The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is quite proud of itself for what it calls an unprecedented “public outreach” effort for the Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 project. What it calls “outreach” is clearly a propaganda campaign using public relations firms and political strategists to “sell” the public on a privatized, tolled trade corridor from Laredo to Texarkana. TxDOT requested proposals from two private consortiums, Cintra and Zachry, of course, who will not only build, but also buy the rights to control one of our country’s trade routes.
In documents uncovered through TURF’s lawsuit against TxDOT for using taxpayer money to promote toll roads and the TTC and for illegally lobbying elected officials, TxDOT’s response to the overwhelming opposition to the TTC 35 project is to hire a PR agency to convince the public foreign-controlled toll roads are a brilliant idea. TTC 69 plans to convert existing highways into privately controlled toll roads, making Texas taxpayers pay twice for the same stretch of road.
TxDOT plans to hold a series of Town Hall Meetings ahead of the official LEGAL public hearings for TTC 69 in order to butter-up an unsuspecting public or to divert critics AWAY from registering their opposition on the official LEGAL record at the public hearings to follow. In most cases, you’re doing good to get folks to attend a single government meeting much less two within two weeks, so TxDOT is enticing people to attend the Town Hall Meetings over the hearings by saying people can get their questions answered at the Town Halls.
So it should be no surprise that it’s the Town Hall Meetings that will be run by spin doctors and PR firms, hardly a “public information” forum. TxDOT documents show the purpose of the Keep Texas Moving ad campaign and these Town Hall Meetings is to win public approval for their controversial projects.
The people of Texas struck fear into the hearts of the Texas Legislature forcing it to pass a private toll moratorium. What’s clear is that the Legislature didn’t stop this train wreck nor did it rein-in this out-of-control agency that is now misusing taxpayer to promote its own agenda. TxDOT’s behavior demonstrates why there are laws prohibiting the government from using its power and OUR money against the taxpayer. The citizens have the deck stacked against them when their own government forcibly takes their money and uses it to clobber them. Instead of defending the taxpayers, Attorney General Greg Abbott is defending TxDOT’s actions in court. And where is the Travis County District Attorney’s office? Have we no law enforcement in Texas?
There’s BIG MONEY on the table and the road lobby, bond investors, and global corporations wanting to ship their cheap (lead-laden, poisoned) goods into the U.S. isn’t about to let a little thing like democracy or public dissent get between them and their billions. Far worse is our government complicit in these deeds that are more responsive to lobbyists than the public who pays the bills. Unless the courts or Legislature steps in, the taxpayers will not only be victims of illegal bullying by their own government, but also left holding the bag for generations to come. Is there no justice?