves the TTC's demise was mere illusion designed to put Texans back to sleep while politicians get re-elected and quietly build it, segment by segment under the radar.

Harness the power of local government

This new TTC segment from Waco to Hillsboro, fills the gaps of "free" lane I-35 expansion, and will also likely become some form of foreign-owned toll road, like segments 5 & 6 of SH 130. The good news is, the section of I-35 where there is a 391 local government subregional planning commission (TURF co-sponsored events to help spread this method to fight the Trans Texas Corridor for TTC-69), I-35 will be expanded and kept toll-free (read about their success here). So a portion of TTC-35 will bypass the 391 commission's jurisdiction.

One of the proven ways Texans can STOP the TTC dead in its tracks is to utilize this little known goldmine of a government-to-government commission to force TxDOT to comply with the will of Texans within its jurisdiction. There are a total of 10 commissions formed using the local government code Chapter 391 in Texas, the majority of those formed directly to stop the TTC. To find out more about how to form one in your region, contact the private property rights foundation Americans Stewards of Liberty at

To deliver the final knockout punch, however, Texans must continue to pressure lawmakers and the Governor to repeal any and all forms of the Trans Texas Corridor (now renamed "innovative connectivity plan") from the transportation code and prevent any further contracts from being signed.

Dirty little secrets sneak under the radar

The TTC-69 (planned to go from the Rio Grande Valley northeast to Texarkana and eventually up through Michigan) public private partnership (called CDA in Texas) was awarded to ACS of Spain and Zachry of San Antonio in June of 2008.

In August of 2009, Perry-appointed Texas Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes asked for the TTC-69 contract to be approved by the Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott. Perry wants this contract signed before the citizens of Texas can step-in to stop it. Perry's son, Griffin, works for UBS (to further connect the dots go here), the financial arm of the ACS consortium who won the development rights for TTC-69.

When TxDOT announced that TTC-35 was "dead," it also clearly stated TTC-69, also given the name I-69 to make it appear more harmless, is still moving forward. In fact, expansion of US 77 is already underway in the valley as part of the initial leg of what will be known as TTC-69/I-69.

In addition, Ports to Plains (to run from Mexico all the way to Alberta, Canada) and La Entrada de Pacifico, two other active TTC corridors, show that nothing has changed there either, except dropping the official connection by name to the Trans Texas Corridor. La Entrada, to traverse through the Big Bend area, has a disturbing new twist with the resurrection of the idea to cede Big Bend to international interests by deeming it an "international" park, essentially to join it with Mexico's "Big Bend" on the other side of the U.S. border.

The idea is to eventually develop future sea-port connections with Far-East ocean shipping lanes. The current strategy in these two corridors is to steer federal transportation dollars into several otherwise useful local projects over time, and then connect the segments into a singular, identifiable system.

Your tax dollars at work

An active coalition pushing the development of the Ports to Plains trade corridor just completed a trade mission to Alberta, as well as advertising the West Texas Trade Summit in San Angelo (February 19), where the stated goal was to promote both trade and multi-national trade corridors in Texas and Mexico. Ports to Plains Alliance will also be hosting an "Energy Summit" April 8-9 in Colorado, mirroring the efforts of other public private partnerships (partially tax-funded) like TTC-69's Alliance for I-69, and the big I-35 coalition, called the North America Supercorridor Coalition or NASCO.

So don't fall for the rhetoric, Texans. As Ronald Reagan used to say, "trust but verify," and the verifiable facts point to the Trans Texas Corridor briskly moving ahead on all fronts. Remain vigilant to stop the biggest land grab in Texas history and to protect our sovereignty. Your freedom depends on it!

Make the connection...

Read more about how privatizing government functions comes at great cost to taxpayers here.

Read Ed Wallace's article on Perry's cronyism regarding privatizing and tolling our public roads here.

Click here to find out more!

© 2010

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Friday, March 19, 2010

"The will to deliver eminent domain reform to Texas property laws has not been diminished."

Property rights battle dead ahead


By Mike Barnett, Editor
Texas Farm Bureau
Copyright 2010

Okay, Texas Farm Bureau’s AGFUND-endorsed candidate for governor lost the Republican primary. It was a huge disappointment for those who worked so hard to see Kay Bailey Hutchison heading our state government in Austin.

But as Texas Agriculture publisher Gene Hall said, the sun did come up on Wednesday morning. The birds sang. And life goes on. As does Texas Farm Bureau’s efforts to achieve true eminent domain reform.

Sen. Hutchison recognized the archaic state of Texas property laws. She promised to right the private property wrongs which have plagued the Lone Star State. She had promised to give true eminent domain reform priority in her administration. Although she was unsuccessful in a hard fought battle, Texas Farm Bureau’s fervor for private property rights justice has not cooled.

Nobody knows who will be elected in November. If the political pundits can be believed, it’s going to be a real horse race.

What I do know is although it has been bashed and battered over the last four years, the will to deliver eminent domain reform to Texas property laws has not been diminished. Farm Bureau leaders overachieved in their efforts to get Proposition 11 into the Texas constitution last year, and their efforts were rewarded as it passed with the highest percentage of any of the proposals on the ballot.

But Proposition 11, which prohibits the government from acquiring land for non-public use, was only the first step. True reform will happen only when additional protections—including offers to landowners that represent fair market value, compensation to landowners for lost access to their property, and the right of landowners to repurchase land not used for condemning purposes—are added to state law.

Texas Farm Bureau members need to work to finish reform efforts with the same intensity they tackled Proposition 11. We must lay the groundwork now to remind our state representatives and senators of the importance this issue holds for all Texans. New candidates for state government need to know where we stand.

When they go into session next January, state legislators must quickly affirm the language from last session’s SB 18, which unanimously passed the Senate but was tied up by the voter ID wrangling in the House as the session closed.

Any delay could be fatal to our efforts. If whoever is elected governor chooses to veto the reform bill, it would take every remaining day of the session to accomplish an override. There are many who are opposed to this effort to protect private property rights who will be seeking derailment at every opportunity. Those opportunities will abound with a legislative agenda crowded with Sunset bills, redistricting and dealing with an estimated $20 billion budget shortfall.

With the disappointments of the last two sessions, it would seem the deck is stacked against Farm Bureau in our eminent domain efforts. Not so. We are a grassroots organization of true believers. The fire to protect our rights as property owners burns deep within. We’ve come very close to achieving our goals two times.

Texans need eminent domain reform. Farm Bureau members are not timid in standing up for what they believe. We will work hard for success. I know we are up to the task. The third time will be the charm.

© 2010 Texas Farm Bureau:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Monday, March 15, 2010

Manor Expressway: Governor Perry's latest stimulus-funded toll road

Phoniness paved in toll roads


Letters to the editor
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2010

I was reminded how dishonest Gov. Rick Perry is about stimulus money and taxes when I drove by the ballyhoo of the Manor Expressway groundbreaking ceremony.

A substantial portion of the first phase of the project will be funded by the federal stimulus money that the State of Texas so willingly accepts and the governor so often derides. The expressway, once completed, will be tolled.

Based on the current toll projections, I will pay between $500 and $700 per year in tolls (i.e., additional taxes) for the privilege of driving to and from work on the supposedly anti-tax governor's stimulus-funded tollway
— a tollway that will serve to memorialize Perry's fundamental phoniness.

John Carlson


© 2010 Austin American-Statesman:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"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:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE