Mike Moncrief's Legacy of Greed & Deception

Mike Moncrief’s Legacy of Greed and Deception

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief is hanging up his spurs. Those spurs that kicked the heart out of Fort Worth for the past eight years will now be fitted to new Mayor, Betsy Price, aka: Moncrief in a skirt. It is too early to tell if she will continue Moncrief's Nazi-like, mayoral style known as, The Fort Worth Way. Bets are, the spurs are a perfect fit.

But you would never know by reading last Sunday’s Star-Telegram and listening to gushing politicians that Moncrief was anything less than a saint, delivered to us by God to aid the poor, the needy, the women and children, the minorities, whatever that means anymore. That's what you expect from a newspaper that owes its existence to Moncrief or a politician whose existence depends on oil money.

The Star-Telegram would have likely folded without gas drilling advertising dollars. And Moncrief is the guy who made that happen. The bucks start and stop with him. So, from the S-T Editorial Dept. to the likes of Kay Granger the adulations are flowing like money in Vegas.

Don't buy it.

Moncrief was delivered to us all right but it sure as Hell wasn't by any God I know. He became mayor for ONE reason: To grease the wheels of the gas drilling industry. He excelled spectacularly, goddam him. Everything else he did is superfluous - stuff any mayor should do, except maybe trying to dye the Trinity River purple.

Thanks to Moncrief, one can now trace the history of Fort Worth to, Before Drilling and After Drilling. One of the key markers on this timeline is Greed. Greed is Mike Moncrief's ultimate legacy. Deception got him there.

Let's start at the beginning.

For a while, Moncrief fooled a lot of people, including me. He was a DEM in the Texas Senate for 12 years with a reputation of supporting women's issues. That's admirable. But he was also an oil and gas man, something to be leery of. Behind the scenes, his oil and gas buddies were grooming their man for something much bigger than women's issues: Natural Gas.

Years before you and I knew about the Barnett Shale, gas drillers were shrewdly scanning high-def maps of Fort Worth and surrounding counties. Their friends in D.C were taking care of the “fracking” loophole. As an industry player Moncrief knew well in advance what the stakes were. It seemed counterintuitive to take a step down the political ladder but that's exactly what Moncrief did, in the name of greed.

A series of Gas Drilling Task Force meetings stacked with industry players and designed to fool the public, were a charade. The fix was in from the day Moncrief put on his mayors' spurs. His trusted deputy, Asst. City Attorney, Sarah Fullenwider, made sure the Task Farce delivered an ordinance that would put a smile on an oil man's face. Fullenwider is now THE City Attorney.

Despite a few little bumps in the road, a drilling-related death or two here, a few pesky environmentalists there, a gas drillers "dream ordinance" is safely in place. The Gas-father can now retire to his gas-financed mansion knowing he fulfilled his mission. Think, Marlon Brando, in the Godfather movie, puttering around his tomato patch while his "Mafioso boys" keep all the right wheels and palms greased.

And grease they did. As I pointed out in my 2009 FW Weekly essay, Learning to Love Big Gas, nearly every public institution got some of that dirty money - money that bought silence and aided deception. As a result, the culture and charm of Fort Worth is forever changed.

But what about all that damn money Moncrief promised would "raise all boats." The City of FW is in deep fiscal doo-doo. Every public swimming pool in the city closed last year. Now kids who want to swim have to pay $20 - $25. a pop at private pools. Library hours and resources have been cut. The average "Jill" depends on these services for Internet and her school kid's research material. Public parks are neglected. Hundreds of City employees were laid off. Bottom line: Only "certain" boats have risen.

As my pal, Dan Hicks used to sing, Where's the Money? Promised Mailbox Money that helped pave the way for public acceptance of drilling in neighborhoods is a pipe dream. Wal-Mart got the signing bonus check years ago from Jill and John Doe. Now they are getting the shaft and a lot of dirty air, dangerous pipelines, an industrial landscape for the kids to play in and a ceaseless hacking cough.

They and generations, henceforth, can and should blame former Mayor Mike Moncrief.

I always hesitate to use the word Evil or throw around the concept of Sin, subjective words that must be reserved for clear-cut cases. However, the ruin of my hometown caused by Moncrief is such case and I've never been shy about calling a kettle black.

Is Mike Moncrief Evil? Has he committed environmental Sins against the people and other life forms of Fort Worth? Like many of you I have closely observed Moncrief's behavior and his actions for the past seven years and have formed an opinion. He didn't personally drill any gas wells, no, but his crimes, his sins, are all the more egregious because of the fraudulent deception he used that enabled others to do so.

When it comes to environmental sins, Moncrief is right down there with the worst of them. From Trinity Trees to Tandy Hills to even our own backyards, his actions allowed gas drillers and their attendant pollution and danger to intrude in unprecedented ways into our homes, our parks, in the air we breathe and under our feet.

In the epic poem, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri, the lowest circle of Hell, the Fourth Ring of the Ninth Circle, at the utter bottom, is reserved for people who pretend care and love while perpetrating sin. In a word: Fraud. The people of Fort Worth and surrounding cities believed in and trusted Mayor Mike Moncrief when he said or implied that gas drilling was safe. In my opinion he knowingly violated that trust.

My personal definition of Evil is, someone who knowingly and repeatedly causes harm to others for personal gain. Take a look around Fort Worth today. You tell me if the spurs fit Mike Moncrief.

Don Young
July 11, 2011