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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Arlington, Texas Government ~ Kremlin Style

2018 ushered in nearly six months of testimony and public hearings for a controversial drill zone and four additional gas wells at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. Because it was an election season, Arlington City Council strung the citizens along giving them false hope. On June 19th the decision was finalized.  Council gave Total ~ the 4th largest oil and gas company in the world, and based in France where fracking is banned ~ the green light to conduct fracking operations on church property next to and under Cravens Park and inside a residential neighborhood. 

What made this particular case high profile was a playground situated around 300 feet, a stone's throw, from the drill zone.  There was strong opposition to this case, and a high turnout of citizens from the community appeared and re-appeared at city hall during these months citing a myriad of arguments against gas drilling from the adverse health impacts, non-compatibility to residential zoning, to Total being ranked a bad player by industry standards.  

On February 13, 2018 Sharon Wilson from Earthworks brought a poster-sized image to the podium (courtesy Liveable Arlington) juxtaposing the dangerously close proximity of this playground to the drill site along with a gas mask, and when she presented these props to council, it looked as though the blood rushed out of the councilwomen's faces. It appeared as though they had seen a ghost.  Citizens hoped they may have pivoted on this issue.  

On February 27, 2018 Arlington City Council denied Total's request for a drill zone by a vote of 6-2. Total doesn't take no for an answer, so they moved the drill zone 15 or 20 feet and re-applied. Note how the May 5th municipal election had not taken place yet.  

In Mayor Williams absence with Councilwoman Capehart presiding over the meeting, the drill zone was approved the evening of May 22, 2018 with these three amendments:

1)  Sound walls for workover rigs.
2)  Electric Drill (sic)
3)  The playground be moved "expeditiously." (Scroll ahead to 3:37 mark to hear Councilwoman Victoria Farrar Myers ask for this assurance.)

A cacophony accompanied 80 citizens as they filed out of the chamber chanting, "Vote them out!  Vote them out!"

Also in Mayor Williams absence with Councilwoman Capehart presiding over the meeting, four gas wells received city council's blessing on June 19, 2018. It was universally understood by the city, the industry, the church, and the public that the playground was to be moved prior to the commencement of drilling operations.  Nearly one month had passed providing adequate time to move that equipment. Then sometime around the 4th of July holiday, a rig moves in, but the playground remained in the same location.  This display of insolence by Total and the church completely undermined the authority of our municipal government, disrespected citizens, and set a precedent for Total to break any and all rules going forward. Get ready for a fracking free-for-all.


Photograph Courtesy Fish Creek Monitor 

The City of Arlington did not assess any penalties against Total for this willful disregard of the amendment stipulating that the playground had to be moved.  Now if that wasn't egregious enough, click here and scroll ahead approximately 1:12 into the June 19, 2018 public hearing.  Notice how there are 20 seconds or so of silence between Kevin Strawser's rebuttal and the moment when the council votes. Everyone familiar with this case clearly remembers the ongoing discussion about the moving of that playground.  Now, Poof...!


Disappearing Dialogue, Kremlin Style.

During the July 16, 2018 Russia-United States Summit in Helsinki, a Reuters reporter named Jeff Mason asked President Putin, "Did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?" Putin replied, "Yes, I did.  I did.  Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."  

Curiously, the White House transcript dropped the first half of that two-part question, "Did you want President Trump to win the election?" and the Russian transcript skillfully cut out the entire exchange. Those with an interest in world politics may Click Here to watch the full video where Rachel Maddow discusses the Helsinki Summit and the disappearing transcript. 

So, you decide.  Were those moments of silence just prior to the Arlington, Texas City Council vote on June 19th to approve four controversial gas wells the result of a technical glitch in the new chamber's audio equipment, or was this dialogue - most likely discussing specific amendments related to this case - deliberately scrubbed from the record?  

We just pray for the sake of the children that Total moves the playground expeditiously.  Merriam Webster defines the word expeditious as:  marked by or acting with prompt efficiency.

Until next time, stay safe out there. We are living in dangerous political times.  





Sunday, July 15, 2018

Gas Wells are Good For You

Gas Wells are good for you.  In fact, if you are not fortunate enough to have gas wells in your backyard, you are missing out on all the positive health benefits this heavy industrial activity has to offer. If you think this is satire, it is not.  This information comes straight from a City of Arlington resolution dated June 19, 2018 recommending that  Total E&P Barnett, USA, LLC  drill four additional gas wells at the Cornerstone drill site in southeast Arlington, Texas. The resolution states, 
"...The City Council has determined that it is in the best interest of the public and in support of the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens that the gas well permits be issued." 
To read the resolution in its entirety, go to this link:

https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/202503/GW18-011_GW18-012_GW18-013_GW18-014._res.pdf


Remember to take your daily dose of fracking! 
It's so good for you!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Women make their case against Total and Gas Drilling in Arlington


Late in the afternoon on February 13th we learned that at the request of the operator, the public hearing for the SUP for the Cornerstone Drill Site was continued until February 27th.  Some activists and leaders of environmental groups ~ who happen to be all women ~ decided to appear anyway hoping the council would grant them the courtesy of speaking since this item was already posted on that evening's agenda.  Scroll ahead 28:30 minutes into the meeting to hear these women make a strong case against Total and gas drilling inside the community by Cornerstone Baptist Church on Matlock Road in Arlington, TX. The speeches were outstanding and very enlightening! 

http://arlingtontx.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=2615

Thank you for visiting and check back for more updates!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

*Update* The Neighborhood Gas Drilling Meeting: Total Smoke and Mirrors

Let's talk about fracking ~ or better yet ~ let's not, since that strategy seems to work in the best interest for the oil and gas industry.  Here is a photo from the February 8, 2018 neighborhood gas drilling meeting which was hosted by Total and held at the Southeast Branch Library in Arlington, Texas. Eight chairs were set up, so it didn't look as though they were expecting a crowd like in the early days of mineral leasing.  A total of six people were in attendance including the City and the Industry.  Not a single person who currently lives in the neighborhood by the Cornerstone Drill Site where future gas wells are planned to be drilled near their fence lines was at this informational meeting.  


February 8, 2018 Neighborhood Gas Drilling Meeting

The man on the left is Kevin Strawser of Total, aka TEP Barnett USA, LLC.  He is their media guy who handles government and public affairs. The woman in yellow is Jessica Youngblood, the City of Arlington's Gas Drilling Coordinator.  The other woman is Roxanne Thalman, District 3 City Council woman who narrowly won the election by two votes, and the man on the right is Todd Harshman.  He no longer lives in the neighborhood which is targeted for more gas wells but he does still own his minerals on a tiny tract of land.

Both Total and the City claim that proper notification was given to the neighbors to inform them about the industry's plan to establish a drill zone at the Cornerstone Drill Site, but we found it odd when no one from the neighborhood showed up to this important meeting on February 8th or the previous one that was held on a Wednesday evening early in January.  So, the next day we canvassed the community to speak with people whose homes back up to that site.  Not a single person that we spoke with had any knowledge about any neighborhood gas drilling meetings, but one man we spoke with received this notice informing him of a City Council Public Hearing for February 27th about the gas wells. Unfortunately, by the time the operator goes before council to get approval for these gas wells, it is probably too late for the public to be able to influence the outcome of the vote since by that time, the zoning details would have already passed through Planning & Zoning and City Council  The gas wells are pretty much a done deal once the other steps are approved.   


It looks as though the neighbors have been cut out of the process.



Clearly, there is a lack of transparency when it comes to information about gas drilling inside Arlington neighborhoods. One woman we spoke with was under the impression that the drill site had shut down following the problems that had occurred when Chesapeake was conducting operations there. She shared the incident when gas spewed and the Fire Department had to be called in.  She also told us about the nosebleeds and ongoing health issues that she has struggled with since that drill site encroached upon her neighborhood. Other neighbors had concerns about the dying trees and strange rumbling noises which would wake them up in the middle of the night when that site was active. Others talked about their damaged foundations and cracks in their walls. But no one we spoke with seemed to know about any industry-led gas drilling informational meetings about the future plans for this site and how it would impact their lives. 

Cornerstone Church seems to know what's going on because they signed a waiver, or waivers, as they own three tracts on this lease.  We tried reaching out to them to see if they might consider rescinding their waiver, but they did not return our calls. *Update* While we still haven't been able to directly speak with the pastor, Darrell Sneed, a church leader, did contact us after this blog entry was published and stated that the church had entered into a relationship...years ago... He will communicate our message to the pastor. We hope to speak directly with Reverend McKissic while there is still time.

The hearing for this case to establish a drill zone was originally scheduled for January 30th and had been continued to February 13th. Now it has been continued again until February 27, 2018 at the request of the operator.


Apparently, these people were cut out of the process as well...


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Oil and Gas Tests the Waters in Arlington, Texas


On January 17, 2018 Arlington's Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a new drill zone at the Cornerstone Drill Site 319 feet from a church, homes, and businesses in Southeast Arlington.  The gas drilling ordinance requires a a setback of 600 feet, which is in no way protective of public health and safety. The Oil and Gas operator that wants to drill three additional wells (four, actually, but who's counting?) is TEP Barnett USA, LLC, a subsidiary of Total whose headquarters are located in France, a country that has banned fracking. They have acquired Chesapeake's assets, and are the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world. They have come to finish what Chesapeake started ~ to suck up the remaining gas from beneath our homes and communities and make our lives a living hell once again.

This article and video by the Guardian is by far one of the best:  

 
In order to comply with the gas drilling ordinance, the operator is required to obtain waivers from 70% of the property owners who live within a 600 foot radius of the drill zone, which is the location from where multiple wells get drilled.  When P&Z approved this case, they only had 57% of the neighbors agree to a setback reductionCornerstone Baptist Church, located approximately 340 feet from the nearest producing well had more sway on this decision, as they own three tracts on this lease, and they signed a waiver.  We are praying that the church leaders who made this decision will change their minds and rescind these waivers, as there is still time to save our city from the build out of gas wells. Back in 2009 Chesapeake had slated this site for 21 wells. 

It was surprising to learn that this controversial case passed with flying colors through P&Z despite the fact that the operator hadn't even applied for the proper permit with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the regulatory agency that oversees oil and gas. The applicant for this case, Kevin Strawser, must have spent many, many hours working with city staff on this project.  He also indicated that he met with Councilwoman Thalman and also attempted to reach out to neighbors to invite them to a town hall.  Word has it, no one from the neighborhood came to his meeting.

So, why would the City not require the operator to produce a permit prior to this zoning process?  Tougher restrictions are placed on Arlington residents requiring them to obtain a permit to install a new toilet or build a fence.  Soon a permit will be required to hold a garage sale to sell gently used baby clothes and bric-a-brac. None of these activities have the ability to endanger public health or safety, yet gas wells can and do explode. Heavy industrial activity is harmful to human health and disruptive to the overall quality of life. Why is a huge international corporation not held to the same standards as the citizens who live here? 

Arlington is not a city where its citizens are represented by elected officials, but rather, a place which has been taken captive by corporate interests. To brand itself as an American Dream City is nothing but a misnomer.

City Council was scheduled to hear this case on January 30th, but District 3 Councilwoman Roxanne Thalman was sick with the flu.  This case will be continued on February 13th. 

Total is testing the waters.  The oil and gas industry are predators, but what they don't realize is that while sharks may be at the top of the food chain, humans have been known to eat shark. 

The devil is in the details, and there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from this public hearing which begins at the 51 minute mark.  We hope you will watch! Stay tuned for more...  
    
Click here to view this P&Z meeting. 
 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is Old Ogle Ogling Political Power Again in Arlington District 3?

Arlington District 3 City Council Candidate Roxanne Thalman shown with Former District 3 Arlington, TX City Councilman Wayne Ogle


This controversial photograph of Arlington District 3 City Council Candidate Roxanne Thalman with former District 3 City Councilman (1995-2005) Wayne Ogle has ruffled quite a few feathers with voters in our District. The Fish Creek Neighborhood is situated in District 3 where Ms. Thalman currently seeks political office.  This duo has made appearances out in the community and on social media lately. In fact, she even did a little name dropping at the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum mentioning Wayne Ogle's name as though it would win this Girl Scouts Troop Leader some brownie points if people knew that she was connected to him.  



  But what has she done for District 3?

This young protegee is riding on the coattails of former Councilman Wayne Ogle who ran for office 22 years ago and doesn't even live in the district anymore!  Ogle lives in District 1, on the north side of I-30 ~ the opposite side of town.  In addition, nearly 99% of Ms. Thalman's financial support totaling $31,896 has come from outside the district.  If elected, who will she represent? 


She is an interloper.

Ms. Thalman lives on the fringe of District 3 where she enjoys a nice view of a park outside the front door of her town home.   Chances are she's never mowed a lawn or seen an active drilling rig.  The scenic views from our neighborhood include gas wells and sinkholes!  This woman has not been on the same journey as we haveMarvin Sutton, on the other hand, lives in the heart of the community and has attended town halls with frustrated neighbors whose quality of life has been seriously diminished because of gas drilling.  Will Roxanne fight for you? We doubt it.  
     
Now, according to voting records, Ms. Thalman voted in the last Republican Primary.  But not to worry ~ word has it that Wayne Ogle was also a Republican who presented himself to voters as Democratic back in 1995 in order to win his seat in District 3.  He was known as a flip-flop candidate, just like Ms. Thalman who was affiliated with the Democratic Party in Utah in 2007.  Wait. Utah!? Seems this Arlington sweetie lived in Utah and not Arlington her entire life as the campaign seems to frame it.         




We hope that the people who are screaming over social media to vote out the incumbents do not  vote for this candidate, because she is an interloper ~ bought and paid for by special interests ~ part of the good ol' boy network. 

PLEASE VOTE!!!

 We recommend Marvin Sutton for a safer, smarter, greener Arlington.  He's built a rapport with the community over the years, and nearly 62% of his total campaign contributions totaling $7,025 have come from inside the district. He will represent constituents, not outside special interests.

ELECTION DAY IS SATURDAY, MAY 6TH  
Polls are open from 7 am - 7 pm.


Click HERE to find your voting location.


Next on Fish Creek Monitor... 

One year ago Arlington, Texas, also known as The American Dream City, became a Film Friendly Community, recognized by the Texas Film Commission. Numerous movies and television shows have been filmed here over the years including Prison Break, Super Nanny, Tin Cup, and JFK to name just a few. We would like to recommend filming another fracking documentary or maybe a new episode of Sister Wives. Wouldn't that be exciting!?  Stay tuned...