Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fred Barnes cites Trans-Texas Corridor as Perry defeat, cronyism

In the Feb. 22 Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes has an article on the Texas gubernatorial race--"Texas Deathmatch."

Barnes notes about Perry, "But he has suffered two significant defeats as governor, and accusations of cronyism and slipshod ethics have grown in recent months.
He proposed building the Trans-Texas Corridor. . . . The plan, which would have included seizing large amounts of private land, was killed [although we know it's not totally killed] by the Republican-led legislature. So was his proposed mandate to vaccinate every sixth-grade girl against a virus that causes cervical cancer. On both issues, former Perry aides were lobbyists for the private companies poised to benefit the most."

In a televised debate sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, [Hutchison] said: “You might ask why did we have a plan for the Trans-Texas Corridor? Why did the governor mandate vaccines for our young daughters? It was because there were lobbyists that were first, not the people of Texas.” Perry, who has defended both proposals, didn’t respond.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coupland Civic Organization hosts candidates on Feb. 22

The Coupland Civic Organization will hear from several candidates on Monday, February 22, in the Fellowship Hall of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland. Attendees will hear statements from the candidates, followed by a question and answer session. Speaking will be all three candidates for Judge for County Court-at-Law #3—Republicans Doug Arnold and Judge Randall Pick and Democrat Allyson Rowe. Also speaking will be Jeff Maurice, Democratic candidate for Precinct 4 Williamson County Commissioner.
The audience also will hear from Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Judy Schier Hobbs. Even though Judge Hobbs, who is a Republican, does not have an opponent, either in the primary or the general election, the CCO appreciates her giving us information about the Justice of the Peace office.
A light meal will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Texas traffic counts are flat--we need maintenance more than we need new roads

Interesting analysis from Roger Baker, with backup data, that Texas traffic counts are flat--NOT increasing, even though this may conflict with perceptions. The below is verbatim from Roger:

Everyone knows that TxDOT loves to build roads. And so do the contractors that TxDOT hires. And not only do these contractors love to build the roads, but they are generously willing to help elect the politicians who decide to build these roads.But at some point, somebody really needs to ask if we need more roads in Texas than we already have. The answer is that we probably don't.

How do we know that? The most recent Federal Highway Administration data shows that from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2009, the actual use of roads in Texas only increased by .1%, as we see here:>

In other words, taking the best data for travel on all the roads in Texas combined over the last year, we see that it would take about 100 years for the level of traffic to go up by even 10%. Consider the implications. The legislature is not willing to raise the gas tax, so this necessarily causes the gas tax revenue, both the state and federal portions, to be about flat. Which situation then makes it really really hard for TxDOT to borrow against this revenue stream, which is falling short of even keeping up with inflation.

Even though the travel demand on their current roads is flat, they they still want to build more roads, which would obviously cause TxDOT's maintenance funding shortfall to get even bigger. If TxDOT is as broke as they claim, and demand is flat, then why would they worry so much about anything beyond maintaining the Texas roads we already have?

At least not until someday when the economy recovers and/or we discover a new supply of cheap oil, causing people to start driving more and needing lots of new road capacity, right? TxDOT likes to complain that they can barely afford to maintain their current Texas roads. But the way they chose to deal with the problem is in a way that may be nice for their contractors, but is practically guaranteed to make TxDOT's maintenance problem worse.

Like they say, when things can't go on any longer, they won't. - Roger

Saturday, February 6, 2010

USDA scraps National Animal Identification

Great news from Judith McGeary of Texas Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance! The U.S. Department of Agriculture is dropping its plans for national animal identification. This plan would have forced owners of even one horse, chicken, or other farm animal to have chips implanted in every animal and to notify an authority every time the animal was moved off their property—for instance, for a trail ride, or if an animal temporarily got loose. By way of the computer chip, the authorities would know if the animal had left its property, and legal action could have been taken against the owner. Thankfully for small ranchers and rural animal owners, this plan has been scrapped.

Judith says, “Thank you to the thousands of people who called, wrote, organized meetings, and more. We succeeded in making our voices heard.” USDA will now work on requirements that apply only to animals moved in interstate commerce. For more details, see:

As for the future, Judith notes, “We must be involved and vocal, so that agribusiness does not develop yet another high-tech, big-industry boondoggle. We must be active at the state level to ensure that the state agencies do not implement unnecessary and burdensome rules.”

Thanks to Judith and her organization and to everyone who worked against this plan that would have been so intrusive and legally harsh for rural animal owners.