What’s Rep. Krusee Up To? SB 1267 Clears House Transportation Committee - UPDATED

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 1:44 pm by wcnews

QR is reporting, that Rep. Mike Krusee kicked SB 1267 - the original toll road moratorium bill - out of the Transportation Committee.

Krusee convenes lunch hour committee hearing to move SB 1267; House members will now have two moratorium bills to consider.

Of course this bill has been stalled there for quite some time. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this happened now. With Rep. Krusee and Gov. Perry staring a moratorium to their pet projects in the face, while other’s projects are exempt, this seems to be an attempt now to say: OK, you want an moratorium, then let’s have a moratorium, but on ALL corporate toll roads, no exceptions. With the hope that it will cause chaos. Gov. Perry’s on the record as having issues with the exceptions:

“The Legislature claims Texas needs a moratorium on private financing of toll roads, yet seeks to exempt every privately planned toll road on the drawing board from their moratorium,” Perry said. “The Legislature states that we need to pause and reconsider public-private partnerships to build roads, yet expands this concept by granting this exact same authority to local toll road authorities all over the state.”

If you’ll remember during the debate in the House on HB 1892 Rep. Krusee was pretty upset that HCTRA was going to be able to do whatever they pleased and then other projects were added to the exemption list.

The moratorium in HB 1892 was nowhere near perfect, allowing exemptions. But, at that time, it was all we had and was better than nothing. This debate, by now, should have made clear that these deals are bad for Texas and Texans in the long-term, whether in Houston, Dallas, El Paso or the TTC. But for Rep. Krusee to kick this bill out now shows that we’re still a long way from over on this issue. I see something coming where members will be threatened with an all or nothing moratorium and that could cause the process to slow or the veto-proof coalition to fall apart.

I hope I’m wrong, of course, but this is Krusee and Perry’s bread-and-butter, and they’re not going to go down without a fight. They’ve already pulled the Feds in to threaten Texas so we shouldn’t put anything past them. Stay tuned.

[UPDATE]: Ben Wear is reporting it this way:

The bill, like the other legislation carrying the moratorium now, carries a lengthy list of exceptions. Most of them are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Spanish toll road builder Cintra and some partners have dangled a $2.1 billion upfront payment in front of local leaders. That money, which Cintra would pay for the right to build and operate the Texas 121 toll road in Collin County for 50 years, would help pay for several other highway projects in the area.

Senators last week had talked about Krusee’s committee as the place where toll road restrictions go to die, and had characterized HB 1892, a much larger and diverse bill that includes the two-year respite, as the last great hope for the moratorium. That bill is eligible to come up for House concurrence starting late this evening.

By throwing SB 1267 in the mix as a viable possibility for passage, opponents of HB 1892 (and Krusee was certainly one of them when it first passed the House in early April) could argue that House members who simply want the moratorium don’t have to approve all the other stuff in HB 1892. That includes limits on non-compete provisions in private toll road contracts and expanded powers for local toll road authorities that supporters of Gov. Rick Perry’s toll road policy don’t like.

Of course. It’s not the exemptions Krusee and Perry care about but the CDA’s/PPP’s. Should have known, it’s the corporate give-aways they want to keep.

Deconstructing Conservatives & Conservatism

Posted in Commentary at 10:52 am by wcnews

No one does it better than Rick Perlstein. His book on the beginnings of modern conservatism through the Goldwater campaign, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, is must reading for anyone wishing to understand them. But his recently started blog is too. Especially this post from today, Economic royalists - and the rest of us.

Many of the people running the Republican Party and conservative movement are like Buckley and Bush. They’re aristocrats - “economic royalists,” as FDR called them long ago. They’ve just learned to hide it.

He’s done several series of posts including:

E. coli Conservatives

Conservatives treat their constituents like suckers

That sinking feeling

How to read a newspaper

Check it out.

The Citizenship Test & Voter IDiocy - UPDATED

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State at 10:18 am by wcnews

It appears that Rep. Phil King’s citizenship test bill (HB 626) is headed to the trash heap this session, despite the talk of compromise yesterday. Here’s what Vince at Capitol Annex has to say about it.

Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) was all set this morning with a floor substitute which was essentially no better than the original bill. It would have shifted the burden of verifying citizenship to the Secretary of State’s Office (because used car dealers and political hacks are, you know, really good at that sort of thing). Instead of requiring the actual documents be presented when registering, it would have required that registrants note their city and county of birth or place and date of naturalization on their voter registration card.

While that sounds better, it’s not, because the verification process would take forever and be subject to many flaws and human error (plus, you still have many older people and older minorities whose births couldn’t be verified).

Ultimately, the bill was postponed again.

The rumor I’m hearing now is that the bill may be dead because of, irony of ironies, the floor substitute would cost several million dollars or more to implement in terms of new staff for the SOS, and possibly some sort of new computer system or database that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that aren’t anywhere in the budget because Republicans gave it all away in tax cuts.

Is HB 626 dead? Who knows.

Nothing like a small government conservative growing the government.

Now back to Voter IDiocy. Yesterday we found out that the Royal Massett’s mother amendment from the House debate was stripped out of the bill by Sen. Troy Fraser in the Senate Committee.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, tweaked the House-approved proposal by not exempting any voters from the identification requirement. His version also stipulates that the ID mandate not affect voters until January, four months later than the House-adopted take.

It took a week but the AAS was finally able to dig up some body(s) to tout the virtues of the Voter IDiocy bill, that passed the Texas House last week, along with the even less virtuous citizenship test. Well the body(s) they found are Tom Aldred and Brent Connett of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI). Who are they you ask? Well who cares knows. But the TCCRI’s President of the Board of Directors is none other than, House Appropriations Chair Warren Chisum. Board members include Rep. Betty Brown, author of the voter IDiocy bill, Rep. Phil King, author of the citizenship test bill, and Williamson County’s own Rep. Dan Gattis, as well as former Rep., turned lobbyist, Arlene Wohlgemuth. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that the Executive Director is John Colyandro, yes that John Colyandro. It’s quite a lineup.

[UPDATE]: This from Kuff, great minds think alike? I wish.

The editorial in today’s AAS and my comments are below:

Read the rest of this entry »


Burka Talks Compromise On HB 626

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet?, Around The State at 2:33 pm by wcnews

He’s got a post up on the nuts-and-bolts of a supposed compromise on HB 626.

Phil King has been talking to Democrats about a possible solution to the voter registration bill, which, in its original form, required voters to prove their citizenship in order to register to vote. This onerous requirement would have made it impossible in practice to conduct a voter registration drive, since most folks don’t have certified copies of birth certificates or a passport lying around their houses. King’s floor substitute shifts the burden of verifying citizenship to the Secretary of State’s office. Under a recent federal law that took effect on January 1 of this year, states must cross-check voter registration applications with social security and drivers license records. King’s proposal would add birth certificates and naturalization papers. If the voter’s citizenship still cannot be verified, the secretary of state would contact the appropriate local officials who would get in touch with the prospective voter to see if additional information is available.

There should be not compromise on this issue. This is an issue to draw that nice clear line between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are for inclusion, Republicans are for exclusion. That aside, I don’t understand what this “compromise” changes from the way things currently are. As previously posted here, the first question asked on a voter registration application is, Are you a US citizen? Doesn’t that mean, or shouldn’t that mean, that someone, somewhere, should already be making sure that the applicant is a US citizen?

It’s like the Voter IDiocy bill. The vast majority of people think it’s a bill mandating “everyone” show a photo ID in order to vote. That’s not the case. If you dont’ have an ID you can show a myriad of items with the correct name and address on them. The point in all of this is that the Republicans are trying to pass these bills, to show their ignorant base - (Again from Burka, “The ease of explaining why these bills are good bills, and the difficulty of explaining why they might not be, is why Republicans think they have some ammo they can use against Democrats at last.”) - that they’re doing something to keep “those” people form voting illegally. When in fact that’s not happening. Even if it was happening these proposed laws they’re attempting to pass wouldn’t stop it. That’s why there should be no compromise on this bill or HB 218.

State Auditor Questions Accuracy Of TxDOT’s Funding & Tax Gap

Posted in Corruption, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:21 am by wcnews

Here’s the link to the report, An Audit Report on the Department of Transportation’s Reported Funding Gap and Tax Gap Information.

The accuracy of the estimated costs for metropolitan and urban regions cannot be determined because of the lack of supporting documentation.

The methodology the Department used to calculate the amount of the funding gap provides a general assessment of the statewide need for additional mobility funding; however, it may not be reliable for making policy or funding decisions. To calculate the funding gap, the Department collaborated with the eight largest metropolitan planning organizations to obtain cost estimates, and it used those estimates to determine the funding gap for metropolitan regions. The Department provided some guidance to the metropolitan planning organizations. The data the Department used were cost estimates that were self-reported by the metropolitan planning organizations. The cost for urban regions was estimated by the Department based on broad and generalized assumptions. For the estimated costs in rural regions, the Department relied on cost estimates for the Texas Trunk System (a project developed in 1990 to connect the rural regions of the state with a statewide system).

The Department and metropolitan planning organizations also asserted that the main benefit from funding gap estimates was the increased communication and shared responsibility between the entities to address mobility and funding challenges. The Department stated that it plans to update the funding gap estimate every two years and make improvements to the reporting methodology.

Is there a reason TxDOT and MPO’s would want this number to be inflated? That’s a rhetorical question, of course.

Ben Wear has more, Report says that more than $45 billion of the estimate is either in error or undocumented. That’s $45 billioin of an estimated $86, that more than half, for those scoring at home. He’s has this quote from Michael Behrens of TxDOT.

Mike Behrens, the Transportation Department’s executive director, released a statement this morning saying that even if the shortfall is smaller, the state still has a substantial and growing problem in paying for new roads.

Behrens called the audit report “further documentation of a multi-billion dollar funding gap between the transportation system our state deserves and the one we can afford with current resources. No matter what number you choose, Texas has a big problem: more people, in more cars, driving more miles on an already congested highway system.

“The State Auditor’s Office has provided some good suggestions for refining the methodology to draw a clearer picture of the state’s mobility needs and we are incorporating their recommendations into our future assessments.”

Wow, caught inflating numbers and he calls it good news. No, what this means Mr. Behrens is that the “sky is falling we have accept corporate tolls on every road in Texas” policy was sham, that’s what this report means.

Text Book Case, Why The Revolving Door Must Close

Posted in Privatization, Health Care, The Budget, Corruption, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet? at 10:58 am by wcnews

DMN has this story, Lobby’s revision would aid client. It’s about former Republican representative, turned lobbyist, Arlene Wohlgemuth and current Republican representative and Appropriations chair Warren Chisum (R - Pampa), slipping “..a provision in the budget last month that would all but guarantee a state contract for a company run by a former state official.”

The lawmaker, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, acted at the request of a former House colleague who is now a lobbyist for the company.

Former Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth brought him the proposal, and she acknowledged that it would probably steer a technology contract to GHT Development, owned by former Deputy Health and Human Services Commissioner Gregg Phillips.

“I was trying to advantage my client,” said Ms. Wohlgemuth, a Burleson Republican who wielded vast influence on social services policy in the 2003 Legislature and is now a health-care lobbyist.

According to a recent lobbyist-disclosure filing at the Texas Ethics Commission, GHT Development is paying Ms. Wohlgemuth between $10,000 and $25,000 this session. That’s a relatively small fee for a GOP insider such as Ms. Wohlgemuth, who gave up her seat to make an unsuccessful run for Congress three years ago.

The contact between Mr. Chisum, R-Pampa, and Ms. Wohlgemuth broke no lobbying rules or state laws. But it shows the tremendous influence lobbyists can wield, particularly those who are former lawmakers. And it illustrates the extent to which policymakers rely on the lobby for ideas.

That’s not illegal? It should be. This is a text book case, highlighting one of the major problems with our political system, former elected officials lobbying their buddies after leaving elected office. Rep. Chisum says it was just a mix-up.

The mix-up on deleting vendor preferences from Mr. Chisum’s amendment occurred late at night as dozens of seemingly innocuous amendments were approved hastily by voice votes, he and Mr. Gattis said. They had agreed on a revised version, but the original amendment was inadvertently adopted.

“A lot of paper was flying out there,” said Mr. Chisum, who vowed a fix during budget talks with the Senate.

Needless to say if the Appropriations chair can’t keep track of a bunch of paper “flying out there” late at night, maybe he needs to postpone business until the next day of leave it to someone who can.

T. Don Hutto, FPS Exemption and A UN Inspector Is Coming

Posted in T. Don Hutto, Criminal Justice, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Williamson County at 10:12 am by wcnews

Last week, from documents (Linked here - part 1 and part 2 [.PDF]) sent to us from Dave Maass of the San Antonio Current, EOW has learned that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) applied for and was granted an exemption from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). It’s interesting that CCA would want to keep DFPS out of its facility. It would seem they’d invite this kind of scrutiny to show that they are running a facility that is above reproach. Also if DFPS had been allowed in, from the start, all the issues with food, hours of education, and threatening children with separation from their parents, may have been found out and corrected, much sooner. Included in the documents linked above is the “Resident Orientation Handbook” for the facility. It’s a tiny window into a depressing life, where these asylum-seekers who’ve done nothing wrong, must live once they get to the “land of the free”.

Last week we also found out that a UN Inspector will be coming to T. Don Hutto in the near future. He wants to see, first hand, the conditions at the family lock-up.

Finally, on Saturday civil rights groups held a hearing in the Capitol Extension on HCR 64, authored by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. It’s the resolution asking Homeland Security to consider options other than putting children in this lock-up. The bill is stuck in the House State Affairs Committee, and chair Rep. David Swinford won’t allow a hearing on the resolution. Therefore these citizens took matters into their own hands and held a hearing anyway, Civil-rights groups blast Hutto facility.

On Saturday representatives from civil-rights groups, such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and Society and the League of United Latin American Citizens, gathered at the Capitol for a hearing concerning House Concurrent Resolution 64, which officially condemns Hutto on behalf of Texas lawmakers. The resolution will also offer alternatives for detaining immigrants.

“Putting children in jail is a disproportionate response to the issue of immigration,” said Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, who put forward the resolution, in a written statement. “As a society we should uphold core values which reject policies that punish children for the acts of their parents.”

Here’s an article from Counterpunch on T. Don Hutto, The Horrors of Hutto. In the coming elections we need to holdthe Williamson County elected officials that are responsible for continuing the in our county accountable for imprisoning children and families for profit.


May Starts Tuesday

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State at 11:00 pm by wcnews

Here’s a few stories on what’s issues to watch for the rest of the legislative session.

AAS, MAY DAYS: Raising alerts to matters of important business still before the Texas Legislature:

With a month left in the 80th legislative session, most of the important work to this point is still in various stages of the process.

The main piece of business, the state budget, is in a conference committee and members are hammering out the details of how billions of dollars will be spent over the next two years. Several of Gov. Rick Perry’s high-profile items — privatizing the state lottery and requiring that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus — are in tatters.

Most other important legislative items are in the Capitol pipeline, either stalled, working through amendments or moving toward resolution. Among them are items this page has commented on in previous weeks, sometimes in support, other times in opposition.

Two from the Startlegram, On the watch list.

The all-important final month of the legislative session has begun. The lawmaking is limited to 140 days, and the last day for this year’s get-together in Austin will be May 28. As usual, much of the action is still to come.

And, Lawmakers have a busy month ahead.

As the 2007 legislative session heads into its final four weeks, lawmakers have yet to adopt a budget for the upcoming two-year spending cycle, and they’re still hammering out the details on how to fix the scandal-plagued Texas Youth Commission.

Does that mean that lawmakers have been dithering away their time for the past 130 days or so, and that the state’s crucial needs will go unaddressed?

Not really.

A lot of legislation is queued up in the Capitol’s pipeline, and lawmakers and their staffs are gearing up for the monthlong stretch when the majority of the most pressing initiatives will emerge from committee and go to the floors of both chambers for a vote.

Here are some key questions about what lawmakers have done, and which measures are likely to advance and which ones might die before the session ends May 28:

Has Governor Perry Become Irrelevant?

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State at 10:39 pm by wcnews

That’s what we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks. He’s a governor who was reelected with 39% of the vote, with very little, if any, Independent or Democratic support. With most of his support caming from the religious right and the far-right, wing-nuts of the Republican party. Apparently they saw no better alternative in the other 4 choices for governor and are now having to live with an ineffective Perry. Should be an interesting primary next in 2010 on the GOP side for governor, Dewhurst v. Texas Rush.

After reelection, Mr. Perry then, as his first order of business, tried to play to the middle of the political spectrum, that not only doesn’t like him, but doesn’t trust him, by putting for the HPV vaccination order and the scheme to sell the lottery. In the process he ignored those that elected him, the religious and right-wing of his party, virtually nullifying any support he had left, in an attempt to regain any shred of credibility as a governing force.

Soon we will find out if the governor has become irrelevant. It would be surprising if he doesn’t veto one of the two bills that he’s said he’s against that are headed to his desk. These two bills, that are, heading his way, we’re passed with enough votes to override vetoes, HPV and the toll road moratorium. On toll roads the Feds have gotten involved to help pressure legislators on that. He can either choose between caving in on these two issues, and allow them to become law, or veto them and see if the Lege will follow through on these two issues and actually override the veto of them. If a veto was overridden, not once, but twice - it would be the first time since 1979 a veto was overridden, by the way - Perry would become irrelevant at this point.

His major scheme, laid out in his State of the State speech, the privatization of the state lottery is in the trash, Lottery sale looks to be a scratch.

Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said Perry faltered on the lottery idea because he surprised lawmakers who were already primed to reconsider his vision of privately financed toll roads.

Perry also sacrificed momentum by presenting it “like it was a done deal,” Chisum said. “He did it like, ‘I found a buyer for this big state agency.’

“Never been done before, the executive branch of government selling off government assets. It doesn’t look good.”

And Perry’s has very little public support right now, therefore the Lege does not fear openly opposing his policy initiatives. And in Texas, as far getting things done as governor, if the Lege doesn’t take a veto seriously than the governor’s well on his way to becoming irrelevant.


Toll Moratorium a Threat to Bush’s Legacy

Posted in 80th Legislature, Privatization, Road Issues, Commentary, Williamson County, The Lege at 11:34 pm by dembones

The Bush Administration doesn’t like the toll moratorium legislation winding its way through our legislature.

Recently, reports surfaced about a warning Federal Highway Administration acting administrator James D. Ray gave to the Texas Department of Transportation about the possibility that the Department might lose federal funds if the proposed toll moratorium is enacted. “In at least some of the bills,” Ray said in the letter, “there are a number of provisions that concern us from both a legal and transportation policy perspective. If signed into law, some of these proposals could affect the State’s eligibility for receiving Federal-aid highway funds.”

The referenced legislation, HB 1892, HB 2772, SB 1267 and SB 1929, bear one common trait: a two-year moratorium on new public private partnerships (PPPs) to raise funds to build toll roads in most of the state. The highway system’s biggest users, truckers will tell you that the Bush Administration is counting on PPPs to make up for drastic reductions in federal highway spending.

The Bush Administration’s $67 billion funding request for transportation in the 2007-08 budget disappointed the trucking industry. Immediately after the President’s budget was released in February, trade magazine Land Lines saw the paltry $40.3 billon in highway funding and reported “Not everyone was surprised when the president’s announced transportation budget funding request fell short of funding needs.”

But, the shortfall didn’t catch OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) by surprise. Mike Joyce of the Association’s Washington, DC, office went on the record with “Land Line Now” on Friday, Feb. 2, saying that not only a budget shortfall was anticipated, but the now-public shortfall is more than likely kicking the door wide open for public-private partnerships.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has had public-private partnerships on its agenda for quite some time, even recently providing model legislation for states seeking to privatize their highways and toll roads.

The recent veto-proof toll moratoriums run in direct opposition to USDOT’s “model legislation.” No one should be surprised, then, that the Federal Highway Administration reacted sharply to this challenge:

Texas is considered the nation’s leader in developing new transportation facilities through public private partnerships (PPPs). These partnerships create opportunities for innovation not typically available for government only projects. The use of PPPs allows the State to leverage the limited state and Federal resources to better serve the people of Texas.”

Public sentiment has officially swung from curiosity to anxiety. Once hailed as free money by cash-starved governments, the Texas Legislature’s rebuke of PPPs is a sign that voters find these schemes too good to be true. BusinessWeek reporter Emily Thornton’s cover story, “Roads to Riches,” explores the booming PPP trend nationally:

With state and local leaders scrambling for cash to solve short-term fiscal problems, the conditions are ripe for an unprecedented burst of buying and selling. All told, some $100 billion worth of public property could change hands in the next two years, up from less than $7 billion over the past two years….

The governements’ poor financial condition is rooted in most politicians’ two-pronged reelection strategy: oppose raising revenues through taxation, and earn media attention cutting ribbons on new infrastructure projects. PPPs keep ineffectual leaders in office at a price that won’t be fully accounted in our lifetimes.

Corridors of the Future Program

CorridorWatch.org co-founder David Stall helped bring Ray’s letter to light and said that it came at State Rep. Mike Krusee’s request. A measure of how far Krusee’s stature has fallen in the Texas House of Representatives was the lopsided defeats with which members dispatched his numerous amendments to the House moratorium bills.

WorldNet Daily reporter Jerome R. Corsi said of Krusee “He was re-elected with barely 50 percent of the vote in a campaign in which his TTC support was contested.”

After Krusee’s narrow re-election and subsequent loss of clout in Austin, he has apparently been working his Washington DC contacts and burnishing his lobbyist resume. Last year, Krusee shepherded Wilbur Smith Associates’ application for a cross-country toll road along Interstate Highway 10’s right of way through the United States Department of Transportation’s “Corridors of the Future” Program (CFP).

The CFP is the corporate plum at the heart of Bush’s transportation policy. The official announcement of the program in the Federal Register spells out pretty clearly the PPP mandate (emphasis added):

The goal of the CFP is to accelerate the development of multi-State transportation Corridors of the Future for one or more transportation modes, by selecting up to 5 major transportation corridors in need of investment for the purpose of reducing congestion…. States are encouraged to work together and with private sector partners to develop multi-State corridor proposals to advance project development and seek alternative financial opportunities.

Krusee and Wilbur Smith and Associates heard the clarion call and submitted an application to line I-10 from Florida to California with toll booths. The relationship between Wilbur Smith and Krusee certainly extends back as far as CAMPO meetings in which the Florida engineering firm was awarded contracts for Central Texas Turnpike Authority projects TX-45 and TX-130. Should the I-10 proposal be enacted, Wilbur Smith would certainly be awarded sizeable contracts.

On February 1, Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters annnounced that the I-10 proposal was among the eight semi-finalists. This summer, the Administration will announce its five finalists, projects the federal government aims to drive to completion.

More evidence of Krusee’s matriculation into the DC movers and shakers set came on March 19, when Secretary Peters appointed him to the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, a “blue ribbon” committee that will write a report about how PPPs will bring a future filled with “free” infrastructure.

Still further evidence of Krusee’s ever-increasing favor with the Bush administration came two months ago when he was invited to speak at the White House:

The Administration continued its efforts to communicate its message at a high-level, invitation-only “White House Transportation Legislative Leadership Summit” on February 9. Held in the ornate Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Offices Building, the conference featured a group of distinguished speakers testifying about creative new approaches adopted in their jurisdictions to solve fiscal and congestion problems. Invited to the Summit were chairmen and ranking members of all state legislative transportation committees. A total of 52 state lawmakers attended the Summit, including chairmen and ranking members of house and senate committees from 28 states.

Conference speakers included … Mike Krusee, chairman of the House Transportation Committee in the Texas legislature and author of the landmark legislation that made toll revenues and public-private partnerships the foundation of the state’s transportation financing policy….

The Administration’s intent behind this initiative is clear. Facing the end of its term of office in less than two years, it wishes to leave behind a permanent legacy of the concepts, ideas and new strategies which it believes offer promising solutions to the transportation problems facing the nation.

The permanent legacy of the Bush Administration: a bankrupt treasury and taxes replaced by tolls, fines, fees and tuition payable to a private corporation completely unbeholden to the electorate.

CorridorWatch.org, of course, had the agenda:

From 11:50 a.m.-12:50 a.m. the topic of public-private partnerships will be discussed by Texas State Rep. Mike Krusee; James Smith, managing director at Merrill Lynch; Murray Bleach, Macquarie Infrastructure Group; and HNTB Senior Vice President Jack Finn.

Krusee is determined to steamroll the Trans Texas Corridor forward, over the veto-proof majority of our electeds who are quite aware of its unpopularity with the voters. If the allegation that he has called in a favor in Washington, inviting federal interference into what is strictly a state matter, turns out to be true; there is no doubt he will lose in a landslide, assuming he will even attempt a re-election campaign or even obtain his own party’s nomination.

His movements and actions since November 2006 give the impression that he has his eyes set toward a different kind of public private partnership — that of a lobbyist.

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