Don’t Let This One Pass “Go”
Next week, the Fort Worth City Council may declare bankruptcy. Of the moral variety, that is.
Despite virulent opposition from a small handful of citizen activists, the council will consider a set of ethics code changes so shady and self-serving they make Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags look like a pinko liberal.
The changes would allow the council to prevent residents’ complaints from ever reaching the city’s ethics committee. Instead, the council would simply consult the city attorney (you know, the person they pay to sit with them at every meeting).
Residents wouldn’t be able to recommend who should sit on the ethics committee, and — get this — city boards and commissions would no longer be required to follow Texas open meetings laws.
Remember how the person who divvied up the Monopoly money always seemed to win? Well, this is kind of like that, only there’s real money involved.
That’s what happened in 2010, when the city’s ethics commission actually manned up and ruled against the city for allowing three gas company employees to sit on a committee deciding what company to hire for an air-quality study of drill sites. So Mayor Mike “Pennybags” Moncrief fired all three members of the ethics review committee and hired replacements without consulting the council or residents. Voila! Ethics problem solved!
Anybody who thinks government shouldn’t work like a rigged board game should probably show up at city hall at 7 p.m. Dec. 4.
Weekly scribe Peter Gorman has written about the eminent domain abuses (“Your Land Is My Land,” April 11, 2012) and ecological impacts (“Drawing a Line in the (Tar) Sands,” Oct. 17, 2012) associated with the Keystone pipeline. The pipeline will run from Alberta, Canada, to Port Arthur to transport tar sands bitumen, a potent mixture of dense petroleum, toxins, sand, clay, and water. When completed, it’s expected to move a million barrels of this mess each day to the Gulf Coast, crossing more than a thousand miles (and hundreds of vital water sources) along the way.
This worries climatologists. According to TruthDig, some have compared the pipeline to the fuse that will light the world’s largest carbon bomb. If President Barack Obama, as expected, allows the pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canada border, Canda’s market for its intensely polluting tar sands will be vastly increased. This type of mining can release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, even more than the traditional methods of extracting oil and gas. That’s “game over for the climate,” NASA scientist James Hansen said.
Hats off to the tree-sitters in East Texas, people chaining themselves to equipment in Nacogdoches, and protesters in Washington, D.C. Politicians should proceed with caution.