Letters: Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Park That Money

To the editor: In “Foot Off the Gas” (May 7, 2008), Dan McGraw discusses the expected $235 million that will come from drilling under the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Because the refuge gets federal and state funds, any income generated from exploitation of the refuge must go back into the Fort Worth parks system.
After the refuge’s financial needs are taken care of, we could use a small portion of the funds to add the still-unprotected 2,000-acre Fort Worth Prairie Park to the parks system.
Using some of the money to help pay the $20 million or so to acquire this priceless remaining sliver of our ecological heritage is the highest and best use of these extra funds. People just don’t realize how incredibly rare native Fort Worth prairie is, especially in such pristine condition as this. Suzanne Tuttle, executive director of the Nature Center, is doing an exceptional job, and the Prairie Park would be in good hands under the same management.
The Fort Worth Prairie Park is a tallgrass prairie wilderness at the edge of our city, rarer than even the mountain gorilla habitat in eastern Congo. In fact, it’s catching international attention. Last month I spoke about it at MIT. In September, one of my organization’s youth leaders and I will go to Pittsburgh to speak about the Prairie Park at an upcoming international conference called “Body and Soul: Parks and the Health of Great Cities.”
Please call your city council member and the mayor, and ask that we as a city join the county in helping protect this ancient, living, breathing landscape and crucial refuge for wildlife and people. Our lives are not just for ourselves; even 5,000 years is just a blink to the Prairie Park. Our moral courage must ensure it is given the proper resources for its permanent protection.
Jarid Manos
Chief Executive
Great Plains Restoration Council

Tarrant Taxes
To the editor: Well, the city fathers did it again! They have dug the hole a little deeper and put us $10 million deeper in debt to build designer bridges (“Official Secrets,” April 30, 2008) over a ditch that may never exist, especially if earmark-hating John McCain is elected president!
But no matter. In the Age of Foreclosure, the bridges can provide homes for the homeless.
If an alien Alexis de Tocqueville landed here from outer space, he would probably report that once upon a time every citizen in the village turned out to build the tracks that brought a railroad to Fort Worth.
Today, he would report, a small band of earthlings who see themselves as modern- day Noahs are determined to build bridges over dry land and create a world-acclaimed Fort Utopia, come hell or no high water. “Why,” his leader would ask, “would the people permit this?”
The alien would reply: “They have wool pulled over their eyes. The earthling leaders learned their lesson in 1973, when a screwball proposal to bring steamboats up the Trinity to Fort Worth lost miserably. By careful stratagems, the people are therefore never permitted to vote directly on a subject. The issue is always hidden in a larger package of needed items.
“You see,” the visitor would tell his leader, “a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
Don Woodard Sr.
Fort Worth
Deeper Ditches To the editor: As a long-time resident of Fort Worth, I am thankful there is a Chuck Silcox on the city council. Apparently the residents of Fort Worth, those who own homes, are not paying enough in property taxes. Our very wealthy mayor wants more for “city services.”
Let’s investigate just where the current city tax dollars are going. Last I heard, Fort Worth had the highest property taxes in Texas.
The city council doesn’t want to let the residents know how much money has been generated already or how much is to come. Our city council decided to go ahead with a city hotel even though the voters had voted it down.
Our mayor has already made a great deal of money from the Barnett Shale. He doesn’t really feel the tax bite because of his large income from his family’s oil and gas business. Some of us do not have his resources.
The Tarrant Appraisal District is out of control. They just increase property values to generate more tax money. The appraisal district is not run by publicly elected people but by full-time bureaucrats who are protecting their jobs. To protest an increase is meaningless — the maximum reduction is 10 percent from the new value. You know, a revolution was fought over a similar situation in 1776.
When I suggested such an investigation to a supposed TV investigative reporter two years ago, his response was that the subject was “too touchy.” I believe that if reporters feel a story is too tough, it will be ignored.
We need to elect some more Chuck Silcoxes.
Royce McLaughlin
Fort Worth
In an article headlined “Sludge Fund” in the May 28 issue, Fort Worth Water Department spokesperson Mary Gugliuzza’s title was incorrect. Fort Worth Weekly regrets the error.

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