Mary Suhm Admits City Hall Kept Council in Dark While She Agreed to Let Parks Be Fracked

Categories: City Hall

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Last week, Unfair Park got its hands on long-hidden proof of what a lot of people already suspected: that Mary Suhm had cut a secret deal to help Trinity East Energy drill on city parkland while telling the City Council the exact opposite.

Suhm's initial response was to downplay the 2008 agreement with Trinity East, saying it wasn't a deal per se but a non-binding offer to help a company that was writing a $19 million check to the city.

But Suhm's tune has changed somewhat. In an interview with the Morning News' Rudy Bush, she acknowledged that the agreement she signed with Trinity East included a 22-acre tract near Luna Vista Golf Course that was not among the properties the City Council had OKed for drilling.

"It appears that's true," she told Bush. "We're trying to figure out what and how and what went on there."

While they're at it, they'll have to figure out why Mark Duebner, her top staff member, guaranteed even after the deal was signed that there would be no drilling on parkland, and why nearly everyone not named Mary Suhm was kept in the dark about the deal with Trinity East.

Recently retired Parks Director Paul Dyer, who was theoretically in charge of all of the city's parkland at the time, was surprised to learn that the 22-acre parcel, where he'd been developing plans for a golf facility for the First Tee, was on the table.

Bush's report adds to the growing pile of evidence that Suhm deliberately misled the council as she pursued the Trinity East deal, thereby forcing the city into no-win situation: either drill, with all the associated health and environmental worries that come with that, or face a lawsuit that could cost Dallas much more than the $19 million it pocketed in 2008.

Councilman Scott Griggs poses the question most directly in Bush's piece: "Is this extra-legal action that was not within the city manager's authority?"

If the answer is yes, the next question is obvious: Is that a fireable offense?

Update at 2:59 p.m.: Mayor Mike Rawlings chimed in with a call for a timeline of the Trinity East deal:

Full transparency of the history of this process is extremely important. To that end, this past Wednesday I asked the City Attorneys office and City Managers Office to present a full briefing regarding the timing of each important document that was written and the decisions that were made.

While I was not a first-hand participant, I have learned this is a very complicated and complex issue. It has been enlightening to learn the process the prior city council went through and I think it will be for the citizens as well.


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33 comments
schermbeck
schermbeck

Seems just a little disingenuous to ask the people who perpetrated the fraud to now investigate and report back about the fraud. If the Mayor really wanted to know what got done and when, an independent investigator with subpoena powers will be needed. But that should come after the City Manager is fired and the Trinity East permits are all denied.

director21
director21

By her own words we know now that Dirty Mary Suhm is a liar, a fraud and a corporate lobbyist while serving as Dallas City Manager. If she had any integrity, which she does not, then she would resign immediately and save the city the cost of having to terminate her. She should also be required to pay back 100% of her salary and benefits since 2008.


Personally, I hope she goes to prison over her illegal backroom dealing. Remember folks, several of us have been saying this was going on for a very long time, but nobody was listening. Now, we have the documents and Dirty Mary's own confession to substantiate it..

aceris
aceris

My father was a city manager for decades in a "strong city manager" system (in another state). He won national ethics awards for standing up to corruption. Retired now, he chuckles regretfully when people ask about why he didn't ever want to work in Texas... And says one look at the Dallas newspapers tell you how incredibly badly the system here has been corrupted by the oligarchy. He says when the corruption is this insidious and established in status and old money, it doesn't matter whether you've got a "strong manager" or "strong mayor" system, because the honest professionals will always be driven out in favor of those whose morals are up for sale... And the honest folks would rather be someplace they can do their jobs and serve their citizens.

aceris
aceris

My father was a city manager in a "strong city manager system", and won national ethics awards; he has always been a straight-shooter. Retired now, he laughs when asked why he never wanted to work in Texas... He said just from reading the Dallas papers, he knew the region was completely corrupted by the resident oligarchy.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Mike thinks that he's getting the best seat on the Integrity Limo before it pulls away by asking for this timeline. Trouble is Hunt, and Griggs already have taken two of those seats as they have had their seats for years now.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

I read Rawling's comments as the first step in distancing himself from Suhm, he's effectively gathering the materials/evidence that he will need to force her out the door.

she's gone, there is no way for her to save her position. If it were just entering into the side agreement she might be able to survive, but keeping it secret from not only the citizens, but also the council as well as the open records request, spells her doom.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

The council needs to ask for Suhm's resignation ASAP. But, since the power brokers in Dallas back her, we probably won't be seeing that happening.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

In regards to Mayor Mike's statement ... I just find it absolutely hilarious when I watch the equivalent of a cat trying to cover up its business on the kitchen floor.  There is a lot of movement and a flurry of activity, but it just doesn't get covered up.

Let me translate Mayor Mike's statement:

Full transparency of the history of this process is extremely important.

(Look we need to get our story straightened out, or at least make it self consistent.) 

To that end, this past Wednesday I asked the City Attorneys office and City Managers Office to present a full briefing regarding the timing of each important document that was written and the decisions that were made.

(Look get your story straight or you are going down.  You know, When did the President know this and when did it happen.)

While I was not a first-hand participant

(Look don't paint me with this tarbrush, I inherited this problem),

I have learned this is a very complicated and complex issue

(We need some time to figure out who is going to the gallows on this one.  I know it is not going to be me.) 

It has been enlightening to learn the process the prior city council went through

(Let me just restate that I didn't do this and I am just now hearing about it)

and I think it will be for the citizens as well 

(Oh crap!  I can see the peasants storming the castle walls).

timdickey
timdickey

Maybe it's time to revisit the question of changing our form of government from Council/Manager to Strong Mayor.

NOakCliff
NOakCliff

Suhm's actions clearly represent those of a public employee operating on her own accord as if the elected city council, mayor, and everyone else with questions about drilling don't exist. The saddest part is that if she does get fired over it she'll probably walk away with a huge contract buy-out and her very large city pension intact.

JohnNeelyBryan
JohnNeelyBryan

FYI, Since no council approval was needed I've gone ahead and sold drilling rights around White Rock Lake. I don't really have an obligation to let anyone know this, just kind of calling dibs.

norman44
norman44

Ooops! Time to let Mary go!

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

@schermbeck Ya, about as sure of finding the truth as LAPD investigating itself, Penn state Ath Dept, Cath church......

director21
director21

@schermbeck Jim, I agree. The Dallas city government has abdicated all credibility and objectivity. They simply cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial and comprehensive investigation. Perhaps we need to go back to Watkins' office again, or maybe to the state AG or a couple of federal agencies.

This casts doubt on the integrity of the entire Trinity East matter. There is no way any of this should proceed now. Trinity East is also complicit in this matter because they knowingly entered into a secret, backroom deal when they knew drilling on park land and in floodplains was prohibited by city ordinances. Trinity East, therefore, cannot be regarded as a victim. Instead, they should be considered as a party before the fact.

Only an independent investigator with full subpoena power can bring honesty and integrity to the resolution of this mess, and we all need to be screaming for it at the top of our lungs.

WylieH
WylieH

@schermbeck Good point. From what I can see, the City Attorney is knee deep in this stuff, as well. The Mayor and City Council need to appoint independent counsel to oversee a truly impartial investigation.

WylieH
WylieH

@aceris I had breakfast a couple of years back with the City Manager of another large American city.  At some point during our conversation, he mentioned that he had recently dined with Mary Suhm and Tom Leppert (this was when he was Mayor)... I asked what he thought of them and he just got kind of silent, stared at his buttered toast for a second, then changed the subject.

WylieH
WylieH

@mavdog We'll see.  Working with the assistance of the City Attorney's office, she's been working to keep her operation secret for years--- repeatedly failing to comply with properly submitted Open Records requests, telling the State Attorney General's office to shove it when he tells the City to comply, etc.

So far she's been successful at keeping sunlight away from the most sensitive parts of her operation. 

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

@timdickey Why don't we just get a city manager that will follow the law. You know, a city manager that will carry out policy instead of making it behind closed doors.



NOakCliff
NOakCliff

That would be a great idea if we could then elect a mayor with no ties to the Citizens Council. But what's the chance of that being allowed?

director21
director21

@NOakCliff It is entirely possible that she could actually ride out in a paddy wagon heading to a federal prison! By her own admission, while serving as City Manager  she agreed to be a lobbyist for a commercial corporation that was doing business with the city - conflicts of interest, official malfeasance, corruption, fraud, and possibly several other felonies.

director21
director21

@WylieH @mavdog What you said is true, and that is why we need to call for a full federal investigation. I will be surprised if they are not already aware of this and working on it. I intend to call it to their attention on Monday just to make sure they are looking into it.

A-nony-mouse
A-nony-mouse

@WhiteWhale

"Tragedy on White Rock Lake today as the Shallow Water Horizon drilling platform caught fire after apparently suffering a blowout. We now take you to our Live team coverage...."

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@director21 @mavdog Here's my question on the whole Federal/State issue:  Were these Open Records Act requests filed at the State or the Federal level?  From what I can see, all of these incidents where Suhm fails to comply with open records requests are all at the state level.  Her head-butting is with the State AG, not the Federal AG.

At the moment, I agree with Mavdog, this looks like a state prosecution, nothing for the feds to move on.  Unless you've got some smoking gun evidence of federal fraud, national level political corruption, or RICO violations, I just don't see how this becomes a federal matter.

That's not to say it couldn't BE one, under the surface.

director21
director21

@mavdog @director21 Well, I guess that is where you and I differ on public corruption. Suhm, according to her own words, acted as an unpaid lobbyist for TE while employed as City Manager, paid by taxpayer money to represent the people of Dallas by stating that she and her staff would make "all reasonable efforts" to get the City Council to modify existing ordinances to allow TE to drill on park land and in floodplains.

Suhm has acted to block public access to public documents that were requested through appropriate procedures in the Texas and Federal Open Records Acts.

Suhm lied to members of the City Council and City Plan Commission by instructing them that the deal was made, and that the city would be sued if not allowed to drill.

And, that is just three specific instances, of which several more are there to consider, that I would definitely classify as evidence of official corruption. So, yes, that is what I am saying and that is what I believe should be thoroughly investigated by an independent agency whose only objective is the truth.

Yes, I do understand jurisdiction and how the process works. When it first began, the charges against Fielding, Hill, Hill, Lee, Lipscomb and others were labeled the same way you labeled those relating to Suhm. Federal prosecutors saw things through different eyes. I think one has to be corrupt, and morally corrupt at that, to do the things that Suhm is now admitting to have done.


mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@director21 @mavdog 

whoa there, stop! you are now accusing suhm of "corruption"? there has not been a single shred of evidence that Suhn accepted anything from Trinity East Energy, not even a suggestion. to throw out such a claim without ANY basis in fact is outrageous.

To say that Suhm has acted with a lack of ethics , honesty and within the proper conduct of the office is one thing; to say that she is "corupt" is an entirely different circumstance. I suggest you be more circumspect in what you hurl out without any support in facts.

Suhm's actions and the charges against Fielding, Hill et al are totally different.

you really do not understand how the state and federal jurisdictions/laws apply, and how they affect prosecution.

director21
director21

@mavdogIn addition to state ethics laws, there are also federal ethics laws that apply to public officials. And, there is the federal Open Records Act after which the Texas Open Records act is patterned.

Just as the FBI investigated and the US DOJ prosecuted former Dallas city government officials for official misconduct that landed a bunch of them in the federal big house a few years ago those same statutues apply to this case, as well. Refusing a lawful request for access to public documents is, in and of itself, a violation of federal and state law.

Acting as a corrupt public official is also a violation of state and federal ethics laws, as well as Dallas' own ethics code. This is definitely a multiple jurisdictional matter, just as were the convictons of Al Lipscomb, Don Hill, Former Dallas Plan Commissioner D’Angelo Lee and others who have been convicted of similar crimes of public corruption.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@director21 @WylieH

what federal statute was violated? I'm at a loss as to how or why the federales would be involved with this matter.

this is a matter for city/state jurisdiction.

director21
director21

@WylieH @director21 @mavdog Wylie, I have already filed a complaint with a MUCH higher agency than the State AG, though I will probably file one there, too.

WylieH
WylieH

@director21 @WylieH @mavdog If I were you, I'd try the State Attorney General's office, as well.  Suhm is well known there as she is a notorious, chronic violator of the state Public Information Act and is in ongoing tussles with the State AG over her penchant for running a closed, secretive operation in violation of state law.

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