We drove down I-35 and got to the Frank Mayborn Convention Center at about 7-the parking lot was full and then some- and we could barely get in the door due to people crowded into the center. Blacklands Coalition and CKS people were there in force (Blackland Coalition has endorsed CKS), as was Hank Gilbert, Fred Head, and Mary Beth Harrell (District 31). Here's how the Temple Telegram put the reception for Judge Burrows
Bell County Judge Jon Burrows received a less welcome reception. Several in the audience booed when his name was announced. Burrows, after describing the congestion on Interstate 35 when he drove to Waco and back today, stressed the importance of following through on I-35 improvement projects
During the evening, a number of citizens referred back to Judge Burrows comments with a degree of scorn ... and facts.. such as that I-35 has a lot of road construction in that area right now, so maybe they need to finish FIXING I-35 first.
Temple Mayor Bill Jones III (He supports it, look at the faces of the people listening to him).
The comments went on past midnight. This makes the 7th meeting I"ve been to (and the last one, the next are too far south for me to travel to) but I can say I always hear something different in the comments. The people in Temple's comments were largely about rich farming land being displaced, personal viewpoints about how TTC is going to ruin both them, the heritage of Bell County, and the farming way of life. One man called it the "Great Wall of Texas". One woman said that when Poppy Bush was President, he had designated, I-35 as the NAFTA Superhighway; then, when GW was Governor, he commissioned a study on I-35, what improvements would need to be made and how many years out it would be good-it was YEARS, folks, and G W said I-35 could handle it. And she pointed out that, although the rationale for TTC is that the state going to Cintra is that Cintra has the money to pay for it.... but Cintra is right now going to the Federal Government with their hands out for .... a .... LOAN. A few other people pointed out that the Farm to Market roads will be CUT by TTC and dead-end at a wall-farmers will have to drive miles out of their way to get to the overpass to let them get to the other side of the county. One man contrasted the excellent way the PUBLIC interstate works, with exits, easy on easy off lanes, and the TOLL road which divides the state, will divide communities AND takes land for PRIVATE use. (Incidentally, side note, I also read yesterday that even though the Texas Lege passed legislation to strengthen eminent domain being used for private use, they explicitly exempted TTC and the Arlington stadium- I intend on an upcoming post to put in some vote counts and lobbyists monies about this).
Incidentally, although she is not my rep, I was told that Dianne Delisi voted FOR TTC. Suggest it would be a good thing to call, every week, and tell her you don't want it. She didn't sound like she was against it last night, but did some politician double-speak.
State Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, also stressed the need for improvements to I-35, calling it the “lifeblood and main artery” of the state’s transportation system. But she said I-35 suffers a “blood clot” in Bell County, where it has not yet been widened.
Best bit of the evening- Fred Head asking for a show of hands for who was for or against it. He hand counted 11 people against and told TxDot to be sure and put that on the record.
P.S. I also met McBlogger, who works for Hank Gilbert, and who is on my RSS list because he's so hilarious and witty.
I was exhilirated last night coming home on the 2 hour drive from Temple, but, uh, this morning, I feel like a Cintra/Zachry bulldozer has run me down. When I get some energy back, I intend to clip the best moments, and make an audio MP3 (actually it will probably be several, there were so many this time) of the comments. Including that good ole Boo for the Judge!