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Here's Why Ron Natinsky Excused Himself When Council Talk Turned to XTO Energy

Before the Dallas City Council voted to back Dave Neumann Wednesday and wait till October to vote on XTO Energy's gas drilling proposals, we did get a little more insight into where the council stands right now. Angela Hunt, for instance, mentioned why she was for extending the city's leases to XTO for 30 months. Dwaine Caraway and Carolyn Davis explained why they were against the extensions.

But if you've been dying to know where Ron Natinsky stands, you might've noticed he isn't saying much -- or voting much -- on the issue. The reason: He has excused himself from the room each time XTO proposals come up, due to a conflict of interest.

You'll recall the same issue came up when the City Plan Commission considered XTO's permit applications, when a bunch of commissioners bolted en masse, realizing the stock they owned in Exxon, XTO's parent company, could oblige them to recuse themselves.

Turns out, that's the issue at play with the only council member who left the room for the XTO talk on Wednesday -- and the guy who could be Mayor Natinsky when the council takes up the drilling proposals again in October. Says the statement he filed with City Hall, he or a family member has a "substantial interest" in Exxon, amounting to at least 10 percent of the voting stock or a $15,000 stake in the company.

Natinsky tells Unfair Park this evening that, yes, he sure does own Exxon stock -- and has for years. But Exxon didn't buy XTO till last summer, well before he initially voted with the council to approve the leases four years ago. Only recently has it become an issue.

When asked if he'll sell the stock should he become mayor, he says, "I can't tell you what's gong to happen in October. I don't know if it'll be something I sold because I made a lot of money on it [he laughs] or lost a lost of money on it [he laughs again]. I honestly do not know. ... A lot of it has to do with financial implications and other things. I buy and sell stock all the time. I don't know what the situation will be later on, as the conversation continues. It may be that it's sold in two weeks, and I wouldn't have a problem automatically."

Natinsky conflict of interest statement


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