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.