Lesson in politics: Choose your words carefully!

Today, both the grassroots and Senator John Carona learned a lesson…choose your words carefully. It can be easily interpreted from yesterday’s Austin American Statesman article that Carona turned on the citizens with this statement about the CDA moratorium bill SB 1267: “I don’t intend to move it.” Though a compromise bill is supposedly in the works, a bill with two-thirds of the Legislature signed on in support simply must move out of committee. It’s a no brainer.


Contact Lt. Gov. Dewhurst at (512) 463-0001 to ensure he gets the message. We EXPECT a bill with 81% of the Senate as co-authors to make it to the floor for a VOTE!

Plenty is going on behind the scenes, and EVERY taxpayer protection and reform needs to continue to be addressed and become law, but let’s get this moratorium OUT OF COMMITTEE and to the floor for a vote!

Read the following and YOU DECIDE:

Link to Carona’s official statement in response to the uproar from the Statesman article here.

Some calls in protest seem to have indicated that the public thinks the moratorium will kill the Trans Texas Corridor or mean that further needed reforms won’t be tackled. Truth is, taking away the CDA financing mechanism of the TTC will be put on hold and the study committee the bill requires will bring forward the concerns with CDA financing and likely KILL the TTC once and for all.

Also, let it be clear, that we expect ALL reforms to continue to move ahead in tandem with the passage of the moratorium. Those reforms cannot wait 2 more years. Let’s also clarify that the moratorium DOES NOT put ALL toll roads nor ALL road projects on hold, it simply puts the controversial private financing (toll equity) deals ON HOLD pending further study.

Senator Robert Nichols makes clear that SB 1267 is NOT DEAD!

For immediate release, the following is statement from Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) on SB 1267:

The effort to halt private toll road deals is not over. We will continue working to prevent Texas from entering into bad agreements that will hold our transportation system hostage for the next half century.

Pursuing a short-term solution with dangerous long-term consequences is not the answer to alleviating traffic congestion. A two year “cooling-down” period gives us a chance to get these contracts right before we sign away control of our transportation system.

Carona runs afoul of anti-toll crowd

State Sen. John Carona has learned in the last 24 hours how quickly a politician can go from champ to chump in the anti-tollroad blogasphere.

The Dallas Republican, chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, has become something of a rock star in those circles for his direct — and surprisingly effective — challenge of what had become the new orthodoxy in Texas transportation circles. In the past few months Carona had described the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Transportation Commission chairman Ric Williamson as “arrogant,” filed bills to rollback some of the agency’s toll road tools and held an all-day hearing March 1 where toll opponents got their best chance to fire back in the past four years.

And he signed on as co-sponsor of SB 1267 by state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, which would allow no more private toll road contracts with the state for two years. When more than 125 legislators signed on to the House and Senate versions of the bill, a seeming veto-proof majority, toll opponents saw a chance to deliver a crippling blow to Gov. Rick Perry and his Trans-Texas Corridor plan, if not to his whole toll road agenda.

Then Carona was quoted in this paper and the Dallas Morning News today indicating that, well, he didn’t plan to let SB 1267 come up for a vote in his committee. Tarrant County officials, at yet another Carona hearing Wednesday, had made it clear they don’t want a moratorium because it could delay for years some road projects they were counting on to get going.

People like David Stall, with anti-Trans-Texas Corridor group Corridor Watch, and Austin toll opponent Sal Costello went into action. Carona’s office was flooded with demands that he give the bill a vote, and some of his staffers said, well, he’d been misquoted.

No, Carona’s office, later said, the news stories got it right. But he issued a statement at mid-afternoon trying to put his position on SB 1267 in context.

“There are things we need to accomplish this session, such as stopping or reducing diversion of transportation revenues, and indexing the motor fuels taxes,” the Carona statement said. “If all we do is pass SB 1267, then we have told TxDOT it is okay to build all future roads as toll roads, just not (private) toll roads… . We have heard the public loud and clear about toll roads, public private partnerships, and the Trans Texas Corridor. We have also heard from Tarrant County and others for whom SB 1267 creates a hardship, and we have an obligation to listen to them as well.”

Link to the original Statesman article here.

Tollway freeze bill frozen

Committee chairman, a co-sponsor of moratorium on private road contracts, says no vote likely on bill