Mary Suhm Screwed Dallas, but Now City Hall Has to Let the Gas Drillers Frack Parkland

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If there is one thing I hate, it's talking about morality with people who agree with me. But this has been one of those weeks.

I'm your basic anti-gas-and-oil-fracking-in-parks type of guy. Call me soft. I've just always been against major petro-chemical operations where the children play. So generally speaking I'm on the same page most of the time with the anti-fracking claque. Not this week.

Instead, I have been catching a fair amount of flak over the phone from people who ought to be my same-page buddies. They are horrified by the deal we exposed here on Unfair Park, signed five years ago by Dallas city manager Mary Suhm and a gas-drilling company, in which Suhm said she would do everything possible to help the company drill in parks.

The view of most anti-frackers -- and I get the logic -- is that this was a dirty deal. It was. They say Suhm did everything she could to keep it secret. She did. They say it flew in the face of the will of the people of Dallas as expressed by their elected representatives. Yup. They tell me it went outside the boundaries of Suhm's power and authority. Suhm said the same thing herself, weirdly.

But that's all about fracking. Now we get to the moral argument. The anti-frackers say there is no way the city of Dallas should be held to this deal. No way. I say yes way.
It stinks. She really screwed us. I hate being in this position as much as anybody. But a deal is a deal. It's done. We can't just stamp our feet and make it go away.

See also:
- Mary Suhm Signed a Secret Side Deal to Push for Drilling on Parkland as She Told Council It Would Be Banned
- Rawlings and Suhm's Attempt to Spin Secret Gas Deal into Something Innocent Is Hot Air

I believe what Dallas Cothrum, who represents the gas-drilling company Trinity East, told me when I called him about it last week. He said the city took Trinity East's $20 million check the same day Suhm signed her deal with them. Cashed it. Spent it. There we are. Damn. Hate this. But there we are.

I usually never even call the Cothrums, a father-and-son City Hall lobbying team. They're polite people, but they won't ever tell me squat that I can use. This was a great opening for me to call them, however, because they were on the news and on the record as the gas company's hey-boys at City Hall. But I was pretty surprised when Dallas Cothrum, the son, not only took the call but opened up and unloaded.

Oh, look. He knew he was pushing my buttons. He knew just where to push. He framed the thing in terms of basic fairness and a deal has got to be a deal. Cothrum didn't bad-mouth City Hall to me especially, but he knew he didn't have to. That would be like an all-choir event -- the choir preaching to the choir preaching to the choir.

Cothrum said his client had a right to believe that a deal in which a $20 million check was passed was a deal. He said now they want their end of the deal. Period.

Damn it! The thing I absolutely deplore about City Hall more than anything else is its tendency to flake on agreements even after people have invested major money or social and political capital in those agreements. Then they just fade back into their big building, fold their hands in their laps and stare at everybody like one big Buddha whispering, "So sue us."

I would argue that's what happened to the city's original commitments on the Inland Port, where former mayor Tom Leppert helped pull the rug out from under the main investors. I have done stories about regular people to whom it has happened -- a young couple who poured their savings into a rehab project in Oak Cliff only to have City Hall tell them the promises the city had already made to them on zoning were no longer operative.

It's what City Hall has done to the entire city over the Trinity River Project, where the city actually went into court and said under oath that it had no obligation to live up to its own campaign promises for how bond money is spent on the project. And here is the larger point: They went to court with that spiel and won.

The city does this to people because it can. It enjoys huge immunity from lawsuits under the law. It has an entire floor full of its own lawyers and bottomless pockets with which to hire outside lawyers. But none of that makes the city right. Making promises, taking money and then later saying they had their fingers crossed just makes Dallas City Hall one big scam-job.

Where does all of this put us on the gas deal? I think we have to let them drill. Sorry. I just don't see a way out of it morally.

Suhm works for us. That's our company down there. It has our name on it. Dallas. She's our CEO. She signed the deal, but we took the money. You and I. We took that money. You did. I did. We spent that money on ourselves. We didn't have to have a tax increase that year, in spite of a huge deficit. Our hands are not clean.

Some of my callers seem to think it was unfair for Trinity East to use lobbyists when the public doesn't have a lobbyist. OK. But, look: If the Inland Port investors had hired competent lobbyists; if my young Oak Cliff couple had hired them; heck, if we taxpayers had hired them to represent us on the Trinity Project, I believe all of those stories might have had better endings.

In the screwed-up, implacable, totally amoral haunted house that is City Hall, you're nuts if you go in there on an important issue without a gladiator in front of you. The Cothrums aren't the only gladiators. There's a list. You need to look over that list before you walk in the door.

But let me tell you. If my house ever catches on fire, I'm not calling 911. I'm calling the Cothrums so they can negotiate a truck for me. It'll get there faster.

"Can I have two trucks?"

"Jim, we can definitely get you one truck, and then let's step back, take a deep breath and check the lay of the land."

Here is where I wind up. And I hate it. I do think Suhm screwed us. But I think we have to let these guys drill in a park. Park Board member Betty Culbreath has been telling people this not about drilling: it's about whether or anybody can ever trust a word City Hall tells them. She's right. I hate it. But she's right.

And here is something else I hate, because I think so well of Suhm personally. Either she tells us that somebody else put a gun to her head and made her sign that deal, or she definitely must be sacked. There is not another way around that one, either.

The whole thing reeks, but the reek doesn't make it go away. We have to bite the bullet and take our stitches. We need to say, "Never again.' We need to believe ourselves when we say it. But this one's gone. It's a done deal, and if we have an ounce of integrity it will stay done.


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54 comments
baker24
baker24

Well, Dallas doesn't have an ounce of integrity, so we are all on our own.....  This sort of double dealing is EXACTLY the heart of the fiasco with the Museum Tower and the Nasher Museum. Once Ray Nasher built the art museum, that vacant lot next door should have been restricted by the city zoning process to make the limited covenant (11 floors, 15% reflectance) a permanent restriction to protect the unique museum design. But once again, Dallas and its political leadership showed that it simply cannot be trusted to keep its word on anything. They are perfectly capable of screwing Trinity East with the same flair they had in screwing everybody else who ever thought they had a deal with the city. Dallas leadership has no honor.....

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

This is another sorry episode under the reign of Teflon Mary.  There have many stories concerning waste, corruption, inefficiency, cronyism, bad service to citizens, and just plain bad management.  Yet the sheep on the city council just gives her another raise and she continues on.  Mary Suhm must have a lot of big pictures of city council members doing some awful things.  How else does she keep her job?

IGNORE
IGNORE

Woah, my man Schutze sold out! Not only is he unwilling to discuss the fake "Alberto Morales" story, but he also got bribed to lay off "Trinity East!"




director21
director21

Jim, I most strongly disagree with you. The deal Mary signed was NOT the one approved by the City Council. That makes it an illegal deal that will, or would, probably be dissolved by a competent court of law because it falsely represented the will of the Dallas City Council.

At the time they gave the check Trinity East KNEW that it was (and still is) illegal to drill on city-owned park land and in floodplains. The "deal" did not promise that they would be allowed to drill, only that Suhm and her staff would make "reasonable effort" to get the Dallas Development Code changed so that drilling would be allowed.

Let me give you an example by which you can compare it in the real world. Let's say that Mary Suhm, against the proclamations of the City Council, grants you a deal that says you can grow marijuana in your backyard that you can then sell on open public markets. Do you think that would hold water as a defense in a court of law when growing and selling marihuana is currently prohibited by local, state and federal laws? If you do believe it, then you had better be ready to shove out the big bucks for a first rate criminal defense attorney because you ARE going to be arrested, you ARE going to jail, and you ARE going to trial.

The "deal" Mary Suhm made was not legally binding because it was NOT what was approved by the Dallas City Council in a public vote of record. Your opinion not withstanding, no court is going to find in favor of Trinity East over a deal in which the very lease they signed stated that drilling on park land and in floodplains is illegal.

I, for one, would love to see this case move to court. That is the only proper forum for resolving this matter if Trinity East continues to claim that they have a right to drill. The "deal" was not made between the City of Dallas and Willie or Dallas Cothrum. It was made between Mary Suhm and D. Stephen Fort of Trinity East contrary to what was approved by the Dallas City Council, which makes it an unenforceable deal, even though it really was not a deal at all since Suhm never guaranteed anything other than to try to get the ordinances changed.

joecook
joecook

If an improper deal was struck, Dallasites absolutely do not have to stand behind it. Doesn't it seem odd Trinity East would pay all those millions with no guarantee? They were part of any deal that was made, and all the particulars need to come out in court. If there's anything more important than money, it is that the highest level of justice and protection for the people prevail.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I guess he is from one of those families portrayed in Deliverance.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

A few points. Suhm 's execution of the lease was not approved by the council. Since she had no authority, there is no contractual obligation binding the city. Trimity East should have been aware of of this lack of authority. The rules for executing a lease on the City's behalf require council ratification. These are publicly available rules and Trinity's lawyers should have been aware of them. Their legal ignorance is an issue between Trinity and the lawyers. Typically contracts of this value contain representations the executing persons have authority to enter into the agreement and that the contract is enforceable in accordance with its terms. These representations are usually accompanied by a legal opinion, in this case from the City's counsel, to Trinity, opining that there is valid authority and that the contract is enforceable, subject to certain exceptions. In this case, if there were representations or an opinion, an exception relating to the City's police powers. If despite the foregoing the arrangement is deemed to be a binding contract, the parties thereto are usually required to take reasonable steps to effect it. But there are exceptions. If a contracting party owes a fiduciary duty to someone, the terms of the contract cannot require a party to violate this duty. I would think this principle applies to the City and its police power. Why did the City extend the leases? If the leases lapsed there would be no financial liability unless the lease provides otherwise. Call Trinity's bluff. These wells are not economic and it would be a fair bet Trinity walks away rather than sink new money in unproductive wells. Let them drill away in accordance with City zoning rules on all tracts but the parkland, which the parties can litigate in the meantime. In all fairness to Trinity, assuming no nefarious collusion on its part, refund the $19mm. In all fairness to Dallas, fire Suhm and sue her for any financial exposure.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Sorry Jim, you're wrong as much as I love you past blogs about Dirty Mary. But there's more dirt that will be coming out that will make even that black pant suit look even dirtier. This deal is definitely not done. It's not about drilling at all, oh no, this is about so much more. Think gas production facility/refinery/compressor and it's capabilities, that's where the big money is. Once built the compressor becomes a State controlled utility not the City of Dallas anymore. What is it John Huston's character said in Chinatown?......... "either you bring the water to LA, or LA to the water." The wells are a smoke screen.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Dallas is the largest city of its size in the nation where the city manager can cut deals like this.

If this were Houston, the contracts would have been fought out in council chambers. Transparency.  The citizen could have weighed in.

Only the golly gee whiz, fun stuff . . . the big ticket items (bridges, hotels, etc.) are pitched.  We don't see the stuff that suddenly pops up like budgeting to the extent Houston's citizens get to see.

Read the Chronicle.  

NOakCliff
NOakCliff

There's a huge difference between a deal made with all the facts, comments, and documents out in the open versus a deal that's kept secret and made by someone who possibly had no authority to make it in the first place. Using your logic, Jim, the "deal is a deal" argument would hold sway if it had been a low level park employee who signed the secret letter, then delivered the check to City Hall for deposit.

marianagriggs
marianagriggs

In your opinion Jim, our City may be in a position to either allow these permits or get sued, but that is the job of the City-to be the guardians of the citizens. We are supposed to trust that our City will protect us from the health and safety hazards of an industry like this one. A lawsuit should mean nothing compared to watching your citizens suffer.

Terry Welch has a great article examining the laws related to this issue. It seems that if our city were to deny these permits, or "disallow" them through higher safety standards in our ordinance, a court would likely side with us. A city's police power, in my opinion, lies in its ability to watch out for the health and safety of its citizens. As a City we are allowed to say "No" to anything that will put our citizens at risk. 


 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

I think Rudy Bush's story this afternoon on the Morning News City hall blog really sharpens this issue. It shows that in order to get Trinity East to sign the check, Suhm did much  more than merely sign the promise letter. She and city lawyers added the park land parcel to the original contract. It had not been in the contract when the city council authorized Suhnm and the lawyers to negotiate the contract.  The park land got slipped in later.

And here was the trick: they took the contract back and told the council, "It's changed from what we showed you." But they said the change was the extension of time given Trinity East. They never called attention to the parcel that had been added. That parcel, in the final lease, was not identified as park land. In fact, unlike all the other parcels, it was not given a full geographic description. It was given only a nickname,  "The Radio Tract Parcel." I don't know how to interpret that except as a deliberate fraud, designed to trick the council into not spotting it as park land. 

I know I will get the same argument -- that Trinity East twisted her arm into committing a fraud on the council.  Listen: all Trinity East did was sign a contract. If Suhm conned her own board, that's between Suhm and her board. The city signed on the dotted line. Trinity East signed on the dotted line. Beginning and End of Story.

If the city now wants to hand Trinity East whatever award it seeks, if they want to go totally in the tank on this and just open us up to a complete gutting, then all they have to do is stand by Suhm, because that will say, "It was an OK contract and an OK deal with us. We just want to flake on it because we're flakes."

Would they do that to us? They could, because they all want some new pocket park or traffic signal out of her and experience says they are not above throwing the entire city under the bus to get their baubles out of her.

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

Jim, this is an unfortunate but true post. One needs only step back from this issue and see the truth for what it is. The truth is why Dallas will be a good but never great city. The truth is why we have John Wiley Price, an undying Trinity Toll Road, fancy fake suspension bridges, Mike Rawlings as mayor instead of David Kunkel

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

Jim, this is an unfortunate but true post. One needs only step back from this issue and see the truth for what it is. The truth is why Dallas will be a good but never great city. The truth is why we have John Wiley Price, an undying Trinity Toll Road, fancy fake suspension bridges, Mike Rawlings as mayor instead of David Kunkle and a whole host of other issues that can be tossed in here, too.


The truth is, "The Chosen Few" will get the deals done and enjoy Goldilocks treatment even if evidence to the contrary flies in their face. Yes, it is delusional...but occasionally a bone will get thrown to the downtrodden and we're  allowed to speak out. Names like Hunt and Griggs get a vote...but in the grand scheme they are mere flies whisked away by a swipe of the hand.


Before I'm accused of being fatalistic, again step back and part the curtain. What you describe happens in EVERY city no matter the size. It happens in EVERY large corporation, just look at the floating turd-bowl that just pulled into Mobile, Alabama. Shit trickles down and the tactics at work in this gas drilling in the parkland case is typical of what happens every day in Washington, DC. Our leaders set the example. This wink-wink, nod-nod behavior is endemic. And we voters keep sending 'em back year after agonizing year. Sheep to the slaughter even those of us who have the power of a vote lazily tweet and Facebook about the election without actually having participated in the process. The inmates always feel they can run the prison better than their jailers.


It's not right, it's not fair but it's life's lessons. It is what you learn when you come to college all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You were Valedictorian until you're assimilated at college. You find out how it all works, how to navigate the red-tape you've never encountered in High School before and when you graduate, you've figured it out and hopefully enter the world with broader shoulders.


In short, it's The Game of Life. Figuring out how to play is why we're all in this thing together. Doesn't mean you don't live to fight another day...but hopefully we all learn how to pick our battles.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

plz use park land, not the name of the Hospital.

justin
justin

Sorry Jim, but you're not being sane on this. If there was an explicit deal, or even an implied deal, we'd already be in court. Trinity East are big boys. Maybe It sounds like big money today, but back when all these deals were being negotiated and gas prices weren't where they are today, Trinity East expected to be turning that initial investment into a fleet of Ferrari's (and then some) by now. They made a bet, and they've lost. They bet that they could use their money and influence to obtain something which was illegal at the time they wrote a check. And they did, in fact, receive something of value in exchange for that $19MM. They received exclusivity on the land in question. If it wasn't worth $19MM to them, they shouldn't  have signed the check.

Think of it this way. I pay someone's kid today for the exclusive right to buy his parents' house once they pass on and leave it to him. Let's assume this is someone really wealthy and there is never an expectation that end of life costs would necessitate selling the house to cover nursing home. But then he pisses off the parents and they leave the house to their charity of choice instead. I've paid him for the exclusive right to buy the house, and if passed to him and he sold it to someone else, I'd gladly sue him and expect to win. But in this case, I've paid him for something that there was only an expectation, not a certainty, that he could deliver. He couldn't make his parents leave him the house to sell to me, and Mary Suhm could never, EVER, guarantee that she could force the Council to vote in favor of Trinity East. Trinity East is playing dumb so that we will give into their demands if they claim otherwise. Trinity East probably expected that changing the rules would be easy, and Mary Suhm probably did too. They expected gas prices to be high and royalty payments to the city to be too compelling to overlook. They also didn't expect Scott Griggs to be on the council in place of Dave Neumann. Dave still had another term of eligibility and he was more than happy to be Leppert's errand boy as long as it furthered his future in Dallas politics. Add to this the fact that Griggs specifically campaigned as an opponent of gas drilling and you went from having a strong ally in D3 to having a nemesis in one of the most competent and smartest city council members we've had in some time.

Guesty
Guesty

I don't know Jim.  I have a problem with the city and local government jerking people around on contracts.  It's a real problem in North Texas.  But Trinity East has lawyers that can read these things.  And any lawyer would tell you that Suhm's August 15, 2008 letter doesn't say Trinity will get to use the surface of parkland for drilling.  All it says is that the City staff will "use its reasonable efforts to assist Trinity East in placing before the Dallas City Council those permit and other materials requiring City Council approval or vote . . . .  We understand that this letter is not a binding agreement, but is merely a good faith representation of our discussions in connection with this transaction."  

This means Trinity East took on the risk that political forces could intervene and cause the City Counsel not to allow drilling on the park land.  Trinity East knowingly bet $20 million on an uncertain outcome and can't complain if it doesn't work out.  Trinity East is the one trying to rewrite the deal to suggest that City Counsel approval was promised.      

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Is it time to put the strong mayor initiative on the ballot again so at least voters can blame someone? Suhm has held that office forever.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, this is what happens when you transfer a real property right without adequate covenants, terms and restrictions.

Any lawsuits will turn on arcane and obscure points and probably be very un-understandable to the average person.

Does anyone know what the procedures are when the City disposes of or otherwise relinquishes real property?

Great article Jim.

zactrahan
zactrahan

Hold on just a minute, Jim. 

"She signed the deal, but we took the money. You and I. We took that money. You did. I did. We spent that money on ourselves."

"The deal," as it was publicly presented to the Mayor and Council, the Park Board and all Dallas residents, was to allow Trinity East to set up gas rigs someplace else and drill UNDER our parks. Everyone was told that drilling ON our parks would be strictly prohibited. That's the deal "you and I" thought we were getting, because that's how Mary Suhm publicly explained it to us. That's what the gas company was paying for, according to Suhm. At least, that's what the public record shows from all the 2008 documents we've seen.

The secret side deal, the letter Suhm signed all by herself without telling anyone, is the only thing that says the gas company may get to drill ON our parks. Even if you think this is binding, you can't blame anyone but her for making a very different deal in secret.

tbarker1
tbarker1

@primi_timpano I have been waiting for legal beagles to show up and address the contracts. The entire mess reveals much about the City.  


Hal and I are now pretty much stymied on obtaining Open Records for park related inquiries.  I am sure the DMN, Observer and the drilling.org folks have had similar experience.  

I am waiting to read the story of how Hunt and Griggs got the "Shum letter".  Should be interesting.

WylieH
WylieH

@NOakCliff The City Charter requires the City Attorney to sign off, as well.  The City Attorney (who Suhm appears to control) signed off.  If a low level park employee managed to have the City Attorney sign off on the document, then it could, indeed, also be a "deal is a deal" type situation.

tbarker1
tbarker1

@JimSX It looks like the Mayor is now trying to create some space between himself and Mary Shum and her staff.   One begins to wonder when the shoe falls.

marianagriggs
marianagriggs

@JimSX  

be real, nobody twisted her arm, she saw the opportunity to keep some council members elected and happy by not raising taxes, now she is collecting on it by getting them to agree to the drilling. you know this better than anyone, it happens all the time, keep 6 happy and stay in the job, seriously.

WylieH
WylieH

@OakParkStudio Control over our city, control over our neighborhoods.. a better place to live for ourselves and our children rather than having control over our hard-earned tax dollars and most prized assets being effectively being handed over to the highest bidder.  

I would submit that this is a battle worth picking.

WylieH
WylieH

@Guesty At the same time, though, she appears to have actually executed a lease on behalf of the City that allowed the drilling.  That appears to be the problem.  A real property lease stands on its own pursuant to the statute of frauds doctrine.

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Go look at Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code under State law (which explicitly covers municipalities).  The lease appears to have been executed in violation of that law.

Also, the City Manager is not allowed to execute leases without the approval by ordinance or resolution of the City Council (per the City Charter).  It's clear that she misrepresented the lease, but was a true copy of the lease she planned on signing presented to Council anyway?  It seems this might have been the case, since they appear to have gone to some effort to disguise the parcel in the lease agreement.  If she showed them the actual lease, she might be able to make the claim that they were stupid to trust her summary and should have looked at the actual document they were authorizing. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@zactrahan Jim isn't talking about the 'deal' in this case.  He's talking about the money.  It helps if you view the political arena as a prostitution deal.  Trinity East is the John, the City is the whore.  The john pays the whore for a particular service.  Now, whores have pimps.  Pimps don't really have anything to do with the deal or the service, they just get a cut of the money.

That is where you and I come in.  We were the pimps.  Like Jim pointed out, we enjoyed a year with no tax increase (municipal) even though the City had to find a way to pay for a budget shortfall.  A $19million blowjob was just the ticket.

zactrahan
zactrahan

And does that mean we also HAVE to let them build a gas processing and compressor station facility on private land a few hundred feet from the Elm Fork Soccer Complex? If they do drill, the gas company needs an industrial, polluting facility like this somewhere in the area. But does Dallas now have ZERO say about where it should (or should not) be located?

zactrahan
zactrahan

If Suhm had made the "they may actually drill ON our parklands" proposal part of the public discussion in 2008, instead of keeping it hidden, we may have ended up with a very different outcome. Maybe our elected officials would have said "no thanks" to the offer, if they had known that was the proposed deal. We'll never know, now.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@director21We'll know soon enough if the city manager has the power or not, your assertions notwithstanding.  It appears we have a weak-mayor form of governance that may allow this.  

She may withdraw it tactically, but that won't answer the question.  Will the City Council overturn the decision or will they fire her?  The company that wrote the $20 million check will probably seek enforcement in civil court if the City doesn't give the money back.  Then we'll know.  The council hates giving money back to anyone.  Their decisions have often caused money awards.

And if the political heat isn't too much, it is consistent the Council's prior behavior to first hide behind the City Manager's skirts saying she does have the power (even if she doesn't), or if the heat is too much - throw her under the bus and fire her but let the decision stand (even if she doesn't).

Actually, it is the City Council that is under the microscope, and the form of governance this city presently employs to run its affairs.  She obviously THOUGHT she had the legal power.  Now we find out if she had the POLITICAL power.

Traditionally, the Council likes to fiddle around with the fun stuff that doesn't matter and leave the ways and means (revenue and spending) to the City Manager behind closed staff doors.

It would not surprise me if the City Council just throw up its hands and siad there is nothing they can do.

Whether that is true or not.  A citizen's lawsuit will ultimately decide if under this form of municipal governance, she does.

timdickey
timdickey

@JimSX @marianagriggs Not so fast on the "we", kimosabe.  Let's break this back-room deal and head for court. Schermbeck's right--Trinity East knew there was a chance the SUP wouldn't make it when they wrote that check. 

schermbeck
schermbeck

@JimSX @marianagriggs I'm wondering if you've read the 2011 amendments that Trinity East signed-off on wherein they clearly acknowledge that city policy on park land and flood plain drilling will have to change in order for them to get what they want - that they are taking a gamble? I think you may want to backtrack on why we just have to rollover and accept a major industrial polluter we'll come to regret as much as the lead smelters because the City was massively defrauded by an employee. What kind of message does it send when you reward the fraud and the people who helped commit it? Should Dallas actually be insane enough to approve these permits despite everything we now know, I'd think they'd have a whole new set of lawsuit problems to worry about.

marianagriggs
marianagriggs

@JimSX @marianagriggs  

So have others, when they did not know all the facts, that's a breach on the industry's part. New facts, old contract, health and safety related new facts.

Guesty
Guesty

@WylieH @Guesty I doubt the Lease says that the City agrees to change any zoning or to grant any permits.  Oil producers sign leases on land that they cannot develop under current law all the time, sometimes because they want exclusivity while they try to work something out with the government, and sometimes because they think they can get at the minerals from some other property where it is legal to drill.  

Trinity East knew all along it needed zoning and permitting from the City.  That's why it requested representations from Suhm that the City staff would make reasonable efforts to obtain City Counsel approval while expressly acknowledging that the City staff could not bind the city to change zoning or to grant permits.  That August 15, 2008 letter helps the City in almost every way in fighting any litigation from Trinity East.  

GotMyCane
GotMyCane

@RTGolden1 @zactrahan  Well, I really want to be the pimp that slaps around that whore.  And, is that a wart on our parkland I see?

marianagriggs
marianagriggs

@JimSX  

additionally, there may be more lies in this

for example, you can have a great safety record, spotless, if your subcontractors are the ones with the violations....

justin
justin

@Guesty @WylieH I don't even know if you can call these bad faith negotiations. The City of Dallas has very clearly delivered its end of the bargain, which was in broad strokes to grant Trinity East exclusivity on the property. In fact, we've been more than generous by extending that lease with no compensation. How many counterparties in the private sector that Trinity East deals with are generally willing to extend Trinity East exclusive use of resources with no compensation? I'd guess there are none. Again, if Trinity East had a chance in hell of winning against the city in court as it pertains to not granting the SUP, we'd have been there months if not years ago. They are trying to cloak this in an aura of "you need to do the right thing" to make up for the shitty contract they wrote and the bad business decision they made to sink money into this project. It's just sad to see Jim get taken in by this. He's up in arms about payday lenders in the city limits but thinks we should just let ourselves get steamrolled by what is clearly not a contract that forces us to do what Rawlings et al want us to believe?

Guesty
Guesty

@WylieH @Guesty I understand the city signed the lease, but they expressly acknowledged that the City staff could not bind the city to change zoning or to grant permits.  They signed a deal knowing they still needed additional approvals from the city counsel and that those approvals were not guaranteed.  If Trinity East believed that the lease required the city to change its zoning and grant permits (two things the lease doesn't require), then they wouldn't have signed such a silly letter.  

It's worth noting that I think even without the letter, I doubt Trinity East could win.  The status quo at the time of the lease execution was that zoning would not allow for use of that surface for drilling.  If Trinity East wanted the city to be obligated to change that, it was incumbent on Trinity East to include that in the deal.  In Texas there are not generally duties of good faith.  If you want someone to be obligated to do something, it generally has to be spelled out in the contract.  I do think it would be an entirely different situation if the City changed its zoning after the lease was executed to prevent drilling, but that isn't what happened here.  

WylieH
WylieH

@Guesty @WylieH The problem here is that there is a single entity, the City of Dallas, which is party to the lease and also the one controlling the right to issue permits.  I don't know how the law would differentiate between the two (nor could it, practically, or commercial business would be rendered impossible).

A individual, corporation, municipality, etc. can't on the one hand, be party to an agreement and reap all the benefits--- then, on the other hand, not frustrate the other party's ability to reap the benefit of the bargain.

This whole thing is so bizarre... of course, another complicating factor (which I think may be the strongest point), is that the agreement may violate State law.  Under State law, municipalities can't do what Suhm appears to have done-- secretly hand over park lands to third parties without notice, hearing, and a finding that there is no practical alternative.

Suhm has placed the City in a very difficult predicament, that's for sure.

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