Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Most of Rick Perry's chiefs of staff have been lobbyists."

Bill White says most of Gov. Rick Perry's chiefs of staff have been lobbyists

The Truth-O-Meter Says:


Copyright 2010

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White has vowed to tighten rules restricting state employees from working as lobbyists, recently noting that Perry's top staffers have kept the revolving door spinning.

"Most of his chiefs of staff have been lobbyists," White said to a crowd of about 35 people in the North Texas town of Crowell on Aug. 14.

White was more specific in an ethics reform proposal he released in April: "Five of seven Perry chiefs of staff have been lobbyists."

Quick aside: State law regulates lobbying, defined as "direct communications" with members of state agencies, the legislative or executive branch of state government to influence legislation or administrative action. That includes the offices of the governor.

White proposed to prohibit the governor's senior staff from working on issues related to their former employment for two years. And "when departing, they will be prohibited from lobbying the governor's office or their state agency for two years," according to White's plan.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry's campaign, has said that "the governor has some of the toughest ethics policies anywhere in the country," according to a Aug. 19 article in the Dallas Morning News. "You cannot lobby his office for one year and a legislative session."

Still, we wondered if White's chiefs-of-staff complaint was true.

So we went down the roster of the governor's chiefs of staff and combed through the Texas Ethics Commission's online database of registered lobbyists, who are required to report their compensation and expenditures. But that list only dates back to 1998, so we reached out to the former chiefs of staff themselves.

Introducing ...

Barry McBee chief of staff, December 2000-August 2001; registered lobbyist 2001-02McBee was the first of the seven chiefs of staff Perry has had during his gubernatorial tenure. McBee has also been chairman of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, deputy commissioner at the Texas Department of Agriculture and an aide to former Gov. Bill Clements.

McBee was a lobbyist when he worked for the law firm Bracewell & Patterson (now Bracewell & Giuliani). The ethics commission lists nine clients for McBee, including AT&T and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, in 2002, his most recent year as a lobbyist. The commission reports McBee's compensation from the law firm that year as at least $200,000.

Where's McBee now? At the University of Texas System, where's he's worked as vice chancellor for governmental relations since 2006 — also a lobbying job, albeit for a public institution.

Mike McKinney chief of staff, September 2001-November 2002; registered lobbyist 1999-2001

McKinney served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1984 to 1991 and led the Texas Health and Human Services Commission during George W. Bush's first term as governor. McKinney was registered as a lobbyist from 1999 to August 2001 while he was a vice president of Centene Corp., a St. Louis-based health insurance company. Rod Davis, a spokesman at the Texas A&M University System, where McKinney is now chancellor, said he had "registered as a lobbyist as a standard precaution for having any contacts with legislators" but "was not primarily a 'lobbyist' by any means."

Mike Toomey chief of staff December 2002-September 2004; registered lobbyist 1990-2002, 2004-present

The ethics commission database lists more than 30 clients, including Merck and Philip Morris, for Toomey in 2002, the year he became Perry's chief of staff.

Since leaving the Perry administration, Toomey has resumed lobbying. Among his 25 clients listed for 2010 on the ethics commission report are AT&T, Corrections Corp. of America, Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments. This year, Toomey reported a minimum of $800,000 and a maximum of about $1.5 million in prospective compensation, according to the commission.

Deirdre Delisi chief of staff September 2004-June 2007

Delisi has been with Perry since he was lieutenant governor. She served as his chief of staff until Perry tapped her to serve as the chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Commission, which governs the Texas Department of Transportation.

Delisi told us that she has never been a registered lobbyist, and after searching news clips and lobbyist registries dating from 1998 on the ethics commission website, we confirmed as much.

Brian Newby chief of staff July 2007-October 2008; registered lobbyist 2009-present

Newby rejoined the law firm Cantey Hanger in 2009 after working for Perry and registered as a lobbyist the same year. This year, the Tarrant Regional Water District was listed as his client, and his prospective compensation from the district was reported as $10,000 to $24,999.99.

Jay Kimbrough chief of staff October 2008-June 2009

Kimbrough, a former Marine, has in recent years filled a troubleshooter role at the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation. Prior, he was a special adviser to the Texas A&M board of regents.

Kimbrough told us that he's never been a lobbyist, and we didn't find any evidence to the contrary.

Ray Sullivan chief of staff July 2009-present; registered lobbyist 2002-09

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Perry, told us that Sullivan first registered as a lobbyist in late 2002, although he doesn't show up in the ethics commission database until 2003. Before that, he worked in various capacities for Perry. Perry appointed him as chief of staff in July, prompting Wayne Slater at the Dallas Morning News to single Sullivan out as an example of "how things work in Austin."

According to the Aug. 19 article, "Ray has shuttled between top jobs on Perry’s staff and as a lobbyist representing interests with business before the state. His wife has directed the governor’s political fundraising. They haven’t broken the law or the rules governing the practice of politics and policy, and they’ve made between $4 million and $5.7 million since Perry’s been governor, according to campaign reports, lobby filings and state payroll records."

In 2009, Sullivan had seven clients listed to his name on the ethics website, including HNTB Corp., a toll-road engineering company.

Seven chiefs of staff later, what have we learned?

Far as we can tell, five have been registered as lobbyists, as White stated. Three of those — McKinney, Toomey and Sullivan — were lobbyists before Perry hired them as chief of staff.

We rate White's statement as True.

© 2010

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"There are still three Perry-driven Trans-Texas Corridor plans in the works: I-69, La Entrada, and Ports-to-Plains."

It’s Official – Trans-Texas Corridor 35 is Dead!


American Stewards
Copyright 2010

100811_CW_TTCDead_MainThe first leg of the NAFTA Superhighway is DEAD, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision (ROD) on the environmental study for the Trans-Texas Corridor - 35.

In June, the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission formed by five towns, their school districts and a local businessman in Central Texas, sent a petition to the Council of Environmental Quality (Council) concerned that a critical loophole was still open that would allow the Trans-Texas Corridor – 35 to be revived. They asked the Council to step in and require the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to withdraw the study in its entirety.

Instead of withdrawing the study, the FHA stated eight different times in what otherwise should have been a typical ROD that the TTC 35 project had ended. They even went so far as to state that the environmental study could not be used as a basis for any further study.

Fred Kelly Grant, President of American Stewards who wrote the Petition stated:

“The Federal Highway Administration has pounded the final nail in the coffin of the Trans-Texas Corridor-35. The Agency’s final Record of Decision, issued on July 20, 2010 selected the No Action Alternative, but went further in ordering that “a study area for the TTC-35 Project will not be chosen and the TTC-35 Project is concluded.” Twice, the ROD states that the “project is concluded,” and six times it states that “the project ends.”

“If TXDOT attempted to revive the 35 Corridor project and use the same EIS, this ROD would provide the base for issuance by a United States District Judge of a Declaratory Judgment prohibiting the action,” Grant concluded.

This is an unprecedented action. The $80 billion international superhighway project is dead.

The corridor concept was unveiled by Governor Rick Perry in 2003 as the way to build infrastructure in America. His plan would have confiscated 586,000 private acres in Texas alone and displace over one million people and their families.

The superhighway was to contain four passenger lanes, two truck lanes, high speed rail and freight rail, all charging a hefty toll for the next 50 years that would go to the international contractor Cintra-Zachry. But that’s not all. The right of way was to be a quarter-of-a-mile wide so that land within the corridor could be leased to restaurants, hotels and gas stations. Perry’s plan would take land from Texans and generate revenue for foreign companies.

As grand as Perry’s plan was, it was only the first part of a much larger scheme – the NAFTA Superhighway – an international highway that was to efficiently connect the Chinese-owned ports in Mexico to the Canadian markets, by way of America’s heartland.

The first major security check for cargo coming into America was a “Smart Port” in Kansas City where trucks could drive through without stopping.

Texan’s were outraged, but no one listened until the five towns of Holland, Bartlett, Little River-Academy, Rogers and Buckholts (total population of about 6,500) decided to take matters into their own hands and invoke coordination. Dan Byfield (ASL CEO) and Margaret Byfield (ASL ED) lived less than an hour away and were able to attend every meeting and guide the commission through the process. President Fred Grant attended all the coordination meetings with the agencies and wrote the hard-hitting Petitions filed by the Commission.

The TTC battle is the first time the coordination process was invoked for an issue that didn’t involve federal lands. Texas is 97% privately owned. Still, the coordination requirement in the National Environmental Policy Act and a unique Texas state law brought both federal and state agencies to Holland, Texas to resolve the inconsistencies between the TTC and local policies.

October 2009, the Texas Department of Transportation announced they would be recommending the “no build” alternative. Eastern Central, while happy with the decision, also recognized that there was a serious loophole still open. If the study was approved with the “no build” alternative, the agency could change its mind later and select a new alternative without going through the level of analysis Eastern Central was requiring. (See TTC Petition Filed with CEQ).

In an unprecedented move, they petitioned the CEQ to right the wrong and require that the study be withdrawn so that it could never be used in the future. FHA didn’t withdraw the study, but did one better. They marked it for dead. Never to be revived, referred to, or relied upon again.

There are still three Perry-driven Trans-Texas Corridor plans in the works: I-69, La Entrada, and Ports-to-Plains. Lincoln, Colorado sits in the path of Ports-to-Plains and has taken the lead of the Eastern Central planning commission by beginning the coordination process with the Colorado Department of Transportation on related issues.

Planning Commissions exist on the other two routes in Texas as well. People along these routes throughout the U.S. should take a closer look at the impressive path blazed by Eastern Central. They made coordination work and achieved our greatest victory to date.

The Trans Texas Corridor Stopped Here!
Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Mae Smith,
Mayor of Holland
Billy Crow,
Vice President
Mayor of Rogers
Arthur White,
Mayor of Bartlett
Ronnie White,
Mayor of Little River-Academy
Hal Senkel
Mayor of Buckholtz
Ralph Snyder
Holland Businessman
Harold Kurtz
President, Holland ISD
Kerry Owen
Academy ISD
Gary Ktrola
Rogers ISD
Bartlett ISD
Buckhotz ISD
Joan Kurtz, Recording Secretary
Marcia Snyder
Cindy Ross

© 2010 American Stewards:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Rick, keep your hands off our land."

"Hands Off Our Land"


Back to Basics PAC
Copyight 2010

Rancher: "Rick Perry says he loves private property rights."

Rancher's wife: "Until he wanted to take people's homes and family farms."

Rancher: "Perry would bulldoze half a million acres in private land and give it to a Spanish company to build toll roads and let the company set the tolls.

"When lawmakers tried to stop him, Perry vetoed the law."

Rancher's wife: "He's gotten millions from rich friends who stood to profit. Taking family farms isn't family values."

Rancher: "Rick, keep your hands off our land."

© 2010 Back to Basics PAC:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"We were told it was the done deal of the century, but we proved them wrong."

A Victory the Size of Texas!


Independent Texans
Copyright 2010

The people of Texas have killed the grand scheme of the Trans-Texas Corridor and, in so doing, won an 8-year war with Governor Rick Perry and his allies.

We were told it was the done deal of the century, but we proved them wrong. The Federal Highway Administration issued their final Record of Decision that selected the No Action Alternative for TTC-35 on July 31st.

Congratulations to the many groups across the state, including activists in all political parties, who together and separately brought the Corridor down. Though some scaled back portions of the trade Corridor are still moving forward, the grand scheme of the TTC is DOA!

The people of Texas owe Linda and David Stall of Corridor Watch a lot. Linda and David spent a huge portion of their personal income and lives since 2004 providing the technical and spiritual leadership to thousands of people across the state.

The fight to stop the TTC teaches us what ordinary citizens can do when we unite across partisan and ideological lines. From environmentalists to John Birchers, the Corridor fight galvanized a movement inside and outside both major parties the likes of which have never been seen in our particularly divided state. The Corridor battle even sparked a major independent candidacy for Governor - that of former Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who brought the issue out to millions of Texans who had no idea that their state’s independent farmers were under siege by a Governor who had come from rural Texas and who had turned his back on them.

The fight morphed into the critical “391 Commissions” formed by local officials with local concerned citizens along the Corridor route established to force TxDOT and state officials to deal with them.

Many of those who pushed this universally hated project are now “retired”, including Rep. Mike Krusee, Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick and US House Speaker Tom DeLay. All but Rick Perry are gone, but we’re still working on that!

The whole thing started with a 2001 statewide proposition for the Texas Mobility Fund. Unsuspecting Texans passed the statewide proposition thinking it was to give the Texas Department of Transportation TxDOT some innocuous additional tools to raise funds for roads. We found out after passage the real plan behind it was to convert freeways to tollways and to allow roads to be privatized, tolled and leased for 50-100 years to international corporations. The Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) was the mother load of all tolls roads planned as a 1/4 mile wide, 4000 mile scar across the state. And, for what? It was an international trade corridor to allow more Chinese goods to be trans-shipped through non-unionized Mexican ports into and through the United States to Canada.

What galled so many rural Texans along the planned TTC-35 route was their Governor, Rick Perry, who had been Agriculture Commissioner and had come from the Texas ranching community, was ready to lead a massive land taking for the Corridor involving some of the mere 3% of the world’s most fertile soil. Had the plan gone forward, this would have been the largest eminent domain seizure in the history of our country involving at least 500,000 acres of land.

The Texas Transportation saga is a long and winding road — pun intended. It’s a story not simply about transportation. It’s a story about government corruption, self-dealing, incompetence and political wheeling and dealing that goes on to this very day.

Groups across the state came together in 2009 to send this letter to the incoming Federal Highway Administration under the Obama administration, documenting much of our case to stop the massive Corridor.

We even tried to send a message to Joe Biden to stop stimulus funds used for toll roads (from the latest version of the film Truth Be Tolled)

Special thanks go to noted film documentarian, Bill Molina, of San Antonio who helped document some the work of many organizations and individuals over the last 8 years, you can watch this extraordinary film, Truth Be Tolled, on YouTube.

You can also visit these web sites and google for hundreds of articles on this subject and Terri Hall’s continued concerns for pieces of the Corridor still planned.

© 2010 Independent Texans:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE