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Commissioners reappoint Gilmore to CTRMA board in split decision

Thursday, March 11, 2010 by Austin Monitor

Fireworks erupted when Travis County commissioners moved to consider the reappointment of DuBois, Bryant, & Campbell partner Henry Gilmore to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) board this week. In the end, however, Gilmore was appointed to another term by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Karen Huber and Ron Davis voted no.


Things got testy right out of the gate as Precinct 3 Commissioner Huber read from a prepared statement that questioned Gilmore’s ability to adequately serve the county after he’d represented Texas Industries (TXI). “When I look for a qualified candidate to appoint to a leadership position, particularly a regional leadership position, I look for individuals who have demonstrated that they have the greater interests of the region at heart,” she said.


“I have to wonder if an individual who made a choice to represent a project with regional impacts as potentially egregious as this one will make good leadership choices on the CTRMA when it comes to what is good for the region.”


She added that her doubts prevented her from voting for Gilmore’s approval.


TXI received reluctant Travis County approval to move forward with a sand and gravel mine in the Hornsby Bend neighborhood in the eastern part of the county this past January (see In Fact Daily, Jan. 27). Huber voted against the project and has been vocal in her opposition to it. In a statement posted on her Web site, Huber writes that “[b]ecause the regulatory authority has been separated and delegated by the Legislature to multiple jurisdictions and the permitting process is highly complex, it is unlikely that any jurisdiction will be able to stop (the TXI project) based on a single permit. … (I)t is horrific to think that (it) will be allowed.”


Precinct 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt didn’t address any TXI-related concerns at this hearing. But she did express some frustration with CTRMA. “At this point I will vote in favor of Mr. Gilmore’s next term, but I am not at all satisfied with the RMA,” she said. “Knowing what their statutory abilities are and seeing what their actions have been, I am not at all satisfied.”


She took issue with the organization’s “overall performance … with regard to its development of a regional transportation system that’s multi-modal” and added that she “also anticipate(s) that the CTRMA will in the future go to great lengths to avoid procedural safeguards in CAMPO policy with regard to moving money off of one toll road for other toll road projects.” 


“I call upon our appointees, including Mr. Gilmore, to represent the wishes of the majority of the county for whom they are the representatives,” she said.


Judge Sam Biscoe came to Gilmore’s defense. “I think he’s done an outstanding job. He took on this responsibility when it was new, (and) he’s been on there since. This work is tough work; probably next to the Child Protective Services board, it’s probably the toughest,” he said. “Our policy has never been that if we don’t like your clients, we will punish you.”


Gilmore would not comment directly on the proceedings. But he did tell In Fact Daily that he was “pleased and honored to be reappointed” and that he would “continue to do my best for Travis County, as I have been doing on this board for the last seven years.”


Before voting took place, Biscoe told the court that Gilmore had said that this would be his last term on the CTRMA board.

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