Tell Austin Officials “No Thank You” on $752 million in new toll roads.
This coming Monday night, May 12, Austin’s transportation officials are set to vote on $752 million to build three (3) new toll roads over the next four years. That’s a whopping 77% of all the spending projected for the Austin metro area’s 2015 to 2018 road and other “non-transit” projects.
You can tell them “No Thank You!” by emailing email@example.com or you may go to the Keep Mopac Local website and send a single message that will go to all of the Austin metro officials with a hand in the matter.
The specific vote is Item 14 on the Monday CAMPO agenda. The details on the meeting are here. The proposed $752 million toll road total includes $100 million for the SH 45 SW “aquifer toll road” and $652 for adding toll lanes to US 183 in eastern and southeastern Travis County.
See the list of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Burnet, Williamson, and Bastrop county officials that sit on the CAMPO board here.
Like most of our toll roads, these projects would be paid mostly with tax dollars: only a fraction would be covered by toll-backed debt financing.
If I don’t live in Travis County should I care?
SH-45 hallmarks a disturbing trend in road construction financing that TxDOT and its allies have concocted. Here is the methodology:
- Identify a road that someone wants (most likely a politician) that you know won’t pay for itself but propose a toll anyway.
- After years of tolling shortfalls, the taxpayers will be asked to bail the project out with tax dollars.
It’s a toll strategy that’s coming to your town shortly. In a way, it’s a clever play. TxDOT gets at least some of the road they want paid for and by the time the road defaults, it’s years later and who is going to make a fuss then? Can’t happen?
It has with SH-130 in central Texas. SH-130 is heading for default soon.
Moody’s downgraded $1.1 billion of debt tied to SH-130 by five notches, from B1 to Caa3, considered junk status. It’s the second time the firm has downgraded the project’s debt, following an earlier downgrade.
Insult to injury is this – the road interests want money from Travis County (which they may get and will be borrowed). And the City of Austin (which will be borrowed). Which will be matched with the Regional Mobility Authority’s (RMA) money (which will be borrowed from TxDOT from a fund that is largely bond money – or in other words borrowed money.) It’s a pyramid scheme that is doomed for failure that will wind up square ly in the laps of taxpayers.
Now that you’ve done that, please be sure to check out our new citizen’s lobby that’s getting ready NOW for the 2015 legislative session. Go to the League of Independent Voters and become a member today. If you live in the central Texas area, please join us in Bastrop on June 7th and if not, please help the new League plan an event like this one in your neck of the woods.
Many of you have been asking us, “What can I do to help.” Read this update, then please vote for these candidates, depending on where you live. Then get on the phone or on the computer and get your friends out! These are tight races where your vote will count extra!
Early voting ends this Friday, Feb. 28. Election Day is Tuesday, March 4th.
THE BIG NEWS FOR STATEWIDE RACES IS THIS…
DEBRA MEDINA stands to come in first in a crowded race for Texas Comptroller!
Once again, defying the odds and creating the biggest nightmare for the Republican establishment is the possibility that Debra Medina could become State Comptroller! This Texas Tribune piece shows Debra Medina at the top of the heap in this crowded race, facing big money from the usual suspects. Just remember, Debra was always there amongst us, standing with us fighting Trans-Texas Corridor and in recent years has really led the fight for eminent domain reform standing up to TransCanada, despite the fallout from the powerful oil and gas lobby. She gets it on the need to work with everyone, regardless of political persuasion.
Click here for details you can share online and a flier you can print. PS Debra just sent out a message asking for your help to get her over the 50% threshold. This would knock the Perry, et. al gang, for a loop!
DO YOU OR DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO LIVES IN AUSTIN & TRAVIS COUNTY?
Please vote for and ask your friends to vote for Sarah Eckhard for Travis County Judge!
One of the key races for all of Central Texas in Travis County (Austin and surrounding cities relevant are posted below). Austin area friends, please help us get the vote out this year for former County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt in the Democratic Primary for Travis County Judge.
ChangeAustin.org has a full page of well researched information on this race. Some powerful movers and shakers, including State Sen. Kirk Watson, are trying to stop the more than well-qualified (and honest) Sarah Eckhardt and insert a political operative with no experience, Andy Brown, to be their water boy…literally!
At the recent hearing of the Texas Commission of Environmental Qualify (don’t let that name fool you!) Sen. Watson (who now is supposed to represent Bastrop County too) has urged the TCEQ to grant the LCRA the right to severe cut backs (if not a cut off) of those downstream of Austin! Watson, always willing to front for the real estate lobby that wants to hide the fact that central Texas is running out of water. If it weren’t why would private profiteers like Forestar Real Estate and EndOp be working overtime to try to move Bastrop/Lee counties’ water to the IH-35 growth corridor? They want to protect those developers who are building in areas without sustainable water, folks.
Remember our friend, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst? She was the one who helped Texans of all persuasions — from day one — fight and stop the Trans-Texas Corridor. She is also chair of the Public Health Committee in the Texas House. She testified after Watson at the same hearing that, “I’m Chair of Public Health, this will become a pandemic across the state of Texas if we begin to curtail water in certain areas and not throughout the whole basins.”
Bottom line is this — the water robber barons are coming out of the closet. We must unite and vote wherever is needed to cut THEM off at the pass! In Austin and Travis County, that’s in the Democratic primary and it’s for Sarah Eckhardt.
Eckhart might not be Wonder Woman, but she is smart and gutsy enough to listen to citizens.
Here are the various cities within that may be in part or entirely within Travis County that can vote on the Travis County Judge race:
Do you know that live in Travis County that can vote in this race? That would be these cities:
Cedar Park — a small portion
Elgin – a small portion
Horsby Bend CDP (all of it)
Jollyville CDP – a small portion
Jonestown – all of it
Lago Vista – all of is
Leander – a small portion
Lost Creek CDP – all of is
Manor – all of it
Pflugerville – 99%
Point Venture – 100%
Round Rock – a small portion
Shady Hollow – small portion
Volente – all of it
Webberville – all of it
West Lake Hill – all of it
Windemere CDP – all of it
VOTE FOR TIMOTHY DELASANDRO IN THE AREAS JUST WEST OF BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION:
House District 12 (all of Limestone, Robertson and parts of Brazos and McLennan counties)
Please vote in the Republican primary for Timothy Delasandro and boot the incumbent, Kyle Kacal out! This race is all about protecting the richest farm soil in Texas (and perhaps the world!), the Brazos River Bottom. Kacal gets an F — send him home! Click here for details you can share online and a flier you can print out.
Join us at 6:30 pm (until 8),
Wednesday, February 19
Giddings American Legion Hall
1502 US Highway 77 map here
Water Wars Boil in Central Texas!
Drew Scheberle, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Vice President, let the cat out of the bag when testifying last Wednesday at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hearing attended by hundreds of officials in Central Texas. He said,
“Our job, on behalf of the five counties, is to sell central Texas to the world as the best place to do business. The water question has been creeping into more and more of our conversations and we’d hate for the word to get out that Texas doesn’t have its water issue under control.”
The hearing was about the request by the LCRA to a draconian cut off of surface water flow to communities downsteream of Austin.
If it were anywhere else but Texas, it would be scandalous that the business community, together with their minions in public office on both sides of the aisle, are fanning the flames of out-of-control growth (over 4,000 people are arriving per month to the Austin area) in the middle of historic drought.
A 12-hour hearing yesterday before the State Office of Administrative Hearings made it clear — downstream rural communities, farmers, wildlife advocates and environmentalists have little chance against the upstream Austin area “growth lobby”. The lobby put on more than 9 hours of testimony. The downstreamers had less than 3 — with just a few days notice to prepare and were subjected to being overruled repeatedly by the Administrative Law Judge.
Tomorrow, a critical meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (Bastrop and Lee counties) in Giddings, will be about private interests (Forestar Real Estate Group and EndOp LC) forming a battering ram to take and transport groundwater for the same real estate interests pushing for the LCRA cut off. Not a peep has been heard from the State Representative for the area, Republican Tim Kleinschmidt, who has a financial interest in Forestar Real Estate’s water deal. Democratic State Senator Kirk Watson, former Austin Mayor and former chair of the Greater Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, who now also represents Bastrop, was at the top of the list pushing for the LCRA cut off of his own constituents.
Come see what happens — this will be camera friendly!
Got questions? Give us a call or reply to this message.
Thank you for your interest.
The testimony of Dew Scheberle, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and many others before the TCEQ can be seen at this link on February 12. Mr. Scheberle’s is in the second video of testimony, at 6:08: http://www.texasadmin.com/tceqa.shtml
PO Box 651 * Bastrop, TX 78602
512-535-0989 home office * 512-657-2089 cell
The League of Independent Voters of Texas is holding a statewide conference call next Saturday (January 25 at 10 am) to discuss efforts to bring the issues of eminent domain abuse, public safety and protection of waterways into the 2014 state election cycle debates.
If you want to join the call, please reply to this message — we’ll send you details.
REMEMBER PLEASE! – TEXAS residents, if you haven’t yet, SIGN THIS ONLINE LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL GREG ABBOTT:
Letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott:
Public Citizen just sent out a similar online letter to their supporters AND this letter to the Attorney General. The letter explains more precisely what the safety inspection (or lack thereof) issues are.
In addition, TransCanada is telling emergency response personnel in rural areas that it’s just “crude” coming through the line. This is deceptive and dangerous. Go to this site: http://www.tarsandsprotectionleague.org/ to see why.
The online letters are flying into the AG’s office but we NEED MORE! PLEASE HELP!
Hope to “see” you all next Saturday at 10 am via conference call.
This release was sent to statewide media. Please consider writing a letter to the editor about this of your local newspaper.
This Letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott from Public Citizen provides more details as to the safety issues.
Lots of background information and maps about how East Texas is affected are here: TexasPipelineWatch.org.