You wouldn’t think that a Water Board could cause so many problems for Texans. Perhaps that’s precisely why, much like rebellious toddlers, some public officials at TRWD insist on overstepping the legal boundaries designed to hold them accountable.
We’ve already reported on the shroud of secrecy, and consequent lawsuit, under which the board conducted countless committee meetings, away from public view. And we continue to question the legitimacy of the Trinity River Vision Project, a subsidiary of the TRWD championed by “F-rated” House Republican, Charlie Geren.
A significant portion of its $1 billion budget will be spent on projects to aid economic development, otherwise known as taxpayer funded slush. It’s astounding how quickly a governmental agency can grow; the TRV’s annual expenditures in 2014 are projected to nearly equal the $120 million budget of the TRWD itself!
Is it any wonder that, despite successful conservation efforts to reduce water usage, water rates for surrounding municipalities and the hard-working families they serve continue to skyrocket?
As if that wasn’t tragic enough, the TRWD is now playing a potentially unlawful shell-game with their election cycles, in an effort to dodge public accountability.
In 2010, Mary Leonard and Jim Lane were elected to four-year terms. In 2012, the TRWD passed a measure that changed their elections from even, to odd numbered years, to which Mr. Lane, himself, voted against.
The Fort Worth Star Telegram quoted him as saying, “I have a contract with the voters…If they want to throw my fanny out after four years, they should have the right to do so.”
Apparently he’s had a change of heart.
Instead of holding elections in 2014, which the law does not prohibit, they’ve decided to extend their terms another year. If a U.S. President attempted such a maneuver, angry mobs would march on Washington.
The lawsuit filed by Texans For Government Transparency, and two other taxpayers, claims this action is in direction violation of Article XVI, Section 30, of the Texas Constitution, which explicitly limits state officers to four-year terms.
TRWD lawyers plan to keep the suit held up in court past next year’s election cycle, by claiming governmental immunity (which was denied), and by making a jurisdictional plea (which doesn’t even make sense). In other words, TRWD is willing to waste taxpayer dollars to defend their own shell-game, purely for short-term political insulation.
What a scam?
Although this superfluous expense pales in comparison to TRV’s $1 billion slush fund, it further illustrates the board’s indignant attitude towards their role as a fiduciary, and the basic rights of Texans.