Friday, January 11, 2019

Let's Set The Crooked TRWD Record Straight

A day or two or three ago the offices of Elsie Hotpepper sent me an email with the subject line....


The only nonsense in the email was an attached PDF file which turned out to be a scanned image of a recent paid political advertisement in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, paid for by Jim Lane and Marty Leonard.


I thought to myself.

Those two are running for the TRWD board again? After the last time? Which supposedly resulted in the biggest election fraud investigation in Texas state history?

How is that investigation going? Apparently no where.

So I read through this advertisement, and quickly saw it could be more accurately characterized as blatant propaganda of the sort regularly spewed by the Tarrant Regional Water District and its ne'er do well step-child, the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, more usually referred to as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

We were able to convert most of the PDF file to a format able to be copied. Thus, for illuminating purposes, we will copy all of which we were able to re-format below.

The paid political ad reads like a defensive bout of excuse making trying to spin an alternative reality regarding the TRWD's Boondoggle.

Such as you will read that early in this century a community wide task force was supposedly launched to address the outdated Trinity River levee system (which has prevented flooding in the zone in question ever since the leveees were installed in the 1950s).

The paid political propaganda claims that construction of a bigger levee system had been considered, and rejected, because those supposed new levees would need to be ten feet higher and would require taking 150 of additional condemned land on each side of the river.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm sure that was a realistic proposal, way back when this century started. And, that it would have been a travesty to condemn all that land. Uh, how many acres of property were taken from the 100s of property owners, whose property was taken via the abusing eminent domain method by the Boondoggle which ensued after the rejection of the supposed raise the existing levees option?

So, if this flood control upgrade was so vital, way back when this century began, how come now, almost two decades later, nothing has been done about this dire threat? Apparently the threat was not all that dire, hence the slow motion ongoing Boondoggle.

This paid political propaganda advertisement tries to make the case that the public is misinformed about all which has been accomplished by the TRWD and its TRVA step-child.

The public is not misinformed.

The public drives by the Boondoggle daily, seeing three bridges stuck in slow motion construction for years, trying to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.  The propaganda tries to excuse the bridge part of the boondoggle by bringing up the actual signature bridges that have actually been built in Dallas over the actual Trinity River. Real bridges serving a real purpose.

The propaganda about the Dallas bridges did not successfully convert.

The J.D. Granger part of the ongoing Trinity River Vision Boondoggle Scandal is not addressed in this paid political advertisement.

I suppose to address the J.D. problem is to acknowledge the problem exists. The supposed upcoming forensic audit investigation of America's Biggest Boondoggle is sort of referenced in this propaganda. But no attempt is made to explain the inept management of the project due to its lack of a qualified project engineer executively directing the project such is the case in normal, non corrupt, zero nepotism, public works projects.

Anyway, below is what we were able to convert into readable text from Jim Lane and Marty Leonard's Paid Political Propaganda Advertisement...

2001: TRANSFORMING RIVER FROM FLOOD FOE TO COMMUNITY FRIEND In 2001, the City of Fort Worth partnered with Streams & Valleys Inc., Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD), Tarrant County, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to launch a community-wide task force to address our outdated Trinity River flood control levee system (designed a half century ago). The task force's five goals were straightforward:

1. Flood protection along the river
2. Environmental clean-up
3. Matching flood control federal funding
4. Improved public access to the river
5. Responsible river corridor development

The 7-member TRVA Board meets monthly and is comprised of two board members each from TRWD, City of Fort Worth, and Tarrant County plus a board member representative from the nonprofit Streams & Valleys organization. The TRVA Board selects its own Executive Director and all staff members of TRVA are shared employees of TRWD. Additionally, City of Fort Worth staff members participate on all TRVA committees. TRWD has also provided an interest-free $200 million loan (from its mineral royalty reserve) to the TIF District so local matching funds would be available to immediately start the project.

BIGGER LEVEES OR BYPASS CHANNEL Previously, construction of a bigger levee system (i.e., a bigger ditch for flood waters) along the river corridor had been considered. But the proposed bigger levees would have had to be 10 feet higher - requiring another 150 feet of condemned land on each side of the river. This would have negatively impacted neighborhoods and businesses on the west side and north side of downtown. It would have also negated years of hard work by the community to make the Trinity River corridor more accessible to the public.

2003-2004: TIF DISTRICT CREATED & FEDERAL FUNDING AUTHORIZED To finance the new Trinity River flood control plan, the City, County and TRWD all agreed in 2003 to participate in a Tax Increment.

2006: TRVA CREATED TO COORDINATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITIES To pull it all together, TRWD formed the Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA) in 2006. Under TRVA's umbrella management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local government partners each do their assigned work on the flood control components of the project:

2009: GATEWAY PARK EXTENSION In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local government partners improved the project design by relocating overflow flood waters from populated areas west and north of downtown to non-populated areas in the Gateway Park corridor. This expanded the project's flood control protective reach to over 2,400 acres. It also expanded local efforts for environmental restoration which have resulted in the removal of 383,000 tons of toxic and contaminated soil from old industrial sites along the river. This in turn opened up Gateway Park for broader community use and enjoyment.

After more than 200 community input meetings and careful study — the United States Army Corps of Engineers, TRWD, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and Streams & Valleys Inc. jointly rejected the bigger levees proposal and instead endorsed building a new 1.5-mile river bypass channel as the best flood control solution. This launched the Panther Island/Trinity River Vision project (also initially referred to as the “Central City Project” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

FEDERAL-STATE MATCH FUNDING To clear up some misstatements about the project's federal funding status - on October 3, 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a statement clarifying that the Panther Island/ Trinity River Vision project is “authorized” and "eligible” to receive matching federal funding. In fact, as mentioned above, this project has been authorized by two Presidents and two different sessions of Congress (2004 and 2016) and has already received roughly $108 million in matching state-federal funds.

Again, 100% of the project's authorized matching federal funding goes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of the flood control component of the project. Much of this work will be in the final bypass channel construction phase of the project. As such, not all federal funding is needed now. Still, our local governmental partners are working jointly with our Texas congressional delegation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be.

THE REST OF THE STORY We hope you find this overview helpful. Our community is using matching local-state-federal funding for the flood control component of this project, while using local funding to responsibly reconnect our community to its river. To paraphrase the late radio commentator Paul Harvey—“Now you know the rest of the story.”

REVIEW & AUDITS ARE STANDARD PROCEDURE For efficiency and transparency, the current programmatic review underway by the TRVA Board is welcomed. This is a very large multi-year infrastructure project involving both federal and state agencies, and several local entities. Currently, review is provided monthly by the TRVA Board and its operational budget is audited annually by third party CPA firms. Additionally, a total of 9 independent economic studies/financing plans have been performed on the project including a new TIF District revenue projection study which will be completed in early 2019.

A final word about TRWD 
There are some other things to note about TRWD's operational track record. In addition to flood protection, we are responsible for supplying the raw water which is then treated by cities for most Tarrant County families. We take this responsibility seriously and are consistently recognized as one of the best water supply districts in Texas. are well known, the two lakes we built in East Texas (Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers) are arguably the most essential as they supply 85% of TRWD's water supply to Tarrant County.

We mention this not to brag, but to note that some of the recent press and public comments about TRWD are neither accurate nor in context to the talents and accomplishments of its dedicated women and men. You can rest assured, TRWD works hard and we take our responsibilities seriously.

Paid Political Ad by Jim Lane Campaign & Marty Leonard 

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