Water Mess

Posted April 30, 2014 by STATIC in News
Mary Kelleher defends herself against accusations that prompted fellow water district board members to censure her.Mary Kelleher defends herself against accusations that prompted fellow water district board members to censure her.

The typically quiet board meetings at the Tarrant Regional Water District took a loud and rowdy turn on Tuesday morning. A standing-room-only crowd, including some carrying protest signs, heckled board members throughout the two-hour special meeting. The board was debating whether to censure fellow board member Mary Kelleher. A censure is a public reprimand with no penalties or legal ramifications.

Board President Vic Henderson introduced the motion, linking Kelleher to several alleged policy violations and ethical lapses. He accused her of not reporting in-kind donations from Dallas hotelier Monty Bennett, who has wrangled with the water district for three years to prevent a water pipeline from crossing his East Texas ranch. And he complained that Kelleher misrepresented the water district’s stance on a water management plan at a recent Fort Worth City Council session.

Protesters supporting Kelleher filled the board room while Vic Henderson (left), Marty Leonard, and Mary Kelleher discuss the censure.

Protesters supporting Kelleher filled the board room while Vic Henderson (left), Marty Leonard, and Mary Kelleher discuss the censure.

Kelleher then leveled a symbolic fire hose at her fellow directors and water district President Jim Oliver. She said her supporters are fed up with the “cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and mismanagement that have plagued the water district for years.”

She said Oliver had “stonewalled me and the public at every opportunity.” Then she accused him of using water district heavy equipment for personal home improvements.

“Whoa, whoa,” board member Jim Lane said, trying to rein in Kelleher. But she was on a roll.

“Let me finish … how about using your position to engage in extramarital affairs with staff?” she said, looking at Oliver.

At times, Henderson resembled a substitute teacher who’d lost control of a junior high classroom. He admonished and threatened hecklers but never followed through. The crowd became bolder as the meeting wore on. Former board candidate John Basham practically dared Henderson to throw him out. Nothing happened.

Water district Executive Director Jim Oliver: "I'm a staffer; you'll have to ask the board about that."

Water district Executive Director Jim Oliver: “I’m a staffer; you’ll have to ask the board about that.”

Several legislators, including Tarrant County’s Jonathan Stickland and Lon Burnam, attended and wrote letters supporting Kelleher in her request for public documents.

Despite crowd support, Kelleher appeared overwhelmed at times. As for misrepresenting board policy at a city council meeting, she said she was unaware of the policy, implemented before she was elected. Regarding campaign reports, she said she was new to the political game and unfamiliar with all the requirements. Board member Jim Lane said ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse.

In the end, Henderson, Jack Stevens, and Marty Leonard voted to censure. Lane abstained, saying each accusation against Kelleher should be voted on separately. But he joined in a 4-0 vote to audit recent campaign finance reports from board candidates. Kelleher abstained.

Kelleher declared her censure a “badge of honor.” Oliver declined to comment.


    True Conservative

    It is not funny that she wears her censure as a badge of honor. Being unethical is nothing to joke about, and I am ashamed that she “represents” Fort Worth. She “represents” her Puppet Master in Dallas in slandering the other board members. We Fort Worthians need to stand up to her bully tactics and demand that she do the job that she was voted in for, bringing water into Fort Worth. If she is going to sue someone, she should sue herself for her unethical practices, selling her vote, special favors for contributors, using tax dollars for personal matters and other unethical practices.


      The board slanders itself just fine.

      Louis McBee

      The real bullies are the other board members who still have not gotten over the stinging rebuke by the voters in electing Mary to the board by the largest number of votes for any single candidate in the history of the Water District.

      Without question Jim Oliver and Vic Henderson need to find something different to do with their time….golf would be nice since both individuals spend enough of our tax money doing so already.

        True Conservative

        Yeah.. “largest number of votes” where there is a normal 2% voter turnout average for elections and “98%” voter turnout for this election. You want to know what that smell is that stinks… The libs pull election fraud all the time!

      True Liberal

      it seems, true conservative, the unethical members are being exposed and not remotely bullied; in fact, you are a wonderful representation of the sore losers, talkin’ about bullies! i am a “fort worthian” and you have no invitation to speak for me or tell me what to do. thanks anyway, bless your heart.


    Sounds like “Chinatown,” Jake.

    Pepperoni Sue

    Where there’s smoke…

    …and this place is full of smoke.

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