ACRE Blog On TxDOT’s Sunset Hearing

Posted in Around The State, Election 2008, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 10:14 am by wcnews

ACRE (Anti-Corridor/Rail Expansion), the anti-TTC group out of the Coupland area, Southeast Williamson County, started a blog, acre. They started off with a bang. So far they’ve posted two, (of a three part series), on TxDOT’s day before the Sunset Commission. (Notice that soon-to-be-former Rep. Mike Krusee was there, for a little while).

The first part dealt with the Staff report on TxDOT to the Sunset Commission.

Jennifer Jones briefly set out the major issues covered in the written report:
1. Replace the Transportation Commission with a single commissioner.
2. Jones described TxDOT’s planning efforts as “disjointed,” and the staff recommended bringing “transparency and accountability” to TxDOT.
3. Jones recommended improving TxDOT information efforts.
4. She said that TxDOT is the largest user of contract services of all state agencies, and the staff recommends improving oversight of this.


Rep. Lois Kolkhorst said she “has distrust in TxDOT’s financing because of their one billion accounting error.” She asked if TxDOT was immune from the prohibition on lobbying. She said, “The Keep Texas Moving campaign seems like advocacy,” and asked, “Do other agencies have websites that advocate certain positions?” Jones answered no. Kolkhorst related discussions she has had with other legislators, who have told her that they would like to support her efforts to reform TxDOT, but who were threatened. “There were threats of not getting a road widened if they stood up against TxDOT.” She asked the staff to check the question related to lobbying of the legislature, and she recommended an “inspector general.”


New public member Charles McMahen said the transportation problems are mainly with urban areas. He questioned the competence of TxDOT’s financial staff. “You bring about discipline and competence by firing people who are not doing their jobs. The problems are so systemic, I question whether management can do the job. They are wasting taxpayer dollars when we need roads.”

Good stuff. Part two deals with when the
Sunset Commissioners question[ed] Delisi, Saenz.

Sunset Chairman Carl Isett said to Delisi that she needed to realize that legislators had gotten “skeptical of hearing ‘they’re working on it,’” when they asked questions about things they had asked TxDOT to do. Delisi responded, “We realize that changes need to be made, that there are expectations from the Commission that the agency will follow through.”

Isett discussed past TxDOT behavior of “retaliation and retribution. Now it’s a different game. We are interested in significant reform. We are thinking about significant changes in structure.” He said emphatically to Delisi, “You must show complete resolve.”


Rep. Lois Kolkhorst addressed Delisi: “With the previous Commissioner there seemed to be an agenda. Do you have an agenda toward private equity? Do we really start with a clean slate?” Delisi responded that her agenda was to deliver the best transportation system.

Kolkhorst told Delisi about relationships in the past: “It’s how we have been treated. I don’t want to be mad anymore.” Staring intently at Delisi, Kolkhorst said, “You must rebuild trust.”

Kolkhorst revisited the points about TTC-69 that Hegar had made. TxDOT pulled back, then announced the CDA. Kolkhorst said strongly, “It was not like the staff said, not a miscommunication. We said stop!” [meaning the legislature’s moratorium on CDA’s]

She then asked about TURF’s lawsuit against TxDOT. Delisi said only, “It has been dismissed by the court.” This was not a fully responsive answer, and it was brought up later in the public testimony by TURF’s Terri Hall.

Kolkhorst said that TxDOT had been manipulative with legislators. “Glenn [Hegar] and I, we could bring [former representative] Robby Cook in here, and you wouldn’t believe the stories we could tell you.”

Rep. Dan Flynn asked, “Why are no Transportation Commissioners here? This is a pretty important meeting.” Someone said that two couldn’t be here and that two were there for at least part of the time.

Part three will cover the public testimony, and I’ll link to it, can’t wait.

Obviously the legislators are feeling the freedom of being out from under the firm hand of the late Ric Williamson. Rep. Kolkhorst continues to impress on this issue. Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure if this is just pre-election bluster and jitters on the GOP legislators part. The best way to insure this stops this time is with more and better Democrats in the legislature and a Democratic Speaker of the House in 2009.


  1. FedUp said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Maybe I missed this, but what ever happened with Krusee’s DWI?

  2. wcnews said,

    July 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Not sure. I’ll look into it.

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