We had no idea just how full of sheep Fort Worth was. Nor how cheap Water Board seats and people could be.
We noticed Jim Lane talked about getting the Cats back playing ball in his victory speech. He didn’t mention anything about any of you being underwater, literally. Or that he used YOUR money to pay twice what the ball field was worth.
You get what you pay for, Tarrant County. We hope your walk around money covers your flood insurance.
Vote Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner on Saturday.
TRWD, Jim Lane and Marty Leonard Attempt to Fool Voters with False Statements
Integrated Pipeline has NOT received SWIFT Funding
Tarrant County, Texas (May 7, 2015) – “The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) has once again attempted to manipulate the press and voters with false information,” said Craig Bickley, candidate for the TRWD Board of Directors in regards to the Water District’s May 6, 2015 press release stating that the TRWD “has been awarded $440 million by the state.” (The entirety of the TRWD’s release can be read here: Integrated Pipeline receives $440 million in SWIFT funding.
However, as a press release issued by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) stated and Chairman of the TWDB Board Carlos Rubenstein stressed during the Board’s May 6 meeting, the TWDB has only “approved the prioritized list of applications” and “will invite the project sponsors to submit detailed applications...After that, applications will undergo the standard thorough TWDB review process, and each application must be presented to and approved by the Board.” (The entirety of the TWDB’s release can be read here: twdb.texas.gov/newsmedia/press_releases.
“Has the TRWD tried to pull a fast one on us? There is a clear and huge discrepancy between being invited to APPLY for funding and actually receiving some funding for the Integrated Pipeline from the TWDB,” said TRWD board candidate Michele Von Luckner after reading the press release. “The fact that Jim Lane and Marty Leonard have gone on record to say that they have actually secured some of the project’s funding, when that is clearly not the case, is troublesome.
Two weeks ago the TRWD mailed it’s “Annual Report” to municipal voters only and yesterday (5/5/15) the Trinity River Vision annual update was received by voters in their mailboxes. Today we see the TRWD release a false press release and quote the two incumbents. This is wrong and potentially illegal. There is a long pattern of disregard for the law and using public taxpayer funds to electioneer for the incumbents.
“We encourage all of the voters in the TRWD’s voting district to vote for us this Saturday, May 9. It’s time to bring honesty, integrity and common sense to the TRWD Board. It’s time for change,” said Craig Bickley.
I invite you to participate in a historic moment for our city. A sea change – or more appropriately, a lake change – is coming to Fort Worth on May 9 in the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) election. This change is long overdue.
You’ve found the flyers on your door or in your mailbox, or perhaps you’ve seen the ads in the Star-Telegram, with Mayor Betsy Price and former Mayor Mike Moncrief warning you that a Dallas businessman is trying to take control of Tarrant’s Water Board. The businessman is my friend Monty Bennett, whose company owns two landmark downtown Fort Worth hotels that pay far more Fort Worth property taxes than either of the mayors, and who, like me, is supporting Michele Von Luckner and Craig Bickley for the TRWD Board.
Betsy and Mike are trying to divert your attention away from the real Dallas threat to Fort Worth citizens. Here’s what Betsy and Mike don’t want you to know:
• Moncrief raised $500,000 (so far) from an exclusive group of North Texas millionaires & billionaires, cashing in chips with his richest friends. If the incumbents get re-elected, these are the people who will continue to influence the Water Board. It sure won’t be you and me.
• Yours and my names were not on Mike’s Rolodex®, but five Dallas billionaires were. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical of Mike and Betsy to stuff our mailboxes with mailers warning about one Dallas businessman when they have stuffed their coffers with donations from five Dallas billionaires?
• Why are five Dallas billionaires eager to hand former Fort Worth Mayor Moncrief hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance his friends’ perpetual control of Fort Worth’s Water Board? Perhaps it’s because the TRWD Board is planning on spending $2.3 billion of your money to build a pipeline that forever will connect Fort Worth’s two prize east-Texas lakes to Dallas’ suffering water system. You’ve seen the severe water restrictions that Dallas-area residents have suffered the last two years. Some communities can water their lawns only once every two weeks. Thanks to the TRWD leaders from the 1960’s and 1970’s who built Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers reservoirs, Fort Worth is in much better shape. Once that “Integrated Pipeline” (IPL) is built, Dallas forever will have access to Fort Worth’s water. The IPL adds no water to TRWD lakes. TRWD’s own needs assessment shows that the IPL is a big win for Dallas but could exacerbate Fort Worth water shortages. Does that sound like a good deal to you? Isn’t buying Dallas a $2.3 billion pipeline to Fort Worth’s lakes like giving North Korean hackers the password to your computer firewall?
• Given Mayor Price’s and the TRWD incumbents’ passion for regional (Dallas-imposed?) water restrictions, this permanent connection of Fort Worth’s lakes to Dallas should concern you greatly. Dallas’ new pipeline into TRWD’s lakes + Mayor Price’s regionalism = Loss of Fort Worth’s water sovereignty.
In another flyer, Mayor Price tells you that we have the best water board in Texas. The best? I have higher standards than Mayor Price. Here’s my TRWD Board report card:
• They get an A for their east-Texas wetlands project.
• They get an inherited A for the outstanding employees of the Water District, many of whom, including one of my friends, have worked there decades to provide us water.
• They have failed to buy Oklahoma’s surplus water, dealing so poorly with our neighbors to the north that they ended up in a costly, losing federal lawsuit.
• They have failed to supervise the TRWD’s general manager, who among other incidents interjected himself into the 2013 TRWD election by sending hateful, belittling emails to one of the candidates from the TRWD’s email server. You might have gotten fired, but the incumbents did nothing. I think the incumbents are intimidated by this man. I think he needs supervision.
• They have failed to respect your private property rights, lobbying State Rep. Charlie Geren to sponsor a bill that gave the TRWD exclusive eminent domain rights to take your land for economic development, even if miles from any water. They then abused these eminent domain privileges to take your neighbors’ land for the $1 billion Trinity River Vision project.
• They have failed at transparency, only lifting the veil slightly when Mary Kelleher joined the TRWD Board in 2013. Mary needs two more votes on the board to effect change.
• They have failed to focus on water supply and flood control and have been distracted for years by Trinity River Vision, a sweetheart-deal restaurant, and other economic development.
• They have failed at conservation, insisting on top-down, big-government water restrictions, window-dressed with a silly Lawn Whisperer campaign that is pointless when citizens have no flexibility. Conservation works best when the citizens buy in. Yet in 2014, TRWD officials and Bryan Eppstein (TRWD’s lobbyist and the incumbents’ and Mayor Price’s political consultant) aggressively lobbied your city council to reject even a pilot project to test my conservation plan, the Woodard Plan1, which may increase conservation with less government.
• They have failed to trust you. Ask the incumbents if they trust you enough to give you the Woodard Plan. They were desperate to kill the Woodard Plan, because they are afraid that you will waste water if given the slightest flexibility. So they told the City Council on 4/8/2014 that if it approved the Woodard Plan, the state would deny any more inter-basin pipelines and lakes for Fort Worth. This assertion was completely fabricated, but it succeeded in swinging the Council’s vote against the Woodard Plan. You are seeing similar scare tactics in their campaign. When leaders don’t trust you, they do desperate things. Michele Von Luckner and Craig Bickley represent change. They are smart young business people, who like you and me are raising families in Tarrant County. None of their donors hopes to make a buck off of TRWD contracts. They want transparent government. They are passionate about conservation and ample water supply. They don’t want the TRWD taking your property for its next economic development idea. They want TRWD focusing on water, water, water. And they trust you. You will be proud to have Michele and Craig represent you on the TRWD Board. You get two votes for the TRWD Board on May 9 (early voting runs April 27 through May 5). Please join me in voting for Michele Von Luckner and Craig Bickley. I encourage you to visit their websites to make a donation or request a yard sign: www.michelevonluckner.com and www.craigbickley.com.
Thank you again for taking the time to read my story and for your phone calls, e-mails, and most of all your support! I’m so blessed!!
Most of you were surprised I answered the phone, which says a lot about the sorry state of our political world. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to visit with you, talk with you about my story, and answer your questions.
Many of you asked me to write another letter with additional information about this election. I’m flattered and glad you want to know more. I’ve learned so much being on the TRWD Board and I’m happy to share what I know with you!
I guess first off, I need to prepare you for the nasty mailer you will be receiving within the next few days. Wow…politics are so ugly!
Just FYI…the incumbent’s political strategist is Bryan Eppstein. Here’s a link to information on this man. If you want insight into Fort Worth politics, read this, you’ll be absolutely amazed!
The mailer depicts Craig Bickley, Michele Von Luckner, and me as puppets for the evil puppet master Monty Bennett. It’s hard to believe people actually fall for this kind of stuff!
Michele Von Luckner is portrayed as a dead beat who doesn’t pay her bills, doesn’t vote in local elections, and uses a different name (Hojnacki…her maiden name).
Craig Bickley is criticized for not being able to vote in this race (well many of you can’t) and for running for election once before and losing. (Incumbent Jim Lane has lost the last 3 races he has run.)
I’m being accused of “falsely attacking” my colleagues. I guess I could do that, but it’s not really in my nature so I won’t.
I’m also under investigation by the Texas Ethics Commission for “not disclosing hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind campaign contributions funded by Bennett.” The truth: I didn’t know I needed to file a campaign finance report in July so I filed it a day late.
It’s also being said I was censured for “making false statements to the Fort Worth City Council”. The truth: I advocated for a water conservation plan that would allow citizens the right to choose when they want to water their lawns. This plan was contrary to TRWD’s. I guess I don’t have the right to my own opinion!
It’s also being said “the Tarrant County DA confirmed that Kelleher and Bennett traveled together on an out-of-state trip to New Orleans that was funded by Bennett.” The truth: I traveled with Monty Bennett and several others to observe a court hearing at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which addressed alleged violations by the TRWD of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The attorney hired by TRWD with taxpayer dollars asked the Tarrant County DA to indict me for this, but the Tarrant County DA refused and explained to this attorney that there was nothing illegal about it.
Monty Bennett is being accused of forcing “TRWD taxpayers to spend an additional $6 to $10 million on rerouting a critically needed water pipeline away from his weekend ranch that he uses for para-military hog hunting.” The truth: This route of the pipeline is a TRWD decision. And what exactly is para-military hog hunting?
The incumbents state, “To date, Bennett has lost ALL of the lawsuits he has funded against TRWD.” The truth: Texas Supreme Court is still reviewing TRWD’s assertion they have sovereign immunity from the Texas Open Meetings Act.
I think the worst one is that “Bennett has even stooped to an ALL TIME LOW by relocating bodies of deceased individuals into a phony cemetery.” The truth: A World War II veteran and another person are laid to rest on Monty Bennett’s property. It’s his property after-all. TRWD will be the ones forcing the relocation of the deceased.
Many of you were surprised to learn that the majority of our water comes from east Texas where TRWD owns 100% of the water rights to Richland Chambers and Cedar Creek reservoirs. TRWD already operates 2 pipelines; one at Richland Chambers reservoir and another at Cedar Creek reservoir. These pipelines transport water to a larger pipeline that delivers water to our area lakes where it’s held for future use. TRWD does not sell treated water. We sell raw water to our customer cities which in turn treat it and then sell it to you.
You wanted more information about the IPL (Integrated Pipeline). The IPL is a collaborative effort between Dallas Water Utilities and TRWD to build another major pipeline that will bring water from Lake Palestine to the metroplex. Sharing this pipeline will result in reduced construction costs and electricity use. The projected cost of the IPL project is approximately $2.4 billion. TRWD is responsible for about 60% of the costs and Dallas 40%. This pipeline will be able to transport 200 million gallons of water per day to the TRWD area and 150 million gallons of water per day to Dallas. TRWD will construct, maintain, and own the pipeline. Dallas has water rights to Lake Palestine, but it’s so far away the electricity needed to transport the water makes it very costly. As part of the agreement, Dallas would be allowed to purchase up to 25% of their water needs from our reservoirs if it’s available. This is the part causing the uproar as the idea of selling our water to Dallas is not very popular.
Some of you said you had heard Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner were against the IPL project and, if elected, Tarrant County will go dry. This is ridiculous and just more campaign fiction. Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner do have questions about Dallas being able to tap into our water supply but they’re certainly not against a pipeline that will bring water to our area. Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner are however, against the way TRWD misuses their power of eminent domain and want to make sure all private property owners, from Dallas businessmen to farmers, are treated respectfully throughout the eminent domain process.
Another very popular discussion centered around the difference between the public servant and politician. It seems many of us are fed up with our politicians these days and justifiably so. While we want more public servants, it’s hard to beat an incumbent, especially when he/she has money, name, and status in the community. It’s even more difficult when the incumbent’s supporters do as well. This race is a perfect example of this. We’re seeing expensive mailers and huge ads in the Star Telegram from politicians Mike Moncrief, Betsy Price, and Glen Whitley who are telling us how to vote. These politicians are so arrogant they actually believe we just blindly vote as they tell us to, as if we don’t have a mind of our own. Many of you talked about your or your family’s military service and how you object to these politicians (most of whom have never served their country) telling you how to vote. My father fought in the Korean War, my father-in-law fought in Pearl Harbor, my husband’s great grandfather fought in the Civil War, and my husband fought in Vietnam and I take exception to these people telling me how to vote too.
Many of you wanted more information about Monty Bennett, the Dallas businessman Mike Moncrief and Betsy Price claim is trying to steal our water. After I explained to you that Monty Bennett has been a property owner and tax payer in Fort Worth for more than 20 years and owns the historic Ashton and Hilton hotels in downtown Fort Worth you realized right away what Mike Moncrief and Betsy Price were trying to do. But this is politics and this is what politicians do…..they fabricate, deceive, and manipulate the people and then pompously presume people will do as they say simply because of who they are.
Many of you were shocked when I told you Mike Moncrief had solicited almost a half of a million dollars in donations from at least 5 Dallas billionaires while Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner are being criticized for accepting campaign contributions from Monty Bennett, a businessman who lives in Dallas but owns property and pays taxes in Fort Worth, and, who along with many others, has been legitimately wronged by the TRWD’s misuse of their power of eminent domain.
According to Leonard and Lane’s campaign finance reports, they have received donations from people and businesses with whom TRWD gives contracts. Here are the high-roller donors: the Betsy Price Campaign ($4,500); attorney Dee J. Kelly ($10,000) with whom TRWD regularly contracts; businessman John B. Kleinheinz ($25,000); Dallas auto dealership owner Carl Sewell ($25,000); Dallas-based liquor distributor Barry Andrews ($10,000); Texas Rangers co-owner and Dallas oil billionaire Ray Davis ($10,000); Dallas oil billionaire Ray Hunt ($25,000); Hunt heiress Lyda Hill ($5,000); Dallas software entrepreneur Milledge Hart III ($5,000); Dallas oil billionaire Trevor Rees-Jones ($10,000); Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton ($25,000); Bass family Good Government Fund ($25,000); Bass family PSEL PAC ($25,000); Texas Progress Fund/Ross Perot, Jr. ($25,000) and Ed Bass ($25,000).
The most spirited conversations were definitely the conspiracy theories as to why these 2 TRWD seats are so important to the 7th street good ole’ boy establishment that they’re willing to spend a half of a million dollars. I’m so glad you see through their desperation.
This race truly is about the public servant vs. the politician. I hope and pray the public servants get elected. No pressure but it all depends on you. I’m encouraged by your support for Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner. They will serve you well.
This is going to be a difficult election to win. We’re up against big money and big names and unfortunately some people still vote for the incumbents just because they tell them to.
I've included a link to the documentary “Up a Creek”. This was filmed here in 2011 by local people who discovered how our local politics affect our water issues. Unfortunately, it’s 2015 and not much has changed. This film later went on to win an award in the Conservation category at the Glen Rose Film Festival. Just watch the first 5 minutes…you’ll be amazed by what you will hear.
Please be part of TRWD election history and vote public servants Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner onto the TRWD Board. Tell your friends and family and neighbors how important it is to vote in this race. It’s time to show the politicians we’re not their servants, they’re supposed to be ours.
P.S. Feel free to contact me on my cell phone number at (817) 880-5419 and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Early voting starts today and the election is May 9th!
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