Carona's hearing SMASHING success- Citizens: call for IMMEDIATE investigation of TXDOT!

View KVUE TV coverage here and CBS-42 TV coverage here.

Today’s Senate hearing was a tremendous success. Senator Carona’s office told us that aside from the redistricting controversy several years back, today’s hearing had record attendance for a Senate Hearing with 800 witnesses! I’d like to thank Senator Carona for the honor of being the very first person called to testify at today’s hearing. Considering the many experts he could have called ahead of me, he chose to hear from the GRASSROOTS first and foremost!

There’s too much to tell, but we’ll do our best to do a quick summary. But let it be known…your LOUD OPPOSITION has been heard and the message got through!

NOT TOO LATE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS!
You can still submit your opposition to Senator Carona and get on the record here. For ideas on what to say go here

SENATOR NO SHOW

Ask Senator Jeff Wentworth (210) 826-7800 what was more important than attending this hearing on the committee on which he sits. Is there any more controversial project in his district right now than tolls on 281 and 1604…and yet he doesn’t show up to hear from them?

WHAT HAPPENED

BOMBSHELL OF THE DAY! State Auditor gave a summary of their audit report of the Trans Texas Corridor released last Friday, and said out of 32 invoices, 21 were allocated to the wrong project and some coded “engineering” but were actually spent on public relations!!! Remember the Governor unequivocally stated NO TAXPAYER money would go to fund this corridor and yet the Auditor revealed $90 million has already been spent with potentially billions more in the hopper!

They also found projects that were financially unsustainable with tolls that would require taxpayer subsidies to build. THIS IS THE SMOKING GUN THEY TRIED TO HIDE BY KEEPING THE CONTRACT SECRET FOR 18 MONTHS and released upon threat of a lawsuit by citizens 30 days prior to the election. Read more of the Auditor’s details on the appalling MISUSE of taxpayer money and gross abuse of power by TxDOT on the TTC here.

• Carona called an expert witness on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP, or to you and I, PPP stands for “Perfect Pick Pocket”), Dennis Enright with NW Financial, who has analyzed the recent PPPs for the toll road sales to Cintra-Macquarie in Chicago and Indiana…he UNEQUIVOCALLY STATED PPPs COST THE STATE 50% MORE than if the public/govt. operated the toll road. He also stated it was ALWAYS BEST to keep toll roads in the public’s hands.

He also said this gem: “Toll roads by their very nature are monopolies.”

Enright was asked about the deal just inked with Cintra-Zachry on 121 in Dallas and he said: “I haven’t analyzed it yet because you can’t get access to them in Texas.” TELLING! Our Dept of Transportation chooses to broker back room deals and keep its contracts SECRET from the taxpayers in order to HIDE the FAVORABLE terms they’re giving these private interests! Enright also stated there was ZERO risk to the private entity on the 121 deal and said it was a perfect investment for the developer (but horrible for the public).

The private entity also has no motive reduce congestion by maximizing cars that take the toll road since they can hike the tolls and reduce the number of cars that take it and reduce their maintenance cost. They have a economic incentive for high tolls and ghost town tollways…they only need enough travelers to cover their cost and desired profit, the rest of us can go take an access road!

If they used the same toll formula Cintra-Macquarie used for the Chicago deal, it would cost $185 to travel the 121 toll road in it’s most expensive year! Once again, all TxDOT could tout was how they’d charge whatever the market will bear. They said the market would bear 28 cents a mile on 121. Compare that to 1-3 cents a mile we pay in gas taxes and you can see this is a public fleecing!

• TxDOT grillin’ – the HOT SEAT, it’s about time! In a nutshell, TxDOT’s Chief Financial Officer, James Bass, couldn’t answer the senators’ most basic questions on what the maximum toll rates would be in the most expensive year of the 50 year contract on 121 which begs the question…if their Chief Financial Officer doesn’t have a clue about the most basic details of these contracts, then what is our Dept. of Transportation busy doing? It became abundantly clear that they’re nothing more than an extension of the corporate special interests that stand to make BILLIONS on the backs of the taxpayers!

Carona had two questions of Williamson. Why not expand I-35 and why build the Trans Texas Corridor? Then, when Williamson took the HOT SEAT, after much back and forth, Carona finally got him to agree with him that expanding EXISTING I-35 is the BEST scenario vs. erecting the Trans Texas Corridor. Carona also caught he and TxDOT in a number of misleading figures about I-35’s ORIGINAL plan calling for 16 lanes in the urban areas and the true costs. They tried to say it it would cost more today to expand I-35 by two lanes than the cost of the ORIGINAL plan that called for 16 lanes. Nobody buys it!

• Michael Stevens, who Chairs the Governor’s Business Council and who hired A&M to do the study that showed we don’t need tolls to meet future transportation needs, testified that they didn’t even study the TTC or count that as one of the State’s unmet “needs” because they determined it wasn’t a need! HE STATED THE TTC WOULD NOT RELIEVE ANY CONGESTION IN URBAN AREAS so it’s NOT NEEDED! That’s right…the TTC, though the Governor and TxDOT have repeated claimed the need for it is to relieve I-35 congestion, will do ZIP, ZILCH, NADA to relieve I-35 traffic!!!!! He finished by saying EVERY analysis of public versus private toll roads showed that public toll roads were cheaper, sometimes significantly cheaper than private ones.

CALL FOR IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION OF TXDOT!
If our government builds the Trans Texas Corridor after that declaration, we need to call for a public flogging of our officials! Folks with testimony like we heard today, I rest my case. We’re right, this Governor and his Transportation Commission are WRONG, and we need to call for immediate investigations by our Attorney General into TxDOT cooking the books and INSIST this Legislature pass legislation to redirect TxDOT’s completely wrong-headed fiscal mismanagement of a public agency forcing the MOST EXPENSIVE options upon the taxpaying public with NO OVERSIGHT or ACCOUNTABILITY with no justification WHATSOEVER except corporate enrichment!

Find out who your representatives are here.The Attorney General needs to investigate TxDOT for cooking the books NOW, heads need to roll for this gross misuse of taxpayer money! How do we do it? Ask your representatives to ask the AG to open an investigation IMMEDIATELY!

0 Replies to “Carona's hearing SMASHING success- Citizens: call for IMMEDIATE investigation of TXDOT!”

  1. Esteban Erik Stipnieks

    All TEX DOT employees involved need to have their pensions stripped and fired. It is time for many TEX DOT officials to get reservations at the gray bar hotel and long stays. I think any TEX DOT employee that pushed the TTC as a way of relieving local congestion also belong out of a paycheck and no pension provided.

  2. Laura Dylla

    I was there Terri and it is exactly like it is stated here. Call your Senators, your Representatives and tell them to have the Attorney General investigate TXDOT cooking the books. This is much needed. If they can lie about the amounts and cover them up, then we are really in big trouble with this whole TTC fiasco.

    Laura Dylla

  3. Sandy Silkworth

    It’s time that TXDOT was put in their place! Every single one of those who signed any contract to CINTRA/Zachary should be fired and then brought to justice. I don’t know what entity is worse. . .the IRS or the TXDOT! But then I also think there are a bunch of legislators who need to go right along with them. . .including the GOVERNOR!

  4. Connie Brewster

    Great News, and if only I could have been there. I sincerely hope that Texans keep this issue on the hotseat and the politicians and especially the Gov. realize this will hurt Texas beyond belief and repeal the decision to build this ugly MONSTER across the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS.

  5. Jose Diaz Jr.

    Sir,
    We need to hold TxDot accountable along with the Governor, not to mention Jeff Wentworth, with all that went on today no wonder he was a no show. What happened to him?

  6. Dennis W. Russell

    I wasn’t there but I sure wanted to be. I am adamantly opposed to toll roads and especially toll roads run by foreign entities that will get a no competition clause in the deal as well. This whole thing smells of international buy outs or sell outs which ever way you want to look at it. I want on any petition demanding an investigation into this whole sordid affair. May God have mercy on any public official who sold us out for his or her own personal gain. They will have to answer to Him for misusing the authority He gave them. In case you are wondering where I am coming from check out Romans 13:1. These will face a greater judgement if they do wrong in His sight. I am a retired disabled vet that stands to loose everything if the TTC goes through but that doesn’t bother me as much as having American Soil controlled by a foreign entity because of profit grubbing bureaucrats. I served my country for 32 years risking my all to prevent that and my beloved son died in November of 2003 in Iraq defending that as well. It’d be a real travesty to just sell it when so many have already given so much for it. I mean how much is enough when you look at it in that light.

  7. Sandeen Finkel

    I travel Hwy 281 Mon – Fri every week. While sitting at the red lights and looking around, it is so obvious that this toll was planned along time ago. TX Dot needs to fix their error. And don’t charge me for it. Congestion continues further towards San Antonio after the Bitters exit. There are no traffic lights there on the highway. What is the traffic hold up? TX Dot just needs to do their job. If they can’t find contractors to even give bids, they need more engineers out of A & M to go into the contracting business. There is obviously alot of money to be made constructing Texas Highways!

  8. dorothea cangelosi

    We the people do not want the Texas corridor. we are aware of the corruption in our government and ask that our governor be impeached! Stop tex dot now!

  9. Travis Tate

    I totally agree, an immediate investigation of TXDOT, its officials, and the Governor’s dealings needs to be done.

  10. PATRICK DOSSEY

    One point that is worth noting re: the TTC, the banker testifying on PPPs stated that Cintra SA, could probably qualify for $3.9 Billion Dollars in aid from the Federal Government to help build the road. TXDOT may not consider this a subsidy since the State doesn’t pay it but we all know that Federal debt will have to be paid by us in the long-run

    He further testified that the foreign owner could reap substantial additional tax benefits from charging off interest expense on debt borrowing and even depreciating the pre-existing roadways (in the case of Chicago Loop and the Indiana turnpike)! One gigantic tax-shelter for the foreign operator of our roads to offset his billions in income!

  11. Donald E Allen

    We DO NOT NEED a toll road on 281 & 1604. Go back to the original plan. It appears there needs to be an investigation of TXTOT, and it needs to be NOW. If there is wrong doing, expose and bring to justice those responsible.

  12. Weldon Kiser

    It is the attorney generals obligation and duty to initiate a complete investigation of Texdot,the Govenor and all parties, private or governmental involved in this criminal attempt to “Scam” the citizens of Texas! We only needed one Enron! It is the duty of the citizens of Texas to VOTE OUT representatives the likes of Senator Wentworth! Thankyou Terri and god bless you! Weldon Kiser- San Antonio

  13. Jimmy Lamberth

    Well, I know most of it has already been said over and over and over again. Have we finally got someone to listen and RESPOND!!
    When corruption is found in anything, a sore on your body, a family, a business, a law enforcement agency and especially a government that is to be over a Democracy, of the people, by the people and for the people, quick action is most important.
    Just treating the “outside edges” is never effective, the sore get worse, the “scape goats” are used to satisfy the situation temporarily, but the problem will only get worse with time.
    If you want to “kill a tree”, don’t try to do it by “pullling the leaves off one at a time”. If you will let a doctor go in there and clean out the infected area or in the case of the tree, “CUT THE TAP ROOT” and treat the area around so more bad trees wont spring up near there.
    Well, in the case of the tree you have to “find” the tap root. Be aware some trees will “sucker” up from the “feeder roots” and they must be taken care of also or the problem will soon return.
    In the event any of you have missed the anology, in the case of our TEXAS Government, you can start at the bottom and work up or start at the top and work down. Oh, but the top will say, “We didn’t know about any of this corruption.” Are you trying to tell me that the top of a tree doesn’t know where its tap root and feeder roots are and what they are doing?
    In the case of the tree, the top with its “GREEN leaves” feed the bottom and the part down there in the “dirt” supplys nutrition to the top.
    If this is a “good honest tree” it will bear much good fruit for those who “PLANTED IT”.
    If it is a corrupt tree, it must be “hewn down and cast into the fire”. Maybe this will even “teach those other trees” what can happen to them.
    In more plain words, if rick perry tries to tell us that he did not know what Williamson was doing, ask him where he “fits” into the “grand scheme of things and what is his responsibility to “we the people (the tax payers).
    If he would claim that he didn’t know what was going on, then he needs to IMMEDIATELY be replaced by someone with more “MANAGEMENT SKILLS”.
    If he did know and didn’t correct it, then he needs to be prosicuted and sent to prison right along with Willimson and any others who had their “hands in the cookie jar”.
    I have been saying “impeach rick perry” for a long time. I have now changed my mind. I now say, “Prosicute rick perry.”
    If anyone wants to “copy and paste” my comments and distribute them, I stand behind everyone of them.
    Jim Lamberth
    (210) 635-8010

  14. Larry Hoffmann

    Can we identify the lawmakers who used funds for other than their intended purposes? It would be most interesting to know who these people are. Their names should be published for all to see. Is it legal to use funds for other purposes?

  15. David Galvan

    It is time for a true revolution. These individuals are criminals and need to be prosecuted, or else we are just sheep to be shorn. How can we raise children to be honest when we look the other way and make excuses at the crimes of our public officials. This is our future at stake. we must let every person know, and never quit talking about it until justice is served. Never let them rest, never stop. This is how we can serve our country, to make it a place we can respect, by forcing those that would govern us behave in an honest manner. To make the excuse that “anything goes regarding business” is indicative of the problem, and to allow private interests to control the public domain is insane. Business by its very nature, especially as it is practiced in the United States, is out for endless profits, not the public good. Shine the light of day on all of TxDot’s business, it will reveal massive fraud, as we have seen. The media must be made to report the truth, if not, then we must make an issue of the media’s inability to tell the truth, and force the truth out.This is our job, our duty, to our people and our country.

  16. Joe Skalski

    Why??? This country has been governed for many years as a majority rules. Is that not correct??? Seems when we elect someone the one with the most votes wins. Then when they do get elected it seems this elected by majority official, then does not listen to the majority but special interest?? Then why do only special interest get what they want? Maybe we should follow the money???? Who and by what special procedure has Mr. Perry been placed in a position of King Perry? I read in the history books that we defeated the king in 1776 and that was the basis for a democracy where the majority ruled?? Joseph P. Skalski

  17. Edith Zaiontz

    I have lived and traveled Hwy 281 all of my 55 years. It is a federal highway, and should be kept and maintained as a federal highway. Toll roads with a short term toll (until that road is paid for) is not unconceivable. However, to tax a road forever (especially by foreign interests) is ridiculous, as well as double taxation. TXDOT actually advertises (which I’m sure costs the taxpayer) that we pay a tax each time we renew our car registration to maintain our highways. Of course we are also taxed on our gas supposedly for our highways. Quit taking tax money away from our roads, and quit putting that money in a general fund. Those taxes were implemented for maintaining our roads and bridges, not for tourism and beautification projects.
    Rick Perry was not elected by the majority. A majority consists of 51% of the people. He was voted against by almost three-quarters of the people. Doesn’t this make any lights come on up in Austin??? The majority of Texans do not want Rick Perry’s programs!! Not now, not ever.

  18. Cheryl Taylor

    What is happening with I-10 in Houston? There was talk of the center lanes (HOV) being a toll road, that is totally unnecessary! Another get rich scheme for someone, and another way of separating the rich form the poor. Roads should be free, we pay taxes for them, we in turn as taxpayers are owners of our roads and highways, they are ours. KEEP our roads FREE!

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