Mary Suhm's Drilling Memo Shows Typical City Hall Pattern: Decide, Then Pretend to Listen
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."
Maybe more than you think we do, Mayor.
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?
- 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.