Global Exchange’s “Most Wanted Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005” lists Cowtown’s own DynCorp/CSC right alongside Dow Chemical, Philip Morris, Pfizer, Chevron, and Coca-Cola for horrific behavior when it comes to international abuses of human rights. DynCorp was blasted for complicity in numerous evils, including sex slavery. Of course, Fort Worth Weekly readers have known about DynCorp’s sliminess ever since the company was featured in a cover story (“To Bosnia With Lust,” Dec. 6, 2001) and several follow-ups about the sexual slavery revelations.
Opponents of a proposed four-lane highway through Trinity Park won Round 1 last week. The sting of thousands of e-mails and letters, combined with about 200 citizens coming before Fort Worth City Council, left parkway supporters with a bloody nose. The council eventually was forced to admit it needed to re-examine the highway plans.
But the opponents are holding another big punch in reserve: The parkland that some Westside business interests want to see converted to pavement was originally donated to the city by the pioneering Van Zandt family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And the gift came with definite strings: a deed restriction requiring that if the land were ever used as anything except a park, ownership would revert to the Van Zandt heirs.
“The city should be worried about this, because these kinds of deed restrictions have been upheld in the past,” said attorney Rob Campos, who is working with the parkway opposition group. “We have talked to some of the heirs, and they are open to enforcing the reverter clauses.”
Other kinds of deed restrictions on other former Van Zandt family properties on the West Side are already causing controversy. Seems the pioneers didn’t want alcohol sold on their land, or blacks owning any of their former property. The racist restriction isn’t likely to withstand a constitutional challenge, and the no-alcohol clause is currently being addressed in court by property owners developing the West Seventh Street corridor. The parkland provision could be headed there as well.
“Going to court over this is something we would only do if necessary, but it is an option we have to keep in mind,” Campos said.
Messing Up Texas
Static remembers the “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign begun almost 20 years ago, all about getting tough on litterers. That’s what’s so nice about government here – you can depend on ’em to jump on the folks who are messing up the state one beer can at a time, but enforcing the law against the industries that blacken our skies, pollute our water, and endanger our health? Why, that would be plumb un-Amurrrikin.
Now there’s another bunch of folks wanting to clean up the state in other ways. We’re talkin’ trash here, as in landfills. According to the Texas Campaign for the Environment and Public Research Works, Texas has some of the weakest trash standards in the nation, allowing landfills to be built within 50 feet of a house or school (but, hey – don’t sell any dirty movies there!). What’s more, thanks yet again to the Texas Legislature, the public no longer even has the right to voice its views at a hearing before such dumps are approved. That despite the fact that, according to the environmental group, 75 percent of operating landfills have been found to be leaking their lovely liquids into the groundwater, are a possible source of mercury in rainfall, and may even be contributing to global warming. (And you just thought they smelled bad.)
Still, the state environmental commission is doing something. Maybe. They’re rewriting the dump standards, and the public, for once, is invited to talk about it, at a Feb. 1 meeting. Before that, however, the enviromental and public research groups will release their own recommendations on the state’s trash rules. And they’ve put together a “network of trash activists.” Check it out for yourself at www.texasenvironment.org.