Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Open Letter to Greg Abbott Re: Toll Roads
Dear Mr. Abbott:
As you know, Article 4 Section 22 of the Texas Constitution requires the Attorney General to "take such action as may be proper and necessary to prevent any private corporation from... demanding or collecting any species of taxes, tolls, freight or wharfage not authorized by law."
Many Texas citizens are concerned about the anticipated usage of public authority to enable private corporations to collect toll fees for huge toll-road projects that are being planned and forecast by the Texas Department of Transportation, such as the "Trans Texas Corridor," and tolling projects in northern Bexar County involving Highway 281, Loop 1604, Interstate 10 and/or Interstate 35. These concerned citizens might receive some measure of comfort if they knew that the Attorney General is in the process of investigating or plans to fully investigate whether such plans comply with all applicable laws.
In the case of Highway 281 in northern Bexar County, there is a specific and serious concern as to whether all legal requirements would be met for the conversion of existing freeways to toll highways.
Have you fulfilled your Constitutional duty to investigate these planned TX-DOT projects to determine whether the planned or anticipated toll operations will be in compliance with all applicable laws, and if so, what are the results of your investigations? If you have not done so, do you intend to conduct investigations, and will you share the results with the public?
As required of you by the Texas Constitution, I call upon you to take all necessary and proper actions to safeguard the people from the potential dangers to the public well-being posed by private toll collectors.
David Van Os
posted by snarko! at 4:15 PM
Friday, January 20, 2006
NO to Slick Rick's Tolling Plans
Government by self-service, secrecy, and cronyism was not what the American Revolutionaries of 1776 had in mind when they proclaimed government by the consent of the governed. Nor was it what the fathers and mothers of Texas had in mind when they declared their independence from despotism in 1835.
The toll road plans foisted by Slick Rick Perry and his political puppets and corporate cronies are nothing but an insider self-dealing hustle. The Attorney General of Texas has the Constitutional duty to investigate these corporate toll-road plans, but current attorney general Greg Abbott is another Rick Perry crony and is not about to stick up for the people.
Unlike Abbot, I believe in government that serves the people, and I will fulfill the Attorney General's Constitutional duty to safeguard the people from self-serving toll roads that rip off the many while enriching the pockets of the few. It's high time for the people of Texas to restore Constitutional self-government to themselves across the board by a peaceful revolution through the political and legal processes.
NO to using public authority for private gain! NO to government by cronyism! NO to corruption! NO to double taxation without representation! NO to the Trans Texas Corridor! NO to tolling Austin! NO to tolling 281!
Article 4, Section 22 of the Texas Constitution states that the Attorney General "shall... take such action as may be proper and necessary to prevent any private corporation from... demanding or collecting any species of taxes, tolls, freight or wharfage not authorized by law."
How can the Attorney General fulfill his Constitutional duty if he doesn't investigate the planned system for a private corporation to collect tolls on the as-planned biggest toll road in the history of Texas?
posted by snarko! at 4:55 PM
Monday, January 16, 2006
A New Revolution
When the American Revolutionaries proclaimed government by the consent of the governed in 1776, they did not intend for future Americans to be ruled by autocratic executive power. Yet here in 2006, our government has been hijacked by gangsters who care not about the stirring vision of government that was willed to us by our revolutionary founders.
It is clear that the gangster Bushite machine is hell-bent to subvert the Constitution. It is also clear that we cannot depend on Washington political insiders of either party to save it. Too many of them are too invested in the established order. We the grassroots people have to do it. There is no mystery as to what each of us as individuals and all of us as community can and must do. This is an election year. We have to remove the gangsters and their allies from every office, directly and specifically. Each one of us needs to select one or more campaigns, whether of candidates or of political organizations, take grassroots ownership of the campaigns, and devote everything we can to victory. I have selected my pathway; each must select theirs.
And the gravity of the Constitutional crisis demands that we do more than win specific elections. We must also transform the political process and replace it with what the founders intended. It is up to us, the grassroots American people, to rebuild self-governing democracy the way it was meant to be: every citizen a 100% equal part owner of the government, and government serving the people.
We have to do it right this time, and dismantle the whole corrupted political culture that led us down the path to Bushite government. We have to restore democracy to its owners, the people. No more of government by glad-handing lobbyists. No more of installing into public office lying hustlers who only want to use government to enrich themselves and their cronies. No more of government by pollsters or marketing consultants. No more government of, by, and for self-serving political-corporate power elites of either party and their entourages of professional operatives. Our government does not belong to them.
Our government belongs to "We the people" who talk in straight lines, who say what we mean, who struggle through our daily routines, and who believe in our Constitution to give us a fair chance. We have the power to restore it. We do not have the luxury to indulge in cynicism, discouragement, or defeatism. We have only barely the time to fight to take it back. We have no time to waste. Our forebears fought and won a revolution to establish government by consent of the governed. We have to fight and win a revolution to restore it. Fight through our grassroots campaigns, candidates, and organizations. Fight through our voices, our pens, our keyboards, our money, and our feet. Fight all the time, fight every day. Never give up, but fight, fight, and fight some more! Fight 'em till hell freezes over, and then fight 'em on the ice.
posted by snarko! at 12:49 PM
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Your Job is Just a Toll Road Away
Ripping up good Texas farmland, imposing double taxation on good Texas citizens, and misusing public authority for private enrichment. Do these sound like the kinds of things a public servant would want to do? You wouldn't think so. But when it comes to toll roads, these things are no obstacles to the sellout politicians, resume-building government bureaucrats, and greedy private interests whose corrupt culture of cronyism is ripping off our democracy.
Through Rick Perry's toll road plans such as the Texas Transportation Corridor, Highway 281, and the recently announced Interstate 69 plan, insider politicians and ambitious bureaucrats are chomping at the bit to sweeten the pot for their corporate cronies. In return, the corporate fat-cats whom they serve are only too happy to pay the expected tithes from their ill-gained profits to the said politicians' campaign treasuries. And the professional bureaucrats are simply beaming at the chance to increase their career value doubly by polishing the apples of two sets of masters.
As one example, Slick Rick's buddies at the Texas Transportation Commission, in concert with local politicians eager to climb higher up the ladder of self-service, want to turn a big chunk of Highway 281 north of San Antonio into a toll highway. They could care less that the targeted section of Highway 281 is the only roadway connecting many thousands of residents of western Comal County and northern Bexar County with their jobs in San Antonio, and that the planned toll road will leave thousands of working people with no way to get to work and back home other than either (a) paying the double taxation of a toll fee to a private corporation, or (b) crawling their way along stop-and-go access lanes. Nor do they care that during many long months of construction transportation access for these thousands of residents will be severely hampered.
Never mind that at every public hearing citizens have turned out in mass opposition to converting the free public highway to a toll road. Never mind that under state law it takes a referendum election to convert an existing roadway to a toll road (to which point, word-gaming state lawyers say it's not conversion of an existing road to tear the road up and rebuild it!). Never mind that citizens have repeatedly requested a referendum as provided under state law -- to which call for democracy one of the professional politicians in Bexar County elective office responded, "Tolls are coming so get used to them."
The 19th century framers of the Texas Constitution were especially sensitive to the unsavory idea of private corporate interests operating toll roads and collecting toll fees, so they mandated in Article 4, Section 22 that, "The Attorney General shall... take such action in the courts as may be proper and necessary to prevent any private corporation from... demanding or collecting any species of taxes, tolls, freight or wharfage not authorized by law." One would think that Attorney General Greg Abbott would take his job description seriously. One would think that since the Attorney General's job description mandates him to investigate the legality of private toll collections, he would already have questioned Slick Rick's Texas Transportation Corridor plan to hand over the biggest highway in the history of the state to private tax collectors.
But the truth is that Greg Abbott is a mouthpiece for the special corporate interests and their cronies in the power-grabbing Bush-Perry gang that have hijacked the Republican Party. He's not about to lift a hand against the self-promoting political-corporate machine of which he is part and parcel.
The Texas Constitution, the people's charter, entitles the people of Texas to a fighting Attorney General who will live up to his duty to preserve, protect, and defend their basic civil rights. Chief among the rights of the people is their fundamental right to democratic self-government free of the corruptions of cronyism and self-service. If you like the idea of having a Texas Attorney General who will fight for your right to democratic self-government as opposed to insider self-dealing corporate government, I am definitely your man. Welcome to the fight to restore democracy and the rule of law in the great state of Texas!
posted by snarko! at 10:36 PM
Candidate Filings Reveal Grassroots Democratic Fires Burning Hot in Texas
The last day for candidates to file for places on the ballot in Texas in 2006 brought exciting news.
Contrary to what the political reporters of the major daily newspapers predicted, a full statewide ticket of Democrats will be taking on the Bush-Perry-DeLay Republicans in the general election. By the filing deadline of 6:00 p.m. January 2, Democratic candidates had filed for the statewide offices of U.S. Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General (yours truly), Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Railroad Commissioner, Texas Supreme Court, and Court of Criminal Appeals. They are all strong, Fighting Democrats who are going to fight fiercely to take Texas back from the slime of corruption and insider self-dealing that Bush-Perry-DeLay Republicanism has heaped onto the people of Texas.
The Democratic filings for U.S. House seats equally demonstrate the resolve of Texas Democrats to fight back. Democrats filed for 31 of the 32 U.S. House seats in Texas. The most telling sign of Democratic fires burning hot is that 20 of the 21 Republican incumbents in the U.S. House from Texas will be facing Democratic challengers in the general election. The fires are burning so hot there will even be contested Democratic primaries in some of the Republican-held districts, with a total of 25 Democratic candidates filing in those 20 districts.
Grassroots Democratic lawyers stepped up to make a strong run at breaking into the monolith of Republican corporate justice on the Courts of Appeal, with a full slate of strong Democrats running for every seat that is up on the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin and every seat that is up on the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, and the fiery Jim Sharp returning to make another spirited run for a seat on the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston.
One of the strongest signs of the realigning public mood is that Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the current Republican State Comptroller who announced last June that she was going to run for Governor against Rick Perry, filed as an Independent rather than in the Republican Primary. None can legitimately dispute that Strayhorn's move reflects deep division within Republican ranks. It should be noted that Bush press secretary Scott McClellan is Strayhorn's son.
And how about this juicy tidbit: three candidates filed against Tom DeLay in the Republican Primary for his seat in the 22nd Congressional District.
The number of Democrats who filed for state legislature seats against Republican incumbents is not yet available since some of the filings are done in different counties and some in the state office. All reports so far indicate that grassroots Democrats filed heavily for those seats also.
What makes all this especially exciting is that this outpouring of Democratic fire is not a top-down thing. The new candidates are grassroots Democrats. Some are blue-collar working people, some are peace and justice activists, some are anti-war military veterans, some are proven reformers, and some are small-town community activists. They come from the people. They are leading a movement to reclaim Texas for the people from the bottom up. There is a fire burning in many bellies in this state. Bushites, beware; your jig is up. The people you fooled first are hip to your tricks, and they are going to roar.
posted by snarko! at 10:38 AM
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