Monday, June 13, 2005

The Iconoclast Blasts Krusee, Craddick and Perry On Toll Roads

COMMENTARY — Toll Roads: A Brief Review
There is so much going on right now with toll legislation, proposals, back-door legislation and “behind the scenes” activities and power-plays.
Gov. Perry WANTS toll roads, in particular his dream of a Texas Toll Corridor originating from Oklahoma to Mexico, but then beyond to include Canada in the north to Central America down south. The governor is being “romanced” by special interests to proceed “full guns” on ensuring toll roadways throughout Texas. Toll road plans reinforce for the GOP the issue of “NO new taxes”; however, what are tolls if not taxes?
In order to fulfill this mission, Perry has “Yes-man” Speaker Tom Craddick heading the house who is also “gung-ho” toll roads and anything else Perry wants. Craddick ensured house compliance and pro-toll direction by selecting Mike Krusee as the Chair of the Transportation Committee. Krusee has been the most influential member and prime-mover of the house in promoting toll roads to the legislature and big business. Krusee also sits on the board of CAMPO and persuaded the house and senate to approve and implement the bill for the Regional Mobility Authorities (RMA) — several —, which determine future roadway plans in various counties. Currently Krusee is trying to ensure a stable long-term pro-toll RMA by getting his bill passed that will give RMA members a longer term of six years. Under the guise of maintaining “experienced” members, it will ensure a stable pro-toll membership and state agenda for at least the next six years.


Basically, toll roads are more than a 90-percent certainty unless the public vocalizes its anger and disagreement with the state’s special interest drive for toll roads. While there are other alternatives to tollways, few have been or are being reviewed. One of the reasons that tollways are being pushed so vehemently is that TxDOT has “frightened” counties and legislators with the prospect of losing millions of state and federal dollars if toll roads were not voted for before a miniscule period of time. Consequently, this premeditated “persuasion” was very effective and instrumental in getting boards, committees and legislators to become proactive for tollways, and why the vote by CAMPO succeeded within such a short span of time.
Because of this “persuasive” tactic, I and others have complained formally to the Travis County DA, Ronnie Earle, to investigate the actions and motives of those pushing for toll roads. Those I named in the formal complaint range from the governor and house speaker to Krusee and TxDOT. The investigation is being performed as I write this synopsis, and hopefully, it will uncover some illegal activities and conflicts of interest prevalent in this massive push for tollways.
There is much more going on at this time, but that’s a VERY brief summary of the toll road status within the state. Definitely there is a toll road “conspiracy” afoot. If we all sit back and watch, our children’s children will be paying toll taxes forever. We need to communicate more vigorously to elected officials, demanding alternatives to toll roads throughout the state. Austin is the Texas toll frontier. If it happens here, it happens everywhere.


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