Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Right On Cue After Every Election The Star-Telegram Pretends To Have A Journalistic Conscience

Last night an incoming email message said, "Right on cue AFTER every election to clear their conscience."

In addition to the message, there was a link to an article in that which the pronoun, "their" above refers, that being an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram titled, Election a slap in the face for Tarrant Regional Water District board.

I do not know how long the above link to the mea culpa editorial in the Star-Telegram will remain linked to a readable article. I did not see a link to this editorial on this morning's online Star-Telegram's front page.

To review, in the recently completed Tarrant Regional Water District Board election the Star-Telegram came under a lot of criticism due to its biased coverage.

Complaints were made about the Star-Telegram's mockery of journalistic ethics to its parent company, McClatchy.

And now, in this Election a slap in the face for Tarrant Regional Water District board editorial, the Star-Telegram is opining that the results of this election delivered a well deserved slap in the face to the TRWD Board, for reasons the Star-Telegram refused to mention during the election.

Some choice bits of hypocrisy from the editorial...

If the campaign and vote totals in Saturday’s election for three seats on the Tarrant Regional Water District board of directors struck a bit of fear in the hearts of current board members, that would be a good thing.

Really? Before the election the Star-Telegram could find nary a thing to criticize regarding the TRWD Board,  let alone acknowledge that there was some legitimacy to some of the TRWD Board challenger's claims. Yet now it is a good thing that this election struck fear into the hearts of the current board members?

The tidal wave of funding for the challengers shocked the incumbents to life in the final days of the campaign. They lost the early vote count across the board and look to have been rescued by a last-minute get-out-the-vote drive with high-profile leadership from Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

So, it was the leadership of Betsy Price that saved a couple of the water boarders from defeat? Tidal wave of funding? By that I think the Star-Telegram means tidal wave of mailers paid by the tidal wave of funding. Shocked the incumbents to life? You mean shocked the incumbents into spewing slanderous propaganda besmirching the motives and qualifications of the challengers? Claims like rogue Dallas businessmen were conspiring to steal Fort Worth water, using the challengers as their tools to do so? And that, God forbid, one of the challengers had a meager voting record, she being the one who got the most votes in the history of Water Board elections, Mary Kelleher.

She’s also a client of powerhouse local political consultant Bryan Eppstein, who was brought in to shake the water board incumbents’ campaign out of dormancy into feverish activity in the last week before Election Day.

"She", in the above paragraph refers to Betsy Price.  So, here we have the Star-Telegram admitting that the Water Boarders brought in a notorious campaign hatchet man to slam the challengers with a slew of slander, just like was done in the previous TRWD Board election?

Many of the campaign claims relied upon by the challengers — Basham, Kelleher and Timothy Nold — were political hyperbole. The current directors simply can’t be said to have put too little effort into building water supplies for Fort Worth and its other client cities. Nor are they responsible for all of the pollution in the Trinity River.

Oh, yes, BNK relied on political hyperbole, suggesting that unless BNK was elected rogue Dallas businessmen would steal our water. No, wait, I'm sorry, it was the TRWD Incumbents who spewed that ridiculously hyperbolic, manipulative, fear-mongering propaganda. Of course, you read none of that in the Star-Telegram, pre-election, unless you count the outrageous TRWD Board campaign advertisements the Star-Telegram shamelessly published.

As for the TRWD not being responsible for pollution in the Trinity River? The TRWD is not responsible for pollution in the water from which the TRWD draws our water supply? What river is it, that, when dammed, makes the majority of the reservoirs from which the drinking water is drawn? Is it not the Trinity River?

Maybe if board members see themselves more as vulnerable to defeat they’ll put a little more effort into sharing what they do with the people who elect them. But openness is not the board’s strong suit. It may not quite fit the “secret meetings” label advanced by the challengers, but the TRWD is not a constituent-friendly organization. It has a spiffy website, but try going there to find out when the next board or committee meeting is or what’s on the agenda.

The Star-Telegram editorial is a bit disjointed, I combined two related paragraphs, above, that were separated by the paragraph about the TRWD not being responsible for Trinity River pollution. In the above paragraph the Star-Telegram  is basically agreeing with one of the campaign themes of the BNK challengers, that being that the TRWD needs to operate with greater transparency and hold open meetings.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who wants information about TRWD. It’s a public agency and everything it does should be open to public scrutiny in every detail allowable under state law, even if nobody pays attention.

And then in the above paragraph we have the Star-Telegram again agreeing with one of BNK's main campaign themes. And then the article ends with the following two paragraphs...

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board did not recommend Basham, Kelleher or Nold in this election. The incumbents got that nod because the Editorial Board respects their knowledge of TRWD’s mission and the work they have put into it.

But there’s a lot of room for improvement at TRWD, most notably in the openness of its operations and responsiveness to its constituents. If the challengers made that point in Saturday’s election, that would be a good thing.

So, is the Star-Telegram now calling on the TRWD to make big changes in the way it operates? If that does not occur, is the Star-Telegram going to have follow up articles telling you that the TRWD is still operating like a private, non-public entity?

And, I would really appreciate it if the Star-Telegram could elaborate on what it is about the TRWD Board's knowledge of the TRWD mission that their editorial board so greatly respects? And what is this admirable work the TRWD has put into their mission?

Water supply, water quality and flood control. Is that not the TRWD mission? How does rescuing a bankrupting friend to the tune of spending millions of TRWD public dollars to buy a parking lot south of La Grave Field, to lease to some fools with the bad vision to think a drive-in theater, is a good idea, have anything to do with the water supply, water quality or flood control?

Has the Star-Telegram Editorial Board asked the TRWD Board how their mission is working to help mitigate the flash flood problems that plague Haltom City?

Has the Star-Telegram Editorial Board asked the TRWD how going into the restaurant business on the banks of the Trinity River helps with water supply, water quality and flood control?

This is all extremely perplexing...

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