Dallas city officials are furious that a wealthy Texas landowner has stopped them from abusing eminent domain to force a pipeline directly through his ranch.
Shockingly, officials say they’re “infuriated” because they weren’t able to run over landowner Monty Bennett like they do “ordinary people.”
Councilwoman Sandy Greyson said she’s “infuriated” the city has been prevented from “taking his land” like “ordinary people” who come and beg before council. Greyson suggests it would be more equitable if everyone was equally mistreated. Watch Greyson’s full, unedited statement below:
Even more shocking, Greyson admits she now feels compelled, albeit reluctantly, to support a settlement because the city would likely “lose in court” anyways.
Dallas officials arrogantly blame the landowner for the “millions” in taxpayer money they’ve wasted on a prolonged and frivolous court battle. But officials were not forced to fight Bennett. The city’s refusal to negotiate was clearly their choice, as the landowner offered alternative solutions from the onset.
Governments have no incentive to negotiate with landowners because citizens can simply be steamrolled into submission, as Greyson readily admits. After all, governments have unlimited tax-funded war chests to hire high-priced law firms, which most Texans cannot afford. As a result, officials are accustomed to people simply giving up even in cases where the government skirts the law or abuses its authority.
It’s fitting that – for once – government officials are experiencing the “infuriating frustration” that’s commonly felt by “ordinary” Texans who are subjected to the unjust whims of unaccountable politicians.
Critics unsympathetic to Bennett’s plight will claim the pipeline is a “necessary public good.” But even necessary projects don’t give government the authority to abuse the rights of landowners.
What the critics fail (or refuse) to recognize is that the landowner had worked from the outset to negotiate an alternative route with Dallas officials and their partner, the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). But Bennett wasn’t the only one.
The Texas Scorecard previously reported on a group of 43 landowners near Mansfield, Texas who also fought reckless eminent domain proceedings by the TRWD, related to the same water pipeline. Not only did the TRWD fail to listen to landowners’ concerns, they turned a blind eye to alternative routes that were less costly, less intrusive, and more efficient. They also refused to deliver on promises to hold public hearings in the community and lied to landowners about who would face condemnation proceedings. Charles Crook, an engineer and affected property owner, thoroughly documented the TRWD’s reckless behavior.
Ultimately, the TRWD opted to threaten Crook with hasty condemnation to intimidate others from speaking out and perpetuating a public relations nightmare. Crook and other landowners were ultimately told to pound sand.
Fortunately, one landowner with both the will and resources pounded the reckless agencies in court, and won.