Mary Suhm's Drilling Memo Shows Typical City Hall Pattern: Decide, Then Pretend to Listen

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Thumbnail image for RawlingsDallasReads.jpg
Maybe more than you think we do, Mayor.
So Mayor Mike Rawlings responded, sort of, to Schutze's post this morning about City Manager Mary Suhm's double-super-secret letter of understanding with gas drilling company Trinity East, in which she promised the city's staff would do its level best to get the company the permits it needs to drill on city parkland. The staff would do this despite the facts city rules don't allow drilling there and the City Council and park board passed resolutions that said, in effect, "no drilling on parkland."

The mayor's response, via Rudolph Bush at The Dallas Morning News:

Asked about the letter today, Mayor Mike Rawlings called it a non-binding understanding that the city staff would make reasonable efforts to get the drilling approved, with no promises and an understanding that only the council could finalize it.

He said there was no conspiracy, but only an effort to show that Trinity East had "reasonable assurance" that their $19 million lease payment to the city was a prudent expenditure.

In other words: "Nothing to see here, folks. Move it along."

OK, fine, Mayor, there is no conspiracy. If you say so. But it sure looks like there was something else, something all too typical at City Hall and equally offensive: a fix, as in the fix was in.

Just how dumb does Rawlings think we are? Does he believe his constituents are all like that guy in the movie Memento, who had no short-term memory and couldn't connect past to present?

See also:
- Mary Suhm Signed a Secret Side Deal to Push for Drilling on Parkland as She Told Council It Would Be Banned
- Drilling Opponents: Plan Commish Chair Pushed Commissioners to Support Fracking

Let's consider the context. While Suhm's memo was squirreled away somewhere in a file drawer -- labeled "RADIOACTIVE" and "BIOHAZARD," we're guessing -- there was a special city-appointed commission diligently laboring away for months to come up with recommendations for a new ordinance that would specifically address where drillers can plant their rigs. Once the commission's work was done, its recommendations were stuck in the same drawer, ready to be taken up by the City Council sometime after the city decides whether Trinity East can drill on parkland.

We remember those meetings, Mayor. They were in the papers.

We also remember December, when the plan commission looked at those permits and decided not to approve them, punting the decision the council. Unfortunately, that meant the Trinity East would need four more council votes to get its permits. That's why the plan commission decided -- just for grins, we suppose, and while some of its members were out sick -- to reconsider those permits again today, on the off chance that maybe some of its members had a sudden change of heart and would OK the permits, boosting Trinity East's chances of clearing a council vote.

We recognize the sound of arms being twisted when we hear the screams, Mayor, and we can count to four. We can even put one and one together and arrive at two.

All those special drilling committee meetings, the council resolutions, the plan commission votes, the draft ordinance, all that listening to the impassioned people who really, deeply care about parks and pollution -- that was all just smoke being blown up the backsides of those who believe their opinions matter.

City Hall took Trinity East's $19 million for a drilling lease, Suhm signed the letter, the plan commission process was rigged and now we're told that if we don't give Trinity East its parkland permits, they'll burn us to the ground with lawsuits. City Hall pretended to give drilling opponents a voice, but did it really give anyone a choice?

So, fine, we won't call all this a conspiracy. But it was a fixed game from the start. We know that. There's no need to insult our intelligence ... more than usual, that is.

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Mayor Rawlings is a lying disgrace to this city. First, he spent months telling us "that deal has been cut." Now, he is telling us that it was "a non-binding understanding that the city staff would make reasonable efforts to get the drilling approved, with no promises and an understanding that only the council could finalize it"

He used the lie about the "deal" to rationalize allowing drilling to prevent the city being sued for breach of contract when no such breach could ever be proven in court because no such contract existed. If he had any integrity, which I doubt he does, then Mayor Rawlings would resign immediately and take that fat ass City Manager with him!


Pretty obvious who is getting the biggest bribes now isn't it?


The city's explanation begs more than one question....1) Is, or is this not, the deal of the Mayor's infamous "that deal is cut" quote fame. If it is, then even he's on record as calling it what it looks like to the rest of us. If it's not, then what was? 2) If it isn't binding, than what's left of the "they're going to sue us" motive that the Mayor has been promoting ever since he took office? What credible legal threat does Trinity pose if nothing was guaranteed? He can't (logically) have it both ways.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

"Well the plans have been on file and public display at City Hall for the past two years.  I can't help it if you can be bothered to be involved in public affairs."

"On display!?!?!, Bloody hell they were!  I had to go down to the 3rd sub basement level, through a door with rusty stuck hinges marked "Do Not Enter", past a surly guard, who grudgingly pointed me to a disused restroom where behind a pile of surplus office equipment was a bashed up filing cabinet with a jammed stuck drawer marked "Radio Tower Site" and in it was a memo relating to a meeting.  The memo stated that a meeting might be held in the future about reasonable efforts to allow some undefined use for a location that God knows where!"

"Well don't complain to me if you don't know the double super secret private password in order to gain access to the meeting minutes on the Commission for Voting Irregularities in order to find out these things."

"Oh bother ..."


The mayors response is not about trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens, it's about a legal defense against Trinity East. That defense is going to go something like "the city didn't promise anything to Trinity East. The city said that they would try to get the rules changed to allow drilling, but made no guarantees. Trinity East decided to spend 19 million dollars before those rules were changed. Now that it looks like that the city won't be able to change those rules, the city shouldn't have to pay that money back."

The more tricky part is going to be if it can be proved that Mary entered into a contract with Trinity East instead of just a "memo of understanding". It's possible that entering into a contract at that time was illegal, so you can be sure that the city will try everything they can to say that there was no contract that depended on the rules getting changed..

By the at Dallas City Hall, Tom Blanton the CEO of Trinity East said and I will quote him, "that he had an amiable meeting with the Park Board ABOUT 4  years ago." Mary's letter is from 4 years ago. Where was Mike 4 years ago...oh yeah, at Parks. Now, go get busy.


"There was no conspiracy"? Did anyone call it that? What a strange thing for the Mayor to say. He must be in on it.

BTW, that picture of him is creepy and the caption is great.



@darrd2010  I say we water board Joe Alcantar and get him to name names on who all is behind him trying to rig the vote at the CPC. This revote scam seems like a lot more than the "reasonable effort" Mary claims she committed to and more than Joe could come up with on his own.


@heart_and_soul   Interesting that the mayor is holding a copy of "A Confederacy of Dunces."  I haven't read that book in about 20 years.  I seem to remember that the main character was a serial masturbator.  Pretty appropriate for a mayor who keeps jerking off the citizens of Dallas.

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