A Tarrant County Water Fight Descends into the Slop with the Help of a Dallas Hotel Magnate

You'd think the race for the Tarrant Regional Water Board would be a sleepy affair. Ensuring that Fort Worth and its environs enjoy an adequate water supply is undeniably important work, but not the kind that stirs the passions.

As you can see from the mailing above, which was uploaded to the Internet by a rollerblading Fort Worth blogger who makes reference to "incumbent cockroaches," this year is different.

The "controversial Dallas millionaire" wallowing in the mud seems to be hotelier Monty Bennett. Bennett, the Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy reports, sued the water district over a pipeline that will cut through his East Texas ranch and has funneled $105,000 to the three challengers in the race, John Basham, Mary Kelleher and Timothy Nold. The identity of the child actor isn't exactly clear.

The challengers have used the money on a pricey direct mail campaign, blasting the incumbents for, among other things, cosseting themselves in near-regal splendor by spending district money on a luxury helicopter, a 1,200-acre deer lease and expensive meals and hotel stays.

The responses on behalf of the incumbents have run the gamut from cheery missives from Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price to quasi-slanderous hit pieces.

We're not well versed enough on the issues at hand to form a coherent opinion other than to say whoever is behind the hog mailer needs to get his metaphor straight. Is Bennett actually the hog they claim? Because one piece of evidence cited on the flier suggests otherwise. It's a Wall Street Journal trend piece from a couple years back describing the increasingly advanced weaponry used in the fight against feral hogs:

Take, for example, Monty Bennett, chief executive of Dallas hotel owner Ashford Hospitality Trust. Mr. Bennett's 1,000-acre ranch in East Texas is dotted with motion sensors that, when triggered, send an alert to his home speaker system in an electronic voice: "Alert, Zone 2." He then hops into his Bad Boy Buggy, a monster off-road golf cart powered by a silent electric engine.

Mr. Bennett plans eventually to install solar-powered night-vision cameras on his property so he can check on the sites where his motion sensors are tripped. For now, he uses night-vision goggles and thermal scopes to locate objects that emit heat. "It is just really neat how ... you can see anything within 500 yards that's alive," he said.

Would a real hog mercilessly hunt down his own brethren? One doubts it.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson