Lawsuit to stop TxDOT’s illegal ad campaign on path to fast track appeal

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lawsuit to STOP TxDOT’s illegal lobbying postponed to Monday!State objected to judge, will attempt to throw it in an appeals court black hole

Thursday, September 20, 2007 – In Travis County District Court today,TURF Founder Terri Hall, filed a petition for a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to immediately halt its illegal taxpayer funded, toll road campaign. Judges from all over the state are at a conference in Galveston, TX so a visiting judge, Bill Bender, was assigned the case. The lawyer with the Attorney General’s office, Kristina Silcox, representing individuals employed by TxDOT who are named in the suit, objected to the judge, and having no available replacement, the hearing for a temporary restraining order was postponed until Monday.

Judge Bender was apparently unacceptable to the State since he resides in Seguin, which happens to be in the path of the Trans Texas Corridor.

“TxDOT didn’t want this case heard before a judge whose community is deeply affected by the Trans Texas Corridor,” thinks Hall. “Every day this case isn’t heard is another day TxDOT illegally spends taxpayer money on a toll road ad campaign.”

Silcox also entered a plea to the jurisdiction, which is the State’s new playbook to force a strong case into an appeals court abyss (as they did with a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Planning Organizations filed in October of 2005 and is still stuck in an appeals court black hole: read about it here.). The State’s argument will not hold up but it won’t matter. The code, changed in 2005, allows the State to dump any good case it stands to lose by doing a fast track appeal as soon as they lose a motion and BEFORE the case is EVER heard! If they win the motion, the case is dismissed. Either way, they’ll call it a win.

“Not so fast,” says Hall. “These fast track appeals are the State’s get out of jail free card and resemble the State’s fast track eminent domain that forcibly removes landowners in 90 days. We knew they’d try this and we’ll combat it so that this case is heard and TxDOT is FORCED to comply with the LAW! I thought we are a nation governed by the rule of law, but since Governor Perry took office and started promoting his toll road schemes, he and his transportation commission rule more like an oligarchy. Even with a stacked deck, the people of Texas seek justice and will fight on.”

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.

TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have openly indicated TxDOT’s intention to directly lobby the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs.
On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here . Today’s petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

“Between TxDOT’s PR campaign, report to Congress asking that all limitations on tolling be lifted including buying back existing interstates, and Chairman Ric Williamson’s recent trip to D.C. lobbying for the same, it’s clear they’ve not only crossed the line into illegal lobbying, but they leaped over it,” says Hall.

TxDOT’s report to Congress, Forward Momentum, ignited a category 5 blowback that prompted Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Representatives Charlie Gonzalez,and Ciro Rodriguez to file legislation (S 2019 and HR 3510) to halt the tolling of existing interstates and to prohibit TxDOT from buying back interstates for the purpose of tolling them (read more here). TxDOT’s actions also prompted Rep. Rodriguez to call for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on converting interstates to tollways and on TxDOT’s ad campaign (read more here.).

View petition and affidavits:
Petition
Terri Hall’s affidavit
Bill Barker’s affidavit

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2 Replies to “Lawsuit to stop TxDOT’s illegal ad campaign on path to fast track appeal”

  1. Gary Conner

    I don’t understand where TXDOT obtained authority to enter into an alliance or compact.

    Art. I, Section X of the United States Constitution says no state may enter into ANY alliance. Art. VI states that EVERY judge in EVERY state shall be bound by that sentence, as it is the SUPREME law of the land, any state constitution or law to the contrary, notwithstanding.

    It also says a state cannot enter into a COMPACT or TREATY without obtaining the CONSENT of the Congress. When did TXDOT obtain a 2/3 Majority vote by the Congress to enter into a compact with a private firm which is a foreign power. (If a person can be named a foriegn power, or a group, surely a corporation whose agent for service is listed as General Counsel for CINTRA in Madrid Spain, is an obvious foriegn power)

    Regardless, a State may not enter into an alliance at all. And a “public private Partnership” is an alliance. What’s more, it is a monopoly by its very definition.

    And our State Constitution says that “…monopolys are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall NEVER be allowed..”

    The entire scheme is illegal, unless somehow, Articel VI has been stricken lawfully from the Articles of the U.S. Constitution, along with Article I.

    Has that occurred, and I just missed it???????????

    Can someone tell me where TXDOT has LAWFUL authority to create a monopoly which is an alliance between a State and a private concern?

    I’d really, really like to know how the TTC, or ANY public private partnership scheme, is “…in pursuance of” the Constitution, as required under Article VI.

    Any lawyers out there who can help me understand this? The only thing I’ve been told, is the basis for PPP’s is George H. W. Bush’s Executive Order issued in April of 1992, along iwth a STATE law passed in violation of Art. I and VI.

    An E.O. isn’t law. And an unlawful law isn’t law.

    How in God’s name is the PPP lawful?

    Our own state Constitution’s Art.

  2. MegGreen

    Totally agree and have been wondering this same thing for two and a half years. Where are the liberal lawyers when a REAL case needs to be heard? MG

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