Radio debate: Casteel essentially calls Perry a liar

In another stunning admission, David Casteel of TxDOT concedes they have the money to fix our freeways (ie – 281), but would rather indebt us for our lifetimes to foreign companies so that they can have more “play money.” He went into the usual bureaucratic gobbly-gook straining for a reason to possibly justify tolling us for what’s already paid for.

His answer: they WANT more of your money thereby leaving all of us with less. Haven’t we heard this sad little song over and over again from government? We can do so much more if we just raise your taxes. Sorry, Mr. Casteel, that tired ol’ song doesn’t come close to being sufficient justification for DOUBLE TAXATION and selling off control of our public infrastructure to foreign companies all so government can make a quick buck! TxDOT and other monopolistic government bureaucracies are like spoiled children who always want more no matter how much you give them. It’s the parent’s job to teach them self-control and mastery over their whims. TxDOT and BIG GOVERNMENT won’t EVER restrain themselves unless we do it for them.

Remember the famous dig on Bush, 41, “it’s the economy, _______!” Well, our government bureaucrats and politicians don’t seem to get it that it’s the principle here that’s sinking their ship with the taxpayers. We really don’t care that they can build endless amounts of highways ad nauseum forever if we’d only pony up a WHOLE NEW TAX ON DRIVING. It’s totally immoral to charge us twice for what we’ve already bought and paid for. It’s highway robbery to charge us a toll when they have the money to fix 281 right now, today. It’s immoral that they have withheld vital safety enhancements to Borgfeld Rd on 281, for instance (people have DIED at that intersection and they’ve had the money to fix it since 2003), simply so they turn our FREEway into a tollway and indebt us to foreign companies for generations!

Casteel and the pro-toll callers would rather shoot the messenger and make personal attacks for simply scrutinizing their plans (which we the taxpayers have to pay for) than to actually stick to the issues. This is how BIG government treats citizens who dare step out of place to redress our government for grievances. The government has the power to forcibly take our money for taxes, and all the credentials we need to demand accountability is the fact that we’re TAXPAYERS!

TxDOT and their cronies are out of control, folks, and the ONLY way to shrink a bureaucracy and save us from punitive taxation and to wrest our public infrastructure from control by foreign companies is to VOTE OUT EVERY LAST TOLLER, starting with Rick Perry, and to demand accountability for how government spends our hard-earned money. If they’re forcibly taking our money (which is what taxation is), we have EVERY RIGHT to demand they use it wisely.

Rick Perry himself, who appoints the Transportation Commission, admitted that the figures they’re using to come up with their mythical “funding gap” (in other words their whole justification for saying they need to toll every highway they can get their hands on) are from transportation planners wish lists “if money were no object,” (Austin American Statesman article, August 20, 2006). Casteel basically called his boss a liar on the air when he tried to say I was wrong in calling their “needs” a wish list when his own boss, Rick Perry, is who said it! All I did was repeat it. These guys can’t get any more comical at this point!

Out of one side of their mouths they try to justify this whole new tax as a “user tax,” then admit they’re tolling 281 (in spite of the fact they have the money to pay for it) in order to pay for projects on another highway elsewhere. They also admit the tolls are never coming off the road, so it can’t be a user tax no matter how you look at it since once road A is paid for, they’ll continue to toll it to fund road B or C and so on. Also, they’re using some of our gas taxes to build these tollways since none of them are self-sustaining toll roads (Commissioner Lyle Larson even says so here). So again, all of us are paying for the toll roads, not just the “users,” plus we all pay the increase in our cost of goods since businesses will pass the cost of tolls onto us even if we don’t drive the toll roads.

They contradict themselves all day long and yet try to call our credibility into question asking if I’m an engineer. Isn’t it engineers who brought us the 410/281 mess (known around the state as the most embarrassing mess-up in the department’s history), the 1604/281 debacle and the list could go on? In fact, our band of concerned citizens does have civil engineers, lawyers, transportation planners, economists, and a host of well-informed citizens armed with the truth who know a raw deal when they see one.

But that’s really a side issue since this isn’t about engineering, it’s about government being accountable to the taxpayers who pay the bills. It’s about keeping what belongs to Texans under the control of Texans and not foreign companies. It’s about preserving our way of life and freedom of mobility without dividing us into two classes of people: those who can afford the tolls and those who will be priced off our own FREEways. It’s about putting the voters back in the drivers seat instead of multi-national companies and powerful foreign countries seeking to undermine our nation’s strength by exploiting free trade agreements. That’s what the pro-tollers just don’t get and they never will because their jobs depend on them not seeing it.

Here’s my opening statement from the debate on KSLR AM 630 talk radio with Adam McManus today:

The bottom line: the push for tolls is about a whole new tax on driving to accommodate the anticipated influx in cheap foreign goods through the NAFTA Superhighway known as the Trans Texas Corridor in Texas. Plus, toll roads don’t solve congestion; they manipulate it for profit.

Anytime you increase government, increase taxes, and increase the cost of doing of business, it’s a recipe for economic disaster. It’s not a lack of money, but poor planning and misplaced priorities that have created this mess. Our politicians are gambling with these plans and they haven’t properly studied them by any relevant standards.

TxDOT is big business. It takes in more money than Southwest Airlines and Starbucks! If Southwest Airlines can keep people moving and stay in the black year after year TxDOT can, too. The trouble is TxDOT is a government monopoly with NO competition! It’s a bloated bureaucracy that needs to be reined in. Their budget has tripled since 1990 and state gas tax revenues have gone up 178% over the last 20 years at that’s adjusted for population and inflation. They have an amount nearly equal to doubling their current budget available in bonds RIGHT NOW. We can continue to build freeways without tolls. State Rep. Joe Pickett said (July 27, El Paso Times) “we can build 4 free roads for the cost of one toll road.”

It’s time TxDOT gets put on a diet and learns to manage its funds in a more fiscally responsible way that the public can trust. We’re all tightening our belts and driving less due to high gas prices, TxDOT needs to tighten their belt, too.

As an example, on Hwy 281, they plan to toll every single highway lane leaving only frontage roads as the non-toll with stop lights and reduced speed limits. TxDOT’s toll project manager Frank Holzman admitted on camera that what I drive on today will become a toll road. They’re negotiating a contract right now in SECRET to turn it over to a foreign company that would grant a 50 year monopoly and put those free lanes under the control of a private company allowing them to manipulate traffic onto the toll lanes. Mr. Casteel admitted on camera that there’s $100 million in your gas taxes identified for 281. When you look at the ORIGINAL TXDOT plan for 281, the cost is $100 million.

They have the money to fix it right now, but they’ve decided to toll you for your lifetime instead for a highway that’s already built and paid for and even the improvements are already paid for. This isn’t about accelerating projects or not having enough money, this is about tapping the vein of your wallet…you may as well call it a “pain tax” because in order for a toll road to work, the surrounding free lanes have to remain congested (otherwise no one would pay to use a toll lane).

Gas tax equals pennies a day; tolls equal dollars day. Pro-tollers are putting lipstick on a pig…but it’s still a pig and taxpayers and businesses alike know a lousy deal when they see one. The taxpayers will not stand idly by and allow our government and private special interests to hold Texas families’ hostage to pay a toll just to drive to work, school, or shop without our consent! Our government has lost touch with those whom it is paid to serve.

Please go to SA Toll to see it for yourself. The primary sources for our information are TxDOT’s own documents, state sponsored studies and reports, and national data from transportation think tanks.

We also encourage you to sign our online petition and to join our taxpayer revolt at SA Toll

0 Replies to “Radio debate: Casteel essentially calls Perry a liar”

  1. Jef Gearhart

    You did great Terri. What a worm that guy is. “Let me start with some indisputable facts..”, he says. $86 billion shortfall. Terri explains that the MPO local ‘needs’ figures come from wish-lists. But that’s not the only intentional error they commit. Here is the basis of this “engineer’s” facts.

    Figures based on contrived financial forecasts covering an infeasible period of time.

    Contrived because they’re compiled with statistical variables (regressors) that any objective statistician would look at and toss the whole model out. For example, the population growth factor they assume. Look at this population study from the State Demographer, I’ve seen this study cited in many blogs. The study offers up 3 population growth factors to use in forecasting. If you use the largest one, it will produce (barely, barely, barely) exponential growth through 2030.

    In black and white, the authors advise heavily against using this factor for several reasons. They suggest directly that this would produce an invalid financial forecast.

    Which factor do the tollers use? Take a wild guess. Then, they apply that to a 24 year forecast.

    This might seem like a ‘Fudge’ to many people, but if you calculate the differences that would result from a sound analysis, you would recognize it as Fraud. This is serious deceit, people.

    Now, I can see a lawyer or politician accepting these numbers. But for an Engineer to call those “Indisputable facts” on the air is ridiculous. What, does he think he’s the only smart guy in Texas? Mr. Casteel, you know darned well that most of your indisputable facts are just guesses! And bad one’s.

    David was careful to cite how the population and driving grew in certain time frames in the past decade. The study above clearly indicates the past decade was a period of exceptionaly high growth in this state, which cannot sustain itself.

    When he said, “We’re not afraid of privatization”, I was trying to call in, but I couldn’t get in. sorry.

    Privatizion customarily involves disbanding the government entities that carry out certain operations, in the name of leaner government, Mr. Casteel. TxDOT has not, and will not shrink with this plan. It will in fact grow, and Transportation buearacracy already has with MPO/RMA. So basically, we continue to carry all the administrative expenses we have today, and then some. Since the consturction costs will also, no doubt, grow in line with your projections (sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy), we will basically be funding the public side of transportation to a greater extent than we are today. And yet, we’ll have to dig even deeper to use what we built, to take care of the private pockets you let in the door.

    No one is buying your privatization claim, nor do we wish to privatize a service that we can never do without.

    Casteel, get off the mic and go build us some roads. Please.

  2. Esteban Erik Stipnieks

    I heard the debate I would like address a couple of the callers. One implied that since Terri is not an engineer and that she does not build roads she doesn’t have the right to talk. If I said this line to a complaining park guest at Sea World….I would be without a job. I am well aware of the many things that can go wrong that can effect guest service, my job is to stop that from happening so the guest has no clue how hard it is. The guest does not need to deal with attitude even if I had been there 10 hours and served a few thousand drinks. I am expected to thank season pass holders for their patronage and that we owe them a debt of gratitutude for our success.

    TxDOT does not have this attitude. I am glad David Casteel finally admitted they could have done the 281 project a whole lot sooner. How long did it take for him to admit it? David Casteel sounded very condescending to Terri Hall even having to be warned by Adam to stop the Ad Hominem abusive tactics. Does he think we the taxpayers are here for him? I think so, and if he had to work in service-related fields he would have learned, through a series of firings, to treat people with respect not the way he treated Terri. I am very glad though he flaunted his attitude.

    Terri on her blog cited her credential to me: “taxpayer.” TxDOT has been getting wealthy off our money. They were supposed to have 1604 widened below 151 by Spring, WE ARE STLL WAITING. I talked to TxDOT officials and if I had given their excuse for poor service at Sea World, I would have been in serious trouble.

    Now I ask again since po’ folks can’t afford the toll lanes, how will having us drive the slow roads, and idling at stop lights while their cars belch out 5 to 10 times the ozone precursor gases reduce urban ozone? If the “free roads” won’t be so bad, why would people want to pay the 20 to 29 cents a mile to take “express” lanes? David Casteel dodged the question with great skill.

  3. ana Chulian

    1. If the foreign companies are receiving the tolls for >50 years, is TX getting a percentage of the revenue?

    2. Are certain vehicles exempt i.e., school busses, govt vehicles, taxies, delivery trucks like UPS/FedEx etc?

    3. How does TXDot propose to move traffic while everything is torn up?

    4. I heard Pat Buchanan say the whole US is hot over this toll project outside of TX also.

    5. Can the debate be available on your website? I missed it yesterday.

  4. Jimmy Lamberth

    Terri, you “handeled yourself” well. You amaze me with your ability to “quote facts and figures and think on your feet”. We are blessed to have you “on board”.
    The teacher who called in saying that “tolling 281” would solve her “commuter traffic” problem needs to “go back to school”. Building the “overpasses and turn arounds” would solve her problem without “tolling”. “Tolling” will probably just put her on the acess road with even more traffic lights to slow her traffic down.
    I am glad you are not an “engineer”. You can still think “logically”. (ha)
    I also caught his statements about “having the money to fix Hwy 281 but wanting to use it on other roads.
    I will prepare another article for Wilson County News on this. My comments at the MPO meeting on San Pedro ave are supposed to be in next weeks paper.
    Jim Lamberth

  5. Dave Ramos

    I listened to Mr. Casteel in that radio interview session. What was most outrageous was his claim that gas taxes would have to be raised “600%” to fund the needed projects. Everytime I hear TXDOT, the numbers get bigger….can you imagine the BILLIONS of extra dollars EVERY YEAR that $1.20 more in state gas tax on EVERY gallon would generate?

    It illustrates how desperate they’re getting to try and make it appear that toll-roads are somewhat better than the traditional funding mechanisms.

    I just have to wonder what their final number will be and how outrageous their claims will continue to sound!!

    Dave R.

  6. Wayne Corey

    Tolls in other states cause back ups in traffic. I drive for a living and I try to avoid toll roads as much as possible.

  7. Charles Lindsey

    Noone could say it better. I’ll continue to vote AGAINST any and all pro-tollers until we get them all out of office and I don’t care what polital party they belong to. As far as I’m concerned if you’re a pro-toller you are an enemy of the people of Texas and our democratic way of life. The ENRON debacle pales in comparison to what this will do for all Texans and tourists visiting our city. Eventually, tourists will have their fill as well and other investors and stop coming, taking their businesses and investments elsewhere.

  8. L Dygert

    As I have mentioned before, us northsiders should be the one’s to have to vote if this comes to a vote.(Since they want to toll the whole north side of San Antonio)The rest of the city could care less , since it will not affect them, they might vote for tolls since it will not bother there driving. Who paid for all the construction on Loop 410, IH 10 that has gone on for years, and years, and years?Toll Loop 410 since it goes around the whole city, that way everyone pays and not just the north side!! Toll over by the Toyota plant for all the roads they are building for Toyota, those guys will be making three times what most of us make in a year. I hope the businesses along 1604 are speaking up on this, as that is where I do all of my shopping, and if it turns into tolls ,I will have to shop somewhere else since I refuse to pay ANY tolls.They already have the money, they need to finish their job!!

  9. Joe & Magda Barnard

    It appears that “big money” has been put into high pockets and TXDOT has been given its marching orders. They don’t have the authority to reverse themselves!

    As a Republican, I never thought I would have to say this, but its time to get rid of Perry!

  10. michael valentine

    Way to go Terri…I have been keeping tabs on the issue and you have been doing an outstanding JOB !!!!! Please keep up the good work, when I’m well I will join/voulenter.

  11. Greg Ehrlich

    I believed the improvement money was there from the begining and the government delays to the needed HWY 281 upgrades have not only caused delayed traffic but are border to criminal homicide, laying the traffic accidents, injuries and deaths occurring since the delay in tax-paid overpass and lane corrections squarely on the door steps of the governor and all who are commiting this sham.

  12. terrih Post author


    1) Yes, the State gets a share of the booty. As an example, the Hwy 130 public-private partnership is a revenue sharing scheme hatched between TxDOT and Cintra. The State gets more money, when Cintra makes more (a sneaky way for them to jack up toll rates without the political nightmare of doing it themselves), and they even gave themselves a financial incentive to make the tollway less safe by getting a higher cash up front payment from Cintra for higher speed limits (read more here). So our safety, not just control of our infrastructure, is up for sale, too.

    2) Yes, tolling authority board members and TxDOT employees get a free pass, and other government types are likely to as well (read more here).

    3) They don’t address that in any public meeting, but judging by what they’re doing right now all over town (like tearing up San Pedro, Blanco, and Broadway ALL AT ONCE with no alternate route), you can bet they don’t care about you getting around during construction and will fail to provide adequate alternatives during construction like Dallas/Ft. Worth and other major cities do.

    4) You bet we’re getting national attention on this NAFTA corridor nonsense and it’s very REAL threat to national security. Pat Buchanan, Phyllis Schlafly, Lou Dobs, Glenn Beck, Jerry Corsi and others are on this issue like attack dogs and Americans agree…we DON’T want this!

    5) No, there is no way to replay the debate. It’s the sole property of KSLR radio. This blog entry is the best we can do for now.

    Thanks for the great questions…hope this helps answer them.

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