Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Austin, TX - Capitol Rally - Don’t Tag Texas

What: Don’t Tag Texas Rally

Who/Why: Several organizations led by Hank Gilbert, Farm & Ranch Freedom, and others are sponsoring a rally to protest the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) and the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

When: Friday, March 2, 2007 - Texas Independence Day

Time: The March will begin at 2:00 pm. The rally on the steps of the Capitol will be from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

More info at www.dont-tagtexas.com

Pentagon records - connecting of US, MEX, CAN

- Pentagon Records - US officials meet with Mexico and Canada in talks of joining North America "structurally and economically".

WASHINGTON – Participants in a high-level, closed door, three-day conference on the integration of the three North American nations debated whether openness about goals was preferred to a stealthy policy of building infrastructure before a vision of the end result was even laid out to the people of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, according to notes obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Official notes taken on a session on "Border Infrastructure and Continental Prosperity" at the North American Forum in Banff, Canada, last September, reveal the internal debate over continued secrecy.

"While a vision is appealing, working on the infrastructure might yield more benefit and bring more people on board ('evolution by stealth')," record the notes discovered amid documents obtained by Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch released yesterday the documents it received in a FOIA request from the U.S. Northern Command, whose commander, Admiral Timothy Keating, participated in the conference along with Northcom political adviser Deborah Bolton and Plans, Policy and Strategy Director Maj. General Mark Volcheff. A similar request concerning participation in the North American Forum meeting by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is still pending.

At least one attendee of the conference said the meeting was intended to subvert the democratic process. Mel Hurtig, a Canadian author and publisher elected as the leader of the National Party of Canada, told WND last fall the idea of the North American Forum is to move the countries toward integration without public consent or even knowledge.

"What is sinister about this meeting is that it involved high level government officials and some of the top and most powerful business leaders of the three countries and the North American Forum in organizing the meeting intentionally did not inform the press in any of the three countries," he said. "It was clear that the intention was to keep this important meeting about integrating the three countries out of the public eye."

The conference raised more suspicions about plans for the future merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico – with topics ranging from "A Vision for North America," "Opportunities for Security Cooperation" and "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration."

Confirmed participants included Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State George Shultz, who serves as co-chairman of the North American Forum, former Central Intelligence Agency Director R. James Woolsey, former Immigration and Naturalization Services Director Doris Meissner, North American Union guru Robert Pastor, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Energy Secretary and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger and top officials of both Mexico and Canada. But the only media member scheduled to appear at the event, according to documents obtained by WND, was the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

The event was organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Canada West Foundation, an Alberta think-tank that promotes closer economic integration with the United States.

The next meeting of the North American Forum is set for Oct. 12-14 in Puerto Vallarta.

Full article from WorldNetDaily.com

Supporting Documents from JudicialWatch.org (not found in article link)

A similar request for records concerning forum participation by then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his entourage is still pending with the Pentagon.

The records include: 1) Proposed comments for Admiral Keating’s speech to the North American Forum; 2) Presentation outlines with handwritten marginal notes and comments from Ms. Bolton; 3) Policy papers; 4) Biographic sketches of participants; and, 5) Notes from Major General Volcheff.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kirk Watson Austin American Statesman Commentary

Today, The Austin American Statesman published an editorial by Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin). A response from http://www.eyeonwilliamson.org/ soon followed. Both are interesting reads.

AAS Article:
Watson: Stopping area toll roads doesn't mean a free ride

We must stop talking about “free roads,” as if there ever were such things. Any tool we use, any road we’re on, costs money from some source. We can’t simply oppose things or divert attention from problems with slogans or personal attacks. Our citizens are too smart to let half-truths, untruths, innuendo and conspiracy theories define our future. We don’t have the time and shouldn’t have the patience for unaccountable ideologues distorting our present or jeopardizing our future.

EOW Response:
Kirk Watson's Op-Ed

Most of us “anti-tollers” are not against toll roads, per se. The Phase II roads have already been paid for with tax money, that’s why there’s a beef about tolling those roads. The beef has never been about free roads, but about double taxation. The problem we have with the other roads is that a gas tax is much, much cheaper than the tolls that we will pay for driving them, not to mention the corruption involved in getting them built, and ceding all future decisions about our transportation decisions to the corporations that build them. Calling us conspiracy theorists isn’t going to help his cause either.

TX Senator, Transportation Department off to rough start in session.

Carona, a Dallas Republican who leads the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, had filed 24 bills as of late last week, and several amount to a repudiation of what Transportation Department leaders have done the past few years with toll roads.

Full article

Friday, January 26, 2007

Toll Road Giant Buys Newspapers to Silence Critics

Toll Road Giant Buys Newspapers to Silence Critics
Critics charge that the Macquarie purchase of American Consolidated Media is designed to silence critics of a Texas toll road project.

Trans Texas CorridorAustralian toll road giant Macquarie agreed Wednesday to purchase forty local newspapers, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, for $80 million. Macquarie Bank is Australia's largest capital raising firm and has invested billions in purchasing roads in the US, Canada and UK. Most recently the company joined with Cintra Concesiones of Spain in a controversial 75-year lease of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road.

Sal Costello, the leading opponent of toll road projects as head of the Texas Toll Party, says the move is directly related to a 4000-mile toll road project known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. It will cost between $145 and $183 billion to construct the road, expected to be up to 1200 feet wide, requiring the acquisition of 9000 square miles of land in the areas through which it will pass.

"The newspapers are the main communication tool for many of the rural Texan communities, with many citizens at risk of losing their homes and farms through eminent domain," Costello wrote.

Many of the small papers purchased, most have a circulation of 5000 or less, have been critical of the Trans-Texas Corridor. An article in the Bonham Journal for example, states, "The toll roads will be under control of foreign investors, which more than frustrates Texans."

Source: theNewspaper.com

Lawmaker Files Bill To Kill Trans-Texas Corridor Project

A legislator from San Antonio has filed a bill to kill GOP Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor toll road proposal.

Democratic Representative David Liebowitz says his measure would take away the Texas Department of Transportation's authority to buy land and do contracts for the project (Bill: HB 857 ).

Full article at www.kwtx.com

Leibowitz bill would KILL the Trans Texas Corridor

Link to WOAI story here.

Joe Krier here claims that there was controversy like this surrounding the construction of the interstate highway system by Eisenhower. HARDLY! The interstate system didn’t take swaths of private land the width of 4 footballs fields and effectively cut off normal wildlife migration patterns with 1,200 foot slabs of concrete without exits or overpasses. Just the first 4 corridors of the Trans Texas Corridor (if built out as proposed), would take 3 times the land of all the existing interstates in Texas today. Also, Eisenhower wanted to build the interstates for national security, not to turn over massive amounts of Texas infrastructure to foreign control! The pro-tollers are out of touch and don’t have their facts straight.

Truth is, there’s nothing even remotely like the TTC anywhere in the world. It’s not only the biggest eminent domain project in U.S. history, it’s horrible public policy, and the decisions of whether to build it or not is being cut off from the taxpaying public and being forcibly foisted upon Texans against their will.

Read more here from San Antonio Toll Party.

Emergency vehicles don't pay TxDOT tollways - Except in Austin!

Standard for Central Texas is stricter than policies on other Texas toll roads.

Austin police, fire and emergency medical vehicles will have to pay tolls on Central Texas' three existing turnpikes unless they are pursuing a suspect or responding to an emergency, the Texas Transportation Commission decided today.

The policy for other Texas Department of Transportation tollways around the state will be more forgiving for public safety vehicles, allowing them to use turnpikes toll-free if they are "on duty."

The tougher policy in Central Texas is due to binding promises made to investors in 2002 when the Transportation Department issued $2.2 billion in bonds to build Texas 130, Texas 45 North and the Loop 1 extension. About 41 miles of what will eventually be 66 miles of those three roads opened last fall.

In other business, the commission approved so-called "video tolling" for the three Austin toll roads and set the toll rates at 33 percent above the charge for vehicles with toll tags. Drivers will be able to drive through toll tag lanes and receive a bill in the mail; the charge would be 60 cents for the typical exit or entrance ramp charge, compared with 45 cents for toll tag customers and 50 cents for cash customers.

Full article at www.statesman.com

Commissioners were reluctant, saying they didn't want to follow the example of the North Texas Tollway Authority, a Plano agency that controls other Dallas-area toll roads. Critics have said the agency's giving out freebie TollTags to elected officials has potentially lost it more than $1 million in toll revenue.

The commission will decide April 27 whether to allow free police and fire vehicle traffic permanently.

Read this article at www.dfw.com.

another article...... www.news8austin.com

Emergency vehicles driven on toll roads operated by the Texas Department of Transportation won't have to pay as part of a test run.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CAMPO delays vote on Phase 2 tollways

The so-called Phase 2 toll roads aren't expected to come back to the board until the summer after a new task force reconsiders the issues and makes recommendations.

The second wave was approved by the CAMPO board in 2004, but after bitter dispute, support for the plan has plunged. Other task forces have since considered alternatives to toll roads, with mixed results.

Read full article in the Austin Statesman.....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State Sen.-elect Kirk Watson New CAMPO member

The newest member of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has some major recommendations, one of which is cutting the board by a third, from 23 to 18.

Full article at News 8 Austin

CAMPO delays vote on additional toll roads

The Capital Area Metro Planning Organization (CAMPO) Monday night decided to delay a vote on additional toll roads for six months.

That will give CAMPO more time to study the issue.

State transportation officials want to continue adding toll roads to the area as part of Phase 2 of its transportation project, but hundreds of people crowded CAMPO's meeting Monday night to fight against the idea.

Phase 2 includes parts of Highway 290, U.S.183, Highway 71 and State Highway 45

Source: KVUE News

Public Speaks Out Vs. Toll Road Plan At CAMPO Meeting - Phase 2 Toll Plan delayed

Public Speaks Out Vs. Toll Road Plan At CAMPO Meeting (KXAN)

CAMPO Delays vote on Phase 2 tollways-
At meeting marked by protests board adapts plan to trim it's size (Statesman)