Monday, June 29, 2009
Earlier we said we'd tell you WHO the NCTCOG was. We figured we'd let them do it.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions.
NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered around the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. NCTCOG has over 230 member governments including 16 counties, numerous cities, school districts, and special districts.
Each member government appoints a COG voting representative from its governing body. These voting representatives make up the General Assembly, which annually elects the Executive Board. The Executive Board, composed of 13 locally elected officials, is the policy-making body for all activities undertaken by the Council of Governments, including program activities and decisions, regional plans, and fiscal and budgetary policies. The Board is supported by technical, study, and policy development committees and a professional staff headed by Mike Eastland, Executive Director.
Membership in the Council of Governments is voluntary and is determined by passage of a resolution and the payment of dues, and is open to the following eligible members:
1. Any county in the North Central Texas State Planning Region as determined by the Office of the Governor, State of Texas.
2. All incorporated cities, municipalities, towns, and villages within the North Central Texas State Planning Region, as determined by the Office of the Governor, State of Texas.
3. Independent School, Hospital, Water and Sewer, and other
special-purpose districts within the North Central Texas State Planning Region, as determined by the Office of the Governor, State of Texas.
Each member is entitled to one (1) voting representative, but may send as many delegates as desired to Council meetings. The voting representative is an elective public official appointed by and from the governing body of the member government.
NCTCOG is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, but has no regulatory power or other authority possessed by cities, counties or other local governments. NCTCOG's decisions are not binding on member governments, but are considered and adopted as members' needs require. As a political subdivision, NCTCOG is subject to state laws governing open meetings, access to public records and conduct of public officials.
While their mission makes sense, some things don't. If we are reading this right, this is a non-government entity made up of local governments in which they must pay to be a part of. (With your money). They then make desicions which are not binding nor funded?
The Quad cities fireworks show will be held in the same location as years past.
It's usually been a good show, providing somewhere close for those living in North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Watauga, and Haltom City to watch fireworks. The show seemed to improve last year, we wonder what this year will bring since the fireworks will be set off next to a gas drilling rig.
(Is this safe?)
If you are going, you can park at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum on Broadway, or the Richland Plaza shopping center on Hwy 26. The Coliseum sells refreshments and a church in Richland Plaza usually has something for the kids to do.
If you go to Coliseum, look towards Arlington. On a clear day, you can see the "8th Wonder of the World", also known as the Dallas Cowboys stadium.
Happy 4th of July!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Arlington had one in May and Irving had two in October.
Before these, the last earthquake in Texas was in 1997.
SMU researchers are in Cleburne trying to determine whether or not gas drilling is the culprit for the quakes. The industry says it's not. Some seismologist disagree. It will be interesting to see how this one shakes out.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We never received a response.
While we applaud you for doing the story, we wonder why you act shocked that our government puts public safety behind dollars? It happens in cities everyday. They do "virtually nothing" once problem known. They all "look at" what can be done. If you push them, their response will be, we don't have the money or it's someone else's responsibility.
How is that any different from what is going on in Fort Worth? Gas drilling...flooding...TRV. Why do you not report these issues?
And reporting on the election only on election day is a shame. Our local races affect us all directly, daily.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
They have done a follow up as another one bites the dust.
Another Head Rolls in Housing Deptby Jeff Prince
This post written by Betty Brink
In the ongoing saga of the Fort Worth Housing Department scandal, another of fired director Jerome Walker’s cohorts has been shown the door. City communications staffer Diane Covey wrote in an email today that the latest person to go is Donald Cager, once the right-hand man to Walker and his partner in a controversial deal in which the two formed a non-profit construction company, first called City Construction, Inc., and then Fort Worth Construction Company, under the umbrella of the non-profit Fort Worth Housing Finance Corp., a city-owned financing mechanism that used federal funds to build or rehabilitate housing for low- to medium-income families, and to provide low-interest loans to the occupants under a plethora of federal programs aimed at reducing poverty.
Cager resigned on Friday, she wrote. That makes him the fifth person in the department to either be fired or to resign, including Walker. Several more are on probation, according to Jason Lamers, head of the city’s communication department.
Sources in the department, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told the Weekly that Cager was forced out. One also said that an investigator from the U. S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s Office of Inspector General announced to the staff last week that the OIG was investigating the department and that anyone with information about fraud should call him. He promised that their jobs would be protected, the source said.
As Walker’s second-in-command, Cager oversaw the construction or rehabilitation of houses for low-income families using the city-sponsored construction company to do the work and financing the construction or repairs with federal funds. The company has been accused by whistle blowers from the department of getting work that was not put out for bids, as required by state and federal regulations, and completing jobs without city permits or city inspections, another violation of HUD rules as well as the city’s regulations. Shoddy construction practices and bypassing the city’s own permitting regulations were two of the reasons given by Walker’s boss, housing and economic development director Jay Chapa, for firing him.
Cager, a former employee of HUD, could not be reached for comment.
The entire article is informative, you can read it here, for our readers that like the highlights only, see below. Especially the last section - send it to everyone you know that breathes.
"Why is the ozone problem going away? The state of Texas said so".
The state's short-term data show that ozone levels are actually increasing in Tarrant, Denton and Parker counties.
•The state has submitted numerous failed ozone plans for our area, including in 1976, 1979, 1984, 1987, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2003. Each has not only been a state failure but also a failure by the federal government, since the EPA approved each plan.
It is time for the failure to stop. We pay high taxes and deserve better service from our government administrators and scientists. The EPA should not approve the plan submitted by the state and instead require a new one with emission reductions that ensure that our area will meet the ozone standard.
Everyone who breathes should contact Steve Page, EPA director of the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards and Richard Greene, EPA regional administrator and tell them that it is time for the state to submit a real clean-air plan for our area.
Here's something new. Kind of a Jules Vernian true story that connects fracking and earthquakes, this time with clean energy drilling. There's even some conflict of interest and corporate shenanigans involved and new fears that California could fall into the sea.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Below are a few comments from the program you might find interesting.
"No one really knows how many bad levees there are in America, incredibly the United States didn't begin compiling a national inventory for levees until after Katrina. It will take years to complete. Meanwhile officials have no reliable way knowing where the levees are or what condition their in. If we cant even identify who is responsible for all these levees we can't begin to fix them, maintain them and upgrade them to provide protection to the general public".
Leaking sewer lines:
"No one notices underground water pipes until they burst. Cities are sitting on time bombs, people have to die before it becomes national agenda".
A survivor of the I35 bridge collapse said, "To think a thing like that could happen in a major metropolitan area is beyond belief".
Mayor of Dover said:
"It's unfathomable that any group of people would say, no we'll wait til later to fix it when lives are in danger. It would be absolute catastrophe".
Sounds like another case..."Nothing was ever done, it just got worse".
The cows that died in LA from drinking water that had to do with gas drilling, well it looks like nothing will be done...
Sad isn't it?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
When will it stop?
"HB2572 does nothing more than remove a city's right to refuse access under or along public streets and/or rights of way. With this legislation (as I read it) makes the pipeline under properties on Carter Avenue....or any city street....a certainty. This legislation even removes the necessity of the "gas corporation" to be a public utility".
"Remember we warned you, and you can bet with the current city leadership, we will not sue the state over this BS!"
"I think you are exactly right. It sounds to me like this also includes parkland or any other public property. No more getting council approval for anything to do with pipelines. By signing one bill and vetoing the other Perry gave the best gift possible to the industry."
You can read the article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram daily newspaper here.
Friday, June 19, 2009
She was ripped from her mothers arms by the current as they tried to escape their home due to rising flood waters in the middle of the night.
It wasn't raining where Ally lived, it was raining north of there.
Those downstream had no warning.
There had been talk, rhetoric, of moving the homes away from the creek in the past. There had been studies of the creek in the past.
The map below was published in 2005 by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (we will tell you WHO they are soon). It shows Ally's street completely under water, two years prior to her drowning.
Another case of "Nothing was ever done, it just got worse". A child dying because nothing was ever done is, in a word, unacceptable. And if the government knew loss of life was probable, WHY was nothing done?
What does it take for something to get done? Besides money. Maybe if some of the Trinity Uptown money was spent to protect lives and property instead of economic development...then no lives would be lost. Which is more important?
Our thoughts are with Ally's family during the anniversary of what had to be the worst day of their lives.
She is not forgotten.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We weren't the only ones, the past couple of days have had some good letters to the editor. Letters from the real people, the "outsiders".
Would someone care to explain to me what makes Zim Zimmerman an outsider? (See: "District 3 voters pick another outsider as their councilman," June 14.) Is it because he wasn’t backed by the "downtown" crowd — Mayor Mike Moncrief, his cronies and the Star-Telegram?
Zim represents District 3, and the voters in his district have spoken. I hope this is not indicative of the treatment he will receive by the City Council if he is considered an "outsider." Does this make all of us in his district outsiders, too?
Maybe this was just a poor choice of words or a subtle attempt to discredit his win over Eric Fox. Either way, Zim deserves an apology from the Star-Telegram and the writer.
— Shirley Heller, Fort Worth
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Interesting video, don't miss the credits. We believe this home is close to the location of the Extreme Home Makeover home that was also destroyed in this flood.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Send us a letter, take your choice of topics: recent city election, Cleburne earthquakes, area flooding, gas drilling, Trinity River boondoggle, eminent domain, City money mismanagement...there is never a shortage of topics around here.
We won't share your email address (our sources remain confidenital unless noted), though if you are concerned about it, leave your letter as a comment and we'll post it for you, no email required.
See yesterday's post for an example of an excellent letter. Tell us more!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Nothing ever changes
Are most of us content with government?
Are those who complain a small minority? Or do we fail to hold individual officeholders responsible for their collective actions?
This applies to all levels of government, but I’ll cite the Fort Worth City Council.
Letters to the editor criticize the Trinity Uptown boondoggle, neglect of Heritage Park, tax breaks to businesses, favoritism toward gas drillers and the fiasco of the Texas Motor Speedway mineral rights — and say, "Throw the bums out."
The Star-Telegram criticizes years-late audits, granting special negotiating rights to the police and firefighters, and failures of the housing department that may lead to loss of federal funds. Yet when we have a chance to throw the bums out, the Star-Telegram recommends re-electing them all, and the voters do so.
Do we recognize that as a group the City Council is screwing up miserably — but when we examine the records of the individual council members, neither the voters nor the Star-Telegram Editorial Board holds them accountable for those failures? Or do most people think that none of the screw-ups are important, and that everything is just spiffy?
All I know is, we say, "Throw the bums out" a lot, but when we have a chance, we don’t do it.
— George Michael Sherry, Fort Worth
We are so proud of those in Fort Worth that voted in the run off for District 3!
Zim will be a voice for the people. We need more voices!
Congratulations Mr. Zimmerman and the citizens of Fort Worth!
Friday, June 12, 2009
If something is broken, shouldn't you fix it before you add to it?
And in North Richland Hills the council voted to move forward with the rail plans, even though the plan died in session last week (timing is everything).
That concerns those living around this new development area, that continue to experience more run off with each storm.
That quote keeps coming back, "Nothing was ever done, it just got worse".
We are quessing it will get worse faster if you exacerbate it.
Dallas neighborhoods near the levees were flooded due to pumps not working.
The city council voted earlier this week to spend $26 million dollar on a study of the levees. Sylvia Lagos says, she "doesn't need a study, its been flooding since she was a kid, FIX IT".
There's a thought.
The river is suppose to crest at its highest point since the 1970's Friday.
Mayor Moncrief wasn't present at the 80th Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony at Mount Olivet.
We heard the mayor was at city hall posing for a political postcard supporting Eric Fox in the District 3 run off.
We didn't get one.
Mrs. Silcox supports Zim, we think she's a smart lady.
Time is running out, literally. Vote on June 13th.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The annual 4th of July Quad Cities Fireworks will be held in the same location this year. Some are surprised to hear that since the location is now a large gas drilling site. Which also happens to sit in a flood plain on Big Fossil Creek. Chesapeake is a sponsor of the event.
(Note: For some reason Watauga no longer participates in Quad cities)
and flooding becomes an issue.
The nonstop rain reminds us of June 2007 when it wouldn't stop raining and wreaked havoc on so many lives in the metroplex.
Yesterday's Fort Worth Star Telegram daily newspaper had an article that discussed Haltom City, Watauga and Fort Worth wanting to expand their walking trails and add a park. The map for this project is confusing to us as it is on/in a creek. White's Branch Creek to be exact, the same one that took the life of a beautiful, vivacious four year old, in June two years ago.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
(Gar makes some valid points on the new Cowboy's Stadium and how it came to be).
We remember the lone hold-out house surrounded by stores, it looked like an island, surrounded by a sea of concrete. In the end it became a Gateway computer store. Which closed, by the way, sadly, not before the building was painted to look like a cow. It is now empty or a who-knows-what, that huge shopping complex lost some of its anchor stores when the next concrete strip mall was created down the road...
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Their response - "Because the ground is moving." Read it all here.
They should be very picky about WHO they select to help them. The citizens and the council should demand someone independent, honest, and highly credentialed.
Some around here have said gas drilling can cause earthquakes. If pressed for time, we'd start there.
"I'm pretty confident we can raise the dollars," Harwood said. "We talked informally with people prior to our economic collapse. I think there was a big interest from name sponsors, and I think it will be there when the economy turns around."
Of the five venues, two are profitable, two have yearly losses, and the fifth did not provide information, according to the study.
It doesn't seem to be the only thing contaminated around here.
"It's possible the induced seismicity is associated with gas production. This wouldn't be unexpected by earthquake seismologists." You can read comments and more info here.
Last night, one local news channel stated the earthquakes are not being caused by drilling.
(Also, TXSharon has some good info from another qualified scientist. Good reading.)
So here is a question, do we believe the local news, or do we believe people that have studied the issues with pollutions and earthquakes such as the UT Dallas Geosciences professor and the SMU PH.D, Al Armandariz?
Another day...and Durango found another water leak.
Reminds us of the quote recently posted, "Nothing was ever done, it just got worse".
Monday, June 8, 2009
See what Mr. Woodard had to say as he supports Zim Zimmerman in the Fort Worth Business Press.
We wonder what Mr. Fox will owe those in government that endorsed him and made sizeable donations to his campaign? What will those donations and endoresements cost the citizens? Their voice?
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Last week lots of people were "embarrassed" about the Fort Worth HUD financial fiasco.
"In fact, Walker's misdeeds were outlined two years ago in stories by Fort Worth Weekly that won a statewide investigative reporting award. The illicit practices, questionable funds use, and provision of shoddy housing and home repairs by city-paid contractors had been reported repeatedly by citizens during that period to Moncrief and other members of the council - most of whom are still serving.
City spokesperson Jason Lamers said that the city knew of "long-standing issues with the housing department" but "believed that things were being fixed." Yet in case after case, specific problems pointed out by the Weekly in 2007 were never fixed.
Two former city housing employees, who were instrumental in bringing the department's failings to the attention of city officials, the federal government, and the Weekly, aren't satisfied. Fired by Walker for, they say, pointing out the problems in his department, Theresa Thomas and Lisa Weaver still want their jobs back.
And they also want to know why no one would listen to them.
Neither Moncrief nor Chapa would speak with the Weekly to answer those questions.
And in what may prove to be an even bigger headache for Walker as well as the city, Chapa wrote that he had evidence that Walker's department had authorized rehabilitation work on homes without obtaining building permits "as required by the city's own regulations." Worse, the department was found to be authorizing payment for permits that contractors had never obtained. That could mean the city will have to repay HUD for all the money spent on the phantom permits and could also result in the city being investigated by the federal government for fraud. According to the city's legal department, violating the ordinance regarding construction permits is a misdemeanor that carries a $2,000 fine for each day the offense occurs.
"There is no excuse for the mayor or any city council member to act 'shocked' that Jerome had been fired" for mismanaging federal funds, Weaver said.
She and Thomas went to all of the council members plus Moncrief, then-city manager Charles Boswell, and then-assistant city manager Fisseler. They were ignored by everyone except council members Chuck Silcox, now deceased, and Donavan Wheatfall, who is no longer on the council.
The women also raised questions about the legality of a nonprofit construction company formed by Walker and his assistant Don Cager under the umbrella of the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation, through which all HUD money flows. That company, City Construction Company, built or remodeled numerous houses with HUD funds - in the place of private contractors who formerly did city work.
The board of directors of the FWHFC is the city council.
Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks and Fisseler are named in the City Construction Company's incorporation papers as managers of the company.
In an earlier interview both said they had no involvement with the company."
Read the entire article, A House of Cards in the Fort Worth Weekly. Trust us, read it all.
"State environmental officials say that an SMU researcher was correct: Gas drilling in the Barnett Shale contributes about as much air pollution to the Dallas-Fort Worth area as car and truck traffic.
But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality doesn’t plan on taking any action about chemicals released during gas drilling because they typically happen in rural areas, not in the immediate metro area, where the EPA is forcing state and local governments to control air pollution."Last we checked there were wells popping up all over Fort Worth (15oo permits) and the surrounding cities. Is the metroplex now considered rural?
"Focus stays on vehicles-
The commission believes it’s easier to address ozone by reducing the amount of nitrous oxides. The easiest way to do that is to reduce pollution from cars and trucks. The volatile organic compounds can be toxic, but they’re harder to control, Morrow said.
Also, she said, "The biggest gas-producing counties in the Barnett Shale are contiguous to D-FW. However, the prevailing winds in the D-FW area are such that emissions from the Barnett Shale are carried away from the D-FW area."What? Did they just say go after the drivers because it's easier? And the wind will just blow away all our troubles? (And make them someone else's.) You've got to be kidding.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The question is WHY?
Looks like Don Young and Durango discussed last month.
The book they discussed lists the following three human activities that commonly induce earthquake activity as:
1) Injecting high pressure fluids into rock formations beneath the earths surface. (CHECK - Courtesy of gas industry)
2) Withdrawing large amounts of fluid or gas. (CHECK- courtesy of gas industry)
3) Construction of reservoirs and lakes. (CHECK - courtesy of Trinity Uptown Pork, aka your tax dollars)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
We aren't surprised, as they were endorsing Fox, real citizens wrote in endorsing Zim. We endorse Zim.
This time, GO VOTE!!!
Monday, June 1, 2009
We need Al. Help support him. There will be many industry leaders and involved politicians that will say we don't, they stand to lose a lot of money. We stand to lose a lot more than that...