Dallas City Hall Sues State of Texas Over Citizens Request
In June 2012, Dallas resident Raymond Crawford filed a Open Records request at Dallas City Hall for information he felt had an impact on the future of shale gas drilling in Dallas. One of the many permits that the City of Dallas had in limbo was an XTO application to drill for shale gas on land owned by Luminant Energy. The land is located at the corner of FM1382 and West Camp Wisdom adjacent to Mountain Creek that connects Mountain Creek Lake to Joe Pool Lake. The land in question has been confirmed to lie within an ‘exclusion zone’ that created a protective buffer away from the Joe Pool Dam.
Since it has been reported that seismic activity may have a negative impact on dam and levee construction, Crawford was interested in finding out what the City of Dallas knew about this impact and when. Thinking that any type of break or compromise in the dam could result in a major disaster for both Dallas and Grand Prairie residents. Crawford felt that it was important to find out what type of correspondence occurred between the City Manager’s office and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Normally, the length of time to receive results of an Open Records request is 10 days. Crawford did not hear anything form anyone at Dallas City Hall throughout the Summer. Under current laws, Dallas City Hall was in violation of not responding with a confirmation or the documents requested. In September, upon realizing that staff at Dallas City Hall was in violation of such law, letters went to Crawford. The letters tell him that the City of Dallas feels the need to run his request through State of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot. State Attorney General, Abbott promptly responded telling the City of Dallas that after reviewing the documents, he saw no reason why the documents could not be given to Crawford.
The City of Dallas did not like that response and has filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas preventing Crawford from seeing the documents he requested. Crawford says “I still would like to know who in Dallas City Hall corresponded with the Army Corps of Engineers and what type of information related to the dam construction and the effects of drilling was detailed in those documents.“ Although XTO has recently stated that they have delayed all specific use permits with the Dallas Planning Commission, Crawford says that “the devil is in the details, and I’m still not certain as to what kind of deal has been cut by the Mayor and City Manager.” Crawford was referencing a recent article from The Dallas Observer in which Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked about drilling in the Trinity River floodplain. The Mayor responded,“They will,” he replied. “That deal was cut. If they drill. That’s a business decision for them,” he said.
Crawford is concerned that the Mayor with City Manager Suhm has a some sort of secret agreement with Trinity East to allow drilling in the floodplain which is currently against City of Dallas policy. Trinity East is prepared to request such action on Thursday, December 20th at City Planning Commission. In order to allow drilling in the Trinity River floodplain and ecosystem, the City Council would have to enact a law to enable such activity.
Crawford concluded, “if the Mayor and City Manager are out there making deals under the table, what does that say for the integrity and ethics of their office?”
Meanwhile, the lawsuit against the State of Texas filed by the City of Dallas is still active to prevent Crawford from getting the information he feels is important to all Dallas residents.