Last week, Unfair Park got its hands on long-hidden proof of what a lot of people already suspected: that Mary Suhm had cut a secret deal to help Trinity East Energy drill on city parkland while telling the City Council the exact opposite.
Suhm's initial response was to downplay the 2008 agreement with Trinity East, saying it wasn't a deal per se but a non-binding offer to help a company that was writing a $19 million check to the city.
But Suhm's tune has changed somewhat. In an interview with the Morning News' Rudy Bush, she acknowledged that the agreement she signed with Trinity East included a 22-acre tract near Luna Vista Golf Course that was not among the properties the City Council had OKed for drilling.
"It appears that's true," she told Bush. "We're trying to figure out what and how and what went on there."
While they're at it, they'll have to figure out why Mark Duebner, her top staff member, guaranteed even after the deal was signed that there would be no drilling on parkland, and why nearly everyone not named Mary Suhm was kept in the dark about the deal with Trinity East.
Recently retired Parks Director Paul Dyer, who was theoretically in charge of all of the city's parkland at the time, was surprised to learn that the 22-acre parcel, where he'd been developing plans for a golf facility for the First Tee, was on the table.
Bush's report adds to the growing pile of evidence that Suhm deliberately misled the council as she pursued the Trinity East deal, thereby forcing the city into no-win situation: either drill, with all the associated health and environmental worries that come with that, or face a lawsuit that could cost Dallas much more than the $19 million it pocketed in 2008.
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Councilman Scott Griggs poses the question most directly in Bush's piece: "Is this extra-legal action that was not within the city manager's authority?"
If the answer is yes, the next question is obvious: Is that a fireable offense?
Update at 2:59 p.m.: Mayor Mike Rawlings chimed in with a call for a timeline of the Trinity East deal:
Full transparency of the history of this process is extremely important. To that end, this past Wednesday I asked the City Attorneys office and City Managers Office to present a full briefing regarding the timing of each important document that was written and the decisions that were made.
While I was not a first-hand participant, I have learned this is a very complicated and complex issue. It has been enlightening to learn the process the prior city council went through and I think it will be for the citizens as well.