Archive for TxDOT

Brief history of TxDOT’s website keeptexasmoving, or How TxDOT funnels money to the toll road construction lobbyists.

As early as October 26,2001 and as late as August 3, 2003, the phrase “Keep Texas Moving” and the web site keeptexasmoving.com were used and copyrighted by Safe Roads Coalition, 1122 Colorado Street, Suite 305 – Austin, Texas 78701 — Lawrence Olsen, Treasure and used for “Political Advertising” to promote propositions 2 and 15. (Remember that address)

keeptexasmoving.com screenshot 2002

At that time, the domain name redirected to Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. (ISI) who served as the webmaster. ISI’s address is/was:

Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. – Austin, Texas
1122 Colorado Street, Suite 300
Austin, Texas 78701
512/478-4584

ISI’s president, Karen Johnson was/is business partners with Katherine Armstrong. (Armstrong owns the Texas ranch were VP Cheney shot Harry Whittington in the face.) Johnson was on Bush’s transition team.

On ISI’s web page, Johnson’s bio stated:

From 1987 to 1999, Johnson served as director of public affairs for the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association and served as that statewide group’s primary lobbyist.

Also, during 2001-2003, ISI reported their clients as:
Aetna
American Society of Anestesiologists (ISI’s spelling)
Associated General Contractors of Texas
Associated General Contractors of America
City of Laredo, Texas
Keep Texas Moving (Safe Roads Coalition)
Lockheed Martin IMS
Lower Valley Water Authority
Northrop Grumman
S&B Infrastructure, Ltd

How TxDOT got the money to the lobbyist via TxDOT’s construction contractors:

TxDOT has something called a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program and the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program.
Ostensibly, it’s affirmative action for minority and female owned businesses that want to do business with TxDOT. TxDOT Roadlines1-3

Here is a example of a DBE from TxDOT Roadlines 2-1 June 1999, “DBE Graduate — J.L. Steel, Inc.” :

In mid-1989, J.L. Steel, Inc. started as a firm that subcontracted the placement of reinforcing steel in the heavy-highway industry, quickly making an impact in this market. The owners of J.L. Steel are Oscar Trevino and Mike LaPointe.

J.L. Steel actively participated in the DBE program. After its graduation from the program in 1997, J.L. Steel has continued to be active as a prime contractor.

Oscar received his Civil Engineering degree from Texas A&M University in 1978. He is a registered Professional Engineer and, upon graduation from college, worked for H.B. Zachry Company until the time J.L. Steel, Inc. was started…

Through the Associated General Contractors and similar industry-based organizations, J.L. Steel, Inc. has worked with other general contractors toward advancing the construction industry by concentrating on similar problems and common roadblocks encountered…

J.L. Steel, Inc. continues the placement of reinforcing steel and also performs concrete paving and other work as both a subcontractor and prime contractor in the heavy-highway industry. J.L. Steel, Inc. has 170 employees and performs in excess of $25 million worth of work annually

Those fellows really sound disadvantaged, but don’t worry. If you look at the newsletters, you’ll see that all you have to do is own a truck and then you can become a DBE “Hauler” and for some reason there are dozens and dozens from Uvalde.

Now, TxDOT also has a program called ” Technical Assistance Program (TAP).” Wherein “DBEs receive technical assistance and training in the critical areas of managing a business, but they also receive this assistance and training FREE of charge.”

FREE for the DBEs and HUBs that is, TxDOT and the Feds foot the bill. Basically, TxDOT gives each DBE, HUB, or “Hauler” $2500 (now it’s $5000) a year to give to any TAP provider for “assisstance.” In TxDOT’s 2002 newsleter TxDOT Roadlines4-10 , one TAP provider listed is (pictured right):Norma Garza in TxDOT’s Roadlines July 2002

Norma Garza, Garza Communications 1122 Colorado Street, Suite 305, Austin, Texas 78701. Our telephone number is (512) 477-1668, (512) 478-0811 fax, E-mail: ng@airmail.net

That’s the same address the Safe Roads Coalition lobby was using while they were still using it.

Safe Roads Coalition is just another name for the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association.  Their current address and phone are:
1122 Colorado, Suite 305 Austin, TX 78701
Office: 512/478-9351 Fax: 512/478-0811

That’s the same fax number that Garza used.

In the newsletter, Garza’s business profile says:

… Additionally, we consult with the DBE/HUB to provide a marketing strategy for increasing their visibility to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other markets. This training has made it capable for DBE’s and HUB’s to better promote their products and/or services to TxDOT and other companies for contracting opportunities.

So, here’s how it worked:

TxDOT gave each DBE, HUB, and Hauler $2500-$5000 and they in turn gave it to a TAP for “assistance.”

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more later

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