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