Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shame on the Chamber Board

The completely predictable has happened. The industry is trading on the Chamber of Commerce’s influence and credibility. They just sent out a huge flyer to Denton voters featuring the Chamber of Commerce Board’s decision to oppose the ban. Many people think the Chamber actually sent out that flyer. That’s the way the industry wants it – they want to dress the predatory wolf of their vicious practices in the sheep’s clothing that is the Chamber.
The Chamber Board has done an enormous disservice to local democracy. They let the industry wear the mantle of the Chamber’s reputation. They did it without consulting the actual members of the Chamber, let alone providing a mechanism for dissenting voices within their organization. They did it without conducting their own independent analysis of the issue. They did it without hosting a forum to air all sides of the issue. They just echoed the same one-sided analysis used by the industry.
They swallowed the industry’s report without any critical thought. Like the industry, they talked only about the costs of the ban. They didn't even think to consider the benefits. If they would have, they’d find that the industry’s own report proves that an acre of fracking generates ¼ as much tax revenue as an acre of residential development and only ½ as much economic activity as the average acre of land in Denton. There was no mention of air pollution or waste of water. They only talked about mineral rights, but not the rights of those suffering nearby fracking operations. They didn’t mention the fact that the ban does not prohibit operators from drilling to access minerals or that the ban is less restrictive than other valid ordinances in Texas.
They only parroted the newspeak of the industry about responsible drilling and “reasonable regulations.” They didn’t mention how Denton tried for years to craft reasonable regulations only to discover that it was all too late – the industry is grandfathered under old laws that allow them to frack as close as 200 feet from homes on 30% of our land area forever. Under those conditions, there is no other reasonable regulation than the ban.
We can debate whether a body that receives nearly a quarter million in taxpayer dollars should be weighing in on ballot initiatives at all.
But if they are going to take a political stance, there can be no question that they are obligated to do so in a way consistent with the basic values of democracy: participation, transparency, and critical thinking. We should expect the leaders of our business community to conduct a thorough assessment. We should expect a quasi-public body to be inclusive in processes that lead up to their political positions.
If you can’t tell, I’m angry at the Chamber’s Board. They have no right to go behind closed doors and with blinkered vision throw the weight of their organization behind the industry. It’s a betrayal of democracy and the good faith of the people who trust and respect the Chamber.
If I was a member of the Chamber – even if I opposed the ban – I’d be furious that the Board thinks they can speak for me without consulting me. If I was a taxpayer in Denton (wait, I am), I’d be furious that the Board stamped a special interest with the imprimatur of the Chamber without even so much as a public forum.
You can’t get much more sneaky and misleading. The Board owes us an apology. In fact, they need to mail an apology letter to everyone who got that flyer.

5 comments:

  1. The Arlington Chamber did the same thing when we were trying to tighten the Gas Drilling Ordinance.. http://barnettshalehell.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/arlington-chamber-of-commerce-on-fighting-fracking-response-pending/

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  2. I completely agree with Adam Briggle on this,and this kind of information should go out to every Denton citizen. There are so many people who are not aware of the situation and who will believe any glossy 12X15 flyer they get in their mail. It's a bunch of lies.

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  3. wanda.needleman@gmail.comSeptember 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    There is also a full page ad in the Sunday DRC which repeats the stuff in the mailed slick flier.

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  4. Vote for Emy Lyons for state rep in district 64, Denton County, as she is against drilling & fracking........where as her opponent is a driller & a fracker!

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  5. Wow, what a shame that the Chamber drank all that fracking kool-aid.

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