Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trinity River Improvement Partnership

Kudos to TRIP for a great event at the historic Stagecoach Ballroom last night!

Very informative, very friendly folks!  Even the "plants" were friendly. 

We love it when a group of citizens take the initiative to right the wrongs.  THE PEOPLE are listening. 

Carry on, TRIP!

For Durango's review on the presentation go here.

For more information about the Trinity River Improvement Partnership go here.

We hear the video will be out and about for all to see soon.  YOU can't afford to miss it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trinity River Mirage...

Read Don Woodard's Letter to the Editor in the FW Weekly.

And come on out tonight!  You might learn could save YOU millions!

According to press reports, scores of officials from Tarrant County descended on the state capitol last week to tout a range of legislative priorities and to sound off against state budget cuts (“The Deficit Monster,” March 2) threatening to ripple through cities, school districts and the county government.

One of the visitors was County Judge Glen Whitley, who called on lawmakers to tap into the state’s rainy day fund to help offset some of the reductions. “If it’s not raining now,” said Whitley, the county’s top official, “I don’t know when it would be.”

Reductions that could be felt in Tarrant County government include cuts in criminal justice grants, mental health and mental retardation services, and reimbursements for indigent defense and juror pay. At other levels of local government, cities are facing reductions in homeless programs, police training, park improvements, and a statewide database used by public library patrons. Schools will be hit hard with possible teacher layoffs.

The only neck in this part of the state that seems safe from the government guillotine is that of the billion-dollar Trinity River Vision. The feds are on the line for half of $500 million. However, they’re digging in their heels and may renege on the deal. All local governments and an iffy Bonnie-and-Clyde tax increment financing district are obligated for the other half of the egregious pseudo-flood-control earmark. Why is this project — which we don’t need, don’t want, and can’t afford — immune from the squeeze?

The executive director of this eminent-domain earmark boasts that he has enough money to last for 18 months. Spend! Spend! Spend! Many who remember Waxahachie and the ill-fated superconducting supercollider have long been warning that federal funds for Trinity River Vision might turn out to be a similar unfulfilled promise, after millions of local taxpayer dollars have been wasted on it. Big-spending visionaries from Congress to city hall to the chamber of commerce have snickered at our skepticism. Will Trinity Vision turn out to be Trinity Mirage?

Don Woodard
Fort Worth

Southlake and Haltom City

What's the difference?  Too many to list, however this week we noticed a glaring one.

Both Southlake and Haltom City's Planning and Zoning boards voted down drilling sites, forcing a council super majority vote to pass.

Will give you one guess which council did so without any hesitation.

Read about one the other one in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Last call


A real one??  Aside from Durango?  Follow along on the Paradise Center Scandal blog.

From: Paradise Center ;
We thought you might want to know the latest on this under/un-reported public interest news.

To: Janelle J. Thurman ;
Cc: G.K. Maenius ; Sen. Wendy Davis ; Rep. Lon Burnam ; Mayor Moncrief ; Councilman Burns ; Jeff Prince ;
Subject: Re: March meeting of MHMRTC Board
Sent: Tue, Mar 29, 2011 10:12:48 PM

Dear fellow citizens and friends of Paradise Center Inc.

We hope that you will receive this notice in time to cancel your plans to attend the MHMR of Tarrant County Board of Trustees meeting tonight. It was leaked to us by decent people inside of Hulen Tower aright after lunch hour today that MHMR executives and Trustees were somehow alerted this morning to the plan by many of you taxpayers to go and ask questions and/or express your feeling regarding what is now commonly called the Paradise Center Scandal (

As you can surmise from this very unusual notice to "stakeholders", apparently there was not enough time to hire private security guard/s toting side arms before the 5:30 P.M. public meeting tonight. As has been the pattern, these public officials holding positions of immense power, financial and administrative and legal, will do whatever it takes to prevent public disclosure or discussion of all the documented instances of behavior that range from questionable to reprehensible.

The natural questions are why are they behaving this way? And what do they have to hide from "We the People", from whom came the $100+ Million dollars in annual taxes and the attendant authority/power and responsibility/accountability??

This latest act of desperation and evasion (the Trustees adjourned the meeting last month before the public could even get back inside the Moncrief Conference Room) is unbecoming of honorable civic leaders and is in fact a rejection of transparency and public accountability on the part of people given "the public trust".

These facts also make clear that the public (and private) statements and representations about the Paradise Center Matter by MHMR of Tarrant County CEO, executives, and Trustees do not support their claim that this is "just a personnel matter". Those words and actions can only be described as "scandalous". A scandal that is much more damaging than the one involving the Citadel Medicaid fraud in the mid-2000's and the one that ushered out the previous CEO and his regime, which included members of the Board of Trustees.

The people and community leaders of El Paso apparently took constructive actions to mitigate the damages to people and the community by exercising their rights and duties earlier this year relative to the conduct of their MHMR executive/s and Board of Trustees.

What is different about Tarrant County, Texas, U.S.A.? And why has the "fourth rail of our democracy" chosen to ignore this public interest and public policy matter?

It's been said that a community is judged by how it treats its weakest members. The judgment is still out in this particular matter, fellow citizens, taxpayers, and voters.

Paradise Center, Inc.
friends helping friends in mental health recovery

--- On Tue, 3/29/11, Janelle J. Thurman wrote:
Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 2:03 PM

Dear stakeholder:

The March 29 meeting of the Board of Trustees of MHMRTC is scheduled to begin at 1 pm with a strategic planning session followed by the board meeting. The consideration of board items may begin earlier than the customary 5:30 meeting time.

Janelle Thurman
Executive Assistant
MHMR of Tarrant County

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who owns North Richland Hills?

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

The City Council voted Monday night in favor of a compromise that would cap the number of apartments in the Home Town NRH area at fewer than 1,000, ending an acrimonious process that pitted developers against homeowners who lived in their development.

The council, voting unanimously over the objections of numerous homeowners, also approved a legal settlement with Arcadia Land Partners and Home Town Urban Partners, the developers who pledged to drop their lawsuits against the city in return for passage of the compromise.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission voted this month to reduce the number of permissible apartments further, giving heart to angry homeowners. But the decision quickly drew a threat from the developers' attorney and would have forced a three-fourths supermajority vote from the council.

Austin Anyone?

From our friends at TURF...

Trans Texas Corridor Resurrected in HB 3789!

On Wednesday, the House Transportation Committee will hear a slew of bills (HB 2186, HB 2388, HB 2801, HB 2985, HB 3561, HB 3563-HB 3565, HB 3734) to privatize and toll tax TX roads, the worst being HB 3789 that re-creates the Trans Texas Corridor and that grants a blanket authorization for these contracts called Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to be done in SECRET, without financial disclosures, and with NO sunset provision, so the authority is indefinite! Read our detailed bill analysis here.

It's the Trans Texas Corridor resurrected (in 284.003 C. (7) of HB 3789 it authorizes these contracts in the TTC chapter of the code) and MUST BE STOPPED! The House Transportation Committee will meet Wednesday, March 30 at 8 AM in Rm. E2.028.

These are sweetheart deals that have profit guarantees, massive public subsidies (ALL Texans' gas taxes), low interest taxpayer-backed loans (TIFIA loans or Private Activity Bonds), non-compete agreements that prohibit or penalize the expansion of surrounding free roads, and we're seeing published toll rates for these types of contracts starting at 80 PER MILE to drive in peak hours! These CDAs socialize the losses and privatize the profits for a HALF CENTURY!

Another bill, HB 2432 (by John Davis), that would give a blanket authorization to enter into these types of agreements (for any road & other infrastructure projects in Texas) is also being heard on Wednesday, March 30 at 8 AM in Rm. E2.014.

What to know if you go:
How to Testify or Register Opposition

You need to sign-up to testify by filling out and turning in a Witness Affirmation Form to the clerk for EACH bill you oppose. If you cannot stay to testify orally when the bill is called, you can still fill out a Witness Affirmation Form opposing the bill (and check the box to oppose but not wishing to testify) and turn it into the clerk at the front of the room and leave.

Capitol Parking

There is metered parking for up to three hours surrounding the Capitol if you plan to just come, fill out a card and leave. But if you plan to stay to testify orally, there is public parking in the Capitol Parking Garage at 12th and San Jacinto or if that's full, park at the Texas History Museum at 18th/Congress. Both are $8/day but the Capitol Parking Garage is hourly up until a certain number of hours and max is $8/day.

If you can't attend:


For those who cannot be at the Capitol, you can email all House Transportation Committee members using this easy email we've set-up: or the Senate Transportation Committee at

TELL THEM: No CDAs/PPPs, No to HB 1724, and No to the re-creation of the Trans Texas Corridor, HB 3789!

Phone calls to Rep. Larry Phillips (author of, HB 3789, the bill to recreate the TTC) and Sen. Kirk Watson (SB 1650, bill to privatize MoPac/183) and the other authors of CDA/PPP bills (Linda Harper-Brown, Charlie Geren, Allen Fletcher, Eddie Lucio III, John Davis) are still important to pressure these guys to do the right thing.

The Capitol Switchboard is (512) 463-4630.

Monday, March 28, 2011

You are invited

TRIP invites you to join us at the historic Stagecoach Ballroom on the banks of the Trinity River for the documentary movie premiere of “Up a Creek” -  exploring various impacts of the Trinity River Vision project.

Wednesday March 30, 2011

Doors open at 6:30 with screening at 7:00 p.m.

2516 E Belknap Fort Worth

This is an important viewing that will enlighten neighborhood leaders, political candidates, and every taxpayer.

TRIP is a non-partisan, non-profit organization which advocates cleaning the river and supporting development that doesn’t despoil the natural aesthetics and historic nature of the river.

Visit TRIP at:

RSVP to:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas Jobs

The article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram puts some numbers to job losses due to the proposed budget cuts.

Maybe those folks can get a job with the Trinity River Vision.  It's all about priorities?

The analysis forecasts that in 2013, as many as 335,244 jobs will be lost in the public and private sectors. A statement from the board's director said the reductions in the proposed budget stem largely from the "steep downturn of the Texas economy" over the past several years.

The board, the Legislature's chief budget agency, was required by a House rule to issue the economic impact statement after the House Appropriations Committee OK'd a spending blueprint Wednesday. The proposed budget would reduce state spending by $22.9 billion over two years, eliminating outright more than 8,000 state jobs and forcing deep cuts in healthcare, education and other services.

Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, who wrote the rule requiring the impact statement, said the board's findings showed that Texas faces the elimination of "hundreds of thousands of jobs."

There's a good letter along the same lines today to.

Budget cuts

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley voiced support for Community Development Block Grants because they provide jobs and help community projects. (See: "Whitley urges fellow Republicans not to cut block grant program," March 17) Those are insufficient reasons for spending taxpayer dollars.

Using the judge's math, $18 million in CDBGs created 1,200 jobs. So if we spend $180 million we would create 12,000 jobs.

Whitley said, "Yes, I am a Republican, and I agree we have to cut a lot of stuff." Well, if we are not willing to cut this because "it costs jobs," then what can we cut?

I am sure California taxpayers would prefer Texans pay to fix our own roads just as Texas taxpayers would rather not pay for bike paths in Ohio.

We have asked Planned Parenthood and NPR to seek alternative funding. If we expect them to find ways to manage without federal money, we must do the same with our local programs.

At some point, the money is going to stop. Wouldn't it be nice if it stopped because we chose to do the right thing and become self-sufficient instead of it stopping because the government ran out of funds?

-- Michael Garabedian, Keller

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Haltom City showdown

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram article on the Haltom City EDC fiasco this week is much more telling than the last.  Finally.  Maybe the residents over there can get some help, they've needed it since at least 2004, when a current councilmember initiated the recall.  Yes, he was on the EDC too.

Rumor has it, due to this information, there was a write in candidate for Mayor.  Since the only candidate to file spent years on the EDC as well.

Attend the meeting tonight at 6:30 at the old library.  It should be enlightening.

Haltom City's Economic Development Corp. is listed as owing $2.3 million in delinquent property taxes -- a figure more than four times the amount that the staff reported at a council meeting last month.

But Councilman David Averitt wants the seven-member development corporation board, which includes Mayor Bill Lanford, to resign immediately. He has also made requests to the Texas comptroller's office and the Tarrant County district attorney to investigate the development corporation.

Lanford likened Haltom City political tensions to a war that won't end. He traces it to the city's recall election of 2004.

The corporation owns 40 properties with a book value of $6.2 million. The properties were acquired as far back as 2004.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barnett Shale Fail

It's gas drilling day in Tarrant County....the FW Weekly knocks it out of the park again!  Hats off to the Weekly and all the HEROs listed in the article.  WHY do they do it?  For THE PEOPLE!

It would have raised eyebrows if they had told us our property values would be devalued, or that we’d have 14,000 gas wells in the Barnett Shale and only 12 [Texas] Railroad Commission inspectors.”

Ten years and 1,800 rigs (just in Fort Worth) later, many of the worries are no longer theoretical, even if industry officials still deny the connection. The health problems are real, inadequate monitoring of air pollution has finally gotten the attention of state legislators, and groundwater problems have prompted some drillers to buy out farmers and ranchers whose only source of water was wells drilled into now-tainted aquifers. The EPA has stepped in.

TCEQ tests in the Barnett Shale area had shown “some of the highest benzene concentrations we have monitored in the state,” she said.

All three families had to haul water onto their properties for more than two and a half years before Williams finally settled with them this fall — by buying all three of the properties.

That kind of potential for long-term threat to critical water supplies is what makes the gas-well-and-water-well collision so scary in North Texas.

In early 2010, Brian Boerner, then Fort Worth’s environmental management director, talked to Fort Worth Weekly about his concerns with Fort Worth’s single gas-industry waste disposal well.

Boerner — who went on to take a job with Chesapeake — said then that the city had “significant concerns” about groundwater contamination from such wells, which the EPA has repeatedly expressed concern over. He’d previously said that such wells should be the last option considered by the city for disposing of gas industry wastes

And hey Southlake, go visit with Flower Mound...

When it comes to standing up to the gas industry, few cities top Flower Mound. The city was among the first to establish 1000-foot setbacks in the Barnett Shale, in 2003. Last year, the city put a moratorium on new gas well applications and created an advisory board to look at beefing up the ordinance even more. In December, the city’s Oil and Gas Board of Appeals squelched an attempt to drill for gas near Lake Grapevine, citing concerns about the impact on a major source of drinking water. Residents have loudly expressed concerns about drilling’s impact on air, soil, water, and public safety.

“Flower Mound doesn’t see [drilling] as a revenue source for the city — the health and safety of residents is our first priority,” city spokesman Michael Ryan said. “Flower Mound has never shied away from a controversy when it’s been of the opinion that it’s for the protection of the residents.”

Gas companies have filed lawsuits against the city a few times over the years, but the city hasn’t lost a case or paid a dime in settlement, he said.

What's in YOUR Water?

Read all about it on TXSharon.

YOU can't afford not to.

Southlake scared

Of being sued.  They should be scared about their future.  Will the $25,000 be enough to supply them air and water? 

Read about the residents protesting gas drilling in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Kotter thinks that XTO Energy's two proposed drilling sites will reduce property values and the quality of life that drew families to Southlake. She also has health and safety concerns because one drill site is about 3,000 feet from Old Union Elementary School.

Mark Kotter said he doesn't understand how Southlake could chase away Wal-Mart and Twin Peaks but allow gas drilling.

But denying all drilling could put the city at risk for a multi-million dollar lawsuit, city attorney Allen Taylor said at a meeting.

In Texas, the mineral estate trumps the surface owners' rights because urban drilling was inconceivable when the law was written, Taylor explained.

The city could end up having to prove in court why the drill site was denied, Taylor said.

"It's extremely difficult and it's extremely risky," he said.

So is gambling with the health and safety of residents.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Q & A

We just received an email from one of our contributors concerning a meeting Jim Lane, Fort Worth Mayor candidate, spoke at this morning.  Sounds like it didn't go well, we are told Mr. Lane "danced" around answering questions.  And then tried to explain a TIF to a room full of people who already know what TIF's are made of.  THEIR money.

He also made a statement that due to gas drilling, the Tarrant Regional Water District has a "phenomenal amount of money".  Our question is HOW MUCH is phenomenal?  How much property does the Tarrant Regional Water District own?  (We'd tell you from the TAD database, but since they don't pay taxes...they ain't listed).  How much has the Tarrant Regional Water District made off gas drilling in the Barnett Shale?  If each well fracked uses 3-5 million gallons of water, how much are the gas drillers paying for the water they obtain legally? 

If Lane was Mayor, would he still spend taxpayer money (they don't have) on things they don't need?

One more question, is there a real reporter in the house??

Monday, March 21, 2011

Real news?!

Seems we weren't the only ones disappointed, though not surprised, at how Kay Granger voted on the NPR.

Letter to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says it all.  Right, left, we will all pay for this vote.

Disappointing vote

The March 17 vote in the House to strip funding for NPR was not about reducing deficits and debt or creating jobs. It was strictly about pursuing a right-wing extremist political agenda. Shame on Rep. Kay Granger for pandering to the extremist elements in her own party by voting against public broadcasting.

-- Ed Holloman, Fort Worth

More Small Town Politics...

Another letter to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the Haltom City EDC fiasco.  Seems THE PEOPLE want the "news" to tell the whole story, and hold elected officials and city staff paid by their tax dollars accountable.

WHO's in charge over there?

More to the story

I am not satisfied with the reporting about the fiasco that is the Haltom City Economic Development Corp. It appears to me a small covert group is operating within a larger covert group calling itself the EDC. I do not believe there was enough investigation by the Star-Telegram. (See: "Haltom City fires consultant after audit," Wednesday) If what appears to me is true, the whole shooting match is illegal, and the open meetings act is not being observed.

Had I known this story was going to appear, I would have filed for the mayor's position; the only person who filed is part of the council put in place during the political coup of 2004, and he was on the EDC for several years. I unsuccessfully ran for council last year with the major platform being the EDC; if there is still an EDC in January 2012, I will be running for the same Place 5 seat.

-- Bob Watkins, Haltom City

Fort Worth Family

Rumor has it Pete Geren will file for Mayor of Fort Worth today as a write in candidate.

What does that tell you? 

You have Besty Price, who has admitted she was asked to run by another Fort Worth family, the Granger's.  WHY would anyone leave a job making $127,000 a year to be mayor for $28,000?  Would you take a $100,000 pay cut?  WHY would she? 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports there is no rule on when Betsy Price has to leave her office.  So, is she working or politicking?  WHO pays for it?

Then you have Jim Lane, who is a Tarrant Regional Water District Board member.  Again, it's all about connections.

The Fort Worth Way is to keep it in the family.  Let's work on a new way for Fort Worth, what say YOU?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rule 37 made worse?

Didn't think that was possible, but leave it to the Texas Railroad Commission.  Yes, you are being railroaded.

It is YOUR property...well, it was.

Read about the changes THEY want to make to Rule 37 on TXSharon.  WHO do you think THEY are?

Friday, March 18, 2011

THIS SATURDAY - YOU are invited!

Natural Gas Blowout

In Ward County, Texas.

Read about it here.

Small Town Letter

Letter to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram concerning Haltom City's EDC fiasco.

We are sure it won't be the last.  This letter writer blames the current mayor.  What about the next mayor?  Remember, he was on the EDC.  And what do the taxpayers have to show for the tax they pay to the EDC?  Bank account grows, so did the tax rate.  WHO initiated raising the tax rate?

Outrage in Haltom City

The Wednesday article about Haltom City did not reveal who is responsible for the outrageous blunders in the Economic Development Corp., mainly its board. (See: "Haltom City fires consultant after audit") I, along with many others, am sadly disappointed in the mayor. He appoints the board, including the council representatives, so that pretty well states he is responsible for all actions.

This city closed or reduced hours in the rec center, library and senior center for financial reasons while EDC was spending taxpayers' money wildly and unaccounted by any city official.

At EDC's discretion, it purchased properties for no apparent reason. We are now one of the largest property owners in the city, and that does not help property taxes. We need further audits or criminal investigations into this so-called private corporation spending taxpayers' money secretly.

When we voted for the EDC fund, it was for improving the development of Haltom City. The half-cent needs to be cut to a quarter-cent and then hold it more accountable.

-- Bob Ryan, Haltom City

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On to something...

A Letter to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram makes our point. 

WHO is looking out for the citizens and their rights?  Your "leaders"?  The "news"?  Guess again.  It's THE PEOPLE. 

Remember that come May.

Gas drilling

The city of Fort Worth has issued permits for gas drilling without confirming legal ownership of property owners. By doing this, it allows gas companies to submit waivers with applications for drilling permits that are signed by anyone who is listed with the Tarrant Appraisal District. Finding a person's name on TAD is not the same as locating the legal property owner.

In an effort to drill on the Westridge site in West Fort Worth, a site that is 100 percent surrounded by residences, Chesapeake submitted waivers that were not legal.

Of the eight waivers required for protected uses, five were not valid at the time the application was filed on Feb. 10.

The current gas drilling ordinance is poorly written and is vague in many areas. If not for concerned residents, the city would have granted this permit. Given the ratio described above in this one application, one can only imagine how many drilling permits have been granted in Fort Worth that should not have been.

The council wants to wait until after City Council elections to amend the gas drilling ordinance. I wonder why?

-- Sheila M. Purdy, Fort Worth

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Small Town Politics

Richland Hills, Forest Hill, now back to Haltom City...

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has an article about the Haltom City Economic Development Corporation buying properties under the radar and not paying taxes on them.  Ever.

They make it sound like it was all Kent Flynn and that he just got fired.  Looking through agendas, it shows he was terminated in December.  Months after he was targeted by a local gas drilling company in a PowerPoint presentation shown at a local church, where the members of said church run for local offices on a regular basis.  And a pipeline runs under the football field on the church property.

Matter of fact, one of these church members, a longtime EDC member, will now be Haltom City's new mayor.  Looks like someone should be paying more attention to small town politics.  Too bad the "news" didn't cover any of this information sooner...might have enticed someone not involved in the EDC fiasco to run for Mayor. 

The audit mentioned in the article says the EDC conducts business in a "veil of secrecy".  That's what THE PEOPLE have said for years, again, someone should have listened.  If most of your council members are on the EDC, what does that say to the citizens?  And remember WHO paid Flynn...THE CITY.  Which of course means the taxpayers, though the city is to oversee how each dollar is spent.  So, WHO is really responsible?

Welch said that ultimately the bills weren't paid, and he isn't sure what became of them.

"The city didn't pay them. EDC didn't pay them. I don't know," he said.

Officials said Flynn wanted to keep documentation to a minimum so public-information requests couldn't tie the development corporation to land it was acquiring. Lanford said doing so meant keeping residents in the dark, but he said the potential savings to taxpayers outweighed his concerns about secrecy.

Fracing "news"

The FW Weekly tells you about last week's tanker spill (we showed you the picture from a citizen) and about the radioactive dumping around these parts.

Notice what the Weekly says at the start of their article:

Unnoticed by most local news media, on March 9 a tanker carrying toxic wastewater from a gas field overturned just north of the intersection of I-30 and University Drive—between Trinity Park and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

Sounds along the same lines as what we mentioned this morning with the Paradise Center Scandal.

Ask your local media WHY they aren't telling you what's up.  YOU have a right to know.

Paradise Center Scandal

Durango does it again.  While the "news" doesn't make mention the plight of the Paradise Center, THE PEOPLE do.  And WHO to?  Durango, that's who.

Check out the new blog he started that will help you to follow this developing story that some news producer (in with MHMR?) doesn't think you need to see.

Hats off to Durango for again giving THE PEOPLE a voice.

Carry on, sir!

What's wrong with Texas?

One thing is Governor Perry giving a speech that yet another company is getting loads of tax breaks for bringing 400 or so jobs to Texas. 

While kids protest outside about the education budget cuts.  Any of you kids want to be Governor?  Please?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

No "news"

Check in with Durango to find out WHY the Fort Worth Star-Telegram didn't report much on the Earthquake and Tsnumai in Japan or the MHMR Paradise Center scandal.

Then, think about all the other "news" you are missing in Tarrant County.  And ask WHY?

Small Town politics continued

This time in Richland Hills.  Read the letter in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

THE PEOPLE are listening.  Wonder what they'll say in May?

City Hall silence

The Richland Hills City Council decided Tuesday that it has the right to remove any speaker if council members feel insulted by what is said.

The council should be commended; this shows members are standing up for what they see is right. Think about it. I could say something like, "This decision could ruin this city." But that might hurt their feelings. I might be asked to leave.

So, no audience member should speak at all. In fact, I am not sure why an audience is even there. Let council members do whatever they want behind closed doors. Residents don't need to exercise their right to participate in government.

I just hope we don't elect three new council members who respect citizen input.

The preceding letter is sarcasm. Vote those guys out while you still have a voice.

-- Travis Malone, Richland Hills

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forest Hill Fight

Small town politics never change. Unless you vote in new folks. Remember that come May.

Read about the brawl between the Mayor and council member in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

What's in the Trinity River?

It ain't just alligators and PCB's.

Read about the spill on TXSharon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tell your Texas senator to block SB 875

State senator Troy Fraser, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and renowned champion of corporate interests, recently introduced his latest bad idea,  SB 875.
In a nutshell: SB 875 allows Texas state permit holders to trample on your property rights
A permit -- for gas drilling, or anything else -- is supposed to make the permit-holder behave responsibly.
SB 875 turns that on its head – it makes a permit a “get out of jail free” card.
No matter what the gas driller (or other permit holder) does -- if they’re holding a government permit, they can’t be held accountable under Texas nuisance law.
If SB 875 becomes law, that is.
Pollution from industry can trespass onto your property all day and night, pollute it, make your family sick, kill your livestock,  and industry only has to say “I was just following my permit or rule.”
  1. Go to the action page.
  2. Go to page bottom and enter your zip code so the system can find your Senator
  3. Read the sample letter that appears and edit it if possible. Customized letters have greater impact.
  4. Click "Send My Message" to fax your letter to our member of the Texas Natural Resources Committee.
  5. For more information, go to the action page.
  6. NOTE: only Texans who are represented by members of the committee can take action

PCBs everywhere...and not a drop to drink

Read about the Trinity River contamination in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Oh goody, another "study". 

Some of these items were discussed at the recent NCTCOG TDML meeting (they didn't have an answer either) and the TRIP meeting Saturday.  

WHO says it's safe to swim in?  Just how contaminated will the Town Lake be?

PCBs have been in the Trinity for decades and have led to bans against consuming fish caught in the Clear Fork below the Benbrook Lake dam and the West Fork below the Lake Worth dam to the confluence of the Trinity in downtown Fort Worth. The ban then extends downstream all the way to the Freestone-Anderson county line.

PCBs degrade slowly and, if consumed over a long period, they can cause cancer and developmental problems as well as problems with the immune system, reproductive organs and liver.

Other than dredging, which would likely cause as many problems as it would solve, there have been no options for displacing them.

"It is also not seen as environmentally advantageous to dredge/remove the existing sediments especially in a river system," Grundmann said in written responses to the Star-Telegram's questions. "For these reasons, the state may look at other alternatives to a TMDL for PCBs in the Trinity River."

EPA Region 6 spokesman Dave Bary said finding an answer to PCB contamination in the Trinity "may take many years and will be resource-intensive."

"At the present time different program areas within EPA and TCEQ are working together with multiple stakeholders to address this problem in the Trinity River and other water bodies [creeks and streams] across the state," Bary said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trinity River Vision Funding

There ain't any.

Oh, besides YOU, dear taxpayers.

Read about it in the Fort Worth Business Press.  YOU can't afford to miss it.  Neither can your kids.

Meanwhile the costs mount and the availability of funds is more in question than ever. The total environmental remediation cost was estimated at $22 million back in 2004. Now the cost of cleaning up a single parcel is estimated to cost $42 million. That will make any developer think twice about digging a canal through known contaminated ground.

While flood control is a mechanism for obtaining federal funding, the reality is that the project substantially increases the potential of flooding downstream. That’s the reason for increasing valley storage area in Tarrant County. The flood potential for the 800 acre development area has always been close to zero.

 How long will this project take? Is the expected $1 billion tax base worth a $3 billion investment? Be assured that the $1 billion cost now will escalate to at least $3 billion over the next thirty to forty years of construction and development. This whole project rests on political manipulation of taxpayer dollars.

Remember a few of the Star-Telegram editorials and other articles? “Taking the long view – will North Central Texas have enough water for 13 million – that’s 13 million – people?” (7/10/05), Army Corps of Engineers – A flood of bad projects (5/28/06), “Earmarks crackdown puts squeeze on Trinity Uptown” (4/14/07), “Tax money flows to the river” (7/19/09), “Trinity Uptown plan is flawed” (8/02/09),

Is there a major company or political entity in this world (barring Fort Worth and Tarrant Regional Water District) that would hire [a] lawyer from the district Attorney’s office to head up a major development project of this magnitude and scope? Of course not. So why do we, as a community of generally visionary and accomplished business and political entities, support such a boondoggle?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Arlington Heights Update

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has an update on the Arlington Heights flooding issues.  Seems like we just heard something similar Saturday night at the Trinity River Improvement Partnership (TRIP) event.  They even talked about Arlington Heights, flooding, watersheds, flood plains, creeks, developers, inadequate drainage.  They may be on to something.  YOU should pay attention.

Everybody in Fort Worth lives in a watershed -- an area of land that catches rain or snow and drains into a creek or lake and eventually into the Trinity River. Public planners generations ago built pipelines that tied into those natural drains.

The 40-inch pipes in Arlington Heights are too small to handle a severe downpour. A video produced by the city shows a raging flood down Carleton Avenue in 2004 that flooded several homes. An analysis showed that during the storm, rain fell at 2.2 inches per hour.

Fixing the problem isn't as simple as cutting into the ground and upsizing the pipe.

Developers built houses over the pipes.

TRIP put on an excellent event.  We are looking forward to the next one.  We'll see YOU there.  YOU can't afford to miss it.
WHO was at the TRIP event?  Lots of folks.  Including Durango.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hell Yeah.

The North Central Texas Communities Alliance has won the 2010 Special Service Award from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club!

Hats off to the NCTCA!  

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's the difference in NY and TX?

Newspapers.  Read the drilling article that addresses concerns with water supply in the New York Times.

And then read about the DISH, TX lawsuit against the industry on TXSharon.

While Josh Fox didn't win the Oscar, we are sure he appreciates all the free press Gasland was given.  Netflix says it's a LONG WAIT to see Gasland.  Here's hoping Gasland 2 brings home the Oscar next year!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Money and Education

Good letters to the editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. 

Our guess is the politicians think if we spend less on education, it will be easier to take the citizens for a ride, while picking their pockets.  Educate yourself.  Someone has to protect our kids. Otherwise they are going to grow up broke, uneducated with no air to breathe and no water to drink.

We the people have disappointed God and our children. We build billion-dollar stadiums, and now we cannot pay for our schools. We worship rock stars and athletes and allow politicians and the media to demonize our educators.

We give tax breaks to the wealthy, and yet we begrudge our educators wanting an income level decent enough to house our families and provide a college education for our children.

Republicans promised us jobs, but they never told us they were going to do away with our jobs. Instead of talking cuts and what we are going to do without, can't we figure out a way to save our jobs, our education system and our middle class?

-- Joyce A. Powell, Bedford

A fee is a tax

I would like to see a law that says whenever anyone in government announces that the government is "investing" in anything, they will be subject to a $1,000 fine.

The government never invests our money; it spends it. Investing requires a return above the investment. The government never has a return on money spent.

Same goes with fees. When the government requires you to pay a fee, it's a tax, plain and simple.

I wonder if people would finally realize how much they actually pay in taxes if they saw the word "tax" instead of "fee." Same thing, but "fee" sounds so much nicer.

-- Brent Beal, Keller

STOP Electing career politicians

Unless you want more of the same. 

Read another good letter in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today.

Bad air

Dave Montgomery recently reported on a document that lists a number of low rankings for Texas in comparison to other states: education, healthcare, quality of life, etc.

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was quoted as saying, "We're not the bottom in every category. We're first in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and first in carcinogens released in the air. ..."

I believe what Burnam says is true. We know of several studies about the harmful emissions being sent to the Metroplex from cement plants to the south and gas wells here.

In the same issue was an article, "3 Texas Republicans target EPA regulations." The three "took aim at the Environmental Protection Agency regulations Tuesday, proposing to eliminate funding for the agency's enforcement or implementation of greenhouse gas rules."

One of them, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, said in part, "Enough is enough. ... This economic warfare the EPA is waging on the American worker must be stopped."

Maybe another category that Texans should not be proud of is our ability to continually re-elect career politicians who seem to evolve from being representatives of the people into being representatives of polluting industries.

V.T. Hunn, Fort Worth

Trinity River Supercollider Boondoggle

Read the latest from Mr. Woodard in the Letters to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Thanks to the Star Telegram for publishing the letters THE PEOPLE write.  After all, that's what it's for, right?

Mr. Woodard mentions some of the mayoral candidates being proponents of this boondoggle, for those of you not in the know, that would be Betsy Price, WHO rumor has it was asked to run by the boondoggle group and Jim Lane, WHO doesn't want to give up his seat on the Tarrant Regional Water Distritct.  Things that make you go hmmm....

Financial drain

In 1991, construction began on the Superconducting Super Collider at Waxahachie, a project that had been on the drawing boards for more than 10 years. But in 1993, after investing more than $2 billion into the project, President Clinton and Congress canceled it. All that remains are 200,000 square feet of still-vacant factories and labs, and over 20 miles of carved-rock tunnels slowly filling with water.

I have long been warning that federal funds to pay half the cost of Trinity River Vision might turn out to be like the proverbial "Check is in the mail." Those warnings have been ignored by the powers that be in Congress, City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. After millions of Fort Worth taxpayer dollars have been washed down the river, it appears, judging from a Feb. 24 front-page story, that earmarked Trinity River Vision could well join the Waxahachie Superconducting Super Collider in the graveyard of government boondoggles.

Considering that more than one of the mayoral candidates is neck high in the Trinity Vision quagmire, were I running, To Kill a Money-Eater would be Job 1 in my platform.

-- Don Woodard Sr., Fort Worth