Kay Bailey Hutchison as Transportation Secretary? First, Let's Look at Her Trinity Deal.

Categories: Schutze

Ahem. All that I offer is food for thought, food for thought. Something to think about. That's all.

A blog published by The Hill, a Washington newspaper, has floated the name of former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, whom we here in Texas don't even have to say is a Republican, as a candidate for President Obama's Secretary of Transportation to replace Ray LaHood. Hutchison is one of three women whose names The Hill says are on the list: one theory is that the women should have some advantage over the several men on the list because Obama has appointed too many men. Whatever.

See also:
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Took a Meat-axe to Federal Law to Get the Mayor His Toll Road.

As one of Hutchison's selling points, The Hill says, "She pushed successfully for the passage of more stringent bus safety regulations, including requiring seat belts and stronger windows, after a string of deadly crashes."

Yup. That was good. Fewer seniors flying out the window. Can't argue with that. Hutchison has done a lot of good work over the years, and the one really great thing about her, no matter what else anybody says, she's not Rick Perry.

But. Along and along somewhere in the vetting process, somebody needs to have a serious chat with her about the Trinity River project in Dallas. And if you happen to be the lady or the guy who does it, don't let her get away with doing a nudge-nudge, wink-wink deal about how it was a local log-rolling earmark thing like everybody in the Congress has to do at some time or another.

Not so fast, Kay. Now, about that Trinity toll road...
What Hutchison did for the Trinity River project backers went way beyond nudge-nudge, wink-wink. In 2010 at the urging of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Hutchison effectively exempted the project from a broad reach of federal law by sticking two so-called "riders" on an unrelated defense appropriations bill. You could look at it like this: she messed around with the national defense in order to slip the Dallas project out from under the reach of national law.

David Conrad, senior water resources specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, called Hutchison's suspension of law and regulation "sweeping" as it affected not just the river in Dallas but a 70-mile stretch of it above and below the city.

And why did that happen? Well, of course lots of phony-baloney justifications were offered at the time, but the real reason was that the entire project, especially the crazy underwater toll road Dallas wants to build out between the levees where it floods, probably couldn't have survived if it had been obligated to meet the law the way everybody else's project does in America.

And why is that such a big deal? It's a big deal because both of the major investigations of the 2005 Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans blamed it on exactly this same kind of winkledink by politicians and bureaucrats: By cobbling together a flood protection system for New Orleans based on piecemeal design and special exceptions, they came up with exactly what Hutchison's handiwork will give Dallas if that road is ever built. We will wind up with a jerry-rigged system that contains none of the overall design principles federal law is supposed to require.

It's federal law. They don't pass it for a joke.

But Hutchison's sleight of hand with those riders made a joke of national law, and now as a result a significant threat to the safety of Dallas lurks in the offing if the project ever is completed. Does Obama really need to buy that? Hey. Just saying. Something to ponder.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

She should mandate that all people who use public transportation be required to wear polyester pantsuits and gaudy jewelry.


I thought Kay was retiring so that she could "return home to Texas." We all knew that was B.S.


Why would she even want the job? She has no executive experience and will jump into a job with lots of engineering. No exec experience is not a negative for TX Governor because contrary to what this paper thinks, he or she does not really do anything., good or bad. Transportation Secretary is different and you can get into trouble over contracts, employees,

To me Johnny Carson was almost as great in retirement as he was on his show. He simply said I am done with that part of my life. Now I will do what I want. Someone else can do what I did. It seems very obvious that many of our career pols have no other life. If anyone had a real life, you would think Kay Bailey would. Hopefully it is just a rumor to distract journalists. I would like her to enjoy a real life in her remaining time.


A lot of parallels here to Hutchison's behind-the-scenes maneuvering to keep the Wright Amendment in place.  Were it not for Hutchison's constant screwing around in back rooms, the Wright Amendment would have been fully repealed-- she did everything she could to block and tackle for American Airlines at DFW.

One of the most unsavory things about Hutchison during her reign was the relationship between the Senator and her husband, Ray.  Basically, the way it seemed to work was that if, say, one had a major public works project dependent on federal largesse, you would hire her husband, Ray, as bond attorney, paying him millions of dollars in the process.  Then, later on down the road, the attorney's wife, Kay, would get involved.  Of course, she would be completely impartial in her advocacy for the project-- not being influenced at all by the millions of dollars in incremental household income she would be enjoying if she were to approve federal support for the project, which would lead to a bond issue, which would lead to millions in legal fees for her husband, which would lead to nice additions to the house, great clothes, fabulous vacations and dinners, etc., et.c



WylieH explained the situation below. As Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) said in "The Jerk," "Its a profit deal."

Montemalone topcommenter

@MikeWestEast You know she was a teevee newsgirl back in the day, before the Hutchinson. She as just Kay Bailey with a big ol' bouffant down in Houston. 

My guess, along with some lucrative lobbying she'll land on Fox.



Exactly on point. Hire Ray, get support for your project from Kay.  Its the same principal behind Tanya Watkins foray into campaign consulting. Its the same reason Christi Craddick was hired as to lobby in Austin while she was still in college. Hire VP Joe Biden's brother James Biden, receive a $1.5 billion federal contract to build houses in Iraq. And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on......

JimSX topcommenter


.. and being the great lawyer he is, Ray Hutchison is like the country preacher interviewed by elders for a new post and asked if he believed the earth is round, said, "I can preach it round or I can preach it flat." He authored the opinion that it was OK to lump all of the disparate elements of the  Trinity River project in one project for the bond election because they were inseparable  parts of a whole. Years later, when the city wanted to switch the money all around, he authored a second opinion that it was OK to do that because the elements of plan were stand-alone projects completely autonomous of each other.  Gotta hand it to him 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault