Ross Fischer will help the Tarrant Regional Water District with open-records requests and ethics consultations. Courtesy Ross Fischer
Ross Fischer will help the Tarrant Regional Water District with open-records requests and ethics consultations. Courtesy Ross Fischer

Accusations of being secretive and working behind closed doors have dogged the Tarrant Regional Water District and its board of directors ever since they began overseeing the controversial Trinity River Vision project 10 years ago. So some residents might have felt a glimmer of hope when water district general manager Jim Oliver told board members last week that the former chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission had been hired to help handle the district’s growing number of requests for public information and to provide consultations on ethics-related matters.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Austin attorney Ross Fischer to the Texas Ethics Commission in 2005, where Fischer helped regulate political campaigns, lobbyists, and political action committees for five years. He has also lectured on legal ethics for the State Bar of Texas and the University of Texas’ continuing legal education program.

Water district board member Mary Kelleher is among those who initially felt encouraged by Oliver’s announcement. Fischer is joining the agency charged with supplying water to almost 2 million people in the area.

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  1. If you want to fill records requests, you hire a clerk.

    If you want to operate in an ethical manner, you consult with (not hire) an expert of ethics. Attorneys specialize in how to cleanly navigate a business through ethical roadblocks without exposure. If you have to hire someone to do this for you full time, it demonstrates a motive to bend ethical boundaries to their breaking point without snapping.

    An elected group controlling our water does not need in-house counsel on ethics. This just proves these people have been doing the job too long, and have lost their ethical compass.

  2. Any Rick Perry political appointee is tainted. Perry doesn’t do anything that isn’t either political payment or payback.
    Anyone hired by the TRWD insiders gang is just a smoke screen.

  3. I have recently been experiencing the unethical behavior of the TRWD concerning the ongoing (over 2 years) project building a trail encircling the Marine Creek lake. The first of October, the TRWD unexpectedly closed the trail on the west side of Lake. They did not notify the Neighborhood Associations in the area that 1. They were closing the Trail and 2. As to why. I contacted their Recreation/Neighborhood Liaison who told me that it was due to “Heavy Machinery” and ongoing construction. I informed her that there has not been any machinery or construction going on since Spring. There is currently no construction or heavy machinery to this day. I emailed Jim Lanes Law Office a couple weeks later…no response. A couple of days ago I found a Facebook page (I can no longer find) and again asked why the trail was closed. Again I was told it was due to Heavy Machinery…my response, the only machinery I had seen in the last 2 months was a 4 wheeler putting up new Closed Trail Signs. Today, I saw 2-4 door trucks (TRWD PD) driving up and down the southern end of the trail for at least an hour. I approached one of the officers and he told me the trail was closed due to: 1. complaints concerning lack of maintenance & safety of the trail. (there is a small section that is dangerously slick on the northern end-that I agree should be closed until fixed – maybe 20 ft of trail). 2. There are sections of the trail that need to be completed (southern and northern most ends). 3.The lands on the northern end of the lake have not been acquired (purchased?). There is apparently no estimated time line until all these factors are expected to be met and completed. So, the west side trail is closed indefinitely. I believe I finally got an honest answer…maybe TRWD needs to visit with Jeff Crilley to learn how to handle public inquiries. My question now is, Are they going to continue to build on to the trail that at this time, they have no plans to ever re-open? There is also a section of the trail fenced off to the north that only cows and donkeys can enjoy…Is the TRWD going to build more concrete trails for them?…especially since they don’t question or complain.