You’ve got to hand it to the Trump administration. Even though they’ve had more turnover than your neighborhood Walmart, they’ve managed to keep a razor-focus on job one: screwing over the American people. Trump Co. has just proposed weakening mercury regulations (the metal is especially dangerous to children and fetuses) and has effectively eliminated the EPA office in charge of children’s health.

And our own state government, never allowing common sense to interfere, has worked tirelessly toward more or less the same aims: to stop young people from voting, to arm teachers, and to stop “those people” from going to the restrooms of their choice. And for their efforts, the base of the Republican party is all energized by these petty cruelties disguised as public policy and foursquare against communists and socialists, neither of which is slated to run in the general election.

And in our own fair city, despite local elections being nonpartisan, the mayor and the power structure all bat from the right and sometimes the far right. And they are second to none in screwing over the average citizen.


Part and parcel of the conservative movement is the 40-year project of underfunding, then delegitimizing, the public sphere. Once they degrade what was once thought to be public, they privatize it to prove most of all that government can’t do anything. Lately, we’ve seen it here in this idea to privatize the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The city’s muckety-mucks want us to shrug our shoulders, see it as a fait accompli. Fort Worth doesn’t have the money to spruce up the gardens, so let’s make it so only those who can pay can go.

No matter which side you come down on, this issue gets to the heart of what government is for. Is the city government just there to give tax breaks to corporations that have wined and dined the insiders and help deep-pocketed developers with the endless boondoggle of Panther Island, or are they there for all of Fort Worth, even the least among us?

Back when I taught high school ESL, one of my favorite assignments was for my students to describe their favorite place. The place could be anywhere, back in their home countries or even in their imaginations, but every year I was surprised by how many of them wrote about the Botanic Garden. Most of my students were poor. Some were refugees, forced from their homes. But no matter where they came from, they loved walking with their families, their friends, or their significant others through the beautiful gardens.

I love Fort Worth, yet you have to admit it’s no Paris. It’s not really up there as far as beautiful cities go, but the Botanic Garden is our one place of beauty that we still can all enjoy together. I have no statistics, but I believe with all my heart that walking and living where there is beauty makes us happier and saner people.

And, as with many of us, I believe, the gardens have a strong and permanent place in my heart. Twenty years ago, I stood under that huge magnolia tree near the rose garden, my head bent, watching as my then-11-year-old daughter climbed like a monkey higher and higher with no fear. I was scared enough for both of us but proud that my wife and I had raised such a fearless young woman.

And 16 years later, when my late wife’s health was in steep decline and we were going to doctors’ appointments every other day, we’d stop by the gardens, sometimes just for a few minutes. We’d stand near the shelter house and look out on all that beauty, often catching couples posing for their wedding or quinceañera pics. For us, it was a needed respite, some beauty in the midst of our terrible year.

But the gardens will not be there for most of us, if, as expected, the city council votes on Tuesday, Nov 13, to begin charging an entrance fee. And something very precious will be lost, which we will never be able to recover. Only one thing can stop it: you. Call or email your city council member and the mayor. Show up Tuesday night. This is a fight for Fort Worth’s future.

The Weekly welcomes submissions from all political stripes. Email Editor Anthony Mariani at Fort Worth writer Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue can be reached at


  1. What does this say about Democrats, when Environmentally conscious Conservatives won’t support some of their projects? Maybe it’s because the left is snarky, violent and mean. And very dishonest. Being honest and a little more respectful goes a long way with most.

    • Please tell us DFH’s where we can find some of those “environmentally-conscious Conservatives.” Haven’t seen any since the early Oughts.

    • How are the parks and gardens the property of the Democrats? Willy- The point is that financial maintenance and support of city owned facilities is the responsibility of the CITY. Ultimately taxpayer funded, a responsible city council adequately funded the Zoo, the city’s public pools, parks, soccer fields and ball diamonds, and the Gardens – for freaking DECADES. It was a change in the fiscal aims- and philosophy- of the councils that gradually eroded the institutions. Less and less money awarded for maintenance and repair… more and more serious deterioration.. then a HUGE bond proposal for “repair” of stuff that shouldn’t have been broken, and city voters who of course turned it down- then shrugs and big sad Disney eyes from the Council… “Not OUR fault if the voters won’t pay for it…” It’s not a partisan issue!

      • Exactly. I grew up in Houston in the sixties and seventies, and most public venues from zoos to museums were free. Now, trust me on this, the city fathers back then were no flaming liberals, but they believed in keeping these venues free because of something called civic pride. They also believed we were all in this together. I don’t think this should in any way be a partisan issue.

  2. Screw the Republicans who ruined Fort Worth.
    Why are conservative Caucasians hell-bent on ruining everything in America?

  3. Maybe if you made this a non-partisan issue, you’d get more support? I am a Trump supporter, but happen to agree that we shouldn’t be charging for the gardens. With drivel like this though, I may just sit this one out.

  4. The very Caucasian Bass family has very much enriched Fort Worth to the benefit of everyone, it appears to me. I’m not even going to get into the Dwayne Carroway and Don Hill or John Wiley price follies in Dallas, but the whole racial animosity thing is just ridiculous and disingenuous. The question here is should FW charge for entry to public places or privatize their management. A long time ago Fort Worth Weekly did a segment on high parking fees at Will Roger’s Center for small trade shows and the Flea Market. The Fort Worth Bird Club and Bird Mart, for example used to have an event there but due to high cost of parking for a few hours has since moved to Cleburne Convention Center. The Flea Market is gone also, at any rate, we haven’t checked out anything at Will Rogers because the parking fees are just out of sight. The adjacent local cafes and businesses have noticed….

  5. Botanic Gardens is headed down the same trail that killed the city zoo for working class families- the trail ending in private ownership, higher and higher ticket prices, and frequent weekend “events” that are actually road shows that cost the venue money that has to be recouped from attendees. Highly attended, they cost a bomb to take the family- and have almost no connection to the natural world. Save your money, take the fam to New Orleans and see a REAL zoo- the Audubon.

    Botanic Gardens is doomed. The City has for decades refused to fund it adequately, allotting less and less every year to Gardens maintenance. Private garden clubs maintain the roses, work in the few remaining greenhouses, tend the beds- and contracted private companies mow and prune because it’s cheaper- it looks like hell, but it IS cheaper. I’m betting the gardens will be privatized in another decade, or less.