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Jaime Castillo: TxDOT's 'outreach' plan reaches deep into taxpayers' pockets
San Antonio Express-News ^ | August 21, 2007 | Jaime Castillo

Posted on 08/22/2007 9:41:54 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Even if it's just for a moment, let us give credit where credit is due.

The Texas Department of Transportation has realized — finally — that it has an image problem when it comes to convincing Texans of the need for a vast network of toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The realization, however, comes with a price tag of $7 million to $9 million that, rather than going to build highways, will fuel an advertising campaign centered around a memo titled, "Keep Texas Moving: Tolling and Trans-Texas Corridor Outreach."

This is where I get off the track. Outreach?

The nerve of state highway officials to use such a term after years of helping fan the flames of skepticism among Texans for a tolled highway system.

The time for outreach would have been, say, two years ago, if not more.

Take, for example, the Trans-Texas Corridor, the 50-year plan favored by Gov. Rick Perry to build a superhighway of toll roads and rail and utility lines.

For more than a year and a half, Cintra, a Spain-based company, and its minority partner, Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio, fought tooth and nail in court to keep certain things — like how it would be financed — out of the public eye.

During that time, Texans also were expected to swallow other problematic revelations concerning the deal.

Those included the news that Dan Shelley, Perry's onetime liaison to the Legislature, left the governor's office to become a lobbyist for Cintra, where he had worked as a consultant prior to joining Perry's staff in the first place.

Then, 40 days before the Nov. 7, 2006, general election — a campaign which saw Perry vilified for his support of toll roads — TxDOT suddenly released the details of the Cintra/Zachry pact as if to say all's well that ends well.

To put the whole situation into perspective, TxDOT now wants to spend millions of dollars of public money to make you feel better about the public information it fought to keep you away from two years ago.

But TxDOT is hardly the king of hypocrisy in this situation.

Consider state Rep. Warren Chisum, chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.

Not that I disagree with Chisum's summation of the need for a public relations blitz.

"I wonder what for?" he was quoted in Tuesday's Express-News as saying. "So people wouldn't hate 'em so bad?"

But Chisum went on to say that the money would be better spent fixing roads.

What a great idea! Surely Chisum used similar logic when he helped write the state's latest two-year budget.

Right?

Wrong.

Continuing what has become a biennial shell game, Chisum participated in crafting a budget that diverts one-tenth, or $1.6 billion, from the state highway fund to pay for things that have nothing to do with building and maintaining roads.

Sadly it's nothing new.

From fiscal year 1986 to 2005, nearly $8.7 billion of the fund was spent on non-highway items, including state historical and arts commissions and law enforcement functions with the Department of Public Safety.

In other words, Chisum, a Pampa Republican who was first elected in 1989, has been there nearly every step of the way as the Legislature as a whole became all too accustomed to robbing money from the state highway fund.

The state has grown by leaps and bounds, while the gas tax — the main source of revenue for highway building — has remained stagnant since 1991.

But thanks to the decisions of top elected officials, it's doubtful whether all the advertising pros in the world can put this Humpty Dumpty together again.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: appropriations; budget; cintra; cintrazachry; cuespookymusic; danshelley; dps; highwayfund; highwayfunding; highways; hypocrisy; keeptexasmoving; legislature; looters; outreach; pr; prcampaign; publicoutreach; rickperry; statehighwayfund; texas; tolling; tollroads; tolls; tollways; transtexascorridor; ttc; tx; txdot; warrenchisum; zachry

1 posted on 08/22/2007 9:41:57 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: TxDOT; 1066AD; 185JHP; Abcdefg; Adrastus; Alamo-Girl; antivenom; AprilfromTexas; B4Ranch; B-Chan; ..

Trans-Texas Corridor PING!


2 posted on 08/22/2007 9:43:00 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Will I be suspended again for this remark?)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

So we are in for a pleasse let us steal your money campaign.


3 posted on 08/22/2007 9:47:05 AM PDT by marty60
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To: marty60

Sounds like a money-stealing campaign from the people who steal your money, promoting something that very well steal some of your money.


4 posted on 08/22/2007 9:51:11 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Will I be suspended again for this remark?)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
the main source of revenue for highway building — has remained stagnant since 1991.

Perhaps the tax percentage has remained "stagnant" however the amount collected has increased due to increased gas sales. Don't you love the way they twist terms and words?

5 posted on 08/22/2007 9:52:33 AM PDT by A_Tradition_Continues (THE NEXT GENERATION CONSERVATIVE)
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To: marty60
Sounds like a money-stealing campaign from the people who steal your money, promoting something that could very well steal some of your money.
6 posted on 08/22/2007 9:52:37 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Will I be suspended again for this remark?)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

BTTT


7 posted on 08/22/2007 9:56:13 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

oh no, the pc police. If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig....then it’s probably going to be a pig at the taxpayers tough.


8 posted on 08/22/2007 9:56:49 AM PDT by marty60
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To: marty60
Actually, we knew this a long time ago:

Austin, TX, Friday, March 2, 2007 – During a Senate Hearing on Transportation Policy and Toll Roads yesterday, the State Auditor revealed that the Texas Department of Transportation miscoded invoices to read “engineering” when the money had actually been spent on Public Relations.

TxDOT guilty of cooking the books Enron style: Citizens call for investigation of TxDOT

Just more of the same. Someone ought to be going to jail.

9 posted on 08/22/2007 10:39:19 AM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: A_Tradition_Continues
There are also more cars on the road, which means more roads needed and more matainance and repair.

Additionally, the increases in gas milage mean fewer gas tax dollars collected per mile driven.

10 posted on 08/22/2007 11:38:40 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: ravingnutter

I just moved from Houston to the Dallas area. I jumped from the frying pan to the flame. But I will say this at least the people in Dallas are actually coming up with solutions. AND they actually WORK. The DART system here is great. In Houston a friend told me the little choo choo that tried was out of service for 7 hours yesterday.

When I lived out by Katy, the windows were steaming in cars that were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, roads torn up. And maybe ,just maybe if you were lucky you might spot a crew of 20 or so illegals, trying to look busy. NOTHING EVER gets done in Houston. People keep electing these idiots (Dumocrats) that only know how to scheme money out of the taxpayers. FYI Remember Brown I think he was police Chief or something in NYC under the Dumocrat Mayor. He actually got elected Mayor in Houston, and just before he got term limited, he gave himself and the PC and cronies a big raise, and then they all retired. Guess what tyheir retirement bene’s were based on, yep the NEW pay rate. Almost wiped Houston out. Don’t let anyone fool you the only reason White put in that Auto- Tow ordinance was to cover another Dumocrat mess. And who pays, you got it, taxpayers. And those poor furious commuters, are not looking at the empty job sites the TXDOT has so nicely provided. Their to busy looking at the temp gage or gas gage, hoping nothing happens to their car, or they will have a big tow bill with the city.

I am so jaded at this point I don’t trust anyone.


11 posted on 08/22/2007 11:44:25 AM PDT by marty60
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To: A_Tradition_Continues

“the amount collected has increased due to increased gas sales.”

The state will tell you this is offset due to the amount of gas efficient vehicles. Yeah! Right! Everyone in Texas has one of those.


12 posted on 08/22/2007 12:04:35 PM PDT by wolfcreek (2 bad Tyranny, Treachery and Treason never take a vacation...)
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To: ravingnutter
Texas Department of Transportation miscoded invoices to read “engineering” when the money had actually been spent on Public Relations.

Doesn't brainwashing,ie, taxpayer education, come under the title of either "engineering or reengineering"?

13 posted on 08/22/2007 1:01:38 PM PDT by A_Tradition_Continues (THE NEXT GENERATION CONSERVATIVE)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

>For more than a year and a half, Cintra, a Spain-based company, and its minority partner, Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio, fought tooth and nail in court to keep certain things — like how it would be financed — out of the public eye.

>During that time, Texans also were expected to swallow other problematic revelations concerning the deal.

perry ought to resign.


14 posted on 08/22/2007 1:12:16 PM PDT by ken21 (itís behavior not words. don't let pc take our 1st amendment rights.)
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To: A_Tradition_Continues

I prefer to call it Propoganda.


15 posted on 08/23/2007 12:53:48 AM PDT by Sarajevo
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
"Outreach?" If not "outreach", WTH were those exorbitantly expensive traveling dog'n'pony shows that the scam artists at TXDOT spent millions on several years ago?

All they were was a bunch of blown-up pages from TXDOT's on the TTC propaganda website, keeptexasmoving.com-- with each easel defended by a "hired gun" consultant (or two), standing there regurgitating the TXDOT party line.

Sure, they suggsted that citizens submit questions -- and I did so (an even dozen...in writing). But I never received the courtesy of an answer. All our questions were used for was fodder for trumped-up run-around non-answers ridiculing the public's concerns -- to be hyped at the next round of "public meetings"...

Impeach Perry. Fire Williamson, and...


16 posted on 08/23/2007 6:08:55 AM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

TSR, thanks for the pings — and for “keeping your finger on the pulse” of this RINO scam!


17 posted on 08/23/2007 6:12:45 AM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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