Wednesday, April 15, 2015
From The Desk Of Mary Kelleher Why We Need To Elect Bickley & Von Luckner
But, before we get to that, if you have found yourself subjected to the propaganda being spewed by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) board incumbents regarding the upcoming election, with their embarrassing claim that an evil plot by a Dallas businessman, Monty Bennett, to take over Fort Worth's water via his puppets, Mary Kelleher, Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner, propaganda repeated in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and, to a lesser degree, shockingly, in Fort Worth Weekly, well, read what Mary Kelleher has to say about why she is in this fight.
Be sure to read the Voter Beware! section below, where, in part, Mary Kelleher will tell you, "You can expect to hear some outlandish attacks from people in authority like Mayor Betsy Price, Mike Moncrief, and Kay Granger. I implore you to hold to the facts. You will be told Dallas businessman Monty Bennett of Dallas is trying to steal Fort Worth’s water. NOT TRUE!"
Below is the aforementioned email from the desk of Mary Kelleher in its entirety....
The events of 2010 turned the world completely upside-down for my husband and me. Our farm in east Fort Worth flooded, livestock drowned, tractors and farm equipment were destroyed, and the flood waters didn’t recede for eight long months! The smell of death lingered in the air as our property was covered by E.coli-ridden waters of the Trinity River mixed with dead animals and garbage. We soon learned there had been changes to the elevation in the flood plain in our area; the result of corporate greed, lack of oversight of commercial and residential development and the failure by regulatory agencies to protect the very people whose responsibility it is for them to serve.
POLITICIANS AND PUBLIC SERVANTS
I have truly learned the hard way the difference between politicians and public servants. I used to think they were one and the same; they are definitely not. Politicians put their own interests before those they serve. Public servants put the interests of the people they serve ahead of their own. Politicians are most of the problem, though it is really our fault because we are the people electing them. It takes a lot of money to run for election. If only people with money and powerful friends can afford to run for public office, why are we so surprised when these politicians choose money over the people?
We must elect more public servants. Only about 4% of the people vote in local elections. More people shop at Walmart on Black Friday than vote in local elections! And, it is the local politicians who have control over our quality of life, day in and day out. Five years ago, I decided I had had enough! It was time to fight back. After all, it is my property, my land, my water, my money, my life that the politicians are messing with. If I didn’t stand up to these bullies, who would? I hate politics and I surely don’t have the money it takes to win a campaign.
Regardless, I took that huge, scary step and filed to run for the TRWD Board of Directors. I didn’t know much about the TWRD, other than I pay taxes to it and its primary mission is flood control and water supply. My experiences told me this is where I needed to be — where I could contribute as a public servant.
The next few months were a blur, but I’ll never forget the first time I met a group of concerned citizens who would be supporting me. As we were introduced, I realized this was a very diverse group, all of whom are committed to a common goal — change at the TRWD. They represent the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party — and independents. Regardless of political affiliation, they are like so many of us. They are tired of politicians having their way and want people in positions of authority to be willing to represent the people, not special interest groups. WATER IS NON-PARTISAN.
A SNAPSHOT OF TRWD
The TRWD’s focus is supposed to be flood control and water supply. When gas drilling came to Texas, TRWD made hundreds of millions of dollars in gas royalties. One would think all this money would have been put towards its mission. But the politicians had other plans.
In 2004, the citizens of Fort Worth voted to spend $232 million for street and storm water improvements. What the people didn’t know was this money was going to be used for the design and construction of the Trinity River Vision, a master plan for 88 square miles through the heart of Fort Worth. Within a year, a former TRWD board member and now state representative pushed through House Bill 2639 which vastly expanded the TRWD’s powers. This gave the board a legal green light to use eminent domain for “economic development.”
With the board’s new found power their priorities have been completely altered. The board has purchased a restaurant, ice skating rink, and a drive-in theater; none of these contribute toward water supply nor flood control.
The TRWD manipulates Texas’s freedom of information laws and is currently pending a decision by the Texas Supreme Court regarding violations of the Open Meetings Act.
The TRWD has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts without allowing us to know who is profiting from their money. One board member’s friend even had his land purchased at double the appraised value, a shady deal which cost the rate payers $9 million.
WHERE MY SUPPORT COMES FROM…..
I now understood why this non-partisan group of average folks who supported me and who are actively involved in this year’s TRWD election have been so concerned. This is like a B-rated horror movie, with the villains being the politicians. I had so much FROM THE DESK OF MARY KELLEHER Tarrant Regional Water District Board Member to learn and I had wonderful teachers. I knocked on doors, I talked with people on the phone and I attended a lot of meetings. I really didn’t think I could do it but it sure was exciting when I actually won!
I was so humbled by the support of the people and the sheer number of votes I received: 8,942, more votes than anyone in the history of the TRWD elections and the first time an incumbent was defeated. I am determined not to let the people down. I want to make a difference in my community, for myself, my neighbors, and the citizens of Tarrant County before we flood again or run out of water.
Since being elected I’ve met people with issues from flooding to water contamination to eminent domain; average citizens from Fort Worth, Arlington, Haltom City, Keller, Mansfield; people from as far away as Marvin Nichols Reservoir have called me to ask for help. It is the TRWD that impacts millions of lives across North Texas. Decisions are being made by a select few. Some are serving in elected or appointed offices that they have held for decades. Some of their children and relatives are handed great jobs, some of their friends are appointed to boards and commissions who have control over millions of taxpayer dollars, while some are writing and passing legislation giving them the power to take our land, use our money however they see fit, and grant no bid contracts to whomever they want. This must stop!
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE BOARD
I won my election and very nervously and humbly took my seat at the TRWD board table. I’ve been yelled at, threatened, lied to, bullied, intimidated, laughed at, censured, ridiculed, and called names. I left the first few board meetings in tears. I have never experienced such pre-meditated contempt by a group of people in my life. I asked for records, e-mails, and financial reports. My first record request landed me in the general manager’s office where I was berated and bullied. Some records I received and others I did not.
Being on the TRWD board is an emotional roller-coaster. But with each attack against me, my resolve just gets stronger!
Despite the roadblocks thrown at me, I am making changes. TRWD board meetings are now televised live online and recorded so people may watch them after work since they are held during work hours. The Trinity River is tested weekly, instead of monthly, and the results are posted in laymen’s terms online so people considering getting in a tube and floating around in the river know what they’re getting into. We now have some discussion on million dollar agenda items instead of unanimously approving every agenda item without discussion. There is now additional seismology testing at Eagle Mountain Dam.
I need your help; this job is huge and I cannot do it alone! There are two candidates for the upcoming May 9 election who I am endorsing and who deserve your support and vote.
CRAIG BICKLEY AND MICHELE VON LUCKNER
Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner are like me, ordinary people who are disgusted with the TRWD board. Like me, they share my vision for good governance and refocusing the board on its essential responsibilities of water supply and flood control.
Now please be forewarned. You can expect to hear some outlandish attacks from people in authority like Mayor Betsy Price, Mike Moncrief, and Kay Granger. I implore you to hold to the facts. You will be told Dallas businessman Monty Bennett of Dallas is trying to steal Fort Worth’s water. NOT TRUE! Monty Bennett is a wealthy businessman who lives in Dallas but he also owns property in Fort Worth and east Texas. Monty is one of many victims of TRWD’s abuse of eminent domain; he just happens to have the financial resources to fight against this abuse.
It is an honor and unique privilege to serve you, and I am looking forward to the election this May. I pray and trust you will do all you can to help elect Craig and Michele. They will help me move forward to return the TRWD to its core mission of water supply and flood control.
Newly elected Director, Tarrant Regional Water District “T.R.W.D.”
Fort Worth, Texas
P.S. If you have any questions I can answer for you, please do not hesitate to call me at (817) 880-5419, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m more than happy to answer your questions.