See the Austin, Houston report on TURF’s win in court

See Austin TV story on You Tube here. See Houston Chronicle coverage below, too.

KXAN News 8 Story
Anti-toll road activist continues case against TxDOT
10/19/2007
By: News 8 Austin Staff

An anti-toll road activist won a three-month continuance in her lawsuit against the Texas Department of Transportation.

Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) now has some more time to develop her case against TxDOT, which claims that it uses public funding to promote toll roads.

TURF says TxDOT’s $9 million ”Keep Texas Moving” campaign amounts to illegal use of funds for political advertising.

“What TxDOT is doing goes way beyond anything than what the Texas Legislature intended. If the Legislature did intend that, then the legislation is unconstitutional,” attorney David van Os said.

TxDOT claims the campaign is informational and legal. They asked Judge Orlinda Naranjo to dismiss the case.

TURF says it has uncovered internal memos showing otherwise. They cite an Aug. 13 memo that TxDOT intends to spend public money to influence upcoming public hearings for the Trans-Texas Corridor.

”We want to be able to ask the people who wrote those memos what exactly they’re talking about when they say ‘we’re going to target this area to try to change people’s minds. We’re going to try to discredit the adversary.’ That’s political,” TURF attorney Charles Riley said.

TURF also wants to block transportation officials from lobbying Congress to allow more tolling.

A court date is set for January.
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Houston & Texas News

Oct. 18, 2007
Group gets more time to build case against TxDOT

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

Link to story here.

AUSTIN — Activists targeting a Texas Department of Transportation toll-road campaign got some extra time to develop their case from a state judge Thursday.

The state attorney general’s office, representing TxDOT, wanted state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo of Travis County to dismiss the case, which seeks to stop state spending on the Keep Texas Moving campaign and on any toll-road lobbying efforts by the agency.

Keep Texas Moving is an effort by TxDOT to solve the state’s transportation issues.

Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, which brought the case, contends the campaign violates a state prohibition on state officers or employees using their authority for political purposes.

The state says it is acting legally, that Hall doesn’t have standing to bring the lawsuit, and that work is completed on the campaign’s current phase anyway, so the lawsuit is moot.

Naranjo agreed to a 90-day continuance sought by the group, which wants to gather more documents and possibly take depositions from officials, according to TURF lawyer Charles Riley. Former candidate for attorney general David Van Os also signed on to represent the group.

“This is a good day for Texas taxpayers,” Hall said.

In fighting a three-month delay, Assistant Attorney General Kristina W. Silcocks said, “State employees do not need to have this hanging over their head.”

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