Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

Come to our new web site and read the blog, too!

To help us disseminate local information, we have our own web site. Come visit us and click on "Most Current Post" to read the blog: here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

 

Letters to the Editor hit it out of the ballpark!

With the exception of one letter whose author seems to misunderstand the lawsuit to stop 281, the Letters to the Editor in the Express-News today hit all the major points! The message is getting out there, thanks to all of YOU!

As to Peggy's concerns...TxDOT has not complied with existing law and they have FAILED to do the proper environmental impact statement required for this project. TxDOT and YOUR elected officials have IGNORED the public outcry about this project and have left the voters no choice but to bring this into court to force them to follow the law and offer alternatives to this toll road scheme they're ramming through without a VOTE! Those improvements we so desperately need on US 281 have been delayed by TxDOT (not concerned citizens and we have TxDOT's plans to prove it) for two years already to turn it into a massive, excessively large 16 lane toll corridor. The ONLY reason for turning this 12 lane project into a 16 lane project is to make it a toll road. They're adding 4 extra lanes and building a bottleneck at 281/1604 just to get us to pay toll taxes. They're paving these 4 extra lanes over our sole source of water which is highly vulnerable to vehicle emissions because of the lack of natural filtration with a karstic aquifer.There are serious, legitimate concerns about the impact of this project. The lawsuit forces them to put forth and consider alternatives to this toll project.

TxDOT's ORIGINAL plan was set to begin work in 2004 and would be near completion already. Your safety concerns would already be addressed if TxDOT had stuck with their less expensive, less invasive ORIGINAL plan for 281, but now they want to empty our pockets with totally uneccessary toll taxes for generations. BOTH of TxDOT's plans are FULLY PAID FOR with YOUR GAS TAX money. It's indefensible as to why they'd toll an exitsing highway and a highway where even the improvements are paid for as well. We should NOT have to pay a lifetime of toll taxes on a highway that's already PAID FOR. Because they refuse to do the fiscally and environmentally responsible thing according to the law, they will now answer to a judge.

Great letters Mike, Dave, Jeff, and Santiago! Tollers, including Judge Wolff, need to be escorted from office next year!
Read the Letters to the Editor here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

 

MPO failing to lead

Here are my remarks successfully delivered to the MPO Board Members at today's meeting though Mayor Jack Leonhardt and Senator Leticia Van De Putte tried to stop me from proceeding:

I'm glad to see all of our elected officials here today. We're also glad to see this toll mandate being dictated to Texans is finally making some front page news. What's been revealed in these articles puts our concerns in black and white. The improvements to fix the congestion problems on US 281 are 100% paid for with tax dollars.

Careful scrutiny of the words in the article that appeared in the Express-News December 1 (Link to Dec. 1 story in the Express-News) reveals many of the dirty little secrets about these toll plans that few people understood until now (when details finally make front page news). TxDOT has been saying we have no money for roads...yet there it was IN PRINT, $77 million in gas tax money dropped out of the sky to build an excessively large toll corridor--16 LANES--, when all that's needed is 4 overpasses at the lights and it's all done in less time for almost half the money ($48 million).

Also in that Dec. 1 article we find out they're ADDING TWO MORE TOLL LANES in addition to the 4-6 toll lanes they revealed in the public hearings. In total, TxDOT wants to pave 16 lanes in the widest parts of the plan! This information has been kept from the public. BY YOUR OWN POLICY #5, you must tell the public about those extra toll lanes because they substantially change the scope of the project approved by the MPO. What we've been told by TxDOT as recently as the September 8 public hearing is that there would be 4-6 toll lanes and 4-6 frontage lanes. That would equal 12 lanes in the widest parts. Now that number is 16 lanes! There are laws governing this entity and TxDOT and we expect you to follow them. This information must be revealed to the public in a specific format.

In fact, this MPO, the ARMA, and TxDOT are in a heap of legal troubles already, do you honestly think the public is not watching and that you can get away with this illegal activity?

To get back to the project for a moment…so you would have us believe you have the money to build US 281 as a toll road (that's nearly twice the cost), but you don't have the money to build it as a free road? Note how the article states foreign companies are vying for these "most lucrative toll lanes" in the plans! I'll say lucrative, that's because the private firms aren't paying a DIME of the cost to build and then they get to charge us tolls for the next 50 years!

OK, let's make this real simple. Toll roads cost more to build & maintain, only about half of all motorists can afford to drive on them while 100% of taxpayers are footing the bill to build it, we're being charged THREE times to drive on the same stretch of pavement (taxed to build existing freeway, taxed to pay for the improvements, then lifetime toll tax to drive on it), you want to charge us THREE taxes to drive on our highways elsewhere throughout town (gas tax, ATD sales tax, and tolls), the toll money is going to a foreign corporation for the next 50 years, and our elected officials are DICTATING this to us without a vote of the PEOPLE!

TxDOT's figures and, more importantly, their rationale for this toll first mandate MUST BE CHALLENGED by this body who is charged with protecting our local interest. What's the rationale behind these projects and why aren't the costs of these GIGANTIC tollways being challenged? We found, in one of TxDOT's own toll feasibility studies, the cost of toll gantry equipment at $1 million per MILE! We found projects where the cost of toll equipment equaled the cost to build the road. One of their studies showed 1604 improvements could be paid for 100% with bonds, and yet you're tolling it.

We're currently taxed approximately 3 1/2 cents a mile (on average according to graphic that accompanied Dec. 1 story) under the gas tax system. The national average for a traditional turnpike is 9 cents a mile, what on earth do they need with 14-39 cents a mile (I have the feasibility studies that show rates of $1 to use the new toll-only interchanges)? With 5 cost estimate changes on the toll starter system since June and the bait and switch change in toll rates found in the Austin plans, the public doesn't trust the toll rates they're quoting for 281 and the toll starter system.

I believe the burden is on YOU, our tolling authority, and elected officials to be above reproach at every turn, for your motives to be about the public good and not lining the pockets of private interests at the public's expense, and for TxDOT's figures and misstatements to be vigorously challenged.

What they're doing on 281 defies common sense, good government, transparent government, and good fiscal policy. You bet this meets with tremendous public opposition. THEIR rationale MUST be challenged! We've put forth a good faith effort to bring alternatives to the table with our limited resources.

Let's look at some of the alternatives to tolls put forth by SAMCo, for instance. EVERY alternative to tolls is LESS money! The hike in vehicle registration they mention is $100 a year compared to an average of $3,000 a year in tolls (this figure comes from TxDOT's own online survey that quoted 29 cents a mile for a 20 mile commute on 1604 which equals over $3,000 a year just to drive to and from work). The claims that they'd have to raise the gas tax $1 is completely UNSUBSTANTIATED and would amount to quadrupling their current state gas tax revenue intake. The 25 cent per gallon increase is also less than tolls. Considering the average San Antonian uses roughly 1500 gallons of gas a year, they currently pay $300 a year in gas tax. Even a 25 cent hike would be less than tolls at $375 a year more, which is more than double what we give the state now. The size of this tax increase is also totally unsubstantiated in my mind--DOUBLE!--what do they need double the money for? Even an increase in property tax that they mention would be less than the $3,000 a year in tolls for most taxpayers.

If they get rid of just these toll equipment not to mention the toll lanes (that only half of all motorists can use) and just build what's needed, the road is 40-100% less money to build and EVERYONE can drive on it. So the simple solution sure seems to be to CAN the toll lanes and vastly reduce this fictional $8.4 billion funding gap which is also unsubstantiated. SA gets $100 million a year in discretionary funds currently, they're saying we need FOUR times the money we currently get (their $8.4 billion figure works out to $420 million a year over 20 years). The entire state of Texas gets $6.1 billion a year and they say SA needs $8.4 billion over the next 20 years? SA is number 5 in number of lane-miles per person in the U.S...how much money and how many roads do they think we need?

TxDOT known for waste, mismanagement
There are also questions about the legitimacy of TxDOT's expenditures. Twenty states have lower gas tax than we do. Texas is second only to California in terms of disbursements. Caltrans spent $9.3 billion while TxDOT spent $6.8 billion. CA has a greater population than Texas, so it works out to be that Caltrans spent $259 per person to TxDOT's $306 per person. Caltrans spent 24% of it budget on local roads and TxDOT only spent 6.5% on local roads. TxDOT spends $88 more a person than Caltrans spent on its road system, and remember CA is more populous!

According to the father of toll roads who publishes the Toll Road News wrote this just before Prop 9 went down in flames…"In Texas the tollers are behaving arrogantly and with extraordinary political ineptitude. They are over-reaching. Why six year terms for toll authorities? Four year terms would provide some insulation from sudden political change while constituting a more normal term of public office. There's something sleazy too in that term 'regional mobility authority'? It's a toll authority. Why run away from that? Only people without the courage of their convictions or who are too tongue tied to explain themselves resort to silly euphemisms. Does it fool anyone anyway? Political support in TX has also been sapped by a bewilderingly unprincipled and unexplained intermixing of funding of projects by TxDOT. Wherever they go there's a furor because no one can figure out who's paying for what. They talk privatization but so far it is all politics as usual...TxDOT's promiscuous approach to raising funds and their promotion of projects without even a semblance of study has been the anti-toll groups' major recruiter."

They're asking us to pay $27.6 million PER MILE for a 3 mile stretch of improvements! I'm hard-pressed to find ANY highway project that expensive throughout the country and yet none of you are challenging these costs!

Look-up a report done by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in 1997 called, Sundown on Big Government. It was the last external audit of TxDOT. It shows that TxDOT is fraught with millions of dollars in waste and mismanagement, including stockpiling asphalt, gas, and other supplies. Some reforms have been made, but until TxDOT has an independent audit and these bureaucracies get their own houses in order in a way the public can trust, we should not be asked to pay a lifetimes of tolls for roads we've already paid for WITHOUT A PUBLIC VOTE!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

 

First article in series tackles flawed road funding claims

Link to today's story in the Express-News. The article was on the front page entitled, Gas taxes can't fuel all road projects.

At first glance, this article, the first in a series of more in-depth articles on the toll issue, seems to project more of TxDOT's mantra, "We're out of money." But I do think Driscoll tries to make a fair assessment of the arguments. With that said, I do take issue with a few of the statements made in the article. Write a letter of response here: letters@express-news.net.

Setting the record straight...

TRUTH is on OUR side!
More than anything else, this issue is NOT about he said-she said, it's about the TRUTH! I disagree wholeheartedly with the statement that both sides have stretched the truth. Our figures about the gas tax revenues are taken right from the Comptroller's own web site. They're not our figures, they're the State's! We're simply challenging the figures TxDOT puts out there. We don't have the funds to conduct studies of our own, we have to rely on information available in the public domain.

Gas tax figures accurate
What we're stating is a verifable fact: gas tax revenues have gone up at rate of 178% while population growth has only gone up 50% in the last 20 years (and that's adjusted for inflation to reflect differences in buying power over that time period). The more people drive, the more taxes they pay under our current system (the more you drive, the more gas you buy, and the more tax you pay no matter what your fuel efficiency is...and in Texas, we drive gas guzzling SUVs and pick-ups not fuel efficient Yugos and Hondas and the changes in SUV fuel efficiency have been very modest), so this myth about alt fuels and fuel efficiency doesn't hold up. We just saw an article the other day saying there's already a proposal to tax alt fuels. Our politicians will NOT let new or alternative fuels escape taxation that's needed to help pay for transportation improvements.

It's about politicians IGNORING the will of the PEOPLE!
It seems the real story here is about our politicians IGNORING the will of the people and failing to represent us. It's citizens having to battle their own elected representatives who WORK FOR US. We're not funded by anybody, we're not financially backed by any organizations. To my knowledge, no one has any conflict of interests whatsoever. We are ordinary citizens trying to take our government back from these highway interests who have muddied the waters of the public process. We have brought up more than enough concerns, detailed concerns backed-up by facts ALL FOUND IN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS, to warrant at the very least an independent review of the toll plans. If this is truly the ONLY way to fund our roads, then it should hold up to public scrutiny and the truth will bare that out. The people are asking for a say, for a vote, on such a fundamental shift in our taxation to the tune of $3,000 or MORE per year, PER COMMUTER (from TxDOT's own online survey they conducted through Survey Cafe used to be found at: http://www.surveycafe.com/sanantonio/passwordr.asp, but they pulled it down, but we have a picture of it even though they took it off the web...in it they quoted a citizen 29 cents a mile for a 20 mile commute on 1604...that's $5.90 each way, that's substantial money to get to work)!

EVERY alternative to tolls is LESS money!
Even SAMCo's alternatives are ALL less money per year than would be tolls. The hike in vehicle registration they propose is $100 a year compared to an average of $3,000 a year in tolls. The claims that they'd have to raise the gas tax $1 is completely UNSUBSTANTIATED and would amount to nearly tripling their current intake. The 25 cent per gallon increase is also less than tolls. Considering the average San Antonian uses roughly 1500 gallons of gas a year, they currently pay $300 a year in gas tax. Even a 25 cent hike would be less than tolls ($375 a year more, which is double what we give the state now, the size of this tax increase is also totally unsubstantiated in my mind--DOUBLE!--what do they need double the money for?).

If they get rid of just these toll lanes that only half of all motorists can use and just build what's needed, the road is 40-100% less money to build and EVERYONE can drive on it. So the simple solution sure seems to be to CAN the toll lanes and vastly reduce this fictional $8.4 billion funding gap which is also unsubstantiated. SA gets $100 million a year in discretionary funds currently, they're saying we need FOUR times the money we currently get (their $8.4 billion figure works out to $420 million a year over 20 years if I did the math right). The entire state of Texas gets $6.1 billion a year and they say SA needs $8.4 billion over the next 20 years? SA is number 5 in number of lane-miles per person in the U.S...how much money and how many roads do they think we need?

TxDOT's figures MUST BE CHALLENGED!
What's the rationale behind these projects and why aren't the costs of these GIGANTIC tollways being challenged? We found, in TxDOT's own toll feasibility studies, the cost of toll gantry equipment at $1 million per MILE!. We found projects where the cost of toll equipment equaled the cost to build the road. They also studied toll feasibility to toll all the mainlanes on 1604 and backed off. One of their studies showed 1604 improvements could be paid for 100% with bonds, and yet they're NOT doing it.

The national average for a traditional turnpike is 9 cents a mile, what on earth do they need with 14-39 cents a mile (I have the feasibility studies that show rates of $1 to use the new toll-only interchanges)? With 5 cost estimate changes since June and the change in toll rates found in Austin, the public doesn't trust the toll rates they're quoting for 281 and the toll starter system. No investment grade traffic and revenue study has even been completed yet for US 281. That will tell the true starting toll rates. Given all this, none of TxDOT's claims seem to withstand scrutiny.

Public NEEDS side by side comparisons
The public needs to see some side by side comparisons of the actual figures, not scare tactics like property tax hikes. Tolls are equivalent to more than many folks' property taxes, so let's play fair when talking about options. SAMCo and the politicians know ANY talk of property tax hikes is out of the question since people are already upset about not getting property tax relief this last session. But gas taxes, they assume, are equally untouchable, but not once you do the math...like the figures above. Gas tax or vehicle registration fee hikes are STILL less than a lifetime of unbridled toll taxes!

Politicians, under the veil of TxDOT, have LIED to the PUBLIC!
What ought to come to light is how the proponents of this plan have and continue to LIE and mislead the public. Bill Thornton said on multiple occasions on the radio that the original $48 million for the overpasses on 281 were GONE, ZIPPO! Then he said they were re-allocated (to 281/410 interchange) on a different occasion. Tom Greibel told our Founder, Sal Costello, on radio that NO tax money was going into these toll projects, then later slipped and said there was. David Casteel also said the funds were re-allocated and then changed his tune once I got a hold of the feasibility studies. Now we find out that what is in the feasibility studies is true, that $48 million in gas tax IS being used to build US 281 as a toll road instead of as a free road like TxDOT's told the public for 5 years (plus an additional $29 million dropped out of the sky to build it as a toll road, bringing the total amount of gas tax in the toll project to $77 million!).

David Casteel has told the Comal County Judge in writing that they will not toll US 281 through Comal County for 25 years (in June, I believe). In less than 4 months, he told the Bulverde City Council in September at a public City Council meeting that they plan to toll it in 10-15 years. Julie Brown of TxDOT said at the September RMA meeting that they were adding an extra non-toll lane to the project, but the truth lies more in what they don't tell you...they were adding 2 more toll lanes, too, but they've kept it from the public. BY LAW they must tell the public about those extra toll lanes because any change in the scope of projects approved by the MPO must be revealed to the public in a specific public format. The Alamo RMA (tolling authority) also ILLEGALLY used public money they used to conduct a political survey (see past blog entry on this subject). They are also violating the Bexar County Commissioners resolution to NOT toll existing highways. The list of lies, half truths, misleading information, and illegal dealings keeps getting bigger...

Concerned citizens shouldn't be compared to POLITICANS!,
There are no hidden agendas here. We don't represent ANY lobby but the public good. We're about advocating good government and good fiscal policy. This toll road plan does neither. I do not think when tackling this issue that genuine concerned citizens should be impugned or somehow put on par with politicians. I believe the burden is on our PUBLIC tolling authority and politicians to be above reproach at every turn, for their motives to be about the public good and not lining the pockets of private interests at the public's expense, and for THEIR figures and misstatements to be vigorously challenged.

What they're doing on 281 defies common sense, good government, transparent government, and good fiscal policy. You bet it meets with tremendous opposition. THEIR rationale is what ought to be challenged! We've put forth a good faith effort to bring alternatives to the table with our limited resources. These PUBLIC agencies work for us and are funded by us and they DO have the resources to come up with common sense solutions that serve the public good. They haven't because they're not required to by the entities who are charged with keeping them accountable to the public.

TxDOT known for waste, mismanagement
Look-up a report done by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in 1997 called, Sundown on Big Government. It was the last external audit of TxDOT. It shows that TxDOT is fraught with millions of dollars in waste and mismanagement, including stockpiling asphalt, gas, and other supplies. Some reforms have been made, but until TxDOT has an independent audit and these bureaucracies get their own houses in order in a way the public can trust, we should not be asked to pay a lifetimes of tolls for roads we've already paid for WITHOUT A PUBLIC VOTE! This toll plan on existing highway US 281 will set a precedent, a dangerous one. If we let them get away with this, this plan will be duplicated all over the state and likely all over the country. We're not going to let that happen!

Friday, December 02, 2005

 

Just a few of the comments from our supporters...

Comments that came in after the December 1 article hit the front page...

--"Shame on our elected officials. This is corporate tyranny at its worst. Did our new Troll Masters donate any money to our benevolent 'elected officials'??? We need some hangings here in Texas, starting with the Tollers who've sold their soul to the devil. When they complete our freeway improvements, the toll plazas shall be pushed aside like the trees that have fallen. FREEWAY OPEN!! Thanks for all you're doing - keep the faith!!"

--"What can I do to help?"

--"what can I do right now? I read the article and I am sick about it. "

--"Maybe this has been addressed - maybe not! As I understand this operation a private company will build and operate these toll roads. There will be right of way takings I'm sure. The State will step in and condemn private propety and turn it over to private companies to operate their business. Is this correct? If so this is a federal constitutional issue.
Thank you for your work on this issue. I support you and wish you success."


NOTE: He's right, they're taking our private land and leasing it back to private corporations. We need to litigate this aspect, absolutely since our politicians are ignoring the will of the people on this and REFUSE to take action!

--"i even read in the paper that in washington they are
looking at a driving tax-the more you drive the more
you pay!
god bless


--"i think we need to band together and buy air time on tv-and
run infomercials telling the american people what
they are planning to do to us-the toll roads-i go down
281 all the time-and the national tax by the mile
driven-maybe we might even have a state tax on miles
driven also-these politicians are constantly thinking
up new ways to tax us."



Letters and comments about Judge Wolff's statements in his State of the County address...

--'Judge Wolff:

I was surprised to hear of your remarks in the state of the county address yesterday, especially in light of Gov. Perry's very secret negotiations with a firm from Spain and his refusal to provide details to the citizens.

If you review the information posted on TexasTollParty.com you will find that the average cost to each Bexar County family will be more than $3000.00.

I want a say-so if our state government wants to take $3000.00 from me and I'll bet my neighbors feel the same way.

I am running as a Democratic Candidate for State Representative in District 122. Part of my platform is to put all toll roads in Texas on the ballot, out in the open. This issue is not a done deal, and I will not accept it. I truly hope that you will not accept it, either. I ask that you take a stand against this kind of secret deal, starting with the secret deal to create toll roads right here in Bexar County. Let the people in Bexar County decide if they want to pay for toll roads." - Larry Stallings



--"Mr. Nelson Wolff,

Having heard your interview on WOAI yesterday, I am disappointed regarding your general remarks about toll roads. Your remarks seemed to indicate an “indifferent attitude” towards your constituency in Bexar County.
I don’t think your remarks reflect what the majority of folks in Bexar County believe – that toll roads are not a viable solution to our traffic congestion issues.

It is unfortunate that you choose to basically parrot the views of TXDOT without any regard for really understanding the entire issue of toll roads. As a lifelong resident of San Antonio and Bexar County, I am concerned that we are going to impose a system which basically serve as a hardship to the average San Antonian wage earner. I am fortunate to be well compensated, but I know that the mean wages for San Antonio fall somewhere in the range of the mid $20’s and thus the potential costs of utilizing toll roads will certainly lead to more congestion along our access roads. Briefly looking at the history of toll roads, they have not really eased traffic congestion issues – rather they have been a mechanism for generating more revenue for local and state government entities. Is your mantra really about increasing the size of the government in Texas?

As a representative of this county government, I would trust that you would want to assure that the citizens of this area are effectively served by any solution posed by TXDOT or any other state entity. But from the gist of your comments on WOAI yesterday, I surmise you’re more interested in assuring you remain well-liked by your fellow state politicians. From my standpoint, that is quite unfortunate."



--"Dear Judge Wolff:

I respectfully disagree with your opinion of toll roads in San Antonio. I drive 281 daily and I can see that the only problem with that freeway is that it has been turned into a city street with the addition of lights at major intersections. All that is needed to relieve congestion is a bypass system where the lights now exist. This would be much more cost effective than a huge toll road project. I don’t think I want to “get used to them”.

I’m sure that after you examine the facts, you too will agree that a toll road system will only serve to anger the public even more. We already have too many taxes imposed on us. Most of the public has reached an intolerable level of taxation, and now with gasoline prices going higher I can feel a very strong movement to rollback taxes and to remove all politicians that do not actively seek to reduce public expenditures. We see it with the anger against school districts for abusing public funds and we will see it with the toll roads, as well.

I fear that this debacle will ultimately bring San Antonio’s economy to a screeching halt. For example, I am a systems analyst making a fair salary and paying a hefty amount in taxes every year. But that doesn’t seem to satisfy our city leaders’ hunger for more money. Every year my taxes are raised 10%. I am tired of fighting this, as are many others in similar or lesser jobs. I now have my house for sale and I plan to relocate outside of Texas in order to maintain a living in the manner in which I have become accustomed. Perhaps for a good cause I could accept the increase in taxes, but all I can see is corruption, mismanagement, misappropriation, misuse and asinine projects like the toll roads, so I can no longer stomach giving away my hard earned money to a bunch of idiots and/or thieves. It’s too late for me, but I ask you for those who may remain a while longer. Please use some foresight and join the fight against the toll roads before you single handedly crater this economy and get run out of town on a rail."



--"I am outraged that Judge Wolff dictated "Tolls are coming so get used to them." Judge Wolff and the business community plan to profit from this toll road scheme and will push their agenda without a vote from the people of SA. Why should we the people of this city carry the load on our backs to finance Bexar County when the roads have already been paid for? Judge Wolff and the business community want to give private companies monopolies over our public infrastructure through secret agreements. This violates the public trust and our principles of open government. Toll roads amount to highway robbery of the citizens. Let the higher public officials take a cut in their salaries and benefits! We the common, hard-working people of SA refuse to carry the weight! We will not support public officials who refuse to listen to our voices. You can bet the voters will find viable candidates to run against tollers. We will take action to vote out those politicians trying to steam-roll their deals over the already over-taxed people of Bexar County!"

--"Dear Judge Wolff,

I respectfully oppose your position on toll roads... I don't believe you should shove anything down the public's throat and I think you would find this to be true if you put toll roads up for a vote...This toll road plan is a very bad one, especially when you are using roads which have already been built with taxpayers money... In my book, that's double taxation...I also can't believe once the so called improvements would be paid for, that this defective plan never relinquishes the toll from the road... REALLY BAD PLAN...So, if you really did say: 'Tolls are coming so get used to them' I resent the implication that it is a done deal and we, the public, can't do anything about it...I would love to see a signed contract, from TxDOT, showing where all this work has been approved and who will be building these so called toll roads... Maybe you can produce one for the public's perusal..."



--"Judge Wolff, I respectfully say you are wrong in dictating toll roads for our city and boasting they are coming to SA whether or not the public wants them. You as our public official should represent the wishes of the people of SA. If you cannot listen to our voice, then we will vote in someone who will respect the opinion of the people. You have enjoyed a grand style life and are out of touch with the common people. You have lost sight of the truth and are using your position to deceive and force toll roads onto the people of SA. I oppose your governing methods and stand on this issue."


--"But the tides of history are turning. Wolff and all the rest of those professional elites will be the last ones to figure out how disconnected from the people they have come. But just you watch - incumbents are going to go down in flames all over the place in the 2006 elections, and they won't even see it coming because they're so out of touch."


--"keep up the fight-judge wolff is rich-he can afford toll
roads-they could get to like 5.00 to go on them i have
heard others say-with gas as high as it is-and if
registration fees go up and they get those 35.00 car
inspections-pretty soon us poor people will not get to
drive our cars-and they are a necessity in the modren
world-you have to be able to get to work"


Sent to candidate for Governor Carole Strayhorn's campaign and forwarded on to us...

--"i rang up nelson wolfes office and they confirmed it- the toll road is to go in on a 6-8 mile stretch of highway 281 north, just outside of loop 1604. its going to be operational in late january. i asked why we weren't allowed to vote on the matter and i was told that local governments aren't allowed to hold referenda on state mandated projects, and that i had to contact my local reps, who are the ones who voted for it on my behalf. lunacy. balderdash.

the argument was that the gas tax wasn't high enough and also that revenue was being lost due to more fuel efficient vehicles. i countered that there a lot of other ways to generate revenue for roads rather than the gas tax, and rattled off about 20 ways to generate cash and just got a blank stare over the phone.

anyway, its official, and i think its illegal.

if i could make any suggestion to the campaign it would be to alert the public to the trans texas corridor and what a cultural disaster it would be, not to mention being totally unecessary. nobody but insiders and concerned experts like you & me know about this thing right now, and word needs to get out. as you know, the only way the bad guys ever win is when we don't network.

holler back if you get a second, and please give my best to your Mother.

tell her she has my vote, along with the votes of my circle."


WORD OF CLARIFICATION: The toll road will not be operational in January, construction of the road begins in January. There is no toll agreement for US 281 at this time and the earliest a toll would be charged is after construction is finished in 2009.

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