Scott Griggs on Drilling: There Was "Systemic Failure," and No One Asked "Tough Questions"

Categories: City Hall

Thumbnail image for griggssprings.jpg
Griggs, at some other meeting altogether.
On Wednesday, we watched together as the Dallas City Council sort of, kind of, attempted to ask City Manager Mary Suhm and City Attorney Tom Perkins a couple of questions. Namely: Why did Suhm quietly sign a side deal with energy company Trinity East, pledging to help it drill on parkland even as several council decisions concluded that park-drilling was not kosher? And how did a tract of land that the City Council didn't approve end up in the lease signed with Trinity East?

It's more accurate to say that councilfolk Scott Griggs and Angela Hunt asked those questions. The other council members made it clear that they didn't believe anything untoward had occurred, and that they weren't much interested in discussing the matter any further. While Mayor Mike Rawlings allowed that "this whole process should have been clearer," he said he doesn't believe that the new revelations "fundamentally" change anything. Several council members accused Griggs and Hunt of "pandering" to the press and "character assassination" of Suhm. One of them even compared the city manager to Jesus, for some reason.

So where does that leave the two anti-drilling council members? From here on out, will their work environment be tremendously awkward, or merely super awkward?

"This wasn't a 'run' at Mary Suhm," Scott Griggs told me by phone late yesterday, objecting to my word choice. "It's not a witch-hunt at all. We have a duty to look at what went wrong. And if individual positions went wrong, then we have to put the checks and balances in place so this doesn't happen again."

Regardless of how it happened, Griggs said, "We ended up with a lease signed with property that wasn't in the briefing materials, drill sites that weren't in the briefing materials, and park drilling took a 180. That shows a systemic failure." But as a council, he added, "We weren't up to the challenge of asking ourselves and our other officers -- because Mary and Tom are considered officers of the city -- the tough questions."

Griggs said, too, that while he wasn't necessarily surprised at how the briefing went, he was grateful that it happened in public.

"I think it was important for the public to see that. I'm very thankful that occurred in the public. It shows the dynamic of the council and how we address issues, particularly ones driven by principles." What happened Wednesday, he added, "is that the effort to get to the facts, get to the truth, and have transparent and open government went off the rails."

"Certainly our checks and balances failed," Griggs said. What's more, "We weren't able to have an honest discussion about what went wrong and why and what we can do to prevent it from happening in the future."

So what happens now?

"We haven't lost," Griggs told us. "We're in a democracy. And the electorate chooses their council members every two years. And it's so important to have transparency and for the public to understand how things work and what people's positions are." He added that the council still needs to make a decision on new rules for drilling on city land. "That shouldn't get delayed. And the other discussion that we need to have is the parkland discussion." In the meantime, he said, "The public needs to keep doing what they're doing, raising the profile of this issue and speaking out."

It's solid advice: think of this whole debacle as an incredibly depressing civics lesson. In most other cities, people might be hard-pressed to say what exactly a city manager does. Here, at least, we know she runs the show.


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9 comments
director21
director21

Dallas is fortunate that we have Angela Hunt and Scott Griggs on the City Council. They were the ONLY ones who even made an effort to ask pertinent questions and get to the bottom of why lies were told and illegal deals were made behind our backs and out of the light of day.

Unfortunately, most Council members are running unopposed, but citizens can still influence them by demanding, en mass, that they put the public good ahead of their own derelict, personal agendas.

UnCoverUp
UnCoverUp

If Dallas County DA Civil Division Chief Teresa Snelson would tell her boss DA Craig Watkins to go hire his own lawyers work on the cover-up Watkins' corrupt dealings with Lisa Blue-Baron, then she would have time to work on a civil claim against the oil/gas companies who appear to have fraudulently induced Mary Suhm into signing the controversial lease agreement. Suing those deep pockets would be far more beneficial to Dallas County than the lease agreement. However, rather than kicking back a 25% contingency fee to Blue-Baron and her cronies for the work as Watkins did for Dallas' claims against MERS (http://uncoverup.blogspot.com/2012/02/amicus-curile-information-regarding.html), Snelson should do the work herself as expected by tax payers who pay her salary. 

joecook
joecook

Scott should be mayor.

rubbercow
rubbercow

I am not sure that Mr. Griggs is cut out for politics in Dallas. The council will probably do anything and everything necessary to drum him out and sully him because he is actually competent - something the council, sadly, doesn't even aspire to.I have a had a few up-close encounters with my CM (Delia Jasso) and she is so obviously self-obsessed that it is disturbing. Wouldn't it be crazy to have a representative who was intelligent, thoughtful, diligent and competent instead of the total clowns who make up the bulk of the council?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Yes, it is a very good thing that this happened in public. You can bet that there is a certain contingent that will try their damndest to make sure THAT doesn't happen again. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Thank you Scott Griggs, thank you Angela Hunt, for asking the questions that other councilmembers see as trivial and a "waste of time".

I agree with you Scott on the comments about democracy and our representitive government. Yesterday I e mailed the 2 candidates for my district, Jennifer Gates and Leland Burk, asking what their position is on this specific issue with the City Manager and their view on allowing drilling in park land in general. My decision on which candidate to vote for will definitely be guided by their response.

although I may be disappointed in both of them in how they respond, at the very least these candidates will understand that some of the electorate is watching, is interested in the issue, and the issue will not just go away. The more voters who ask the candidates the question, the more the issue will get focus. It is up to us to make this important.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

"..other members..nothing untoward.."  are we surprised? no, but we should be monumentally disappointed.  There is something real wrong here, when the turds we elect can delude themselves into thinking that they have no accountability.


toss all but Hunt and Griggs.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@rubbercow Which is why everyone in District 1 would be wise enough to vote for Scott Griggs as their city council member who is smart and knows how to get things done versus this current seat warmer.

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