Friday, November 9, 2018

Reviewing America's Biggest Boondoggle's Panther Island J.D. Granger Scandal

It has begun to be a bit challenging keeping up with all the various reports from various venues reporting on the Fort Worth debacle which has become America's Biggest Boondoggle, also known as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

A vision which has been blindly limping along for most of this century.

I must say it is sort of pleasing to  see that which so many of us referred to as such, almost from its inception, now referred to as a Boondoggle in almost all reporting on the subject.

Except for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I think maybe the Fort Worth Way's propaganda organ may have made reference to some outrageous, knuckeheaded critics criticizing this Boondoggle as a Boondoggle. But, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has yet to join the majority of those who have watched this debacle correctly identify it as a Boondoggle.

The latest Star-Telegram article about America's Biggest Boondoggle appeared yesterday, at least that is when I saw it. That is the article's headline you see screen capped above. By this morning this article had disappeared from the front page of the Star-Telegram, online.

And once again, an article about a serious local issue appears and generates zero comments. Why? I do not understand. Is it because so few people read the Star-Telegram? Is it because most of those who do read this newspaper are border line illiterate and thus unable to formulate words into coherent sentences?

This lack of comments perplexes me because almost daily I see articles appear in the Seattle Times and there will be 100s of thoughtful, articulate, often argumentative, comments.

I see other Fort Worth publications where comments are made to an article about America's Biggest Boondoggle. Such as a recent editorial type article by Richard Connor in the Fort Worth Business Press titled It's time to bridge the River Vision information gap. This generated multiple comments, including one from my favorite Fort Worth right wing geezer, which I shall copy...

Clyde Picht Nov 2, 2018 5:02pm
Thank you Mr Conner. There's not much to add. Why didn't we accept the CoE proposal to buttress the levees for a mere $10 million? Because we wanted to take advantage of the possibilities of economic development which would increase the tax base. So we chose to re-channel the river and potentially flood Arlington and Dallas. That's why we're spending so much on flood control mostly in the Gateway Park area. The initial $360M cost estimate supposedly contained an inflation factor to keep costs under control. The amount for environmental cleanup was rather underestimated. In 2005 the $435M cost estimate once again included an inflation factor and still underestimated the cost of environmental cleanup. Every increase in cost is supposed to be the last - but it isn't. Now we are at $1.16B and all bets are that even that isn't the end. Why is this happening? Ninety-five percent of the blame lies with Jim Oliver, Director of the Tarrant Regional Water District. Oliver apparently wanted to grease the wheels for obtaining federal funds and hired a lawyer from a tier four law school to head up the project. That lawyer, even though not having any credentials or experience in project management, was qualified by virtue of his family ties. If only that's all it took. But it isn't and now we have a financial train wreck for the taxpayers of Fort Worth. The Mayor finally realizes it but will anything really change?

Yesterday, on Facebook, Mary Kelleher shared a link about a NBCDFW TV news report about America's Biggest Boondoggle, which also used the Boondoggle word. That Facebook post also generated comments of the sort one does not see on the apparently little read Star-Telegram. Here are a couple of those comments, the first from one of the Boondoggle's most outspoken victims, and another from one of my best Facebook friends...

Bob Lukeman: 10 years ago I went to D.C. with Paul Driskell to try to expose the corruption of the TRV. Paul was an old friend and had worked under Speaker Wright for years and he knew his way around the Hill and the town. Our most memorable meeting on that trip was with Steve Ellis of Taxpayers For Common Sense. I was glad to see him interviewed for this story. His organization has a ton on their plate, but I find it unbelievable that after a decade beating the drum, that now, this project is getting the scrutiny we always knew it needed. Also unbelievable in their story was the belief by Jim Lane and Jim Oliver, that Kay Granger was still going to get the funding. J.D. getting grilled in the hall by Scott Friedman, looked a whole lot like a 60 Minutes episode. Many of us tried to get those network news shows to look into the TRV. Now the media is using the Boondoggle moniker. In the words of Gomer Pyle... Gaaaalee!

Waynemans Page: All this boils down to is - Greed, Ignorance, Incompetence & Lies. Initially starting with the biggest lie about flood control from Granger to the government, of which, the situation of flooding had been controlled for several years since the historical flood. A true waste of tax payer money. Only an idiot couldn't see this was nothing more than a cover up for development & greed driven by. J.D.'s Incompetence & the other board members wanting to cash in. It's disgusting how people's property was forcefully taken by eminent domain. The trail of destruction is huge, including 3 rusty rebar forms that would had been for bridges to the make believe island. Bridges to knowhere as it stands now, just sitting for years waiting to be built. That "art" resembling a glorified trashcan at the center of the round about on Henderson Street & other such long list of waste. There's so much to this that we all can hope will be investigated, exposed & accounted for. I hope the citizens of Ft. Worth actually get involved & demand action. Especially action for the real flooding that's going on there on the east side of town.

So, what is in that latest Star-Telegram article, the one screen capped at the top titled Review of $1.16 billion Panther Island project is happening. But when? 

Well, this article is chock full of typical Star-Telegram propaganda which raises more questions than it answers, as in whoever wrote this article and interviewed the culprits, such as J.D. Granger, asked no obvious followup questions of the probing deeper in search of the truth sort.

An example---

J.D. Granger, the project’s executive director, said he welcomed an independent analysis, which would likely look at progress, management and finances.

On Wednesday J.D. Granger voiced support for the review. Independent reviews have been done in the past for cost estimates, the Trinity River bypass channels and bridges, he said. “I’m optimistic it could help save money and help out with communication,” he said. “Let’s do it. Just open the books and let them come in.”

When Mary Kelleher was on the TRWD Board she tried during her entire tenure to get a look at the books, to no avail, constantly blocked. And now we are to believe J.D. Granger welcomes a review.


Any sort of legitimate audit of the TRWD/TRVA books is going to see how much money has been spent on various items, like junkets, parties, various entertainment expenditures, such as turning a subway maintenance building into a Beer Shed.

My inside the TRVA source, who calls him or herself "Deep Moat", recently told me that J.D. and his fiance, Shanna Cate, have taken repeated trips to Germany to do research on the German version of Octoberfest, supposedly to help better America's Biggest Boondoggle's annual Octoberfest which takes place at the imaginary pavilion at the imaginary island. Deep Moat verbalized being appalled at how much time J.D. and his fiance spend on planning various entertainment events associated with the failed Trinity River Vision, such as those Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats, the 4th of July, and other like events.

Those Boondoggle events which would seem to have zero to do with what the original Trinity River Vision purported to supposedly see, are part of that which has come under suspicion and criticism, hence some defensive sounding answers to questions about this aspect of the Boondoggle, as mis-reported in the Stat-Telegram...

Though the Trinity River Vision Authority exists as a part of the Tarrant Regional Water District to coordinate the Panther Island project, the authority also holds events at Panther Island Pavilion to promote the project’s tax district.

Those events are designed to be self-funded through ticket sales and partnerships, but according to a report last updated in September, they have a net loss of about $5,000 this year.

To make the distinction between flood control and entertainment more clear, J.D. Granger said the authority is exploring creating a separate nonprofit, similar to Near Southside Inc., to manage and promote Panther Island events, like Oktoberfest Fort Worth.

A loss of only $5,000 a year for all those events? Is the Coyote Drive-In and its Panther Island Ice Rink considered in the costs? What was that dollar figure finagled by TRWD Board member, Jim Lane, to help a financially strapped friend, with part of that finagling resulting in the world's first new drive-in movie theater of the 21st century? How many dollars did the TRVA waste on one of its earliest failures, the Cowtown Wakepark? How much has been spent on J.D. Granger's copious liquor supply in his offices on the ground floor of the Star-Telegram building?

An actual forensic audit into all aspects of what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle will be interesting. Will J.D. Granger resign ahead of the results being revealed? Or will he wait to be fired?

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