(SAN ANTONIO, TX – September 20, 2010) Terri Hall, of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), released the following statement in response to Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples’ September 16 press conference on eminent domain reform. Staples is seeking re-election amidst Texans’ outrage over the Trans Texas Corridor and the eminent domain abuses it created.
BEGIN STATEMENT: “I find it offensive when politicians use the sacred right of Texans to protect their property from unjust government takings through eminent domain for their own personal and political gain. Enough with election year platitudes, actions speak louder than words. Let’s look at Todd Staples’ actions. He has FAILED to prevent gas tax theft and properly inspect gas pumps across the state (go here to see recent revelations about rampant gas tax theft due to stations falling through the cracks), and he’s only encouraged eminent domain abuse by voting to create the Trans Texas Corridor when he was a legislator.
“So Staples’ new-found zeal for protecting property rights is not exactly sincere. During his entire tenure in the legislature, he did not author or pass one single piece of legislation to protect property or landowners from eminent domain abuses. He voted for the legislation authorizing the Trans Texas Corridor and sponsored legislation preventing landowners from negotiating directly with the toll operators along the path of the Trans Texas Corridor to develop businesses along the corridor. However, he allowed the state to lease a private citizens’ condemned land to private companies. This same bill, HB 2702, also severely limited the rights of property owners whose land was to be bisected by the corridor.
“In addition to all of this, Staples essentially served as the official spokesperson for a major effort by the political action committee of an insurance company to encourage Texans to pass a fundamentally flawed constitutional amendment, Prop 11, that did little to really protect Texans from eminent domain takings, but instead gave voters a false sense of security.
“For Todd Staples to stand up this week and say Texas needs stronger laws to protect citizens from eminent domain takings is comical. It is an admission to the voters of this state that he sold them a flawed constitutional amendment to further his own political career.
“His record on transportation isn’t any better. Staples authored legislation to make EVERY Texas taxpayer subsidize loser toll projects that can’t pay for themselves. ‘Staples’ bill removes an $800 million-a-year lid on tax subsidies of toll roads…’ [SOURCE: Austin American Statesman, May 12, 2005].
“Todd Staples has also taken thousands of dollars from Zachry Construction, its executives, and its PAC. Zachry is the San Antonio-based company that along with two Spanish-based companies, CINTRA and ACS, won the development rights to two TTC corridors, TTC-35 and TTC-69.”