It’s election time, again, and as voters consider who should fill the San Antonio City Council District 9 seat vacated by Elisa Chan, they need to know about some serious red flags with Joe Krier. Krier used to work for the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which happens to be Spanish toll road mega giant, Cintra’s, U.S. law firm. Krier also serves as Chairman of the Board for Cintra’s SH 130 tollway.
Both of these positions create major conflicts of interest for Krier as San Antonio faces imminent toll projects all over the north side on US 281, Loop 1604, I-10 and 1-35 (and eventually the entire city). If that’s not enough, Krier also served as Chair of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition (or SAMCo), the largest transportation lobby group in the Alamo city which lobbies for toll roads and multi-modal transportation (think street cars/light rail) as well as the President of the Greater Chamber of Commerce. His coziness with big business interests like Cintra and Zachry that want to takeover control of our public highways in long-term contracts designed to extract the highest possible tolls (up to 95 cents a mile in DFW), subordinates the taxpayers and the public interest to special interests.
Cintra trying to buy legislative seat, too?
Krier’s race isn’t the only one where Cintra would benefit. In the Texas House District 108 run-off in Dallas to replace Dan Branch (in a run-off himself for Attorney General), Morgan Meyer also works for Bracewell & Giuliani, hence Cintra. Cintra controls and operates two major toll facilities in existing corridors on I-820 (North Tarrant Express) and I-635 (LBJ, read about Bracewell & Giuliani’s work for Cintra on this project here).
So it looks like Cintra is attempting to buy more than just local city council races, it’s seeking to install its own people in the Texas legislature, too. As if all its lobbyists don’t garner enough influence in Austin, now they want to directly vote on whether certain Texas roadways are approved for such privatization deals, known as public private partnerships.
Loop 1604 in San Antonio is slated to be privatized. Remember, toll rates on such sweetheart deals run as high as 95 cents a mile. The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (or MPO) is comprised of local elected officials, four of which are city councilmembers. Krier could end up on the MPO (taxpayers don’t get to decide who sits on the MPO) and cast direct votes on whether or not our highways become toll roads and whether or not these special interests get a hold of them for a half century at a time.
Many in the community already know Krier isn’t looking out for them. At a high profile public hearing on 281 several years back, Krier was loudly booed and shouted down for speaking in favor of tolling 281 despite public opposition as SAMCo’s emissary. Krier also received a poor reception in the Texas legislature where he testified regularly in favor of toll roads and handing our public roads over to special interests.
Having it both ways
Krier recognized the low-hanging fruit of the detested streetcar proclaiming to be against it, yet he testified in favor of multi-modal transportation many times as Chair of SAMCO and the Chamber. Perhaps he did so to distract from his long-standing love affair with an equally detested public policy -- toll roads.
District 9 voters can’t afford to elect a crony capitalist like Joe Krier. There are other choices in this race, with several new faces, but Weston Martinez is the most familiar with some name ID and has the grassroots support to take on Krier. Martinez is also reliably anti-toll, fighting toll roads long before he ran for office. Early voting starts Monday, April 28 and runs through May 6. Election day is May 10. Be sure you vote in this important race. Meanwhile, the primary run-off election for that District 108 race with another Cintra employee, Morgan Meyer, is May 27. Chart Wescott is the anti-toll candidate in that race.
If you’re tired of politicians denying us a public vote on these multi-billion dollar toll tax schemes, go to www.LetSAVote.com to sign the petition to put toll roads to a public vote.