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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Every Vote Counts

How many ways can we suppress the vote?  Arlington, TX City Councilman, Robert Rivera, will host his third gas drilling town hall to be held on Election Day despite objections from citizens.  There are concerns that a meeting held on this day could pull focus away from the election process and have a negative impact on the vote.  Every vote counts, so we can't afford to lose a single one.

In April, citizens suspected voter suppression when we learned that the well-established early polling location at the South Service Center would no longer be utilized.  The new location at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church ~ chosen by two City staffers ~ would be even further away from our community.   Many spoke out at City Hall on April 14th.  Council claimed that they didn't know anything about this change, even though this maneuver had been in the works for months.  Scroll 56:00 minutes into the meeting to hear Councilman Rivera's explanation about why it's too late to reinstate our early voting location for this year's municipal election.  He says, "It's already out of our control... There's simply nothing else we can do." 

This explanation did not sit well with Marvin Sutton, who is running against Rivera, District 3 incumbent.  Marvin, along with community groups, pushed to get our early voting location reinstated for this municipal election.  Click here to view the 7-minute long special meeting of its reinstatement.  

Even State Representative Chris Turner (HD101) ~ who typically doesn't meddle in city affairs ~ intervened.  Click here to read the letter he sent to Mayor Cluck.

We spoke with supporters from various campaigns throughout the week, and they all report that they have had no trouble with parking ~ one of the reasons given for the need to close that location. 

Now, since nothing of substance was accomplished during the first two gas drilling meetings other than citizens venting their frustrations over fracking inside the community, we see no reason to waste taxpayer resources on another fruitless meeting where Mr. Rivera might potentially scoop up some last minute votes for himself, and we are pulled away from working our campaign.  It interferes with the political process. 

The previous two town halls did nothing to improve living conditions for the neighbors living near the Sue Barnett Site.   XTO's operations are still an ongoing nuisance.  They reluctantly agreed to wrap the rig floor with a sound blanket, but it is still noisy. Sometimes we can hear that rig from a mile away!  It sounds like an older model in need of a tune up and a brake job.

Furthermore, it is pointless to hold another meeting to discuss gas drilling when it is more likely than not that Texas municipalities will soon lose local control over the regulation of oil & gas.  On April 30th, the Texas State Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development swiftly voted to pass HB40 with a unanimous vote of 9-0.   Click here for the link to watch this committee hearing, which is just under an hour long.  

Although the State will allow cities to regulate surface activities such as lights, truck traffic, and noise, these regulations must be "commercially reasonable," which is ambiguous language that the committee refused to eliminate from the bill.  In essence, we really won't be able to do much to protect safety or quality of life if HB40 becomes law because this is heavy industrial mining happening inside the neighborhoods in very close proximity to our homes.

NO ONE from our city attended the hearing in Austin ~ not even our lobbyists from HillCo.   When we inquired with Jennifer Weichman, Director of Management Resources for the City of Arlington,  as to the reason why no one attended such an important committee hearing on behalf of our City, she stated, "Our goal was not to change the bill...We think the way it's working is working fine...We monitored it... We put our resources where we can."

It is curious that our City chose to NOT spend resources in Austin on April 30th to defend democracy, property rights, and health and safety of its residents, yet they choose to allocate City resources for staff overtime to hold yet another pointless gas drilling meeting for Robert Rivera just hours before the polls close on Election Day. 

Early voting continues through May 5, 2015.  
For hours and locations, click Here.

Election Day is Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Click here for information on how candidates stand on local issues. 

The Fish Creek Monitor endorses Marvin Sutton for District 3 Arlington City Council.

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