October 28, 2009

Planning Commission Formed to fight Transmission Line

Mason County News

Mason, Texas – In an unprecedented move, the City and County Commissioners have both formally adopted separate resolutions to create the Mason Sub-Regional Planning Commission in response to the proposed LCRA TSC 345 KV transmission line.

This new planning commission is allowed under state statute 391 of the Local Government Code as a way for cities and counties to band together and work to protect and improve the health, safety, and general welfare of their residents.

“Since Mason County has been thrust into this fight over the LCRA transmission line, we felt we needed more than comments, letters, and protests to the Public Utility Commission and the Lower Colorado River Authority,” stated Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden. Bearden will serve as the county’s representative on the newly created commission board, along with Mayor Brent Hinckley representing the city.

“When we learned we could form this commission to protect our citizens, there was no hesitation on our city commission’s part,” exclaimed Mayor Brent Hinckley. There are over a dozen such planning commissions statewide that are fighting the Trans-Texas Corridor and TXDOT.

Under the 391 statute, state agencies, like the PUC and LCRA, are required by law to coordinate their plans and policies with local planning commissions at the regional level. This means any plans LCRA and/or the PUC have to construct electric lines through the jurisdiction of this new planning commission must be discussed in government-to-government meetings before any lines can be constructed through the county. This is outside the regulatory process of the PUC.

“We’ll be sending a letter to both the PUC and LCRA requesting they come to Mason, Texas to begin the coordination process with our planning commission,” explained Bearden. “And, they will have to figure out how to comply with our electric transmission policy,” added Hinckley.
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“This is local control at its finest,” said Mike Dail, chairman of the public relations committee of the newly formed non-profit Texas Hill Country Heritage Association (THCHA). THCHA was also formed in response to the electric transmission line and will be working closely with the new planning commission. In fact, Mike Dail has been named as the third member of the commission board to serve with Judge Bearden and Mayor Hinckley.

Under the 391 statute, a planning commission can develop policies and plans for practically any purpose to benefit the citizens of the region. A commission may plan for development of a region and make recommendations concerning transportation, public utilities, health, education, recreation, agriculture, business, industry, historical and cultural sites, land use, water supply, sanitation facilities, drainage, public buildings, economic, and other items of general purpose.

© 2009 Mason County News: www.masoncountynews.com

October 8, 2009

Coordination Defeats I-35 Trans Texas Corridor Project (TTC-35)

American Stewards of Liberty
Copyright 2009

On October 7th, 2009 we had one of our most resounding victories for coordination that not only affects Texas, but the nation. It is a victory for private property rights proving that when a few good Americans decide something is wrong and are willing to take a stand, they can win against incredible odds.

In a press conference in Austin, Texas, Amadeo Saenz, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), announced on behalf of Texas Governor Rick Perry, that the Trans-Texas Corridor, I-35 Segment is dead. TXDOT will be recommending the “No Build” option to the Federal Highway Administration.

You read it right – the key leg of the NAFTA Superhighway is dead and every member of American Stewards of Liberty played a key role in making this happen.

It is hard to place into words the magnitude of this coordination victory.

In August of 2007, four unpaid mayors and their school districts in eastern Bell County, Texas stepped forward and asserted their coordination authority for the first time in Texas history.

They demanded an equal seat at the table with TXDOT and held their first meeting with the agency on the I-35 super corridor October 22, 2007. It was during this meeting that the environmental study director informed them the Final DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) would be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) by January, 2008.

The next step would be condemnation of the 146 acres per mile to build the super highway.

The newly formed Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (ECTSRPC) went to work laying out in government-to-government meetings the flaws in TXDOT’s study and violations of law being committed by the agency.

They met two more times with the Transportation agency filing two lengthy petitions with the Federal Highway Administration, the latest one being sent in June, 2009 calling on the FHA to reject the study in its entirety. The ECTSRPC set forth 27 pages of violations of federal law being carried out by FHA’s agent, TXDOT that no one had pointed out before.

TXDOT and FHA have been in discussions on the final DEIS for most of this year. We have no doubt that the last petition caused the FHA to suggest TXDOT present another option. Today we learn that option is “NO BUILD.”

The coordination strategy utilized by these courageous Texans, developed by Fred Kelly Grant, president of American Stewards, stopped the I-35 Trans-Texas Corridor.

How big is this coordination victory for local government? Here is what we were up against:
  • The Trans-Texas Corridor was a keystone project for Governor Perry;
  • It was fully supported by President George W. Bush;
  • It had the funding of the Spanish Corporation, Cintra-Zachry;
  • The people of Texas tried to repeal the TTC project during three legislative sessions, but were thwarted each time by the governor and road lobby;
  • The State of Texas spent $16 million on environmental and planning documents;
  • $3.5 million were made in political contributions to candidates from TTC Contractors;
  • $6.1 million was spent by TTC Contractors for paid lobbyist to get the project through.
We’ve won the battle on the I-35 Corridor by using the coordination strategy because of the generous support and commitment of the members of American Stewards of Liberty.

If you are not a member of American Stewards, we invite you to join us. Click Here to sign up.

If you would like to learn more about the coordination strategy used to stop the I-35 Trans Texas Corridor, make plans to attend our annual conference, November 5-7 in Denver, Colorado where we will spend two-and-a-half days teaching you how you too can bring home local control. Click Here to learn about the conference.

Click Here to read the press release.

Click Here to read the petition to the FHA.

Click Here to read more about Texas coordination.

© 2009 American Stewards of Liberty: www.stewards.us
Cintra: Texas Recommends Dropping TTC-35 Highway Project

By Jason Sinclair
Dow Jones Newswires

MADRID--Spanish toll-road company Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras SA (CIN.MC) said Thursday that the Texas Department of Transportation had recommended against going forward with the Trans-Texas Corridor-35 highway.

In a filing to the Spanish market regulator, Cintra said the Texas state government made the decision after the U.S. Federal Highway Administration raised questions about the environmental impact of the planned highway.

In 2004, a Cintra-led consortium was chosen to design and plan the TTC-35 highway.

Cintra is already building another Texas highway called the SH 130, which won't be affected by the decision, the company said.

Cintra has won a number of projects in Texas as the state looks to build new roads and privatize existing ones through public-private partnerships.

Company Web site: http://www.cintra.es

91 395 8127; jason.sinclair@dowjones.com

© 2009 Dow Jones Newswires: online.wsj.com

October 7, 2009

Mayors Defeat Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC-35) and TxDOT

Contact: Mae Smith, President/Mayor, 254-657-2460

Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Holland, Texas - Five local mayors took a stand 27 months ago and formed the state's first sub-regional planning commission to stand up against and stop once and for all the governor's massive land grab known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. No one thought they could.

Today, the Texas Department of Transportation and the governor announced that the State of Texas has officially killed the project by selecting the "No Build" option under the environmental impact statement study. Selecting that option was exactly what the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (ECTSRPC) forced the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) into choosing.

"Believe me, it wasn't what they wanted to do, it's what we forced them to do," stated Mae Smith, Mayor of Holland and president of the ECTSRPC. The planning commission began a series of what is called coordination meetings in the fall of 2007, by utilizing a little known state statute that forced the behemoth agency to come to Holland, Texas.

TxDOT came to Holland on three different occasions where they were asked to explain why they were going to destroy five towns and their school districts with a 1,200 foot-wide, 146 acre per mile toll road. "Through coordination, we forced them to our table and then we used the federal NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) statute to box them in a legal corner out of which they could not escape," stated Ralph Snyder, a local Holland businessman and board member of the ECTSRPC. "That's what forced TxDOT to recommend 'No Build' to the Federal Highway Administration because we had shown how TxDOT, as the agent of the federal government, had violated the federal statute in at least 29 ways," Snyder continued.

Fred Grant, president of American Stewards of Liberty, is the originator of the coordination strategy that brought TxDOT to their knees. "Had we not had five courageous mayors who represent a total of 6,000 people stand up to the governor and his rogue state agency, the Trans-Texas Corridor would have destroyed hundreds of thousands of private acres of prime and unique farmland, as well as, the economies of every community it dissected," stated Grant.

The TTC-35 is just one of the 4,000 miles of toll roads that nine state planning commissions are fighting.

"TxDOT can still continue to build 130, TTC-69, and the Ports-to-Plains toll roads, but defeating the TTC-35 is a major victory for the rural people of Texas."

To obtain a copy of the petition filed by the ECTSRPC showing the federal violations of TxDOT, please contact American Stewards of Liberty at 512-365-2699.

© 2009 ECTSRPC: ectsrpc.blogspot.com

October 6, 2009

Perry pulls plug on Trans Texas Corridor...but another lives on

Terri Hall
San Antonio Express-News

If you believe Rick Perry, today he's finally conceded the death of the initial Trans Texas Corridor foreign-owned toll road, land-grabbing superhighway that would have paralleled I-35, called TTC-35. However, there's LOTS more to this story.

Perry would have us believe the announcement was because of the lack of political support, but since when does he care a flip about whether his toll road policies have political support? Look no further than his veto of eminent domain reform legislation, HB 2006, and the private toll moratorium bill, HB 1892, passed by a supermajority of the Texas Legislature in 2007 for proof.

There's never been grassroots support for his hefty toll tax increases nor the Trans Texas Corridor. The REAL reason Perry's highway department, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), put the nail in the coffin of TTC-35 was because it was under the threat of a federal lawsuit by a local government commission, the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission, which was formed to stop TTC-35 dead in its tracks.

There's nothing that puts more fear in a politician up for re-election than a messy, well-publicized federal lawsuit against one of his most controversial, polarizing policies. So rather than risk certain death at the polls, Perry opted for the death of his beloved special interest TTC-35. Of course, the Texas Farm Bureau's endorsement of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison for governor played a role in the timing of the announcement.

Hutchison said in a statement today: "The Trans-Texas Corridor will not be officially dead until Rick Perry is no longer governor and his political appointees are no longer running TxDOT. Texans can't trust Rick Perry when it comes to protecting their land from the government, ceding to lease our highways to foreign companies or ending the Trans-Texas Corridor."

I couldn't agree more.

Trans Texas Corridor #2 still alive & well

To demonstrate the point that Texas isn't safe from Perry's policies until he's kicked out of office, the Trans Texas Corridor plan #2, known as TTC-69/I-69 in the hands of Spanish company ACS, is still on the table.

"Officials said that project (69), which unlike the I-35 plan would mainly involve expanding existing highways, remains alive," according to the Austin American Statesman on October 6, 2009.

When over 28,000 Texans went on the record AGAINST TTC-69, it goes to show Perry's same ol' stubborn indifference to the people of Texas in regards to the Trans Texas Corridor.

He throws the public a bone over here (saying the "TTC-35 is dead") in order to distract from an equally controversial debacle over there (TTC-69) that threatens to damage the environment, private property rights, and the economic prosperity of thousands of Texans.

Bottom line: Texans can't trust Rick Perry to keep his word or to truly KILL his destructive, detested toll road agenda. The only sure way to keep Texas safe is to give Perry the boot!

© 2009 San Antonio Express-News: mysanantonio.com