Tomorrow's Gas Drilling Hearing is Getting Pissy Before it Even Starts

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Tomorrow's hearing is already getting interesting.
A friend of Unfair Park passed along an interesting email exchange between some members of the Gas Drillng Task Force in advance of tomorrow's throwdown public hearing. Seems that some are none too happy that Councliman Scott Griggs chose task force member Terry Welch to speak in favor of tighter drilling regulations.

The issue was raised by former Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher on Monday morning, after task force members had all reviewed the presentations. (You can read the full email exchange after the jump, if you're so inclined.)

"The lawyer in me requires me to go on the record and note that I think it is very inappropriate for one of the task force members to be speaking for either side," Keliher wrote. "Our positions have been noted in the record. If a task force member disagreed, then his/her opinion was heard and vetted. All rationale for a disagreement is in the record."

A couple of others agreed. In his own defense, Welch wrote that "Councilmember Griggs asked if I would speak for 30 minutes. I agreed." He assumed that the other side would pick a task force member as well. He didn't discover until Friday that it hadn't, choosing instead to go with Ed Ireland, the head of an industry trade group.

His emailed set off a somewhat testy exchange with David Biegler, a task force member who runs SouthCross industry who didn't think it was fair that the minority opinion on setbacks and parkland was being given a forum when other minority positions of the task force were not.

"The consequence is that issues which were fully vetted in our discussions to conclusion are now being presented with only one side being heard. It is as simple as that," he wrote. "It should not surprise or sadden you that a sense of fairness has been lost," adding in a followup email, that "perhaps the confusion as to what is fair and right rests with you."

For his part, Griggs told me a minute ago that he had simply followed instructions, which were to pick a person to deliver a 30-minute presentation to the City Council on environmental concerns with the task force recommendations. He said he chose Welch because he s experienced and well-respected.

None of which is terribly important. Like he said, Griggs followed the rules, and Welch will be the speaker. It does, however, provide a taste of things to come.

From: "David Biegler" Date: Jul 31, 2012 8:53 AM Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

Terry,
-nothing in my note accuses you of a conflict of interest
-nothing I have said suggests you do not have the right to express your personal opinion
-nothing I have said suggests it was you who stacked the deck; you are only planning the stacked cards
-you keep suggesting others can express their opinion knowing that the same forum is not available
-you continue to suggest it is we who are confused; perhaps the confusion as to what is fair and right rests with you.
Respectfully, David

-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Welch
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 10:26 PM
Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I responded to the request from the mayor and councilmember Griggs. If another councilmember chose to select another individual to present an alternate position, so be it. I was not part of that discussion and simply responded to the request of Mr. Griggs. Other than that, I don't know how to respond. I am indeed sorry if there was confusion, but attacking me as having a conflict of interest seems a little over the top. Nothing prohibits you or any other task force member from telling the City Council how you feel. In fact, I encourage you to do so. I have never thought that as task force members, we lost our ability to express our personal opinions.

Thanks for your comments, David. Even though we occasionally disagreed on gas drilling issues, I certainly respect your opinion and hope you will be present on Wednesday.

Thanks, Terry

________________________________

From: David Biegler
Sent: Mon 7/30/2012 10:06 PM
Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

With respect Terry, I do not sense any confusion at all. I believe it is well understood. You, with others, were asked to submit a minority opinion. None of the other minority opinions on other issues were granted the same privilege. No member present at those discussions is being given the opportunity to rebut your minority opinion. The consequence is that issues which were fully vetted in our discussions to conclusion are now being presented with only one side being heard. It is as simple as that.
It should not surprise or sadden you that a sense of fairness has been lost. David Biegler ________________________________________
From: Terry Welch
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:03 PM

Dear All:

I am sorry if there is some confusion here. On June 24 the mayor sent an email to councilmembers Griggs and Kadane. In it he asked for a briefing "on the minority positions on our gas drilling task force." Councilmember Griggs asked if I would speak for 30 minutes. I agreed. I assumed that another task force member would be addressing issues where that task force member was in the minority-for example, on protected uses, whether to measure from the wellhead or property line, etc. I was actually told by someone outside the city the name of a task force member who probably would be presenting on other minority issues-all as referenced in the final matrix that was given us around March 1. I just found out on Friday night that Ed Ireland would be speaking, not another task force member. I was a little surprised, since the mayor's email stated that he wanted "the briefing to focus on what the sides like or don't like about the committee's report and why. Not generalities about the virtues or evils of gas drilling."

I am sorry if someone sees this as a conflict of interest, but I am not sure what the conflict is. There were a variety of issues (although not many, in my estimation) where there was a majority/minority opinion. I voted in the majority on a number of items, and clearly would not address those issues on Wednesday.

If anyone else wishes to submit position statements to the council, I think that is great. Shortly after the task force ended its deliberations (in early April), I personally wrote a letter to every councilmember and thanked them for the opportunity to serve and I raised some issues (the three to be addressed) about the final recommendations. I don't think that by serving on the task force I lost my ability to express my personal opinions to the city council-and I indicated in my correspondence to the councilmembers that these were my opinions alone.

I am sorry if any of you think this is a conflict or otherwise improper. It certainly is not intended that way, and it was a delight to serve with all of you. I believe I was responding to the mayor's and councilmember Griggs' requests. I have had a severe upper respiratory infection for two weeks, lost my voice recently, and in all likelihood may sound like a frog on Wednesday.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know. I am just saddened to see allegations of conflict of interest, since I would never do something like that. But thanks for expressing your opinions-this group has never been reticent!!

Thanks, Terry

P.S. I only copied task force members on this email.


From: John McCall Jr [mailto:john@attorneymccall.com]
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

Margaret,

I respectfully concur with your perspective and feel it is clearly a conflict of interest. However, I also remember that Mayor Rawlins specifically asked councilman Griggs to put a presentation together for neighborhoods, and councilman Kadene to put a presentation together for industry. Since there was no further qualifiers, it could be presumed that both councilman could choose anyone or a multiple of individuals to present for their 30 minute presentation.

That being said, guess it is fair game to ask all on the task force- which councilman contacted you?

For the record, neither contacted me.

Respectfully
John

From: Margaret Keliher
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 10:41 AM
Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

To all,

The lawyer in me requires me to go on the record and note that I think it is very inappropriate for one of the task force members to be speaking for either side. Our positions have been noted in the record. If a task force member disagreed, then his/her opinion was heard and vetted. All rationale for a disagreement is in the record.

Therefore I also take issue with a minority report being presented. This is not like a Supreme Court Opinion where the minority side needs to be heard. All of this was heard publicly and put into the record. And based on all the information, the task force decided and voted. Any minority report from a member of the Task Force should be considered the same as a report from an interested citizen and not the task force.

Furthermore, as I understood it from the Mayor at the meeting when he told us that he was going to have two additional speakers, he said that the reason was to hear from two different perspectives from people not on the task force.

I will leave to the Council's lawyers to determine if this should be allowed, but whether or not it is "legal", I think it is inappropriate.

All that noted, I will be there on Wednesday.

Margaret

-----Original Message-----
From: David Biegler
Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2012 12:37 PM
Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

Kris,since the minority report was submitted and received by members so late, what will the process be for submitting a rebuttal, which is a common courtesy ? David Biegler ________________________________________
From: Sweckard, Kris
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 8:13 PM
Subject: RE: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

The agenda and materials for the City Council meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 1st have now been posted. The Gas Drilling topic is scheduled for after lunch, at approximately 1:00. Please keep in mind that it can actually be heard at ANYTIME during the day. Staff will do our best to reserve seats on the public side for you. If you could let me know whether or not you plan to attend (doesn't have to be a definite answer), that would be helpful.

Here are the links:

Agenda:
http://www.dallascityhall.com/council_briefings/agendas/agendas_0812/FinalBriefingAgenda_08012012.pdf

Briefings (2):
http://www.dallascityhall.com/council_briefings/briefings0812/GasDrillingBriefingCon_080112.pdf

http://www.dallascityhall.com/council_briefings/briefings0812/GasDrillingBriefingPro_080112.pdf

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!
Kris

Kris Sweckard
Interim Director
Dallas Public Library
1515 Young St.
Dallas, TX 75201

From: Sweckard, Kris
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 4:28 PM
Subject: Gas Drilling to be Discussed at Upcoming Council Meeting

Hello Task Force Members,

I hope you are having a good summer! I wanted to give you a heads up regarding an upcoming City Council meeting related to the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force. At the City Council meeting on May 16, 2012, Mayor Rawlings described the next steps for additional briefings related to the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force recommendations for changes to the current Dallas ordinances for gas drilling and production. On Wednesday, August 1st, Councilmembers will hear points of view from both environmental concerns and the oil and gas industry. Mayor Rawlings asked Councilmember Kadane to help pick a voice of the industry and Councilmember Griggs to help pick a spokesperson for environmental concerns. Each point of view will be given 30 minutes to opine specifically on the recommendations of the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force. Questions and answers with Council will follow.

The agenda and materials for that meeting will be posted on the evening of Friday, July 27th and I will send you the link. The Council meeting starts at 9:00, but I've heard this item is planned for the afternoon, subject to change at any time.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!
Kris

Kris Sweckard
Interim Director
Dallas Public Library
1515 Young St.
Dallas, TX 75201


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5 comments
TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

Any time a crack appears, the industry has got to furiously start stuffing it full of B.S. or manufactured indignation lest the light of day sneak in and illuminate this process for the masses.

claytonauger
claytonauger

The reason the industry people are so pissy is because in the very last hours of the very last meeting, the Task Force did a complete 180 on parks, setbacks and floodplains, and re-wrote what citizens thought had already been decided - all without allowing any public input. Almost a year's worth of consensus was undone in one day.  It left a really bad stink on the whole process. This "minority" report actually represents the views of the majority of the task force before that last day's series of rollback votes. The one-person majorities of the Task Force on these issues already briefed the Council. The steadfast "minority," which included the only toxicologist and chemist on the Task Force, now get their turn - followed by an industry response. What's unfair about that?

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

They must being getting sweaty pants right now knowing that Griggs spokesman has all the inside info and is a lawyer vs. Ed Ireland the snake oil salesman. LOL! What a joke he is.

 

Biegler has some big 'ol kahunas to bitch about this or that since he pretty much ran the conversation during the term of the task force. And as for Maggie Keliher, what a disappointment she turned out to be.... between the menage a trois of Biegler, Keliher, and Joan Walne from Park Board and her lack of common sense, the City of Dallas is lucky that we don't have a pad site on every available corner.

To paraphrase the threesome: "why not put a pad site in the Trinity River bottoms? It's not being used for anything else..'

 

OMG

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

...to say nothing of the collusion of the players on the Task Force.

TXsharon
TXsharon

 @claytonauger Don't you know? Those who side with industry are supposed to make up all the rules. They don't want a really smart, ethical guy up against...(you know who).

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