Static: Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Bully-Goat Bluff

Fear is a great way to control folks. Scare the bejeebers out of ’em and they’ll do anything you ask. As a powermonger’s ploy, it dates back to the beginning of recorded history, up to and including recent master George W. Bush, who has spun fib after fib about national security to sway the public and Congress to give him carte blanche to start a war and trample the U.S. Constitution. Our own Mayor Mike Moncrief also knows the, uh, drill. When gas drillers came knocking at Fort Worth’s door, he said the city must open its arms to the industry and not place harsh restrictions on them or else they’d sue. You’d think he knows what he’s talking about, since he earns a boatload of money from the same gas drillers he’s urging everyone to crawl into bed with. Fort Worth residents bought Moncrief’s early line of bull and are currently getting stomped on by an industry that is going into neighborhoods and creating unsightly, industrial, noisy, polluting, congesting, quality-of-life-killing drill sites.
Not all local leaders are such ‘fraidy cats. The Bedford City Council, led by Mayor Jim Story, passed severe restrictions on gas drilling earlier this month that make it practically impossible to drill there. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board, which falls hook, line, and sinker for Moncrief’s fear tactics, gasped and warned Bedford that it “must accommodate drilling in some way.” Well, Bedford did what it thought best for its quality of life, regardless of the bullying tactics of drillers, and despite the antiquated and unfair laws passed years ago by legislators catering to the deep-pockets energy industry. Bedford said, “Balderdash!” to the fear-as-power con artists like Moncrief.
It may be that Bedford’s restrictions won’t stand up in court — where they’ll almost certainly land. But at least the city called the gas bullies’ bluff, buying time for legislators to see drilling’s drawbacks and introduce measures to rein in the industry.

Taj Mercado
The United Way of Tarrant County considers itself a charitable, compassionate bunch of do-gooders, and so it’s understandable they would show pity even on stumbling, bumbling bozos. The nonprofit organization’s recent move from downtown to the North Side’s semi-empty Mercado might just spare city officials from some of the embarrassment they should (but probably don’t) feel.
Quick recap: City officials have long wanted to revitalize North Main Street between downtown and the Stockyards, even though the market never seemed to be ready on its own. They dangled more than $3 million in loans to Northside property owners, hoping to inspire big dreams of revitalization, but got big yawns instead. So city leaders, including former Fort Worth City Council member Jim Lane, practically begged one of the area’s most successful businesswomen, Deyla Guadiana, to take the entire loan and build a mammoth three-story mercado. But “build it and they will come “ turned out to be more like “build it, mismanage construction, run out of money, sell it for pennies on the dollar, and watch it sit like a barren Taj Mahal for three years while the new owner struggles to find tenants.”
Now there might actually be a few more cars in the big Mercado parking lot, and the charity’s employees might even walk on the expensive sidewalks and eat at the Mexican-food restaurants on the street. Progress.

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