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Members of the Water District Accountability Project do not believe TRWD board chair Leah King will appoint a non-insider to fill Jim Lane’s vacated seat this month. Image courtesy TRWD

The recent passing of Jim Lane of the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) board has exposed a gaping hole in leadership at the helm of TRWD, led by board chair Leah King. The Dec 13 meeting of TRWD commemorated Mr. Lane’s public service. Within the same meeting ensued a discussion on a method to fill the now-vacant seat.  (State law requires the vacancy to be filled by the board within 60 days of occurrence. The term for this appointment expires in May 2023.)

With great confusion, King volleyed clumsily with board attorney Stephen Tatum on a proposed method of filling the vacancy with defeated and rejected candidates from prior elections. The words “transparency,” “optics,” and “accountability” were tossed about by board member James Hill during the discussion on the method to fill the current vacancy, and he concurred with King to select from defeated and voter-rejected 2021 candidates. Neither Ms. King nor Mr. Hill spoke to their conflicts of interest in making this selection.

One of the failed 2021 candidates campaigned on a slate with Ms. King and Mr. Hill. He is a land developer named C.B. Team. Moreover, in 2019, Team was also on the TRWD ballot and was defeated by Jim Lane, whose seat is now open due to his passing. These individuals who failed to get elected in 2021 were vetted by the voters and rejected.

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Mr. Hill and Ms. King’s vapid argument is that these people have been vetted by the public. It troubles one to think that this is proper and well thought out. The irony is that their collective message in 2021 to the voters was transparency and accountability. The board voted to fill Mr. Lane’s vacancy using the unelected 2021 TRWD candidates.

Board member Hill requested staff to derive a policy in case vacancies occur in the future so future boards will have a standard set of rules for guidance. The policy requested from staff by Mr. Hill is vital. This policy will amount to an appointment of an elected position and should require a period of public input and comments before consideration.

When will voters within the TRWD start electing competent transparent leaders?

Signed,

Water District Accountability Project

This letter reflects the opinions and fact-gathering of the author(s) and only the author(s) and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a letter, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

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