DALLAS — Two members of the North Texas Tollway Authority board are expected to submit resignations unrelated to a current Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the board’s business practices, according to reports.
Kent Cagle, who represents Dallas County on the regional authority’s board, will leave to become city manager in the fast-growing Austin suburb of Leander. Victor Vandergriff of Arlington, who stepped down as chairman of the NTTA board this month, is expected to announce his candidacy for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington.
Harris has already endorsed Vandergriff, a car dealer who also heads the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and is the son of the late Tom Vandergriff, Arlington’s pioneering mayor who founded the dealership, brought a General Motors Assembly Plant to Arlington and served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Coincidentally, Victor Vandergriff’s expected resignation from the Texas DMV is likely to renew a fight over creating a Confederate-themed license plate in Texas, a move that was shelved with Vandergriff’s opposition. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate who once mentioned in a Tea Party speech the possibility of Texas seceding from the United States, would appoint Vandergriff’s successor at DMV.
In addition to the FBI’s investigation of the business practices of the NTTA, the board is facing outside political pressure, particularly from Dallas County over its use of long-term consultants who do not face competition for authority business. The so-called legacy contractors include NTTA financial advisor RBC Capital Markets and bond counsel McCall, Parkhurst & Horton.
The FBI is also investigating Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who has lobbied for more minority hiring and consultants at the tollway. However, there has been no indication that the two probes are related.
“The North Texas Tollway Authority has been made aware of an investigation involving one or more individuals and is cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with that investigation,” an NTTA spokeswoman said. “Additionally, we’ve had no indication that this will affect any upcoming bond issuance.”
The authority is preparing to issue $622 million of revenue bonds in November under its Special Projects credit for the 27-mile Chisholm Trail Parkway in Fort Worth and surrounding suburbs. It’s the first project in Fort Worth and the financing comes under new NTTA chairman Kenneth Barr, former mayor of Fort Worth.