The Crooked Get Richer

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Central Texas, Corruption, Cronyism, Had Enough Yet?, Money In Politics, Road Issues, Williamson County at 12:05 pm by wcnews


The Williamson Central Appraisal District’s, Bill Carroll, says the land along or close to this corridor has tripled or quadrupled in value with the construction of this toll road. He says they won’t know until home appraisals are conducted after the first of the year, just how 183-A has affected the value of area houses.

Carroll says this rise in land value starts in Cedar Park and continues up into Seward Junction in western Williamson county, where the toll-road will extend.

Flashback to the March 2005 Comprotller’s Report, A Need For A Higher Standard:

One of the most intriguing aspects of CTRMA’s operations is the web of relationships among those responsible for its creation. To a surprising extent, this project—which will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds—is the product of close collaboration among a handful of individuals, chosen without competition, resulting in the appearance of favoritism and self-enrichment.

E-mails released by the authority use terms such as the “circle”—and “outside the circle”—in reference to this close-knit group, which includes developers with substantial financial interests not far from CTRMA’s US 183-A highway project.

Some of the relationships and potential conflicts of interest involved in this circle include the following:

* The chairman of the CTRMA board has a substantial interest in more than 254 acres of real estate within two miles of the proposed US 183-A right of way. He began making land acquisitions in the vicinity of US 183-A less than a month after the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) adopted plans for the road.
* One of the Williamson County commissioners who voted to create CTRMA—and to appoint four of its seven board members—now serves as its executive director.
* The executive director also serves as treasurer of Team Texas, a nonprofit forum for Texas toll authorities and contractors that appears to be a trade association, an apparent violation of state law.
* The executive director’s former campaign manager, active in Williamson County politics and a convicted felon, is now a GEC subcontractor. He has also billed the authority directly for thousands of dollars in various services.
* CTRMA’s general engineering consultant, which is responsible for much of the authority’s day-to-day operations, contracted with individuals and entities connected to CTRMA board members and staff, CAMPO members and elected officials in Williamson and Travis Counties.
* CTRMA’s GEC hosted an event for area public officials at the Four Seasons in Austin, at a cost of more than $7,000. CTRMA was listed as a co-host for this event; this appears to violate the “no gifts” provision of the Transportation Code.
* The “media relations” coordinator for Texans for Mobility, a private group formed to campaign for toll projects, is also a CTRMA subcontractor for public relations. A subsidiary of this subcontractor also answers queries from the public for CTRMA.
* Another private organization, the Capital Area Transportation Coalition, has been strongly supportive of CTRMA’s road plans. Among its members are several CTRMA contractors, including the consulting firm that served as the authority’s initial staff.

This web of relationships is troubling, given the major expenditures of taxpayer dollars that are involved.

These and other relationships are discussed in greater detail in this report.

Link to CTRMA board here.

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