Wednesday, September 4, 2013

They're here...

Remember all those times when you wished there was an entity that would stand up for the people?

Your wish is granted.

Texans for Government Transparency are on it.  And by it, we mean the Water Board.  Wonder what they'll be on next...

Texans for Government Transparency

TRWD Loses Key Court Decision on Case about Violating Texas Open Meetings Law

(Fort Worth, Texas) This past week, a key decision was handed down in a lawsuit against the Tarrant Regional Water District for violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act allowing the suit to move forward in court. The judge struck down a motion from the TRWD where they asserted they were not only exempt from being sued due to jurisdictional issues, but did not have to comply with the Texas Open Meetings Act in any matters before the court. Judge Susan McCoy of the 153rd judicial district denied the TRWD’s motion on August 26, 2013 clearing way for the case to be heard.

The suit filed by East Texas ranch owner and businessman, Monty Bennett, alleges the TRWD violated the Texas Open Meetings Act over 600 times in making key decisions. This suit also alleges these decisions were made behind closed doors and away from public oversight. In these meetings millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money was awarded to contractors and individuals. Perhaps the lawsuits most damaging allegation contends in these same secret meetings people’s land and properties were marked to be taken by eminent domain without owners ever having been told of any meeting of the TRWD. Mr. Bennett’s family ranch in East Texas, where they raise exotic wildlife and endangered species, is one of the properties the TRWD has marked for the taking and prompting him to action. 

“The Texas Open Meetings Act is there to ensure oversight of government agencies by the citizens of Texas.” says John Austin Basham, President of Texans For Government Transparency, “The idea of our government meeting in secret and planning to take someone’s family ranch, home, or property is outrageous!” Basham adds, “The argument the TRWD puts forth that they are exempt from any oversight under the Texas Open Meeting Act speaks to how little regard they have for both the law and the people they purport to serve. We are Texans, the government saying ‘trust us, we know what’s best for you’ is not something that sits well with our nature or our spirit.” 

Mr. Basham did however express his doubts with any rapid resolution in this case, “The TRWD has a track record of spending Millions in taxpayer’s dollars to defend legally troubling arguments. But worse, they lose every single time! So, in fact they spend all this money on lawyers and court costs as a delay and harassment tactic. This misuse of money and trust allows them more time to continue violating the law, ignore the public’s will, oversight, and input.” 

Texans For Government Transparency has also filed suit against the TRWD for violating the Texas Constitution by skipping elections and allowing board members to serve an extra year without a vote of the people. TFGT expects to be victorious in this case forcing the TRWD to allow the people to vote for those who represent them, rather than having career bureaucrats dictate who serves and for how long. 

Texans for Government Transparency is a non-profit human rights organization focused on bringing transparency and accountability to government, while protecting the privacy and civil rights of the citizens of Texas. 

Contact: John Spivey
Telephone: 817-706-2947 September 2, 2013
8551 Boat Club Road Suite 121
Fort Worth, Texas 76179-3674

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