Fort Worth has scheduled a forum on how the city should spend all that gas money that’s flying around these days. So guess what the public won’t be able to talk about there: How to spend the money.
The (take a deep breath) Gas Well Revenues Financial Management Strategy Ad Hoc Committee, charged with recommending how the city should invest or spend a billion or so in Barnett Shale income over the next couple of decades, will hold its first town hall meeting on May 21. But, according to the announcement, the “meeting will only focus on financial management strategies. There will be no discussion about expenditures for specific projects or programs nor drilling policies.”
That’s because all that the mayor wants this nine-person panel – made up pretty much of museum and foundation management folks – to do is to determine how much of the gas money should be socked away in the bank. Let’s see – if citizens aren’t allowed to talk about pressing needs that could be addressed with some of that money, what do we think the panel’s recommendation will be?
This is not sitting well with some council members, and they turned up the heat on the issue in their pre-council discussion on May 8. Sal Espino was adamant that the panel know what the city’s needs are, before determining the percentage to be saved. “I have become very frustrated as to what this committee’s charge is,” Espino said. “Every phone call I get from citizens is that they have a sense of urgency in their neighborhoods … This is a very serious issue. What tangible benefits will Fort Worth citizens get in both the near and long term?”
Other council members who usually side with Mayor Mike Moncrief had questions about how the panel could determine how much to save if they didn’t know much about how much the city needs for things like roads, police stations, and parks. Wendy Davis said that the interest earned off just putting the money in the bank could be eaten up by inflation and increased costs, while capital needs are ignored.
But Mike the Endowment Man would have none of that. This is money for our “children, grandchildren, and grandchildren’s children” and it’s “a process that does not have a political agenda,” he said. Yeah, right – $1 billion and no politics. Even now, Static sees fat winged creatures with curly tails and cloven hooves hovering in the sky.