Monday, October 31, 2011

No Take Back's


Well, then again, it is Fort Worth.  What did you expect?

Do something already, before it's done to YOU.

Just say NO

Many people have been asking about voting on the amendments in Texas.  Here's an interesting read we were forwarded.  WHY would some of these be coming right out of Tarrant County?  Where's that Attorney General when you need him?

This amendment will allow bonds to be sold to be used for a private commercial real estate development project and to pocket the profits. Public monies should not be used for private development. And it is highly questionable how the public can benefit from a developer building condominiums. It hasn't worked very well in the past--many big promises were made as to how the tifs would benefit us but it hasn't worked out that way.

This amendment allows counties to use eminent domain to take property and use for commercial interest. The sponsor of the amendment says it is to allow counties to build roads. But it also allows most anything else they can think of---just as happened which began the boondogle TRV project.

Voters already voted down a transportation bill for extensive rail projects that weren't liked and the same people who brought that item to the ballot are strongly supporting this--- so they can do an end-around the voters and decide to plan a rail project without public support. If this amendment passes, they can take private land without paying a fair price,  sell bonds without voter approval, and build whatever rail project they want,  then sell extra land to private developers to finish out project..... all without your approval and/or participation in the process.

Funding also provided by complicated tax refinancing similar to TIF'S. As you know some tifs have been a financial drain on taxpayers--they only help the private developer and big business, and not fulfilling the big promises of increased jobs and increasing tax base. They were also originally designed to use "blighted" areas for redevelopment but have turned out to be anything but that. The process has been abused in our area many times but voters are without recourse, once they unwittingly give up that power.

And the whole process depends entirely on the expectation that future property values will increase. If they don't the govt. entities must cough up the money somehow... so who do you think will pay if they are in danger of defaulting on their bonds?

I'm all for adding more rail projects but don't believe this is the way to do it after the TRV was shoved down our throat, leaving us with no recourse.

I'm voting no on all amendments,except maybe the first one.

Please join me in voting NO to prop 4 on Nov. 8

Are Smart Meters mandatory?

We received an invitation and were asked to pass it along, be there November 5th.  And check out their website below.  Power to the people!

I have become aware of the Electrical Smart Meter (and on the water too!), deployment in parts of Texas (I live in NRHills), as well as other parts of the US and the world.  The installation is being treated as if it were mandatory by Oncor, Centerpoint and other distributors in Texas.  This is wrong!  There are many controversial aspects having to do with Privacy, personal freedom of choice, Health Concerns (serious), Over-billing, Ruined Appliances, House Fires…to name a few.

As a result – In an effort to get the word out to the public about the dangers and the infringements on their ‘choice’ and privacy, I created an event called “DFW Community Smart Meter Forum” which is taking place Nov. 5th, 7-9 pm, at the HURST PUBLIC LIBRARY.

I wanted to know if your online blog/paper would be able to feature or insert a post about the smart meter issue and/or sharing also the upcoming meeting.

A friend and I have also created a website (still kinda new) called www.bantexassmartmeters.com where people can go to sign several petitions, read about Texas happenings etc.

Dear Texas Attorney General

It seems some in Tarrant County might need to be taken out behind the Woodshed...

The citizens have taken a special interest in the new Tim Love restaurant on the banks of the Trinity River. They seem to have issue with WHERE all this public money for private profit is coming from.  THEM.

Check out the latest on Durango.  Then, sit tight, more to come.

Beale also told me that the Woodshed cost $1.2 million and that currently three entities, (Tim Love, Tarrant Regional Water District and Trinity River Vision Authority) are at odds over something, which is why the Woodshed sits on the bank of the Trinity River, unopened.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jeers to you know WHO

A jeer in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram caught our eye this weekend. We hear there's more to this jeer...stay tuned.

Jeers: To the people who encourage us to tube, swim, wakeboard and otherwise recreate in a river that is known to have contaminated fish and fecal matter in it, as shown on WFAA last month. Is the Trinity clean now? If so, who cleaned it?

-
- Debbie L. Sheffield, North Richland Hills

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Proposition 2 - Texas Water


Our first sign something was wrong was the commercial on the radio.  A commercial about saving tax payers money.  It sounds like a joke.  It is.  Read the $6 billion dollar fine print.

The second sign was the email from Lon where the Proposition numbers were wrong.


We have to agree with this statement though...

I appreciate and respect why many of you distrust this because of our experiences with the Trinity Vision Project.

Drilling Down

Contrary to what the industry says, there are down sides to drilling... and if you can believe this, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram mentions some.  Of course the article came from the Associated Press.

One of our regular contributors told us of a recent family trip out of state.  They stopped to stay the night in a small town but hotel after hotel had no rooms available.  When they finally found one with an opening, the clerk told them, "Get your family, get back in your car and get on the highway.  Drive to the next town and stay there.  They don't call these boys, "Oil Field Trash" for nothing..."

Now we aren't painting all the industry with the same brush, but when a hotel passes on revenue for a night, something's up.  Sounds like the crime rate.

Make note in the article of the difference in what happens in Texas.

In a modern-day echo of the raucous Old West, small towns enjoying a boom in oil and gas drilling are seeing a sharp increase in drunken driving, bar fights and other hell-raising, blamed largely on an influx of young men who find themselves with lots of money in their pockets and nothing to do after they get off work.

Authorities in Pennsylvania and other states are quick to point out that the vast majority of workers streaming in are law-abiding. But they also say the drilling industry has brought with it a hard-working, hard-drinking, rough-and-tumble element that, in some places, threatens to overwhelm law enforcement.

But he said that many in the industry obey the law and that authorities in Pennsylvania have less tolerance for troublemakers than police in small-town Texas, where rig workers are used to raising hell and getting a pass from law enforcement.

"You can do that [stuff] and get away with it," Bourque said. In Pennsylvania, "they look at it totally different."

Another flood "study"...

This one in Arlington concerning Rush Creek Watershed.

Once it's completed FEMA and the Corp will get involved.  YOU know what that means.  Cha-ching.

Read about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Then watch the Arlington flooding that happened Wednesday, though no one is sure the cause for the water main break.  Those living near the waste water plant have been flooded many times in the past several years.  Maybe they should study that, too.  Check it out on Fox 4 news.  What all runs downhill?

In September 2010, Tropical Storm Hermine sent several feet of floodwater raging through dozens of west Arlington homes and the Willows at Shady Valley condos. The city, saying that no amount of dredging would stop Rush Creek from flooding, bought 48 of the affected homes and the condominium complex as part of a $16 million program to address chronic flooding.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, interim Public Works and Transportation Director Keith Melton outlined a planned Rush Creek watershed study that aims to identify its true 100-year flood plain, which hasn't been updated since the 1970s.

Many of the homes in the Shady Valley area were built before those flood maps were adopted. Over the years, development upstream has increased storm-water runoff flowing into the creek and through the downstream neighborhoods, causing millions of dollars in flood damage.

Arlington wants to determine how high Rush Creek storm water could rise once the watershed is fully developed. Rush Creek, which encompasses about one-third of the city, is the largest of the city's nine watersheds and has the most undeveloped land within it, Melton said.

The study, set to be presented to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2013, will help the city identify possible drainage and storm-water-retention projects to protect structures, interim City Manager Bob Byrd said. The studies could help FEMA determine a new 100-year Rush Creek basin flood plain, which could affect homeowners' flood insurance premiums.
________________________________________________

Some Arlington homeowners said they were shocked and completely helpless when a water treatment plant mishap sent water rushing through their homes.

“I’m a realtor and was working at my computer and happened to look out the door and saw water coming 90 miles an hour down the hill,” said Carol Cash.

She said this is not the first time water from the plant has flooded their home. And her family has been trying to negotiate a settlement deal with the city.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

YOUR kids will want to know


WHY you let them sell off our state and  what Texas pride was...

WHAT will you tell them?

An excerpt from an article in this week's FW Weekly titled "What Will the Kids Get?"....

There are now billboards all around town that herald the notion that the resultant natural gas harvest will last 100 years, but it’s a head-scratcher for any Texans who still have brains left to scratch.

One hundred years is nothing, except in terms of human encroachment.

Today, Coronado wouldn’t bother with Texas, and who could blame him? We’re selling off our state and our state of being to the highest bidder — although that too is perhaps a less-acknowledged but longtime tradition in this state. It is intensely sad.

Hitting the nail on the head

Is what the New York Times keeps doing.

(This story, "As Thailand Floods Spread, Experts Blame Officials, Not Rains", originally appeared in The New York Times.)

On the other side of the world, yet it sounds so familiar...

As some of Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century bears down on Bangkok — submerging cities, industrial parks and ancient temples as it comes — experts in water management are blaming human activity for turning an unusually heavy monsoon season into a disaster.

The main factors, they say, are deforestation, overbuilding in catchment areas, the damming and diversion of natural waterways, urban sprawl, and the filling-in of canals, combined with bad planning. Warnings to the authorities, they say, have been in vain.

Those who tried to warn them have been called crazy.

Ain't so crazy now, is it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WHO to the rescue?

A letter to the editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells you how things are run in Tarrant County.  Don't be mistaken, it ain't just Richland Hills.

If a Texes hero shows up, they are going to be busy. 

Rescue Richland Hills

Richland Hills has ceased to function as a city, and there's no Superman to rescue us. We have a city charter that is old and outdated but is the current, legal policy voted in by our citizens. It is the law.

Or is it? Various members of the City Council are routinely violating the city charter but there's no way to hold them accountable since they abolished the city's Ethics Review Board. The city manager, who has won numerous awards for management of the city, is under siege by the council. Each week more City Council actions are being hidden in "executive session." Residents loyal to certain councilmen are allowed to misbehave during council and board meetings and are creating a hostile workplace for volunteers and city employees. Councilmen are ordering the replacement of opposing board members without following due process.

Richland Hills has become a Wild West town run by thugs and bullies. We need an intervention! I have contacted various elected officials within Tarrant County and my state representative but so far no one seems able or willing to step in, call this obviously unethical behavior into question and save Richland Hills.

-- Ralph Smith, Richland Hills

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meanwhile, back on the ranch

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram sticks with the usual spin. 

Don't worry, your local "news" knows "what's good for you". Remember, THEY also tell you WHO to vote for.  How's all that working out for ya?

And how has this worked out in the past?

WHY would a local politician and backers "scratch and claw" for this project?

That "local government money" they talk about, where do YOU think they get that?

The federal government may be in a world of hurt, but not the Trinity River Vision.

That was the message last week, when Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, called a news conference to announce that $15 million in federal money had been secured for the river project.

Given that the TRV is estimated to cost $910 million and take at least 10 more years to complete, it hardly seems newsworthy that officials locked up 1.6 percent of the budget. Except that these days, every federal dollar is precious, and Granger's TRV coalition served notice that it'll scratch and claw to keep the Fort Worth project on track.

Maybe its best argument is that local government is paying more of the early costs rather than relying exclusively on Uncle Sam. Through August, local sources had contributed $83 million toward the project, while the federal allocation was almost $44 million, not including the latest $15 million pledge.

Despite some Republicans calling for an end to earmarks, Granger believes that this cost sharing will keep the TRV on course.

"The projects that can't come up with their local funds are the ones that are really going to slow down," Granger said. "That's one reason ours goes to the top of the list."

Fortunately, this ambitious idea took root in 2001. Back then, most people still believed that government could do great things, such as moving a river and reviving a distressed area about the size of the central business district.

But such progress gets overshadowed by the infighting in Washington, where earmarks -- money OK'd by Congress for specific projects advocated by members -- have been attacked as wasteful spending. That broad brush discredits every infrastructure project in the country, including the good ones. And the TRV is counting on the feds to cover more than half its budget, or nearly $488 million, so Granger has to keep the money flowing.

The Army Corps of Engineers, penciled in to provide the big bucks, isn't expected to start digging the $94 million bypass channel for three years, so a lot could change by then. Officials are already adjusting schedules in the event that Congress reverses course and plows new money into infrastructure jobs; if that happens, several pieces of the TRV will be shovel-ready and eager to compete for funding.

But at the moment and probably until the TRV is finished, there will be fears that federal support will dry up. Granger said she's always asked whether local, state and national leaders are still behind it.

"Our actions speak as loud as our words," Granger said Thursday, proud that local officials had found a way to land more money.

Originally, the Transportation Department was supposed to provide the last piece of funding for two bridges on Henderson and North Main streets. But the transportation bill is bogged down over a House proposal to cut spending by 30 percent, so Granger went to the Regional Transportation Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

That local agency had enough federal money to close the gap. Bridge construction starts next year, and Granger was quick to say that 800 jobs will be created.

If the federal money stopped completely, the TRV would be in serious trouble. The local players -- the Tarrant Regional Water District, Tarrant County and Fort Worth -- have already pledged a combined $102 million.

In a more austere time, when the corps can't do as much, one priority should be to finish projects that are under way. The TRV has already bought property, moved businesses, demolished old buildings and completed some environmental cleanup. Building bridges adds to the list.

Under the worst-case scenario, local governments could increase their contribution, Granger said. And some cities have sold bonds to complete vital projects. She wouldn't suggest how the local share might change, saying any shift wouldn't be necessary until 2014 or beyond.

"It'll be a year-to-year thing" with federal funding, said Vic Henderson, president of the water district. "We may have to slow it down some time, but we'll finish this project."

Officials also discovered that the bypass channel could be about 8 feet shallower than initially projected, which will cut extraction costs by $10 million to $15 million.

Sometimes, the savings benefit the Army Corps' side of the ledger; other times, they lower the costs for local players. Either way, the TRV wins and in the process shows how a ground-breaking project should work.

That's not only good for taxpayers and government. It may be the only way to keep the federal money coming.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WHO owns YOUR news?

The fracing war is being waged from Texas to New York.

Read about the fracing war the New York Times is facing. 

WHAT happened to "news"?  Oh yeah, most sold out. 

Read about it on ReaderSupportedNews.org.  Bravo, NYT.

Superb investigative journalism by the New York Times has brought the paper under attack by the natural gas industry. That campaign of intimidation and obfuscation has been orchestrated by top-shelf players like Exxon and Chesapeake, aligned with the industry's worst bottom feeders. This coalition has launched an impressive propaganda effort carried by slick PR firms, industry-funded front groups and a predictable cabal of right-wing industry toadies from cable TV and talk radio. In pitting itself against public disclosure and reasonable regulation, the natural gas industry is once again proving that it is its own worst enemy.

In an era when few papers or news outlets are still willing to take on very powerful interests, The Times has pursued very difficult questions about one of our country's richest and most aggressive industries. At a time when accessing documents through open records requests faces an obstacle course of daunting roadblocks, the series has spent nearly a year using these flawed tools to collect and publish an extraordinary trove of original documentation. Archives published by The Times include thousands of pages obtained through leaks and/or public records requests. The Times reporters provide page-by-page annotations explaining the documents so that the reader can sift through them in guided fashion.

Among the revelations uncovered by The Times' admirable reporting;

Sewage treatment plants in the Marcellus region have been accepting millions of gallons of natural gas industry wastewater that carry significant levels of radioactive elements and other pollutants that they are incapable of treating.

An EPA study published by The Times shows receiving rivers and streams into which these plants discharge are unable to consistently dilute this kind of highly toxic effluent.

Most of the state's drinking water intakes, streams and rivers have not been tested for radioactivity for years - since long before the drilling boom began.

Industry is routinely making inflated claims about how much of its wastewater it is actually recycling.

EPA, caving to industry lobbyists and high level political interference reminiscent of the Bush/Cheney era, has narrowed the scope of its national study on hydrofracking despite vocal protests from agency scientists. The EPA had, for example, planned to study in detail the effect on rivers of sending radioactive wastewater through sewage plants, but dropped these plans during the phase when White House-level review was conducted.

Similar studies in the past had been narrowed by industry pressure, leading to widespread exemptions for the oil and gas industry from environmental laws.

The Times revealed an ongoing and red-hot debate within the EPA about whether the agency should force Pennsylvania to handle its drilling waste more carefully and strengthen that state's notoriously lax regulations and anemic enforcement.

The Times investigation also explodes the industry's decade-old mantra that a "there is not a single documented case of drinking water being contaminated by fracking." The Times investigation of EPA archives exposes this claim as demonstrably false.

A second round of New York Times stories showed that within the natural gas industry and among federal energy officials, there were serious and disturbing reservations about the economic prospects of shale gas:

Government and industry officials made sure that all of their reservations were discussed privately and never revealed to the American public. Internal commentary by these officials is striking because it contrasts so sharply with the excited public rhetoric from the same agencies, lawmakers, industry officials and energy experts about shale gas.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

THEY "found" some money...

Yeah, it's YOURS too.

Another $15 million, that will keep the Trinity River Vision afloat, for now.  They needed to do something, people are starting to ask questions and put 2 and 2 together.  Sometimes that adds up to a billion.  But that's ok, it's YOUR money.

Read along with us about the Trinity River Vision bridges and their funding in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The first of three new bridges connecting downtown Fort Worth to the planned Trinity Uptown project is on course to be under construction by next fall, after officials disclosed Thursday that they had found $15 million more in federal funds to pay for the project.

* They FOUND $15 million?  WHO lost it in the first place?

"It allows us to stay on budget. In the next few years, we can build these bridges before we build the lake," said U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth.


Granger, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and other dignitaries gathered Thursday at the Fort Worth Club to thank regional planners for setting aside $15 million in federal mobility funds for the new Henderson Street and North Main Street bridges. The money, approved last week by the Regional Transportation Council, will be combined with $23 million in federal funds previously arranged by Granger and $24.8 million in local funds, enough to ensure that the bridges can be built, they said.

* WHO are the "other dignitaries"?  WHO are the "regional planners"?  WHO is on the Regional Transportation Council?  If you guessed part of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, you were right on the money.

(Remember WHY TURF was created?)  You may notice on their website, the August meeting would not be recorded.  WHY?

Transportation construction is part of the initial focus of the Trinity Uptown project, a $909 million effort to convert the near north side of Fort Worth into a walkable neighborhood with dense residential areas, shops, museums and night life.


* Key word, dense.

The project would accomplish many goals that city officials have long touted -- flood control, economic development, ecological restoration, and increased recreation on the river and its banks.


* This has been touted as a lot of things, looks like the list is expanding.

Thursday's funding announcement is the latest example of how aggressively local leaders are working to start construction of the Trinity Uptown bridges.

Those figures, however, don't include land acquisition, relocation, cleanup and other costs that could push the total to $110 million, officials have said.


* This is the part in a commercial when they talk real fast at the end and tell you what all is NOT included.

The original plan was to use some of the state's voter-approved transportation bonds, but the Regional Transportation Council instead found $15 million available in federal surface transportation funds, Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan said.


*  When it starts off with "the original plan was...but"  YOU know you're in for it.  Again, WHERE did they find this money?

The city is responsible for construction of the bridges. Partner agencies include the Tarrant Regional Water District and Tarrant County. Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation and Army Corps of Engineers were also on hand Thursday.


* The partners are WHO YOU thought they were.  They always are. 

There were some interesting comments on the article, too:

Is this the same Kay Granger that rails against the spending of taxpayer money on pork? The same Kay Granger that voted against the stimulus but gladly takes stimulus dollars for her pet projects and to benefit her special interest donors? The same Kay Granger that spends taxpayer money railing the President faithfully on every GOP talking point, but whose actions don't follow those words? Yeah. Same one. Go figure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Did we read that right??

Did Railroad Commissioners just stand up for THE PEOPLE and their property?

Against the industry?  Against their money??

Read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  YOU won't believe it.

The Railroad Commission has shown some spine.

Last week, on Chesapeake Energy's request to "force pool" some residential properties for drilling in the Glen Garden neighborhood of southeast Fort Worth, commissioners Barry Smitherman and David Porter politely but decidedly beat up on the big local company and its attorneys for belligerent behavior.

One of the arguments that Chesapeake's offer was not fair and reasonable was that it asked property owners who had not signed mineral leases to take a "working interest" in the well, under which they would share in the profits but would pay twice their share of the well's costs. It gave them 14 days in which to decide, and they were told they would be given a written copy of the agreement after they said they wanted to go that route.

Under questioning from Jones, hearing examiner James Doherty said, "To me, it just seems unfair on its face to expect somebody to commit to enter into an agreement that they've never been given the opportunity to see."

Since that didn't work, he said, he joined Porter in making the vote 2-1 to deny the company's pooling application.

The commission moved to a case in which Chesapeake asked for a "Rule 37 exception" that would give it more flexibility in drilling on 182 acres in Crowley.

"In the nine months I've been here," Porter said, "this may be the poorest fact case I've seen on a Rule 37 request."

It wasn't Chesapeake's day. The commission unanimously denied that request.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WHO thought that was a good idea?

WHO is the genius that thought drilling next to the Comanche Power Plant was a good idea? Read about it in the Fort Worth Weekly.

All the same players and issues.  Texas is starting to sound like a broken record.  Gas drilling, water, dams, fracing, earthquakes...the list goes on.

Too bad you can only believe half of what the Corp says...which half do you believe?

“All of our infrastructure is aging,” he said. “It’s a nationwide issue. We have concerns [about] hydrofracking. We don’t have the data on it, and that’s what we need to get. We don’t want to do anything to put an undue strain on a public infrastructure. Public safety comes first.”

Look what THEY did...

This woman is unstoppable. We like her.

Teri Hall just held TURF's Stars of Texas Awards, they were given to State Rep's & a Commissioner that actually did their jobs and protected THE PEOPLE of Texas. Want to know what THEY had to say?

Kolkhorst teared up as she listened to Hall recount the stories that lead up to the repeal of the TTC. As she accepted her award she remarked, "How could we even think of selling off our infrastructure to foreign companies? Shame on us, shame on us for thinking about it. I will fight any Republican, any Democrat, anyone who wants to take our state from us."

I don't know how you did it. The deck was so stacked against you...You inspire me, you will inspire other generations. God bless Texas and may it always stand as a free and sovereign nation," Kolkhorst concluded at the end of her emotional speech.


Simpson in typical form, brought a hush over the room as he spoke, "Civil government has destroyed many lives. What is fundamental to property or to working is the movement of our bodies, in a sense, transportation. I'm encouraged by the people who are waking up and listening who are holding coffees, holding town hall meetings, looking at voting records."

Leibowitz
praised the grassroots who worked together toward a common goal to slay the TTC, "This really is a very special group you have put together. Many different political philosophies, different walks of life, urban, rural, people that have come together for a common cause. People that come forward and work together to get something accomplished, they do end up, in fact, literally moving mountains."

Dunnam said the "danger we have today in all levels of our government is that certain people 'own' it...the people stood up and stopped these toll roads in my district. It was all about the money, all about money for private interests making money off the government."
He went on to assert that elected officials are afraid to stand up to the money, "but, fortunately, they're also afraid of y'all" (pointing to Hall).


Our hats off to Teri, TURF and friends.

If you haven't seen Molina's -  Truth Be Tolled, you should.  YOU don't know what you're missing...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Same song and dance

Any of this starting to sound familiar, yet?

Texas in the New York Times...again.  

Eminent Domain Fight Has a Canadian Twist

Randy Thompson, a Nebraska landowner, is challenging the assumption by TransCanada that it can seize land for an oil pipeline. 

 
 By LESLIE KAUFMAN and DAN FROSCH
    Published: October 17, 2011 


 A Canadian company has been threatening to confiscate private land from South Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and is already suing many who have refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property even though the controversial project has yet to receive federal approval. 

 
Randy Thompson, a cattle buyer in Nebraska, was informed that if he did not grant pipeline access to 80 of the 400 acres left to him by his mother along the Platte River, "Keystone will use eminent domain to acquire the easement." 


Sue Kelso and her large extended family in Oklahoma were sued in the local district court by TransCanada, the pipeline company, after she and her siblings refused to allow the pipeline to cross their pasture. "Their land agent told us the very first day she met with us, you either take the money or they're going to condemn the land," Mrs. Kelso said. 

By its own count, the company currently has 34 eminent domain actions against landowners in Texas and an additional 22 in South Dakota. 

“It was a hard decision whether I wanted to fight and spend all this money even though I could lose the thing,” Ms. Fairchild said in a weary drawl. “But somebody needs to fight them. I decided it would be me.” 

No more Toal

Well, the name anyway.  Gideon Toal has changed names, again.  It's a brand new day at Bennett Benner Pettit.

WHY?

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

Fort Worth's Gideon Toal architecture and planning firm has changed its name to Bennett Benner Pettit to reflect the firm's current leadership team.

"Our new name, our new identity and even the new design of our website and our office space all speak to the fact that this is a new day for our firm," CEO Michael Bennett said.

The current leadership structure, in place since 2008, includes Bennett; Bruce Benner, president and chief operating officer; and David Pettit, director of economic development. The company has 35 employees.

Gideon Toal was founded in 1956 as Don W. Kirk, a consulting engineer. By 1986, the firm had been renamed Kirk Voich Gist. Randy Gideon joined the firm in 1989 and James Toal in 1993. It then became KVG Gideon Toal and was renamed Gideon Toal in 1997. In 1998, the two men began a 10-year process of selling the firm to its employees. That was completed in 2008 and the men left the company in June 2010.

"We are truly proud of this firm's history and we fully appreciate all the work that has gotten us to this point," Bennett said. Bennett joined the firm in 2004 as a principal and has been CEO since 2008. Benner has been with the firm since 1984 and was named principal, president and chief operating officer in 2001. Pettit joined the firm in 2003 from Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

Bennett said the firm conducted local and statewide studies and considered many options before deciding to change. The firm, he said, "didn't want to walk away" if there was strong name recognition.

What they found was that the firm was well-known within the architecture community, but not as much in real estate circles, Bennett said.

Using the names of the current executives "felt right," Bennett said.

In addition to its three namesake principals, Mark Dabney, associate principal, is responsible for architectural production and staffing. The firm's associates include Amanda Schulte, Gannon Gries and Stephen Pepper.

Some of the firm's recent projects include the Acme Brick corporate headquarters, The Residences at 1301 Throckmorton, the West 7th and West Bend mixed-use developments, the new Tarrant County Jail and Cantey Hanger Plaza.

Nothing ever happens...

Till it happens to you.

Guess WHAT?  It's happening.  All around you. Pay attention.

Read the letter to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

It was only a matter of time until the ugly side of natural gas finally reared its head in my neighborhood. Just when I was getting used to the natural gas wells dotting the landscape, now the lords of natural gas want to put a compressor station several hundred feet from my front door along a bucolic stretch of Randol Mill Road in east Fort Worth.

You might not think much about the barnlike structure if you saw it. But the fact that this compressor station requires a zoning exception should tell you a lot. Not only is there the potential for a lot of noise, but these installations also emit benzene and formaldehyde, two compounds sure to dampen interest in buying a house in my neighborhood.

It's my understanding that ZC-11-098 is still under review. But if this is approved, it leads to one conclusion: The powers that be have decided a little collateral damage for the greater good is perfectly acceptable. That's all fine and good -- until you're the collateral damage.

-- Keith Sternberg, Fort Worth

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Different Texas agency, same Texas corruption?

The North Texas Tollway Authority keeps making the "news".  WHY?

Because they've been through 5 guys in 5 years.  WHY did the latest head resign?  Because he was going to be fired.

WHY?  Because he thinks some of the million(s) of tax dollar relationships with some of the same companies since the 1950s are too cozy.  And maybe all those connections the board members have with the companies and politicians could be considered a conflict of interest. 

Hell, this is Texas...WHO are we kidding?

Is it time for the sunset of NTTA?

It ain't the only "Authority" that's overdue.

When it comes to Toll (Toal?) Roads and Rivers, it's all about WHO you know.


Some notes YOU can't afford to miss in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram articles this week.

The recommendations come after several potential conflicts surfaced involving individual board members, as well as the tollway authority’s institutional relationship with a handful of firms that are paid tens of millions of dollars per year to perform engineering, legal and other services.

Board chairman Kenneth Barr of Fort Worth disclosed that his brother is a lawyer with Locke Lord, a firm that does about $6.9 million a year in tollway authority legal work. Barr said he consulted with the tollway authority’s legal counsel, also a Locke Lord attorney, before accepting a board position in 2008 to ensure there was no ethical conflict.

The report said the tollway authority had “perceived and potentially real conflicts of interest” with HNTB, an engineering firm that is currently under contract for about $15 million a year in tollway work. When asked later what that meant, Alvarez & Marsal managing director Ron Orsini said the audit has uncovered a situation in which one HNTB consultant was approved to pay an invoice for another HNTB consultant – all with the tollway authority’s blessing.The report didn’t attempt to catalog how often the arrangement existed, or how long the practice had been in place, Orsini said.

Ethnicity has become an issue in recent months, when tollway staff disclosed that most of their contracts are awarded to firms governed by white males – although the report points out that the tollway authority is making progress in diversifying its contractors.

But the report also found that tollway staff publicly discussed winners of procurement contracts before the board had voted to approve the contracts.“Some board members did not trust the staff’s procurement process. It’s not clear when a procurement officially ends,” said Eric Noack, Alvarez & Marsal vice president.

They forgot to buy the doctors

More than 250 pediatricians, family practitioners, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, oncologists and other doctors, along with the Medical Societies of at least seven upstate counties and the regional office of the American Academy of Pediatricians, wrote to Governor Cuomo today, warning that the state has failed to analyze public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing in its rush to approve permits for drilling.

“We are greatly concerned about the omission of a critical issue related to the development of natural gas using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: human health impacts,” the doctors and medical authorities wrote.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where can you get the real local news?


Good letter from Clyde Picht in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram regarding last Wednesday's Trinity River Vision Discussion Forum at the Botanic Garden...

Real local news

On Wednesday night, 125 people attended a panel discussion of the Trinity River Vision and regional water issues at the Botanic Garden lecture hall. The event was sponsored by the Trinity River Improvement Partnership and moderated by the Society of Professional Journalists to acquaint residents with the pros and cons of the TRV and concerns about future water supply.

On Thursday, the Star-Telegram reported on a stuffed Cape buffalo being auctioned off over the weekend. On Friday, the newspaper reported on Amarillo's Lake Meredith going dry, a potbelly pig that was put down, 14 protesters in Burnett Park and the usual photos of socialite activities.

Thank you, Star-Telegram, for maintaining your tradition of reporting sports, fluff and yesterday's news from the Drudge Report.

-- Clyde Picht, Fort Worth

Fort Worth League of Neighborhood's Changes Proposed for Gas Drilling Ordinance


Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods

Newsletter - October 17, 2011

IMPORTANT CHANGES PROPOSED FOR GAS DRILLING ORDINANCE

The League has submitted comments to the City Council on the proposed revisions to the gas drilling ordinance.  The Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed revisions at its meeting on Tuesday evening, October 18, at 7 p.m.

This hearing is very important and the Council needs to know what you think.  If you cannot attend the Council meeting, send your council member an e-mail (for example, District2@fortworthtexas.com). The Council is scheduled to VOTE on the proposed revisions on Tuesday, October 25.

The League is particularly concerned about the proposal to lift the moratorium on wastewater disposal wells and is opposing this recommendation. You can see the League's letter to Council here.

You can see complete comments of the League at our website, www.fwlna.org.

The Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods has commented on all the proposed revisions to the City's Gas Drilling Ordinance (www.fwlna.org). These comments include the following recommendations:

Protected Uses -- Add Trinity Trails as a protected use with a 600 foot protection area to be measured from the center line of the Trails. The Trinity Trails should not be used for drilling thoroughfares.

Multiple Well Pad Sites -- Residential or commercial property renters should have the ability to consent to a drill site affecting them. No payment for waivers should be allowed.

Gas Pipelines -- The city proposes a Notification Zone ordinance that requires more residents be notified when a company plans to drill on a site or place a new gas pipeline. Instead of the 30 days notification proposed by the city, the league recommends notification of 120 days prior to drilling.

Ensure that adequate public discussion of pipeline route selection is included before siting approval is granted. This would include review by Gas Drilling Review Committee, the Zoning Commission, the Plan Commission, the Parks and Community Services Advisory Board, etc.

Make all pipeline permit information publicly available online and ensure that the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP), pipeline diameter size, and potential radius graphs of all pipelines are provided in such information before approval is sought from various committees or the City Council.

Make all permitted pipeline routes available online before approval is provided.

Require pipeline operators to provide certification of pipeline maintenance records to the city of Fort Worth on an annual basis and make those records available to the public online.

Air Quality -- Ensure that the three sets of best practices proposed include the following OR require the following in addition to the "Best Practices" lists:

Use of electric drill rigs, electric compressor engines and electric motors for driving any other stationary as field infrastructure should be used on new well sites and on any wells that are to be refracked.

For all new wells and wells that are to be refracked:
Condensate/produced water tanks must be independently monitored for control of VOC emissions.

Vapor recovery units must be used when appropriate.

No-bleed pneumatic valves and fittings must be used on pipeline networks near protected uses and/or high population facilities such as schools, hospitals, facilities for the elderly, etc.

Green completions must be used.

Substitutions for toxic materials must be used when non-polluting options are available.

Testing and monitoring should be carried out for the life of the wells by an independent entity. Operators should not be allowed to provide testing results. All testing should be done without operators' prior knowledge.

The city of Fort Worth should use infrared cameras to inspect well sites regularly.

Per ERG recommendation, air quality monitoring and testing should be established on a regular basis in Fort Worth neighborhoods.

No flaring of wells should be allowed.

A public hearing on proposed revisions to the Gas Drilling Ordinance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Fort Worth City Hall. A vote on the proposals is scheduled Oct. 25. Residents may comment online at www.fortworthtexas.gov on the Planning Department Page, Gas Drilling.

Same story

Another story from Texas with all the same factors - gas drilling, floods, politicians, tributaries, FEMA, mortgage, insurance...Any of this sound familiar?

Read about it in the Fort Worth Weekly.  WHO's next?

The first change occurred just four months after they moved in, when Devon Energy built a gas well pad next to their fence line, ruining the view for months and sending toxic residue into their backyard every time it rained (“Paradise Lost”,  June 18, 2008).
 
One month after the pad appeared, said Annette, “We got slammed by a flash flood that nearly entered the house. A neighbor called to ask if we were all right, and then she told us we might be in a flood plain.”

The flood plain question “had come up once — that some of the land but not the house was in a flood plain” during discussions before the sale, Annette said, “but when it did, the realtors produced several reports showing that the property was not in the flood plain.”

“We never would have purchased the house if there were any flood issues,” said Michael. The couple did know that runoff from heavy rains had washed into their pool and come close to the house.
People involved in the sale of the property to the couple disagree. They later maintained in court that the Daniels were or should have been aware that the property they were purchasing was in a flood plain.

After the neighbor’s comment, the Daniels began to look into the issue and eventually got in touch with Parker County flood plain director Kirk Fuqua.

“He told us that he didn’t understand why the house was sold as not being in a flood plain when it had always been in the FEMA 100-year flood plain,” said Annette. Fuqua confirmed that information for Fort Worth Weekly and said his records showed no remedial action that would have removed the house from the flood plain.

“Not only that, but it turned out our house was built right on top of a drainage easement, a platted stream,” said Michael. The unnamed stream is a tributary of nearby Silver Creek.

Worse was coming. In 2008, a new FEMA study came out, again showing the Daniels’ house in the middle of a flood plain. As usual, FEMA alerted lenders, and three months after the first flash flood, Chase Home Mortgage Finance LLC, wrote to tell the Daniels they would need to acquire flood insurance.

The insurance added $500 a month to a steep mortgage that was already beginning to pinch, as the recession slowed the income from their travel business.

Unfortunately, the couple soon discovered that the Parker County appraiser had reduced the appraised value of their home to zero after the new FEMA study, and you can’t refinance a house valued at zero. Their land dropped in value from $75,000 to $25,000.

“So we owed $300,000 on a house that was valued at zero,” said Annette. “And with business slowing down we couldn’t even get at our equity. Who could have dreamt this was going to happen?”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tight in Tarrant County

5 years, 5 Directors...WHY?

Seems some think it would be a good idea to bring in new firms instead of the ones who have been given the contracts since the 1950s.  You read that right.

Another North Texas Tollway Authority Director is out, if he didn't resign, he was going to be fired for not going along with the gang. 

Freeways (ha) and rivers are big business in Tarrant county.

Read about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Allen Clemson formally resigned Friday as North Texas Tollway Authority executive director, becoming the latest in a long line of top managers who couldn't get along with the agency's governing board.

Clemson, a former Dallas County administrator, was the fifth CEO in five years at the tollway authority when he arrived in June 2009. But he eventually fell out of favor with the nine-member board for pushing too quickly to bring in new firms to handle legal, engineering and other professional services.

The tollway authority has been criticized for relying too heavily on a handful of firms, several of which have been under contract since its predecessor agency was founded in the 1950s. Even so, some board members want to be cautious in severing those relationships, noting that millions of dollars in work -- including the planned Chisholm Trail Parkway toll road from Fort Worth to Cleburne -- is at stake.

"It will be an agreed-to separation," Clemson told the Star-Telegram on Friday, saying he resigned because he had been told that he would be fired by the board next week anyway. "The die was cast. Wednesday was going to be my last day."

The resignation comes weeks after former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr was elected chairman, succeeding Victor Vandergriff of Arlington, a Clemson supporter.

Mallard Cove Update

The compressor stations on Randol Mill have been generating a lot of noise and they aren't even there yet.  People are waking up.  What happens when sheep get pissed?

The Fort Worth Weekly and the citizens that comment, give you the update.  YOU can't afford to miss it.

The Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods is urging the Fort Worth Zoning Commission to deny a rezoning request that would pave the way for an industrial site with up to 15 compressor stations near Randol Mill Road and East Loop 820. Mallard Cove residents have already been battling an adjacent sand mining operation (“Dust-Up,” July 28, 2011) and now they’re facing the prospect of living in a nightmare situation a la DISH, the little town north of Fort Worth that got so littered with compressor stations that residents began getting sick from fumes.
“I have looked at the zoning of the immediate area, and what I see is all residential [zoning] or neighborhood-friendly business [zoning] and no heavy industrial,” said homeowner Jim Ashford, adding that the zoning change “is not in the interest of the health and well-being of the neighborhood either financially or from a health and safety stand point for the citizens.”

UPDATE - Mallard Cove Zoning vote here.  

UPDATE - Mallard Cove Council Meeting December 6, 2011 here.  

Arlington pay out

Roger Summers writes another gem to the Letters to the Editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Courting in Arlington

When Arlington's city manager, with scant explanation, was invited to leave the building, his billfold was stuffed with about $140,000 of taxpayer money. If his performance was such that he was given the ol' City Council heave-ho, why the generous payoff? Yes, we know, we know. It's in the contract. And who agreed to the contract?

Reason for the swift kick out the door? Not much is being said, except for that time-worn, oft-used, nebulous dodge that says we're heading in a different direction. So much for transparency. Let the speculation swirl.

The mayor did say, though, the city would get back to paying attention to neighborhoods -- streets, water and sewer services.

Does this mean the city will stop going steady with the likes of a stadium builder, gas drillers, out-of-town college student apartment builders and such and actually venture a date now and then and dance with those who brung 'em -- the residents?

Well, Tickle Me Elmo.

But we'll see, we'll see.

-- Roger Summers, Arlington

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There's a change...

Seems someone swiped money from a politician.  Talk about a switch.

Read about Betsy Price's missing campaign money in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"Evidently, someone stole the account information and then created their own debit cards and a check," she said.

One debit card transaction was for $346.37 at a Walmart in Abilene; the other debit card transaction was for $291.50 at a Walmart in Oklahoma City, according to a Fort Worth police report.

Price said investigators have asked Wal-Mart for surveillance video to try to identify the offender or offenders.

The fraudulent check for $300.94 was passed at a Lowe's in Fort Worth, the report said.

The former Tarrant County tax assessor-collector said account theft can happen to anybody and pledged to monitor her campaign account more closely.


On her last campaign finance report, Price had $14,538.81 in her account on June 30, the last day of the reporting period.

REVOKED

Arlington has revoked a Chesapeake gas well permit.  WHY would such a pro gas city do such a thing? 

Again, it all comes back to WATER.

If anyone is taking notes, be sure and note for once, Chesapeake declined to comment.  

Don't miss the article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

One of the city's gas well inspectors found that Chesapeake Energy was bringing in water from a Fort Worth pond through a temporary pipeline to its Barron drill site on West Division Street, Community Development and Planning Director Jim Parajon said Friday. The company's permit, however, said water for drilling operations would be supplied through a nearby fire hydrant.

This wasn't Chesapeake's first infraction involving water. In August, Arlington cited Chesapeake for trucking water it bought at one of its south Arlington well sites to a Grand Prairie well site, which violates city ordinance. The water, which Chesapeake had paid for, was pulled from a frack pond filled at the site. The company called the incident a misunderstanding and said it would pay the fine, which the city had recommended the court set at the maximum, $2,000.

This year, Arlington increased inspections at its 384 natural gas wells. Wells are now inspected monthly; previously they were visited once a year or when complaints were filed. Random inspections were also made during drilling, city officials said.

WHAT water?


The Trinity River Vision (Distraction) has the Tarrant Regional Water District all tied up in Fort Worth.  Watch a couple of minutes of video from the Trinity River Talk that TRIP held this week. John Basham explains that Region C (that's us) is out of water.  What happens to a city that runs out of water?  What happens if that city is already in debt? What happens to the rest of the county?  WHO's next?

If there ain't no water, there ain't no jobs.

Coming Soon...

Earthquakes in Fort Worth.

What are some of the causes of earthquakes?  Yeah, we got them all.

We're about to get some more.

Where was the most recent earthquake felt in Fort Worth? Oh yes,Waxahachie.  

Read about it on FWCANDO.

More Cheers

Seems some are paying attention, read the Cheer in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cheers: 

To Layla Caraway, Bob Lukeman and TRIP for winning the Conservation Award at the Glen Rose Film Festival! If you are concerned about out-of-control spending by your government or what's happening with your water, watch Up a Creek. Together, we can make a difference.

-- Debbie L. Sheffield,

Friday, October 14, 2011

One question leads to another

From a concerned observer....

I have a few questions about Tim Love's new restaurant and how it relates to the TRV. I attempted to get some info from TAD. The business is listed as 3201 Riverfront Dr., but that address is not listed with TAD. Numerous properties in that area show to be owned by the water board. Was the land purchased or leased from the water board? If so what was the purchase price or how much is the rent? What is the taxable value of the land? Why is the water board involved in commercial development? I thought their purpose was flood control and water management. This deal seems as stinky as the river itself. If you do not know the answers to these questions, could you please tell me where I should direct them?

Thank You,
P B

We're waiting.....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Class Act

Kudos to TRIP for putting on another stellar event.  In spite of an 'unnamed troublemaker' trying to get their event derailed for the past week, despite the City of Fort Worth backing out and JD Granger being a no show, this group still managed to pull off a very classy, educational evening.  The Society of Professional Journalists asked the citizen's questions and there was no yelling or name calling, unless you count Jim Lane referring to Clyde Picht as colonel.

It was impressive Jim Lane attended when his cohorts backed out.  John Basham shared information on Texas water that all citizens should hear and Steve Hollern was top notch as well.

You can read Durango's review of the TRV Forum here.

Lone Star salutes TRIP, SPJFW and all the 125 plus citizens that attended.  Keep on keeping on!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tonight is the Night for some Open Discussion About the Trinity River Vision


Tonight's the night of the Trinity River Vision Open Discussion in Fort Worth's Botanic Gardens Conservatory Lecture Hall.

6:30 pm.

Click for details..........

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perry picks WHO?


>> Perry picks crony, Phil Wilson, as new TxDOT Exec Dir

Read Terri's article here.
 
>> Perry taps Ted Houghton to Chair Commission--The one who calls himself "the most arrogant commissioner of the most arrogant state agency in the history of the state of Texas"  

Read more here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Texas running out of water


You can attend a meeting sponsored by Freese and Nichols for $65 or you can attend the TRIP forum Wednesday. In Fort Worth for free.

WHO are Freese and Nichols?  The ones that that designed the Trinity River Vision signature bridges, WHO else.

Wasn't Keffler here last year to support using OUR water for gas drilling?

Water: Regional Resource Summit

October 20, 2011
8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hyatt Regency DFW, Terminal C

As recently reported in The Texas Tribune, increases in population and our recent drought bring up a very important question for North Texans: Do we have enough water for now and for the future?

The population in Texas is expected to increase 82 percent between the years 2010 and 2060, growing from 25.4 million to 46.3 million people. [...] Annual economic losses from not meeting water supply needs could result in a reduction in income of approximately $11.9 billion annually if current drought conditions approach the drought of record, and as much as $115.7 billion annually by 2060, with over a million lost jobs.

- Draft 2012 Water for Texas, Texas Water Development Board

Be a part of the conversation, as the first North Texas Commission Regional Resource Summit on Water discusses the issues from the legislative, municipal and business perspective. The program will feature a special presentation on Proposition 2 (click here), on the ballot for the November 8, 2011, election.

Speakers include:
  • Rep. James L. Keffer, District 60, Chair of the House Committee on Energy Resources
  • Representatives from the City of Dallas, Tarrant Regional Water District, North Texas Municipal Water District
  • Panel discussion with representatives from: Alcon Laboratories, Freese & Nichols , Texas Instruments
  • Heather Harward, H2O4TEXAS Coalition 
Tickets begin at $65 and tables begin at $500.
Sponsorship is available for $2,000 – limited number available.

Organized with Tarrant Regional Water District

Friday, October 7, 2011

When NEWS goes bad...

What happens when the newspaper of record in your town gets its marching orders from the downtown money crowd? They forget WHY they are there in the first place.

This is an exchange between a Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist and a local citizen. Other citizens copied in responded too. This is just one example of many, sit tight, more on the way.

What happens to YOUR city when YOUR news is run by your local "governments" and "the industry"?  What happens when people mistake columnists for reporters?  What happens when there is no difference?

Recently, someone wrote that when a news outlet gets all its "news" from politicians and industry, they make themselves irrelevant.  Poignant, isn't it?

Mitch Schnurman recently wrote a column concerning tax abatements, which prompted a letter from the citizen. Schnurman didn't respond. He then wrote one about the TCC boondoggle on the Trinity River which prompted the citizen to follow up. Below is the exchange.

Act 1 - Citizen to Newspaper
To: "mschnurman@star-telegram.com"
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:40 AM
Subject: Thoughts

Mitch,

I had a question concerning your recent tax abatement article - while I finally agree with something you say, I wonder why you are upset with the abatement's but not with the $95 million needed for a new fire/police training facility??  Since the council sold this land to the Tarrant Regional Water District, now the taxpayer has to foot the bill once again.  Would appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks,
X

Act 2 - Citizen to Newspaper.  Again.

On Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM, X wrote:

Although I didn't expect an answer, I would have appreciated one.

Now I just have more questions...

How is the sunken plaza a boondoggle but the Trinity River Vision is not?  The only good thing about TCC is they should walk away with an education, then maybe the next generation will be smarter than selling/sailing our checkbooks down the river.

Also, TCC is leasing space in Haltom City, for I believe - a $1 a year.  Is there not a way they could look for the same deal for an arts center in a nearby city?  With all the vacant space in Tarrant County, there has to be a more affordable choice.

Again, would appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks,
X

Act 3 - Another citizen to newspaper.

An excellent point. Why would the city council sell the training academy without first having the funding secured for a new facility?

Will they build it with Certificate of Obligations like the Will Rogers parking garage and without public approval?

Another chapter in the TRV folly that should provoke public outrage.

Act 4 - Another citizen responds

How is the TCC a boondoggle and the TRV is not?
GOOD question. Excellent question!

Answer:  Not a dime’s worth of difference.

We made our maiden voyage to the completed TCC boondoggle yesterday.  Pity bad weather and the poor co-ed and 58 steps from Belknap down to her classroom.

Perhaps as a hotel, with a path all the way to the river, it might have been a fine tourist attraction.  But the college as I and others envisioned when we campaigned for its birth circa 1968 was to be a place where people could be trained in local class rooms to enable them to earn a living.

X can’t get over the fact that all the buildings are what on the farm we used to call lean-tos.  An architect friend called me this morning and asked me when they’re going to straighten them up.

In the words of General MacArthur:  I could not answer.

Act 5 - Finally...a response?  (We have to give him credit for the last line, but do YOU buy it?)

I don't know about the police training center, so I didn't have much to contribute to your thoughts on the subject.

I try to weigh in on issues that I have examined. I am not the beat reporter for TCC, so there is much that I do not follow. As for Haltom City having cheap rent, I don't see that as the issue in North Richland Hills.

The money has already been collected for that project; the question is whether TCC will stick to the original budget (or at least close).

I have written many times about the TRV, and I continue to support it. To rehash all that now is a waste of my time and yours.

I expect to revisit it again, in light of the cuts that are coming in federal spending. Perhaps my view will change then.

Thank you for writing,
Mitchell Schnurman
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Business columnist

Act 6 - Citizen responds to news paper.

Mitch,

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

My point on TCC may not have been clear, my thoughts were we could use the money and look at other options that would provide what is needed while staying within the budget.  The Haltom City campus was just an example of that.

Concerning TRV, while I realize I am just an average citizen, I am somewhat confused by your response.  If you aren't aware of the police/fire training center, which was another known ripple of the TRV, how can you be in full support of the project?

I realize your employer is a large advocate of the project, however the taxpayers and your customers need advocates too.

Thanks,
X

Fort Worth Bailed?

Trinity River Improvement Partnership has put together another event for the citizens.  A group of citizens putting together an event for the citizens.  There's a concept.

Seems TRIP figured out a safe and educational way for THE PEOPLE to be able to ask questions of people on both sides of the Trinity River Vision.  The Society of Professional Journalists will be moderating the forum.  Yes, that says PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS.  We can't wait to meet them!

And now the city Representative who confirmed his attendance will not be meeting with the citizens?  His customers.  Some might even say his employers...

WHY???

WHAT does that say to YOU??

WHERE will you be October 12th? ( 6:30 Botanic Garden Lecture Hall )

WHO broke the news?

Durango, WHO else?

This would seem to be a City of Fort Worth attitude holdover from the repressive, non-communicative, un-open, un-democratic Moncrief crony capitalist regime.

Because, as we all know, participating in an open public forum by Fort Worth City Officials is not the Fort Worth Way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Double Take


A picture is worth a thousand words.


Or a billion dollars?

Waxahachie can't catch a break

Is Fort Worth next?

First, they have their failed boondoggle.  Recently, they had an earthquake that was felt in Fort Worth.  Now, they have a major chemical fire.  WHAT kind of chemicals? Fracing chemicals.

Read Brett Shipp's report on WFAA.com.


Up until late Tuesday, about all Scott Pendery, the owner of Magnablend Inc., was telling the public was this particular facility produced was agriculture and oil and gas products. The only specific chemicals being mentioned were mostly harmless or marginally volatile.

But when pressed, the owner began telling another story.

Most of what the plant was producing was a dangerous cocktail of chemicals blended specifically to be used in hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") fluids.

As rivers of flammable product flushed out of the Magnablend plant on Monday, all that mattered was that the workers and firefighters escaped with their lives.

A day later, local, state and federal officials began investigating what started the fire — and what all was burning.

"And so some of those products that we make in that plant do get used in that application," the Magnablend owner conceded. "Company-wide, we're probably in the 80 percentile with the oil and gas industry, and then the balance is the agriculture industry."

Later, when we tried to ask Pendery about specific chemicals parked in the tanker cars next to his facility, he ignored our questions and got back into his car without comment.

Waxahachie Fire-Rescue Chief David Hudgins told News 8 he was not aware that 80 percent of what Magnablend produces is fracking chemicals.

EPA officials said they had no idea what Magnablend was producing at the plant.

While it's legal to blend fracking chemicals, federal law states if enough dangerous chemicals are being stored on site, then the company must file a risk management plan.

No such plan has been filed for this facility.

Local, state and federal authorities continue their investigation.

In the Crosshairs

On today's (October 5th) TRVA board agenda:

CONSIDER RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE TARRANT REGIONAL WATER DISTRICT TO ACQUIRE FEE SIMPLE TITLE TO THE SURFACE ESTATE ONLY,

INCLUDING IMPROVEMENTS LOCATED THEREON, OF APPROXIMATELY 2.955 ACRES OF LAND BEING LOTS 1 AND 2, AND THE NORTH 85 FEET OF LOT 3, BLOCK 252, NORTH FORT WORTH ADDITION, TO THE CITY OF FORT WORTH, TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS, ACCORDING TO THE PLAT RECORDED IN VOLUME 204-A, PAGE 117, PLAT RECORDS, TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS (P.R.T.C.T.),

AND FURTHER BEING A TRACT OF LAND DESCRIBED IN A DEED TO J.R. STEVENS, SR. AND J.R. STEVENS, JR., RECORDED IN VOLUME 12584, PAGE 1468, DEED RECORDS, TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS (D.R.T.C.T.); TOGETHER WITH THE SOUTH 30 FEET OF A TRACT MARKED “RESERVED” WHICH LIES BETWEEN BLOCKS 251 AND 252 ON SAID PLAT,

BY EMINENT DOMAIN OR BY PURCHASE, FOR THE TRINITY RIVER VISION PROJECT – STEVE CHRISTIAN (TRVA, REAL PROPERTY DIRECTOR)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What does the "news" paper say?

Fort Worth road not getting repaired.
"Fort Worth remains way behind on road repairs"

But not to worry.  As of August 23, the Trinity River Vision was right on schedule.  And only a million more.

WHAT happened to the gamble that was taken with YOUR money?  WHAT will happen with the next one?  WHICH one is a priority to YOU?

Of that money, more than $32 million was first approved by voters about seven years ago.

Why wasn't the money spent? City officials say they hung onto tens of millions in an attempt to grab federal stimulus money -- yet didn't know what work, if any, would qualify. In the end, almost all those projects failed to pan out, leaving neighborhood streets and thoroughfares broken despite voter approval of bonds to pay to fix them.

The explanations go on: inadequate debt capacity, a slowdown in projects due to the recession and a lack of accountability within the Transportation & Public Works Department. And, city officials say, the staff didn't push hard enough to get the job done.

"Reports coming through management were lax. Accountability was a major issue. The focus was not there," Councilman Jungus Jordan said.