Gov. Rick Perry has had, over the last decade as governor, an opportunity to appoint many of the state’s agency heads. One of those is the head of the Texas Transportation agency, TxDOT. Currently, that post is filled by Deirdre Delisi–Perry’s former chief of staff. Delisi’s predecessor, Ric Williamson, was replaced largely because he politicized the post. This leaves one to wonder why Perry selected Delisi–his top political aid–to be the state’s top transportation official.
She has, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Christy Hoppe, toned down the politically-charged rhetoric of the Williamson era (see Williamson link above). At least… until now.
This week, Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign has hammered away at Perry for this interview, conducted by the Victoria Advocate:
Perry dodged the question about whether he would support the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), Hutchison’s camp says. And so, as Delisi spoke to a crowd in Irving on Wednesday morning, she forcefully defended her boss, toll roads and the TTC:
But far from shying away from the corridor and private toll roads, Delisi said Wednesday that her department continues to support both, even though most legal authority for private toll deals will expire next month. Lawmakers will discuss renewing that authority in 2011.
Meanwhile, Delisi said the commission will support private toll roads wherever it can.
One such place is in South Texas, and on a segment of the Trans Texas Corridor that remains active.
The outspoken nature of Delisi (who, in her defense, used to be part of an attack dog regime) is unsettling at best for a non-partisan state agency head. But it’s also puzzling: toll roads and the TTC have received so much resistance from Texans, it’s hard to imagine any situation in which this helps Perry.
Meanwhile, the Hutchison campaign has a counter on their Web page, eagerly awaiting Rick Perry’s response to the question: “Do you support the Trans-Texas Corridor?”