Pardon Me While I Toot My Own Horn

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As some of you may have noticed I am posting much less lately.  The last post of mine gives you an idea of what has been taking up a lot of my time lately.

Denton, Texas as you know has made international news both last November when we voted for a ban on hydraulic fracking within our city limits and just recently as the state legislature targeted that ban and passed House Bill 40 that negates our vote, claiming that our local authority to pursue measures that offset the health and safety risks of fracking are null and void because in the words of the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) who filed suit against the City of Denton, the ban “represents an impermissible intrusion on the exclusive powers granted by the Legislature to state agencies, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality”.

A similar suit was filed by the Texas General Land Office and once these efforts kicked in I have found myself pretty busy, more than usual, with the grassroots effort here locally to do what we can to prevent a repeal of this ban.   I have attended protest rallies, protest training and city council meetings addressing this issue, including the one last night that decided to repeal the ban in light of a summary judgement by TXOGA.  This legal maneuver by the oil and gas lobbyist group unfortunately convinced the leadership within the city and the grassroots organization,  the Denton Drilling Area Group (DAG), to concede and withdraw “strategically” from this battle and regroup on firmer ground later to go after the law itself that forced this repeal.

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Yours truly making my case before the Denton City Council

In my attempts to stay the repeal I emplored the council members that if they felt that they had no choice but to remove what we have legitimately fought for, then would they do so in a manner that demonstrates publicly that they take such action ONLY under duress from an unfair law.

I felt this would reflect a united front to the special interests who have heavy-handedly canceled our vote and show them that though they may have won this battle, the fight is far from over and that we are just as resolved now to fight for what we value as much, if not more, than when we first began.

I then followed up by asking that if they felt they could not include wording in any resolution or action they intended taking last night, in response to the lawsuits of TXOGA and the GLO as well as HB40, then would they consider making a separate statement in the form of a public record, that shows how they object to actions that silences their constituents’ voices.  A statement that would affirm that they would be willing to work in every legal way they could to help alter the efforts of those who have chosen to put profits over people.

Mayor Chris Watts himself expressed similar sentiments later in the meeting and the council agreed to reword the repeal ordinance with such bold language (or so I was hoping) that would send a strong signal to the opponents of our fracking ban

It appears legal counsel had the final say in the wording and this is the weak statement that they came up:

“whereas the Denton City Council reluctantly deems it in the best interests of the citizens of this city to strategically repeal initiative ordinance 2014-01”

“Reluctantly” and “strategically” are the strongest words they could employ?

I do not condemn our city council members in repealing the fracking ban ordinance. Much was said by them at the meeting that shows how strongly they truly support those of us who have fought to prevent fracking within city limits. They have likewise further indicated that they remain committed with the citizen grassroots movement to go after HB40 with the intent of repealing this very bad law.

I am however disappointed that stronger language than “strategically repeal” wasn’t used to publicly convey their commitment to this cause

To see the full meeting regarding the issue of repealing the ban click on this link here and run the time up to 05:34:00.  I’m the fifth speaker that approaches the podium.  If the link doesn’t work for you type this URL in in the address box at the top of your browser. – http://denton-tx.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1134

What! Me?   A Rising Star?  Pshaw!

In brighter news … while being absent from my blog I have found that a two and a half year old post I wrote about the EnergyTomorrow ads featuring former FOX news and soap opera star Brooke Alexander is getting a lot of daily hits.  This seems to be the result of google searches for “EnergyTomorrow” and “Brooke Alexander” that are at the number six and eight slots respective on the Google search engine.

Not bad for a lowly blog that takes no ad money and speaks out against the corporate machine in this country that keeps bad actors like Ms. Alexander in financial security.

I hope to get back on track soon and post at least once a week but in the mean time check in with me on my FaceBook page to see what leads me to question everything.

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17 responses to “Pardon Me While I Toot My Own Horn

  1. Well done, Larry! I liked your speech. But I must say, I’m still shocked as to how this has all turned. If that had been me up there, i would have been furious. I admire your calm.

    • We had a meeting the night before with the DAG grassroots group whose got their own lawyer. We went over all this in that meeting and realized that if we went to court with the TXOGA and General Land Commission petitions with HB40 in place, they could make a ruling that wouldn’t allow us to attempt future fracking bans, or something along those lines.

      The decision now is to try and create a coalition around the state of other cities whose attempts at implementing a fracking ban have been hurt with HB40 (and there are several currently) and see if we can get enough public support to overturn the bad bill or replace those reps. and state senators who voted for HB40.

      • “this could be the issue that turns Texas back to blue?”

        That and the fact that the demographics are changing that favors the Democrats. By 2050 Texas is expected to have a higher Hispanic population (51%) than whites. This why some of us think that the voter picture ID legislation here in Texas that targets this group was enacted

  2. We are many miles and states apart, but it seems so many of us are fighting fracking — and sand mining — in our communities. Wisconsin Pretend-Governor Walker wants to negate all local powers in this regard, for much the same reason as Texas Oil & Gas cite. They are run by big, out-of-touch, wealthy old guys for whom there will never be enough power or money. Thanks for what you do. We are all in this together. And yes, QUESTION EVERYTHING.

    • Thanks for the encouragement mounces. We are indeed kindred spirits fighting the plutocracy that seeks to kill representative government in this country

  3. If I could “toot my own horn” it would have kept me from making some of the biggest mistakes in my life…(Cue rim-shot!)

    But, Councillor-to-be Woodgate, what is the purpose of “strategically repealing” the bylaw? Don’t courts automatically strike down parts of bylaws (or state law) that go against US law? (Assuming US law still applies in Texas.) Why would City Hall do anything other than hire some lawyers to defend its bylaw…or to attack the state law that supposedly makes this bylaw illegal?

    From skim-reading that lawsuit, that’s a pretty damn feeble foundation they have. It sounds like their case almost hinges on the “commercial viability” of one specific method of gas collection. Aren’t they still free to get their gas the old fashioned way? Hell, it’s probably legal for them to drop a nuke on the otherwise “useless” land covering the shale and shop-vac up all the gas. Since when is a municipality obligated to ensure the maximum profitability of a private enterprise? It’s not like any of this gas is going anywhere between now and whenever the Oil Mafia buys enough Council seats to overturn the ban.

    Besides, since when are oil companies afraid of paying a piddling $2,000 a day fine, especially when half of their lawsuit talks about how much money they’re going to make. If I was a member of the Oil Mafia, I’d just consider it “kicking up a few points” to the higher ups. Maybe recognizing there ARE higher ups is the rub. If I were you Councillor-to-be Woodgate, I wouldn’t stop at any toll bridges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrv1roq_gBw

    Hardly any of this makes sense to me….Or is this one of those Texas Hanging Jury things where offenders are instantly hung in the town square? That’s really the only way I can see how “strategically repealing” the bylaw would make sense.

    • “Hardly any of this makes sense to me…

      But here in Texas, “making sense” is something that often gets beat up quite a bit. In my comments before the city council I stated that this bad bill was written in “smoked filled rooms” by the very people who profit from it. This kind of crony capitalism is thick here in Texas but even the TeaPublican party here is opposed to such shenanigans so we may have a fighting chance to appeal to their sense of freedom to get HB40 repealed

  4. Keep up the fight. Right now your state is being controlled by rogue politicians clearly in the pocket of energy producers. This has to change and if it can change in Texas, it can happen anywhere! Don’t give up.

    • Thanks Steve. Believe me, giving up isn’t an option. The “just cause” aspect of this issue is behind us so we simply need to keep driving this narrative home until the public will makes its presence known in Austin

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