One Tough Grandma, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, received raucous applause and a standing ovation as she addressed the crowd at the Trans Texas Corridor hearing at East Central High School in San Antonio last night. The attendees were overwhelmingly opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor, with only a few members (3 or 4) of the business community, who represent highway interests not the public good, speaking in favor.
Considering this is ground zero for Zachry Construction and the highway lobby, the “pro-corridor” crowd was practically a no-show. I suspect their comments will all be submitted in the most cowardly way, written versus standing and facing the fellow citizens they plan to fleece. Strayhorn called these meetings exactly what they are…a dog and pony show not to gather public input, but to wear the public out with 54 hearings in 4 weeks, and making them wait 1 1/2 to 2 hours just to get a chance to speak. To make TxDOT look worse, they failed to plan for a facility adequate to hold the number of attendees and had to turn people away and schedule a second hearing Thursday (read previous entry about it here).
TxDOT employs its usual tactics to silence the Toll Party
I arrived just after 5 PM and was one of the first people to sign-up to speak on TxDOT’s list. When folks started getting up to speak who I KNEW had arrived well after me, I went over to the table to ask when I was slated to speak. They claimed they had no speaker card for me (even though I handed it to the woman personally) and then they put me on the list.
By the time I got a chance to speak, the crowd of 650 had dwindled to maybe 150. This has happened at enough meetings that I no longer believe this is coincidence or an accident. TxDOT is trying to silence our grassroots citizen voice by manipulating the speaker line-up to suppress the spokesperson from organizing more citizens against their toll plans by arming THE PEOPLE with information.
We will now have a hoard of witnesses evidence when and with whom I sign-up to speak. TxDOT is in violation of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) if found to be in any way suppressing the solicitation of citizen comment as required by federal law. Yet another example of how this out of control bureaucracy MUST BE REINED IN. To the polls Nov. 7, folks. For TxDOT to get a new boss, we need a new Governor!
Here’s the Toll Party comments from last evening:
The San Antonio Toll Party is part of a growing statewide grassroots movement to stop the Trans-Texas Corridor and the urban double tax tolls. Rick Perry’s toll plans illustrate the total disconnect between the government and the grassroots who pay the bills. We need political reform. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, has made the best case through which the people of Texas can stop Rick Perry and this massive boondoggle, and institute the long-term solution of statewide Initiative & Referendum (initiativefortexas.org) by giving Texans a vote to overturn this horrific toll road legislation.
San Antonio is ground zero for the special interest highway lobby including Zachry, which along with its majority partner Spanish company Cintra have paid over $7 billion for exclusive development rights for the corridor and are also one of two bidders to takeover the 281/1604 toll projects. This same highway lobby is now running misleading radio ads claiming the corridor will help all of us get to spend more time with our loved ones. How does a superhighway through rural Texas help solve congestion in urban areas?
It also claims only private money and users of the road will pay for it, without raising taxes (how is a toll not a tax?), and how do they explain the low interest federal loans Cintra-Zachry is seeking at taxpayer expense (http://satollparty.com/post/?p=177)? The answer is, they can’t explain it in a way taxpayers will buy into it, so they choose to enlist in a propaganda campaign to mislead Texans into thinking foreign management of our infrastructure is the best thing since Texas Toast.
The planned route of the Corridor is slated to takeover parts of EXISTING I-35 from San Antonio to Laredo, thus DOUBLE TAXING Texans for something we’ve already built and paid for. (read it here).
The Corridor is all about transporting foreign goods throughout North America, undercutting our national sovereignty and our own production of goods. (See history of the trade agreements already signed by Bushhere and read this article by an economist who gets it here).
It turns control of PUBLIC highways over to foreign companies which means the highest possible tolls for our citizens and fails to be in the public’s best interest since they’re using these SECRET deals that grant monopolies over public infrastructure!
It’s eminent domain abuse of the worst kind taking our land and handing it over to private interests for commercial gain, and it doesn’t solve urban congestion as they claim.
It also takes economic assets away from Texas communities by re-routing the flow of trucks and limiting access to local services, lodging and attractions, similar to our objections of an elevated tollway on Bandera Rd.
The bottom line is we need to organize opposition in every town and city. We urge you to join our statewide movement against the Corridor and double tax tolls by signing up before you leave. Join rural, urban and surburban Texans who want to ramp up opposition by not simply talking, but organizing. Our only vote on this is Nov. 7!