Austin News and Views #19 – 9/19/11

“Number 19, number 19, number 19 … 911″

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September 19, 2011

Hosted by Thom White & SMiles Lewis


Central Texas Wildfire News

Fearing fire, West Lake Hills residents work to ease tree, brush cutting rules
Texas Wildfires
With Bastrop fire 95 percent contained, recovery is new focus for fire crews

Rick Perry and the Race for Prez

Top cash contributors to rick perry’s campaigns

States struggle for financing to meet road needs – Forbes

In Texas, a committee recently declared the highway system inadequate and warned lawmakers that congestion would worsen without money for road improvements. Gov. Rick Perry’s plan for a toll road across the state was abandoned in the face of uproar from ranchers whose land would be seized to build it.

2012: The Long Hard Road Ahead – Huffington Post

Governor Perry repeatedly points out that Texas has added more jobs in the past two years than the rest of the country combined. While that may be true, it is also true that the unemployment rate in Texas just rose to 8.5 percent, the highest it has been in twenty-five years. When the governor first took office in December 2000, the state unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, the lowest rate since he began serving as governor. Moreover, Texas currently has a higher unemployment rate than any of its adjacent states.

Gov. Perry’s Proposed Road in Texas Had Few Friends and Could Still Take a … – New York Times

As originally proposed and backed by Perry, the state of Texas would have taken more than 500,000 acres of private land to build the 1,200-foot-wide toll road. The majority of those acres were agricultural lands and wildlife habitats, and many are part of the state’s Blackland Prairies, some of the richest farmland in the country.

To fund road projects, Texas has borrowed heavily, and its debt will be $17.3 billion by the end of 2012 for road repairs made since 2003 (Greenwire, Aug. 17).

And when Perry awarded the development rights to a Spanish company, Cintra, there were complaints that foreign interests were taking over American roads and that Perry was rewarding his cronies. A former legislative director of Perry’s, Dan Shelley, went to work for Cintra after leaving the governor’s office.

Rick Perry’s Former Staffers Made Millions As Lobbyists

During the same period, Sullivan worked as the chief lobbyist for UBS Securities, the Swiss financial services company that counts Perry’s political mentor, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, as a vice chairman. With Sullivan as its lobbyist, UBS made several plays at setting administration policy.
Beginning in 2003, the Perry administration pursued a policy presented by UBS to profit off life insurance polices for dead teachers. HuffPost previously reported on this scheme in August.
Beginning in 2003, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons sought to expand his fortune through the company Waste Control Specialists. Simmons’ plan was to obtain permits from the government to operate a nuclear waste disposal site. Simmons was aided by Perry insiders Bashur and Johnson, both hired to lobby for Waste Control Specialists, and massive campaign contributions. Simmons is one of Perry’s biggest financial backers, having donated $1.12 million to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns and another $700,000 to the Republican Governors Association during Perry’s two stints as chairman of the group.
After the legislature approved Simmons’ bill, the permits required approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a three-member board appointed by Perry. Despite a review by Texas Water Board geologists and engineers determining that the permit should not be approved, the commission voted 2-1 to support it.
Another permit sought by Simmons moved forward earlier this year. The Texas House approved a bill that would subsidize the importation of out-of-state nuclear waste to a new dump site by waiving regulatory fees for importation for Simmons’ company.
Simmons’ nuclear waste dump was the only successful mega-project pushed by Perry’s lobbyist pals. Yet no one has reaped more financial benefit from his Perry ties than Toomey — the lobbyist at the center of the HPV vaccine scandal.

Indra Implements Toll Management Systems on Three Highways … – (press release)

Indra, the premier IT company in Spain and a leading IT multinational in Europe, was awarded a contract with Tex Toll Services a subsidiary of Cintra in USA which is in turn a branch of Ferrovial. The contract includes the implementation of the electronic toll collection back office systems on the SH-130 (Austin) and on the LBJ Express and North Tarrant Express highways (Dallas) for Euros 10.6 M. It reinforces Indra’s position in the transport and traffic segment in USA where the company has already implemented its toll collection solutions as well as its ticketing technology for several projects.

Besides the development, implementation and maintenance of the electronic toll systems back office on three highways it also includes the setup of two high-availability data processing centers, one in Austin and the other in Dallas. This innovative solution possesses a multi concession feature specifically designed to meet Ferrovial’s needs in USA. The feature will help reduce a significant amount of expenses as it allows management and integrated operation of the toll collection of the three highways.

Texas Drone News


Austin, Texas – Saturday, September 24th, 7-9pm CST

ACSL – Austin Center for Spiritual Living at

5555 North Lamar, Suite D-117




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