Free Press on the Block
Surely Fort Worth Weekly publisher Lee Newquist’s phone will be ringing any second now with a call from Australia and an offer of millions of dollars.
After all, your favorite alt-weekly criticized the Trans-Texas Corridor in a recent cover story (“Detours on a Super-Highway,” Jan. 10, 2007), and it’s pretty obvious that foreign fat cats who lease U.S. highways and charge tolls to drivers don’t take kindly to criticism. Macquarie Media Group of Australia is set to pay upward of $100 million for American Consolidated Media, which owns small community newspapers across Texas – newspapers that have criticized the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.
OK now, follow the bouncing kangaroo: Macquarie Media is a sister company to Macquarie Infrastructure Group, one of the world’s major toll road operators. In Indiana, Macquarie has partnered with Cintra, a Spanish company, on a major toll-road project. And Cintra has the contract to build – and reap profits from – a major portion of the TTC. That corridor project, however, is drawing loud howls of protest from Texans who blanch at using eminent domain to take land from thousands of farmers, business operators, and homeowners to build a humongous slab of pavement that people would then have to pay through the nose to drive on. What better way to quell critics than by buying up the newspapers that are questioning the project?
The Weekly cover story included criticisms that the project could wipe towns off the map, gobble up about a million acres of farm and ranch land, crumble the state’s current highway system, and gouge motorists with tolls as high as 44 cents a mile. Static will let you know if any money-waving Aussies show up in the newsroom. In the meantime, we’ll continue poking our noses into this and other stinky public pork plates.
Former Fort Worth City Council member “Landslide Clyde” Picht wants back in at city hall. And guess who wants him out?
Picht is seeking his old District 6 seat, and one local elected official said the downtown powers are already planning the fight against him. “Clyde has just pissed off so many people with his opposition to the Trinity River Vision plan,” the elected official said, “and no one wants him doing that in city hall.” During his previous eight-year-run, which ended in 2005, Picht stood up against tax breaks and handouts for the well-connected, but almost always fell on his sword on the losing side. However, if he were to beat out incumbent Jungus Jordan in May, Picht might have more effect this time around.
Minority council members Kathleen Hicks, Donavan Wheatfall, and Sal Espino have shown a willingness to stand up to Mayor Mike Moncrief and the downtown regime on certain issues, and longtime councilman Chuck Silcox regularly votes against tax breaks. A Picht win means Moncrief could face a five-vote united front that could derail some of the corporate welfare that city hall keeps passing out. Little wonder that the bidness types want Clyde to slide right back into retirement, not into his council seat.