Mary Suhm's Secret Drilling Deal Proves That the City Manager System Doesn't Work

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Don't think about this: your city manager, the CEO of Dallas City Hall, signed a secret deal five years ago promising to help a gas company set up drilling rigs and processing plants in city parks.

Think about this instead: the city manager did not sign a secret agreement with drilling opponents to help ensure there would be no drilling in parks.

While the debate was still raging, she chose sides and then kept her decision a secret. I know you have to think about what that means in terms of gas drilling. But I've got a bigger think-about for you.

What does it tell you in terms of how this city runs? And for once I'm not going to go through my entire litany of gigantic pissers, listing every single time in the last 250 years that Dallas City Hall has played the people dirty. I want to. I yearn to go through my whole list top to bottom even including my own parking tickets. But it's Monday morning, and ... eh, you know.

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

Here's what we do instead. Why don't we try looking at City Hall in optimistic terms of what it could be, instead of the gigantic infuriating hairball that it is. Dallas, like most major American cities, is in the process of being blessed and transformed by the arrival of an entire new generational wave of urban dwellers.

It would be inaccurate to give the newcomers all the credit for the anti-drilling pro-parks movement. City council member Sandy Greyson has always spoken for a civic-minded base in staid North Dallas that can be quite skeptical of City Hall.

But let's face it: most of the kick-ass on this issue has come from council members Scott Griggs and Angela Hunt, who do represent the new urban spectrum, a spectrum that is doing more for American cities than producing better coffee shops. A fascinating story on page one of this morning's New York Times, "Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government," paints a picture of new Gen-X voters in cities pushing even Republican bastions like Montana toward a new blue future.

If you read down into the piece, it becomes clear that the changes soon to come in our cities will reflect more than mere generational or partisan shift. Gen-Xers and their related cohort are not merely younger than the people they are supplanting in neighborhoods and on city councils. They're also more diverse in their ethnic and cultural origins, better educated, more traveled, more tolerant and just, well, sorry, but ...
smarter.

Also in the Times today is an appalling recitation by Paul Krugman called, "The Ignorance Caucus," citing iteration after iteration of Republicans taking stances against knowledge itself. The one that made me blush was last year's condemnation by the Texas GOP of public school instruction in critical thinking, deemed by the Lone Star GOP to be a liberal campaign to undermine parental authority.

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Mary Suhm doesn't work for you, unless you're one of The Boys.
On the one hand they've probably got a case. In a Tea Party house, what's going to make the kid come home thinking her parents are morons more than teaching her how to think? On the other hand, does someone seriously want to teach them how to not think?

That's the think-about we all need to bear in mind when we ponder this gas drilling saga at City Hall. If I did drag you through my entire catechism of City Hall catastrophes over the years, eventually in that storm of dust and trash the over-arching outline of the elephant would appear.

It's not the GOP elephant. Things at City Hall are either more complicated or less complicated than partisan politics, but they're not exactly partisan politics. Instead, the elephant at City Hall is the city-manager system, a machinery designed to consistently deliver outcomes favorable to a fixed and very narrow constituency.

I always called them the oligarchy. Laura Miller, my predecessor here at the Observer, who went on to become a mayor of Dallas, knew them better. She called them "The Boys."

The city-manager system itself assumes that elected officials will have less power than the kings and queens of Mardi Gras. And that's key. You, Dear Reader, may indeed vote. But her job is to shield the agenda of the boys from your will. Your deal is not her deal. Her deal is their deal, especially when the rubber meets the road.

Why else, when the controversy over drilling in parks was still brewing, when the elected bodies of the city had already spoken sternly against drilling in parks, would the city manager sign a secret deal to help a drilling company drill in parks? Simple. She does not work for voters or their elected representatives, not really, never when it really counts.

The city manager has always been and will always be the hired executive of the Dallas Citizens Council, a shadowy private organization with roots deep in the city's pre-Civil Rights movement past. The very existence and sheer persistence of the Dallas Citizens Council as a dominant force in local politics in this day and age never fails to be a source of shock and awe for first-time visitors to our city. Sadly for us, it's old hat.

The city-manager system is seriously out of step with this city's future. It is a ball and chain tying us to a political graveyard where obsolete ideas, from drilling in parks to highways across the waterfront, survive and even win the day against the best interests of the new city.

This city wants to do exciting and wonderful new things. Dallas will have the smarts, the sophistication and the energy to get those things done. But to get there Dallas needs a City Hall that does what Dallas tells it to do. And that's really what we need to be thinking about.



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97 comments
dallasmedia
dallasmedia

Let's get down to brass tacks, hippies or Gen Xers or whatever you call yourselves. 

This whole debate and the unsealing of Suhm's Trinity East letter will only hinder future economic development. Why? Because local politics is all about sketchy, backroom, under-the-table, greasy handshakes between city hall and developers.

 That sacred trust has been violated. Now, companies have less confidence that city hall can deliver on ethically dubious promises. That means they go to Arlington, just like the Cowboys and everything else that matters. 

DeepVoice
DeepVoice

@JimSX: On behalf of a grateful city, I tip my hat off to you for exposing the truth. But you are not done. Keep digging. You are headed in the right direction.

Allow me to connect the dots that you and Angela have missed. Did you all happen to notice that Mark Duebner was listed in the minutes of the Park Board meeting as an attendee (refer to Hunt's timeline and associated documents you posted with your earlier story)? As you know, Mary never gets those faux manicured nails dirty. She had Duebner do the dirty work for her. He was sent to the "detention center" on the 4th floor next to Mary on "special assignment" after another round of complaints/allegations from employees in DPD. First time it happened was when he was Purchasing Director so he took care of that by marrying the employee so Mary "promoted" him to a civilian position in DPD. His wife also got a promotion. That's another story but it helps put this in perspective.

While on assignment as Assistant to the City Manager, his job was to negotiate the gas drilling deal. If you check your notes and memory, the city's budget shortfall for the upcoming budget year when the letter was signed was about $100M. Mary wanted $25M from the gas deal to help close the gap. Duebner delivered $18M. How was he rewarded? He was moved to Love Field as the Director. He tells everyone he's next in line to become Assistant City Manager. God help the City.

Check the date Mary signed the letter and compare it to the date the budget was presented for the upcoming budget year and read over the power point presentation from that meeting. No detail of how that $100M gap was closed. Instead of asking, council members were too busy praising Mary for being a magician and closing the gap. Cough, cough.

One more thing you may not have noticed. Kris Sweckard who was the Director of OEQ until recently was tasked with getting this mess past the City Planning Commission which got derailed because of the fake special task force that ended up getting created to look at gas drilling issues. That committee was supposed to done in 90 days but dragged on for a year. He didn't deliver but, like Duebner, he's a member of Mary's Club so he was sent to the Library to be the Interim Director. Don't you remember that big announcement? He failed miserably again. Then, he was mysteriously and very quietly moved to the Court Services Department a few weeks ago to an unspecified position with unspecified tasks & unspecified job title. He's not Director...they have one. All were scratching their heads wondering why he didn't return to the Director of OEQ position. Now we know why. This story of yours was about to blow so he is now in the witness/image protection program until this goes away.

Timing is everything in the Queen's world. Based on ORRs & requests for information from nosey Councilmembers like Hunt, the Queen knows what's coming. Example -- didn't you & Hunt think it was rather odd that the Flow Control ordinance was pushed through at the speed of light with little to no discussion? Why? Because the internal audit report regarding the landfill was sitting on the Mayor's desk per his and the Queen's request! If that report had been released, there's no way flow control would have passed. Come to think of it...wasn't southern Dallas & certain S Dallas Councilmembers promised $ from Queen & Mike from flow control revenue in exchange for their votes? And where is Mary Nix, the Sanitation Director now? In the witness/image protection program in the Public Works Department.

You need to get very specific with your ORRs or you will not get what you need. And have Hunt make the request as Queen has to reply to her request faster than yours. Get all of Duebner and Sweckard's E Mails, notes and handwritten correspondence.

Don't stop digging, asking or writing. But remember who is next in line to become City Manager. Forrest Turner. The most corrupt one of all who has his own club of inept and unqualified disciples who he hands out jobs to. And many come from outside the City. Remember Worris Levine recruited from outside the City?

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

I sincerely appreciate all of the thoughtful comments and ideas on this post - even the one I disagree with. There's a reason people still consider Dallas a two newspaper town.

DMZ3
DMZ3

I think this article hits the nail on the head. I grew up in Dallas and live in Austin now, and didn't quite realize how authoritarian and top-down Dallas was until I left. I still love my hometown, and this isn't to boost Austin at the expense of Dallas (because Austin has a whole set of terrible problems, worse in some ways, and which the Observer has done some great reporting about), but it really put it into perspective how little community and citizen input goes into how the political elite in the Metroplex makes decisions. Things that amount to normal city business in Dallas would be scandalous here.

And seriously. The city manager signed a secret deal and then lied to the public's face about it? That is outrageous and blatantly anti-democratic. She should be fired.

On the plus side, there does seem to be change in the works in Dallas. People really are getting fed up with being lied to and treated like they don't matter by the big bidnessmen who've run the place for the past century.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, I would posit that this situation is an outgrowth of the 14-1 City Council.


The City Manager only has to keep 8 of the 15 Councilmembers satisfied at any one time.


Additionally, in virtually all zoning and SUP cases since the implementation of the 14-1 council plan, it has become the defacto method that the councilmember in whose district the proposed zoning change or SUP will occur has the approval right for the proposed zoning change or SUP.   It then follows that if the councilmember of the district in which the drill site was to be located would have the biggest say in whether or not this change, or variance, would be allowed.  The other council members would then go along with the vote of the councilmember in whose district this activity is taking in place.


In this case the drill site, or sites, are located (based upon a quick review of the Dallas City Council District Map from the City of Dallas) in either District 2 with Pauline Medrano or District 6 with Monica Alonzo.


Based upon past observations of the machinations of City Hall with zoning and SUP cases, I very seriously doubt that neither of these two councilmembers were excluded from any discussions on this matter.


The whole saga shows that not only, in my opinion, is the City of Dallas government corrupt, but is also highly corruptible.

Guesty
Guesty

I'm just curious, but what did the city actually obligate itself to do and what did the city get from Trinity?  I've looked, but most of what I find is commentary, not specifics.  Is it possible that the gas company is who got the short end of this deal, and that the city manager effectively snagged the city some extra cash for promising nothing more than the meaningless "assistance" of her office?  

I'm not suggesting that would be a good or honorable thing to do, and I find it more likely that she was just kicking the can down the road (assuming the city actually wasn't obligated to allow drilling, which I doubt it was).  

And I doubt we can much place the blame on the city manager style of government.  Perhaps strong mayor would be better, but I don't think it would do much to eliminate back room deals.  I certainly don't think its a good idea to give any more responsibility to the city counsel at large, if for no other reason, no one could ever be held responsible for any decisions.     

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Gotta disagree with you Jim, the problem isn't the city manager form of governance. You think there would be better financial decisions if the politicos were deciding who gets the $?

the problem is simply the current City Manager.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Careful what you ask for Jim, you just might get it.  And then Dallas would be another Detroit, Camden, or East St Louis.

Oh, yeah, Dallas's politically influential crowd can make some awfully bone-headed decisions.  I just doubt the unfettered expression of voter desires would be any better for Dallas.  It doesn't take much imagination.  Just think of the current councilcritters and county kooks doing and saying what they do now, but with more power and more likelihood that the crazy utterance of the week becomes reality. 

I would analogize Dallas Citizen's Council to Hosni Mubarak or any one of the ME despots.  Ugly, corrupt, self-serving, dirty SOBs, one and all.  Removing them ought to make things better, right?  Getting the will of the people expressed and front & center will improve things?  Well, not so much it seems.  You just end up trading moderately corrupt & inept power-brokers for half-insane kleptocrats that turn the place into a shambles.

Sadly, Dolt Citizens still vastly outnumber Gen X Doo-Gooder/Goo-Goo Citizens in Dallas and will for the foreseeable future.  We will end up not with Mayor/President Dave, but with Mayor Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

@dallasmedia

Sacred trust? The sketchy, backroom, under-the-table, greasy handshake wasn't good enough for TE. They wanted their sketchy, backroom, under-the-table, greasy handshake in writing. Then they shot their mouth off and told everyone they had a sketchy, backroom, under-the-table, greasy handshake in writing. If there was a sacred trust then TE violated it. Don't blame Xers for their screw ups.

director21
director21

@darrd2010 The audacity of Mary Suhm is admirable, if not too intelligent. She is caught in her lies along with the Mayor, and you would think they would not want to continue pushing their luck, but apparently stupidity outweighs self preservation for some people.


The City Council has dropped Item 57 relating to the Elm Fork Soccer Complex SUP from the Wednesday (February 13) agenda without explanation. Perhaps the Mayor is thinking a little bit more than the City Manager.


I do not usually like to kick 'em when they are down, but in the case of Suhm and Rawlings I am willing to make an exception. We need to give them free room and board at the federal graybar hotel.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

I have been a long time coming to the conclusion that you are right about 14-1. I believed in it back in the day.  I turned out to be wrong. But 14-1 is only a bad deal because it's really 14 and a tenth. The mayor is elected citywide but has only the same vote as a single-member member.  Therefore the buck has no place to stop. The mayor isn't in charge. The city manager can and does put it off on the council whenever things get hot for her (as when police chiefs go sour, etc). Any time the council starts fearing it might be held responsible for something, it puts it off on the manager. The whole thing winds up looking like 15 gypsies and a bucket of tar. Single-member districts would be a good thing, brought to heel by a strong mayor. We need somebody down there who gets elected by articulating the citywide vision of the people and then gets kicked out of office when she fails to execute. And it needs to be someone who is really really good at politics, who does it for a living and wants to keep the job. The story that "career politicians" are sleazy and only a bureaucrat can run things the right way should be offensive to anybody who believes in and understands this country.














































































































































































director21
director21

@Guesty You may be technically correct. Trinity East may have screwed themselves by trying to make a backroom deal when they clearly knew existing ordinance prohibited drilling on some of the leases they purchased in 2008. Regardless of what they, and others, have said the facts reveal that there was ALWAYS a requirement for a modification of city ordinances BEFORE the required SUPs and drilling permits could legally be issued.


Trinity East, with the help of city government, has attempted to put the cart before the horse, but the horse has decided that it has no intention of pushing the cart with its nose. In the end, the city mau spend a little money defending itself in court if Trinity East is really stupid enough to take that tack, but we are NOT going to be on the hook for a refund or other damages because the city has already more than honored its agreement by extending the original leases by 30 months at no additional cost to Trinity East.


This is becoming more an issue about illegal, corrupt practices at City Hall than it is about gas drilling, which will probably not happen in Dallas. In the first place, there is no viable  quantity of gas to be found here - T. Boone Pickens knew that decades ago when he stated that "Nobody will ever make any money drilling for oil and gas in Dallas." We are left with a corrupt city government that may include the City Manager, City Attorney, Mayor, City Council, City Plan Commission and possibly several others, as well, not to forget the Parks Board.


Right about now I am guessing many at City Hall are regretting the day Dirty Mary signed those gas drilling leases.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@Guesty Up until last week, everyone at City Hall told the public that if we did not give in, the City would get sued. It was a lie. Suhm and Mayor Mike both now say that these are non binding agreements.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Guesty 

Not really trying to get rid of back-room deals. Trying to get rid of back-room deals that directly defy the will of elected officials on important issues. Does anybody here really favor government that is not accountable to the voters?  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@mavdog 

If we have to have a city manager, we will never find a smarter better more capable one than Suhm. 

It's the people's money, the people's city and the people's power: you do recall that we fought a war with the British over this?

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

@JimSX We have had strong mayors. 

If they can get 7 votes they can rule Dallas and do anything they want. This mayor gets what he wants all the time. He clearly wants gas drilling in Dallas. He just doesn't want people to know he wants it. 

We all know Mary should be fired for this and the council and the mayor have the power to do it. So why don't they? Because the mayor doesn't want it that's why. Just who all is involved here?

The mayor keep saying we have to have this drilling because the deal is done but he also has said Mary's deal is not a deal. It's just a non binding agreement. So where is the deal? Does it have Rawlings signature? Leppert's?

We need a strong press to keep digging and get to the bottom of this and buddy you are it.

$19 million is a lot of money to bet on someone without the authority to deliver.

Jim there is nothing wrong with our system. What we have here is called corruption.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@JimSX Jim, the main problem that I see with a strong mayor as far as Dallas politics is concerned, is what has happened to that lone council member who dares to question the status quo.


My favorite example was when Laura Miller questioned why a parcel of City owned land was being sold for development in the Victory area for less than 10% of the appraised value.


Right now, the worst that a ticked off mayor can do is to keep a dissident councilmember off of committee assignments.  Can you imagine what a strong mayor will accomplish when he decides to cut back on police patrols, fire station staffing, library hours or sanitation in retaliation in order to put a dissident councilmember in line?


When I lived in Houston, there was a budget shortfall one year.  In the middle of council deliberations on how to balance the budget, the Mayor called the Police Chief into the Council chamber and ordered him to have the police force increase the number of traffic violations written for speeding, running red lights, etc.  In a matter of a few days the budget shortfall was solved.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@WylieH @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Hill, Atkins, Kadane, Allen, Alonzo(Salazar) and to seal the deal.........the Mayor.

He does not get out of this without any shit on his hands. That's another day.

Guesty
Guesty

@darrd2010 @Guesty I guess this is what I'm curious about.  Who said that if we don't give in, the City would get sued?  Of course the city can be sued by anyone at any time for any reason.  Has anyone except Trinity ever said the city would most likely lose?  This is an honest question (sadly, I feel the need to expressly say it because so many questions are not asked in good faith these days).

Guesty
Guesty

@JimSX @Guesty No, but I think the only reasonable alternative is strong mayor, which the voters rejected.  

The upside in this case is that I don't believe Suhm could have defied the will of the elected officials.  She can't allow drilling if the city counsel doesn't want to.  Which is why I asked my first question.  Trinity was a big boy and knew it didn't by an outcome with the city counsel.  That might not stop it from suing, but it probably will keep Trinity from winning anything more than its money back (at best).  

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

don't disagree with the "smarter", but do disagree on "more capable" more culpable would fit better.

The decisions can't all be made by the citizens, that is why we have a representitive democracy. the representitives are entrusted with decision powers by the voters.

in this case, the city manager is not following the direction given by the representitives, who codified the rules. the city manager is acting like those rules are there to be worked around rather than followed. that is not what a good, professional city manager should be doing.

she needs to leave. however, the position needs to still be there, merely occupied by a professional who is better and fulfilling the job.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@roo_ster

Wait, wait, wait. Knee-jerk alert. My inner alarm system tells me I was about to be quite unfair here. You are not saying people of color. You are saying poor uneducated people without business or professional experience who don't know what they are doing.

Yes, that's a problem and a peril. But the way you draw smart capable people into the system is by giving them real power to solve problems and fix things, and, by the way, not requiring them to impoverish themselves in order to serve. Empower the elected officials. Take power away from bureaucrats who are the henchmen of old-school behind-the-scenes country clubbers who don't have an inkling of what a city should be in today's world.  

director21
director21

@heart_and_soul @JimSX The Mayor has made no secret of the fact that he supports drilling. His personal investment company is heavily involved with oil and gas companies and their stocks. He has worked very hard and very publicly to get the SUPs passed by the CPC so that the Council can rubber stamp them.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@darrd2010  

Well, if the change came up today, Medrano and/or Alonzo would have to be agreeable to the proposal, regardless of what was done by the previous councilmembers from these districts.

director21
director21

@WylieH@director21@darrd2010@GuestyThis is taken directly from the briefing given to the Dallas City Council on February 6, 2008:


While surface operations could impact the public’s use and enjoyment of a park, the lease of subsurface rights would have no impact whatsoever on the public’s use and enjoyment of a park.
– The required finding must be made after 30 day notice and a public hearing

director21
director21

@WylieH@darrd2010@GuestyTPWD Code specifically states that public notice of a public discussion and public vote has to be given 30 days before a meeting to convert park land to industrial or commercial use, and The TPWD Code would require a finding that “there is no feasible and prudent alternative” to using the park surface as a drill site.


Since we already know that it is a proven fact that drillers can run a horizontal lateral up to five miles from the well bore it is going to be VERY difficult arguing that they need to drill ON THE SURFACE of a park to produce minerals from beneath it.

WylieH
WylieH

@director21 @darrd2010 @Guesty Although the Texas Code doesn't specify, I'm not sure that typical CPC rules, wherein they cut off public input after a few minutes, will satisfy the requirements of a full public hearing as required by the State code.  It's certainly an arguable point in court if they also cutoff public debate again during this next hearing.

WylieH
WylieH

@director21@darrd2010@WylieH@GuestyI think you've got the Code slightly wrong.  The 30 days notice has to be provided to the agency overseeing the land-- in this case the City of Dallas Parks & Recreation Department.  (Sec. 26.002.(b))

The public notice deal is in Sec. 26.002(c):  "Notice must also be given to the public by publishing a notice similar to that specified in this section once a week for three consecutive weeks. The last days of publication must not be less than one week or more than two weeks before the date of the hearing."

Also, you should note that under Sec. 26.001(a):  "A... municipality of this state may not approve any program or project that requires the use or taking of any public land designated and used prior to the arrangement of the program or project as a park, recreation area, scientific area, wildlife refuge, or historic site, unless the... municipality, acting through its duly authorized governing body or officer, determines that:

(1)  there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use or taking of such land; and

(2)  the program or project includes all reasonable planning to minimize harm to the land, as a park, recreation area, scientific area, wildlife refuge, or historic site, resulting from the use or taking."

director21
director21

@Guesty @darrd2010 Actually, we HAVE known about this "agreement" for quite a long time now. We just did not have the actual document. Now, we have it!

director21
director21

@darrd2010 @WylieH @Guesty As of today, the City Council is slated to have a hearing on the conversion of park land to industrial use on February 27. Texas Parks and Wildlife Code requires a 30 day advance notice of such public discussion and vote.


It is possible that the scheduled hearing on February 27 may be illegal because notice of that meeting was not made 30 days in advance. We are awaiting confirmation from TPWD right now to find out if a new public notice was required since they changed the scheduled date from January 23 to February 13, and now to February 27, which could confuse the public and limit public participation.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@JimSX @darrd2010 @Guesty Monkey business is EXACTLY what needs to be assumed due to TE Energy's continued pursuit of this. XTO walked away, no problem. I say, either TE is broke and they need their money back, or it's the "something else" that we need to know. Let's get those Open Records requests sent over asap. Between all of us, someone is bound to get something in the next 10 days.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@darrd2010 @Guesty 

The mystery is not yet solved. Trinity East must have lawyers. They must have vetted this. They must have noted the head-on between the contract, which seems to have included park land, and state law, the city charter and the express will of elected officials, falling somewhere between a total ban and a damned hard row to hoe. Did Trinity East's lawyers and consultants really tell them, "Oh, yeah, that rubbery wiggle-room letter that Mary is ashamed to show in public is all the guarantee you'll need. Write the check." Or is there some other monkey business in  here, some additional shoe to fall, about the original contract and what was conveyed and what was not? We know this much now: this situation does not add up yet. That usually means all the skeletons are not yet out of the closet.  

Guesty
Guesty

@darrd2010 @Guesty I don't think my question was clear.  Because we didn't know about the letter agreement until last week, that couldn't have been the reason we were told the City would be sued (I'm taking it on faith that this is what we were told).  So what were they saying we would be sued for before last week?  Or was it just some vague fear of litigation?  Or fear that the they would sue for breach of the leases of themselves?  

WylieH
WylieH

@darrd2010 @WylieH @Guesty Yes.  Texas state law requires this.  One question is whether or not the CPC hearing would qualify.  I haven't read the Texas state law to see if it specifies the nature of the public hearing(s) required.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@WylieH @Guesty @darrd2010 In order for TE to drill on Dallas flood plain and park land, the City Council is going to have to a formal- in- public discussion and  vote on the topic of: Drilling on Dallas Floodplain and Park Land, yes or no? This is not going to be a pretty public meeting and everyone needs to keep their eyes and ears open for it's time and date. But first, they need to find out if there any other surprises hidden away before they vote. Only Suhm and Tom Perkins know that answer.

WylieH
WylieH

@Guesty @darrd2010 I need to study this a bit futher, but it looks like the initial lease would have allowed surface drilling on park land, in violation of both City ordinances and State laws.  In further appears that Suhm tried to finesse the issue by simultaneously executing a side letter that implicitly acknowledged that it was, in fact, illegal to drill on park land, but that she would make an affirmative effort to get the law changed and made a representation that such a change was likely.

On the basis of those representations, Trinity East handed the City a check for $19 million.  I would suspect they will now make a claim for fraudulent inducement unless they are granted the permit to drill on the parkland specified in the lease.

To Suhm's credit, once she saw the box she had put herself in, a subsequent amendment contains a clause which points out the inconvenient fact that she can't just do what she wants, and the City Council has ultimate power.  Trinity East will likely say they agreed to this clause under duress because Suhm had already cashed their $19 million check by this time, yet hadn't delivered the permits she told them she was highly confident she could obtain.

Guesty
Guesty

@darrd2010 @Guesty I don't get it.  We just found out about the alleged deal a weak ago.  What were they saying the city would be sued for for the past 5 years?

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@Guesty @darrd2010 Council member, City Staff, City Manager, City Attorney, Mayor all stated that the 'deal was done' and that if we don't allow them to drill then we would be opening up the opportunity for a lawsuit. A 5 year lie. Trinity East has been quiet about the topic. It started with Suhm and spread throughout City Hall. I feel that this tactic was used to keep prying eyes out of Suhm's business and not rock the boat. The last thing the City of Dallas wants is to go to Court and be obligated to reveal everything. The word 'lawsuit' normally shuts everything done, until now.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@Guesty @JimSX Mary's disillusioned/mad power way of thinking allowed her to sign on the dotted line with the gas industry and then assure those guys that she could eventually sway their votes. I've been told that she really considers most of the council 'sheep' that can be herded along her way...until Hunt, Griggs, and Greyson started asking too many questions. Now, Davis is beginning to ask too many questions while the rest of the Southern Council members sit there with their mouths shut.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@JimSX  

HL Mencken was more bright & optimistic than warranted in my opinion.  Whatever a group's color, they are black at heart, especially when they think like a group.

Were I Dallas Dictator for a Day (in addition to declaring 26FEB "Johnny Cash Appreciation Day") I would devolve as much authority down as far as possible.  Most decisions need no city-wide policy.  Smaller elected bodies representing smaller geographic areas.  Even the well-intentioned are generally clueless about circumstances two neighborhoods over, let alone 10 miles away on the other(1) side of I-30.  

Less power at City Hall, more in the neighborhoods, where neighbors can better keep tabs on neighbors.

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(1) For various values of "other side."

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@JimSX easier said than done.  And, there's no evidence that altering a city's governing structure alters these issues.

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