Friday, May 2, 2014
Fort Worth Weekly Static About The TRWD Board's Water Mess
Fort Worth Weekly hits the streets on Wednesday, a day after this week's TRWD Board censuring Mary Kelleher debacle.
I would have thought the TRWD debacle would have occurred too close to this week's FW Weekly publication, but I thought wrong, because this week's FW Weekly Static column was titled Water Mess and was all about the TRWD Board's latest embarrassment.
Unlike the Star-Telegram's article about the TRWD's censuring debacle the FW Weekly article matched my impression of what I saw transpire.
I suppose part of the problem with the Star-Telegram article was due to the fact that the financially strapped Star-Telegram could not spare a real reporter to cover the meeting, but instead sent its food critic, Bud Kennedy.
Perhaps someone on the Star-Telegram staff characterized the TRWD Board censure hearing as a roasting. Hence Bud Kennedy being sent to TRWD headquarters, thinking this was a food related event, not a roasting of Mary Kelleher.
After I blogged my take on the censure meeting, in a blogging titled Today Mary Kelleher Received The Badge Of Honor Of A TRWD Board Censure While Censuring The Board Herself, mention was made of one of Bud Kennedy's column's bits of misinformation where he opined "Much of the behavior Tuesday resembled kindergarten, not only by directors but also by a boorish and jeering crowd of Kelleher supporters led by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford."
Many of Mary's supporters objected to being characterized as being led by the controversial Stickland. One of those supporters, calling her or himself Bullies of a Feather, commented saying "Mary's supporters could care less what a washed up, boorish, food critic has to say."
That seems harsh to me. I don't think Bud Kennedy is washed up, a bit boorish maybe, but washed up? No. I think he has many a meal yet to eat in his restaurant reviewing career.
I almost forgot, my original intention when beginning to write this post was simply to share what FW Weekly's Static column had so say about Tuesday's debacle, so here you go, Static's Water Mess in its entirety...
The typically quiet board meetings at the Tarrant Regional Water District took a loud and rowdy turn on Tuesday morning. A standing-room-only crowd, including some carrying protest signs, heckled board members throughout the two-hour special meeting. The board was debating whether to censure fellow board member Mary Kelleher. A censure is a public reprimand with no penalties or legal ramifications.
Board President Vic Henderson introduced the motion, linking Kelleher to several alleged policy violations and ethical lapses. He accused her of not reporting in-kind donations from Dallas hotelier Monty Bennett, who has wrangled with the water district for three years to prevent a water pipeline from crossing his East Texas ranch. And he complained that Kelleher misrepresented the water district’s stance on a water management plan at a recent Fort Worth City Council session.
Kelleher then leveled a symbolic fire hose at her fellow directors and water district President Jim Oliver. She said her supporters are fed up with the “cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and mismanagement that have plagued the water district for years.”
She said Oliver had “stonewalled me and the public at every opportunity.” Then she accused him of using water district heavy equipment for personal home improvements.
“Whoa, whoa,” board member Jim Lane said, trying to rein in Kelleher. But she was on a roll.
“Let me finish … how about using your position to engage in extramarital affairs with staff?” she said, looking at Oliver.
At times, Henderson resembled a substitute teacher who’d lost control of a junior high classroom. He admonished and threatened hecklers but never followed through. The crowd became bolder as the meeting wore on. Former board candidate John Basham practically dared Henderson to throw him out. Nothing happened.
Several legislators, including Tarrant County’s Jonathan Stickland and Lon Burnam, attended and wrote letters supporting Kelleher in her request for public documents.
Despite crowd support, Kelleher appeared overwhelmed at times. As for misrepresenting board policy at a city council meeting, she said she was unaware of the policy, implemented before she was elected. Regarding campaign reports, she said she was new to the political game and unfamiliar with all the requirements. Board member Jim Lane said ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse.
In the end, Henderson, Jack Stevens, and Marty Leonard voted to censure. Lane abstained, saying each accusation against Kelleher should be voted on separately. But he joined in a 4-0 vote to audit recent campaign finance reports from board candidates. Kelleher abstained.
Kelleher declared her censure a “badge of honor.” Oliver declined to comment.