Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Protesting Toll Road 121

See yesterday's protest in Coppell, Texas at Perry's Celebration of the Tolling of Hwy. 121 -- the first freeway toll conversion in the state under HB 3588, the same legislation that created the Trans-Texas Corridor:

COPPELL, Texas -- Gov. Rick Perry announced on Tuesday that a plan to begin collecting tolls on state Highway 121 on Sept. 1 is being put on hold.
Perry said tolls will not be collected on the busy highway until after this fall so that the high-tech equipment used to charge drivers can be further tested.

Perry spoke Tuesday morning at Coppell Middle School while taking part in a ceremony dedicating the new highway.
Demonstrators on hand during the ceremony said they were outraged that they were now being asked to pay to use the 6-mile stretch of road.
Click on quote for full article and the video on Dallas' NBC5

pardon me guys for not being here more often. My kids are in the process of a first week back at school, airconditioning upstairs was on the frits for a good 5 days so in a few days, I hope to be more often!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Strayhorn Outlines Transportation Plan To TxDOT On Last Day of Comments

This was yesterday's press release from the Strayhorn campaign;

Strayhorn Outlines Transportation Plan To TxDOT On Last Day of Comments
Expand Existing IH 35, Implement Ports to Plains, Telecommuting Expansion,
Appoint Inspector General over TxDOT

(Austin) – On the final day the Texas Department of Transportation accepted comment on the Trans Texas Corridor, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Independent Candidate for Governor, today told the agency her administration will expand IH-35 using existing rights of way, implement the ports to plains initiative, expand her successful use of telecommuting and appoint an inspector general to oversee the agency and a transportation ombudsman to talk to Texans.

“This agency is not listening to the people,” Strayhorn said. “At 56 hearings over 21 days, TxDOT ignored the overwhelming majority of people who testified against the Trans Texas Catastrophe. They even went so far as to tell Texans that they could not stop this boondoggle – even if they elected a new governor.

“Well, they are dead wrong. I will blast this corridor off the bureaucratic books and replace it with a common-sense plan to address our transportation needs.

“My plan is a better approach than the Governor’s secret agreement with a company based in Madrid, Spain, to seize more than half a million acres of private Texas property and build toll roads across the state,” she said. “The Governor said if someone has a better idea then lay out that plan. Today, I am outlining a better plan – one that puts Texans first, not special interests.”

Strayhorn’s plan includes protecting Texas farm and ranch land, improving coastal evacuations, increasing capacity of existing freeways and railways, encouraging family-friendly telecommuting, and appointing an independent inspector general over TxDOT as well as an ombudsman to listen to the people.

“Texas property belongs to Texans, not foreign companies,” Strayhorn said. “To meet our transportation needs we need freeways not toll ways, and we must use existing rights of way and increase efficiency of existing roadways and ports. We must not destroy our precious farm and ranch land.”

Strayhorn testified against the Trans Texas Corridor at 14 public hearings held by the TxDOT, at which she detailed revenue sources available to the state instead of tolls. The Governor refuses to back off his Trans Texas Corridor plan, despite widespread opposition from Texans at the hearings.

“I stood with Texans from the Rio Grande Valley to the Red River who oppose the Governor’s attempt to seize land and build toll roads across Texas,” Strayhorn said. “I listened to the people of Texas and the people of Texas are overwhelmingly opposed to this $184 billion boondoggle.

“Texans deserve to hear the truth,” she said. “And the truth is much of the work to help Texans get from here to there has already been done.”

Strayhorn submitted three reports to TxDOT – their own 1999 state analysis calling for the expansion of IH 35 using existing rights of way, the Ports to Plains study that will relieve existing congestion by improving transportation from South Texas through West Texas using existing roads, and her recommendation to expand telecommuting.

“Family friendly telecommuting is up to 15 percent in my agency,” Strayhorn said. “The employees love it, it keeps folks off the road, and it works,” she said.

Strayhorn will:

· Increase capacity on IH-35 using existing rights of way without tolls and prioritize the West Texas Ports-to-Plains highway system;
· Appoint an independent inspector general and an ombudsman at TxDOT;
· Increase the use of Texas ports from Orange to Brownsville and improve rail and road systems from the coast to the interior of Texas;
· Improve and increase efficiency of the state’s rail system along existing rights of way; and
· Use telecommuting and staggered work schedules to ease traffic congestion and decrease pollution.

“Texas once had and can again have a freeway system that is the envy of the nation,” Strayhorn said. “I am adamantly opposed to any toll roads in Texas.”

Strayhorn’s transportation plan is part of her Texas First Agenda, a series of initiatives and solutions that she will be releasing in the coming weeks.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lieberman Independent? We think not!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Endorsement and fusion

Many candidates, of various affiliations, are starting to contact
Independent Texans to ask for our endorsement. We are both flattered and excited that the idea of "fusion" might take hold this year in
Texas. What is fusion? It is the movement, outside the parties, to
bring together independents, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and
none-of-the-above voters to support candidates, of any persuasion,
who will support the independent's call for political reform.In this Texas election, many candidates are willing to, at least
state, their support for our political reform package we call, "Fair
Elections for Every Texan"
, leading with Texans' right to statewide
initiative and referendum. A non-partisan citizens redistricting
process and fair ballot access for independents is also part of the
FEET package. But no one, except Carole Keeton Strayhorn, has made
I&R, the citizen's most powerful political reform tool, a key part of
their campaign. Besides that, we believe that the Grandma is the
best (and only) positioned candidate to defeat Rick Perry. (Neither
Bell nor Kinky have the money for the huge media market in Texas.
And, we predict the Grandma will win the Oct. 6 debate.)

We take great delight in the fact that, Carole, a longtime major
party office holder (in both parties during her 30 year career), is
now taking on the two-party establishment as an independent who will,
as she says, "die an independent, but not anytime soon!".

This is why Independent Texans is focusing our limited resources this
year on the Strayhorn effort, with a few exceptions. Those few are
the people running for office -- on any party line -- who are
supporting Strayhorn at the top of the ticket. These brave
individuals (see our endorsement section for details), are telling
their party leaders that they're first priority is to help Carole
help us, the independent anti-corruption movement in Texas, take hold
-- finally! We hope to see many more candidates coming to this
conclusion. This will not simply help Carole win an election, it
will help create a totally new political environment in the 2007
legislative session. We -- office holders and voters of all
persuasions -- will have a shot at ending the caveman politics we've
seen in Texas since Perry took office. Will everything be hunky
dory? Likely not. But, we will have a new, more open environment to
get some things done and to build upon, to clean up and open up our
political process!

We at Independent Texans refuse to take the snake oil offered up by
Rick Perry -- and some on the Democratic side too -- who are saying,
"just elect me and everything will be better". Grandma's medicine to
cure our partisan ills, is our best and only real hope. We all need
to get behind her, beside her and in front of her to make this happen
-- she can't do it alone!

Wanna help -- contact me at Our traveling
side show may be already planning to come to your area, or you can
help us plan a trip. Hope to hear from ya and keep checking in on
our Events Calendar.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Follow Up Meetings

Independent Texans is part of the growing movement across the state
called "Triple R - Rout Rick's Route, aka the Trans-Texas Corridor".
We helped bring out thousands of people to the recent hearings on the
TTC-35 proposed Corridor. The papers, accurately, reported
"widespread opposition". Now, we're helping the movement organize
followup meetings in each area, to get the real answers to their
questions about the Corridor from founder, David
Stall. Our contribution to the meeting is to talk about why Carole
Keeton "Grandma" Strayhorn is the answer in November!

Today we received complaints from two active Democrats in Colin
County who were upset that we might be turning the Corridor fight in
to an "opportunity" for Carole, by holding follow up meetings in the
towns where the 54 hearings were held. Guess the Dems still don't
get that they're supposed to be wooing us indies! Instead, they
insult Carole for "changing parties as much as she changes her
name." Nasty! Here's our response to these partisan Democrats:

"Independent Texans, the San Antonio Toll Party, the Blackland
Coalition and Citizens for a Better Waller County -- some of the
leading anti-Corridor groups, have endorsed Mrs. Strayhorn. It
wasn't even a contest. This came on the heals of working with her
for over two years on these issues. We have tested her well and she
has gotten straight A's. She has stated quite publicly, her
commitment to opening up the secret contract with CINTRA signed by
Perry over 16 months ago. She has stated, also quite publicly, that
she will refuse to sign a full development agreement with CINTRA.
What's more, she, as Comptroller, did a review of the new layer of
government implemented by HB 3588 (the same legislation that
implemented the Corridor) -- the Regional Mobility Authority, or, in
plain language the Toll Authority. She helped expose their special
interest conflicts, lack of accountability (they are unelected),
their self-enrichment schemes and even demanded that several CTRMA
members step down.

We at Independent Texans think Carole's experience in both parties
well prepares her to work with legislators on both sides of the
aisle, and, even more important, to help cure the state's partisan
ills created by two entrenched political parties. This includes what
is most important to independent voters -- cleaning up and opening up
elections. If we had more competitive elections, it would be more
difficult to shove special interest boondoggles like the Corridor,
down everyone's (regardless of our party!) throats. That the
Corridor is, by far, the largest boondoggle in the state's history,
tells us how critical the call for political reform is. You can
learn more about our "Fair Elections For Every Texan" reform package
(I&R, a non-partisan redistricting commission, and fair ballot access
for independents) that Carole is supporting in our "Endorsement"
section of our web site listed below.

As for Kinky and Bell. They both spoke at the Blackland Coalition
meeting last April, as did Carole. Blackland is a vibrant
organization of blackland farmers who are fighting to hold on to
their land and to stop the Corridor. You can watch the video of all
their talks and decide for yourself (in the "Multi-Media" section of
our web site, on the bottom). But, it was clear to those in attendance that neither
Kinky nor Bell had a grasp of the issue, and now that it's become a
major issue in this campaign, they and others are rushing to declare
their opposition. That's great -- but you have do to more than state
your opposition. Bell's position is, for us, also very problematic.
He says he wants to "take it back to the legislature". Problem is,
that's where the problem started! How about taking it back to the
people? How about refusing to sign a full development agreement with
CINTRA? How about coming out against the RMA's, or at least telling
those who have conflicts of interests, to step down? How 'bout at
least showing up at one of the hearings? Kinky nor Bell have done
any of these things. Carole has done them all.

It's become apparent to many that, due to the fact that there is no
runoff in November, it would behoove the people of Texas to unite
behind one candidate to remove Rick Perry. Let's get real. Carole
is the only candidate who has a shot of defeating Perry. That is why
every Democrat I know is voting for her. If we do what you suggest,
we run the risk of a Perry reelection and no one -- not even your
party -- wins.

Independent Texans is made up of independents and split ticket voters
seeking recognition for the growing 35% plurality of people who do
not identify with a political party. We hope you will respect our
right to support whomever we so choose. If you want to join our
cause -- we welcome you with open arms. If not, we respect your
right to do the same -- at your own meeting.
Independently yours,
Linda Curtis, founder, Independent Texans

Agnes Voges of the Blackland Coalition just sent me a message to remind me that the Blackland Coalition is not made up of only blackland farmers, but other folks in suburban and urban settings.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Getting closer to November, Texas elections are getting nastier

As someone who was born and raised in the Netherlands, I never got 'American politics'. As in, the obvious and not so obvious attempts to make your opponent(s)look bad by resorting in all kinds of ways of means to discredit them. Where I grew up, the journalists were the ones to report on supposed or alleged (political) misbehaviour, fraud, discrepancies etc. . True gatekeepers they were. Attacking your political opponent was frowned upon as 'bad form' and seen as immature. After all, it is in your interest to undermine your opponent's credibility, so by attacking it claiming one thing and stating how you'd be different, would make your source of information pretty suspect. Political maneuvering of the American kind as I'd call it, is part of the 'end justifies the means' idea that lives in this country. No matter what, as long as you win, that justifies it.

In this race, plenty of accusations have gone the rounds. The latest one coming from the Friedman campaign, accusing Strayhorn of using her own personnel to do her bidding for her campaign:
A letter to Earle, written by Friedman campaign general counsel Blake Rocap, said that depending on the amount of state time used, "the comptroller could face first-degree felony charges carrying with them criminal punishment of a fine not exceeding $10,000 and life in prison."

"We urge you to investigate this matter and take proper steps to ensure that no candidate misuses a public office for their personal political benefit," Rocap told Earle
Pretty dramatic and seemingly part of the process of campaigning:
Earle's policy said such complaints can wait until after the election unless there is some compelling reason to believe time is of the essence.

"This policy is intended to avoid the appearance of the criminal justice system being used for political purposes," the policy said

No doubt the Strayhorn campaign would be prepared for allegations such as this, since it would make sense to be the first thing to be accused of is using one's office for their own political advantage. With the amount of money that Strayhorn has to campaign with, mathing that of Perry practically, Bell and especially Friedman will not be able to buy any air time, other than by making statements that would give them free publicity and notice. Such is American politics, gotta love it!
We'll be keeping an eye out for the investigation, and we'll see whether this was an honest attempt at keeping the elction honest, or a political maneuver (what? never watched the West Wing or any political drama for that matter?) of an opponent nearly out of money. I sincerely hope it's the first.

Speaking of the end justifies the means. What is the big idea of excluding Libertarian candidate James Werner from the debate? According to the Dallas Morning News;
Libertarian James Werner was not invited, debate organizers said, because he had not reached the required threshold in polls.

Pardon me but, as an Independent, I stand behind everyone's right to engage in politics, especially since James Werner is on the ballot, and ergo, has every right to be part of any debate. I don't agree with him on all points, I don't agree with all the Independent candidates on all their points (what's new, if I was American, I ought to run myself! never mind..)..the one thing independents and third/fourth, to kingdom come parties should support each other with is the right to be heard in equal measure.

Contact the Dallas Morning News and demand that they reconsider;
The Dallas Morning News is located in downtown Dallas near Reunion Arena, next door to WFAA-TV Ch. 8.
Street address: 508 Young St., Dallas, TX 75202
Main phone number: 214-977-8222


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Carole Strayhorn in the Austin American Statesman

photograph by Duane A. Laverty

Calling it the "proposed Oklahoma-to-Mexico thoroughfare", the Waco Tribune Herald noted that Carole has been busy on her own circuit of attending Texas Department of Transportation hearings speaking out against the Trans Texas Corridor:
At each meeting, she argues that an efficient highway system does not require funding from toll roads and criticizes Gov. Rick Perry for his “secret contract with a foreign company” — the U.S.-Spanish consortium that the state has approved to build and operate the $184 billion corridor, which would parallel Interstate 35. The Perry administration is now battling an attorney general’s ruling to fully disclose the contract.
For one thing, why would Perry want to prevent full disclosure if not for hiding its sell-out content? Let's keep an eye on that one.
The Austin-American Statesman noted;
Around those who hold sway at the Texas Capitol, independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn sometimes gets shrugged off as a fast-talking party turncoat with little chance of making a strong November showing versus GOP Gov. Rick Perry.
Yet the second-term state comptroller, who outpolled all state office-seekers by drawing 2.8 million votes in 2002, might retain substantial appeal among folks whose lives do not turn on the vinegary tit for tat that plays out near the pink dome.

Well, at least no one has criticized her clothes! Ah, politics, you gotta love it.