Environmentalists Say Dallas County is Plotting a "Mosquito District" for Pre-emptive Spraying

Something a little bizarre going down this morning at Dallas County Commissioners Court. Or not.

A number of people are supposed to show up at this morning's commissioners meeting to speak against a move by the county to create a mosquito district. Only there is no move to create a mosquito district. Only there may be no commissioners court meeting. Local government. Gotta love it.

See also: What We're Spraying for West Nile Doesn't Work, Isn't Safe and Kills Every Bug in its Path

Several people, including some mosquito experts, are supposed to appear as public speakers at today's meeting, urging the county not to ask the Texas Legislature to set up a mosquito district for this area. They say they have information that the county is moving in that direction secretly, hoping to spring it on the public as a fait accompli. I put in a call to County Judge Clay Jenkins yesterday at the tail end of the day but have not heard back yet.


What's wrong with a mosquito district? Well, if you're worried about what they're going to spray on you, plenty. Mosquito districts are a kind of governmental throwback to the 1950s, with very little public control and a lot of exemption from environmental regulation. Compounds similar to the stuff they sprayed on us here last summer, for example, are banned in California by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, but mosquito districts in California can still use them because they are exempt from CDPR control.

The fear is that a mosquito district would be able to start spewing toxins before we even knew what hit us. There's some kind of talk going around about "pre-emptive strike" spraying, spewing toxins from the air even before any mosquitos show up. Why do I keep expecting Donald Rumsfeld to jump out of the bushes at me with a little DDT spray can?

Some of the people who want to speak today are hoping to present evidence to the county that the surveys done here after last summer's West Nile spraying were totally bogus, that the spraying accomplished exactly nothing in terms of mosquito control. Dallas author and radio host Howard Garrett, "The Dirt Doctor," even called me at home yesterday evening to say he had been called by somebody at the country warning him that today's commissioners meeting may be called off. Garrett didn't know why.

Of course by now the paranoia is flowing. Judge Jenkins is a huge spraying enthusiast who loved posing in front of the airplanes last summer in avionic-looking sportswear, pointing at the spraying map with a baton. The only thing missing was a great big "Mission Accomplished" banner.

But there is nothing about a mosquito district on today's commissioners court agenda. Not a word. So the message, if it ever gets delivered, will be sort of: We know you say you're not considering a mosquito district, but we think you really are, so don't.

Will the meeting be called off to squelch the anti-mosquito-district speakers? I'm headed down there. I'll let you know. Personally, I love this. Look at it my way. If it weren't for stuff like this, I'd have to get a job.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze