Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Another Woodard says....

Wake up, Fort Worth!

Water Board election: Blake Woodard's letter to voters

April 29, 2017

Breaking News: Cities of Fort Worth and Dallas merge pension plans

Fellow Tarrant Regional Water District voter:

I’m only joking about Fort Worth’s pension plan. Of course, no sane Fort Worth leader would recommend merging our city’s retirement plan with Dallas’ ailing pension plan. However, our Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) leaders are physically merging TRWD’s precious lakes with Dallas’ water system with a $2.3 billion pipeline called the Integrated Pipeline (IPL).

Which is more important: Fort Worth’s pension plan or Fort Worth’s water?

You may have received a mailer from Mike Moncrief or read a Star-Telegram editorial written by retiring TRWD president Vic Henderson about the importance of local control of Fort Worth water. Henderson and Moncrief imply that if you re-elect our independent candidate, TRWD director Mary Kelleher, Fort Worth’s water will be taken over by Monty Bennett, who donated to Mary’s campaign.

Bennett, whose company owns the Ashton and Hilton Hotels in downtown Fort Worth, lives in east Texas and has sued the TRWD over its use of eminent domain to build Dallas’ portion of the IPL across his land. That’s right: Our TRWD Board is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in a lawsuit over their construction of Dallas’ sections of the IPL.

And where does that litigated Dallas portion of the IPL go? It goes to Lake Palestine, a lake so distant that even TRWD engineers stated in a disturbing 2012 “Water Sharing Plan” for Fort Worth and Dallas that there is “little to no benefit . . . for TRWD to pump water from Lake Palestine.” Access to Lake Palestine was the box of beads Dallas gave TRWD for access to Fort Worth’s prize lakes.

The irony is that it is the other TRWD directors, not Mary, who relentlessly have pursued a water sharing plan with Dallas. That explains why numerous Dallas billionaires and millionaires have donated vast sums to TRWD board candidates (other than Mary) these past two election cycles.

Big D has big water problems. During the 2013-2014 drought, their water levels were much worse than ours, and Lake Palestine, their remote southeastern lake, has no pipeline connecting it to Dallas’ other lakes. Building a 50-mile pipeline is costly, as is the energy to pump water uphill to Dallas’ higher-elevation northern lakes.

TRWD has no such problems. It has two pipelines connecting its prized Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers reservoirs to Lake Benbrook, and these lakes require much less energy to pump water to Fort Worth or Dallas than would Lake Palestine.

The IPL increases TRWD’s pipeline redundancy but isn’t a significant source of new water for Fort Worth, as it adds no new Fort Worth lakes. Meanwhile, the IPL gives Dallas a connection to Lake Palestine and its first siphon into our lakes, creating the possibility that someday Fort Worth will be fighting Dallas for water.

Do you want Dallas to use Fort Worth’s water during droughts? The IPL makes the unimaginable possible: Once the TRWD and Dallas lakes are connected, we are but one legislative session away from a de facto merger of the two water districts.

As TRWD voters, we already have no input into our local water policy. We are told when to water our yards and what kind of toilets to sit on. How much say will we have with a DFW Water District?

It’s no surprise that when I wrote a letter like this two years ago the only hate mail I received came from Dallas. Stop by my office, and I’ll show it to you. Dallas desperately needs the IPL. Fort Worth doesn’t.

So if the other four TRWD directors are the ones helping Dallas tap into our lakes, why are Henderson and Moncrief telling us that re-electing Mary Kelleher will jeopardize control of Fort Worth’s water? Of course it’s a nonsensical statement, as Mary is but one of five directors. The other four still can win every vote 4-1. When the expensive mailers hit your mailbox, let logic guide your reading.

I think Henderson and Moncrief are telling you that Mary is a threat to Fort Worth water, because they can’t stand having an outsider in their exclusive club. Mary Kelleher is your candidate. She is our only sunlight on a shadowy government body with a long history of backroom, good-ol’ boy behavior. Let me be clear that I am not speaking of the dedicated TRWD employees who operate the lakes and pipelines and take care of the district’s daily business.

You may be familiar with some of the legendary TRWD management shenanigans, which are beyond the scope of this letter. The local media cannot keep an eye on these guys constantly. Mary Kelleher’s eyes are your eyes. Mary is you.

If we fail to re-elect Mary, we have lost our seat at the table of a Board whose other four directors all are recruited by the same people, funded by the same people, and influenced by the same people. The only way we can retain one seat at the table is if we vote in droves this TRWD election. The special interests will vote. Will you?

Combine the gerrymandered TRWD boundaries, which deny many TRWD customers a vote, with the 1960s-era at-large voting and a small turnout for a sleepy Water District race, and the special interests who profit from TRWD’s lucrative contracts easily can win an election with just their family, friends, and a few thousand mysterious mail-in ballots. (By the way, if you received a mail-in ballot that you did not request, please e-mail me.)

Everyone benefits from having one independent citizen at the TRWD Board table asking the tough questions the others may be too conflicted to ask. 4-1 is much better for Fort Worth than 5-0.

Let’s put Fort Worth first and turn out by the thousands in this year’s TRWD Board election on Saturday, May 6.

You get three votes: Please vote for Mary Kelleher and then discard your other two votes.

Blake Woodard

P.S. This letter is going to a limited number of voters, so please e-mail me at for a PDF you can send your friends or post on social media.

(Blake Woodard is a Fort Worth insurance executive and serves as treasurer for incumbent water board member Mary Kelleher's re-election campaign.)

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