Foreign management of highways the same as Dubai port deal



San Antonio, TX, February 27, 2006 – With debate swirling over the foreign management of our public ports still in the headlines, a group of concerned citizens who have united under the banner of San Antonio Toll contends that the Governor-appointed Transportation Commission’s advocacy for foreign management of our publicly owned highways is virtually the same as the highly unpopular Dubai port deal being blocked by Congress (See Rasmussen poll that shows 83% of Americans against it).

“Sounds like we’re giving control of our country over to foreign entities,” says a concerned citizen Ron Schmacher. “It’s almost like we don’t want to solve our own problems and we’re throwing our hands up and letting foreign companies do the job for us.”

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Governor’s Transportation Commission is promoting the same foreign management of public infrastructure as the President. Instead of ports, it’s highways,” contends Terri Hall Regional Director of San Antonio Toll, a non-partisan grassroots group of citizens promoting non-toll, good government transportation solutions.

On January 17, the Transportation Commission held an industry workshop promoting the use of public-private partnerships called CDAs (See TxDOT’s web site with workshop info). Last June, the Transportation Commission left the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority out of their decision to open up the San Antonio toll starter system to bid as a CDA (Express-News story on it.).

Two foreign companies, Spanish-based Cintra and Australian-based Macquarie 1604 Partnership, are bidding to build the toll starter system in San Antonio (See Express-News article). Cintra has already landed the first such deal in Texas for the TTC I-35 project (Houston Chronicle article here).

We’re not going to be able to bring our complaints to Madrid, Spain if don’t like the tolls or their actions. The deal will already be signed before we can see it, then who will we complain to? We’ll have federally-funded highways that the federal government nor state government will be in charge of, ” Bob McKechnie, resident who lives near the first planned toll project.

The foreign management and the secrecy surrounding these projects are what taps the nerve of most Texans, and due to the national coverage of the Dubai port deal, the opposition to foreign management of our highway infrastructure is building, too.

It’s a canker and it’s spreading. Not just in Texas, Indiana announced Cintra-Macquarie as the preferred bidder for a $3.85 billion public-private partnership (USA Today article here) and Cintra recently purchased the Chicago Skyway (See Toll Road News). It’s by design that they’re now trying to takeover the Indiana toll road that feeds into the Skyway,” states Hall. “My question to my fellow Texans is this: Are we going to lose control of the infrastructure in our own country or are we going to see to it that our government doesn’t sell Texas and America to the highest bidder? Get informed and get involved at”


Online extra: Letters to the editor

Web Posted: 02/27/2006 12:00 AM CST

San Antonio Express-News

Next, put out ‘For Sale’ sign at White House

If the Treasury Department thinks foreign ownership of American ports is such a good idea, why not sell off the White House and the U.S. Capitol buildings, too? We already have foreign ownership of their contents. It is called globalization.

President Bush is spending every borrowed dime he can muster. Hillary Clinton has turned to the Chinese for money. (And doesn’t she look striking in those mandarin orange Chinese blouses?) While poor Al Gore has been reduced to pleading for table scraps in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the bottom line, folks: When this country resembles the bar scene from Star Wars and the Federation is in control, then and only then will it be “Mission Accomplished” for America.

Gary Kahn

Conservatives ask: What is administration thinking?

A letter to the president of the United States:

I have long been a supporter of your presidency and have shared your beliefs on many policies. I am but one of many citizens calling into question the plans to turn over operation of our major ports, ports of entry to our homeland, to a country whose people are very not like the United States in their view of the world.

I, of course, am referring to the recent announcement of plans to allow the United Arab Emirates to take over major operations at some of our largest and most important ports. It is not in our best interest to allow this. We have a difficult time already identifying enemies of the state. Now think about the potential to bring God knows what in those often not inspected shipping containers? Talk about the potential risk to homeland security!

This begs the question that many in my mostly conservative circles ask: What are they thinking?

I am a veteran of the Vietnam era with more than 23 years of service in the Air Force, my wife has more than 27 years in the Air Force, and our oldest son was recently selected for promotion to the rank of major in the Army. As members of the military we swore to defend this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Since you have been in office, more than 2,000 of our brothers and sisters in arms have died holding true to their oath. Another 15,000-plus have been injured or maimed for life.

And, now, this plan calls some of us to question this seemingly open invitation to any would-be terrorist to readily access entry into the United States. If I can sit and think of possible ways to enter the country using the opportunities presented by this plan, I am sure someone who lives to become a martyr possessed by ulterior motives against the United States and your people can think of even more ways. Perhaps you and your advisers need to give this one another think.

Retired Maj. Eduardo A. Alvarado