Who’s Ethical Now?
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief was pretty much absent this year from the campaign trail. He didn’t show up for any forums that might encourage debate, didn’t advertise much, and it was hard to find any yard signs. Still, he won big, with more than 80 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race
But Moncrief did take an interest in District 6, where incumbent Jungus Jordan was running against former councilman Clyde Picht. Just four days before the election, Moncrief sent out a mass mailing to district residents – and even by political standards, this was a nasty attack against Picht.
The two-page letter said Picht, in his prior years on council, engaged in “sarcastic, personal, and petty attacks on fellow council members and city staff.” But the big message was that Picht helped launch an ethics investigation into Moncrief and two council members that “was embarrassing to our families and friends.”
The ethics issue in question involved the mayor and council members Wendy Davis and Jim Lane accepting a free plane ride from Hillwood Development Corp. to tour a Cabela’s sporting goods store in Kansas City in 2004. The trip occurred while the city was thinking about creating a tax increment financing (TIF) district for Cabela’s here. Hillwood owned the property where Cabela’s was built after the TIF was passed.
One problem with Moncrief’s claim: Picht and others say he had nothing to do with the ethics investigation. Louis McBee, who ran for mayor this year against Moncrief, filed the 2004 ethics complaint on his own as a private citizen. “There was no one involved with me, and for the mayor to lie about this really chaps my ass,” McBee said. “Clyde was not involved in any way. In fact, I didn’t even know him at that time.”
Moncrief, who hasn’t returned a Fort Worth Weekly call in years, didn’t do so this time either. Neither did Jungus Jordan, who may be adhering to the mayor’s recent privately delivered edict that council members not talk to the Weekly.
Picht, who missed a run-off with Jordan by just 69 votes, said he is considering legal action. “If Moncrief is so worried about ethics, maybe he shouldn’t lie about someone in a very unethical way,” Picht said. “He is an embarrassment to this city by using these tactics.”
You Won’t Even Miss It
Surprise! A water conservation committee created by Barnett Shale natural gas drillers has tallied the results of its water study and can now assure us that everything is hunky dory, fine and dandy, no problemo. The study provides “a detailed analysis and future projections of fresh water consumption by the Barnett Shale natural gas producers” and downplays the fact that they are using many millions of gallons of freshwater to blast through underground shale and force out natural gas. Meanwhile, rural homeowners who rely on water wells are reporting problems caused by nearby gas drillers’ relentless reliance on groundwater supplies. The committee’s April 30 press release brags that drillers use less than 1 percent of the total freshwater supplies and only about 3 percent of groundwater supplies. It goes on to say with pride that gas drillers will require “less than 10 percent of groundwater supplies in 2010.”
Huh? Another way to phrase it would be: “Hey folks, we’re sucking water out of the ground like crazy now and ignoring the fact that our greed is playing havoc with other people’s water wells. And guess what? We’re going to triple our usage of groundwater over the next few years and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it, because we’ve got lots of money to pay powerful lawyers and keep lawmakers in our pockets.” The spider probably also assured the fly that there was nothing to those sticky web rumors.
Look Out, He’s Gonna Blow (Dry)
Meanwhile, down in Austin, the governor’s so mad his coiffure is quivering. Driven to distraction by the Lege’s overwhelming passage of a two-year moratorium on toll roads, Rick Perry reportedly is resorting to desperate tactics to prevent an override of his veto, expected next week. “He told some senators that he will veto all their bills if they don’t vote with him on this,” said Terri Hall, founder of the San Antonio Toll Party and one of the leading voices against the TTC.
According to Hall, Perry and the state transportation agency arranged to have the Federal Highway Administration claim that Texas’ ability to collect billions in federal highway funds could be jeopardized if the bill becomes law. But activists quickly got to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who wrote to the federal agency asking for clarification. To which Transportation Secretary Mary Peters responded that there would be no federal repercussions if the moratorium passes.
Undaunted, Perry called a press conference last week to claim he’d had a contradictory opinion from one of White’s underlings. But then he was a no-show. So stay tuned – this one’s not over yet.