Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nobody likes Barry Smitherman

It's not just the residents of Azle and elsewhere in Frackland, but also the media and even a few Republicans.  Let's see what's troubling the Texas Railroad Commissioner who wants to be Attorney General now.

The North Texas citizens at the Texas Railroad Commission hearing (yesterday) morning tried to make it as simple as possible: For as long as anyone could remember, there hadn’t been earthquakes in Azle and surrounding areas. Then the fracking boom took off and the wastewater injection wells went in. Soon the earthquakes started, more than 30 in just the past few months, rattling homes and nerves. A considerable amount of research, including work by SMU scientists, links wastewater injection wells to earthquakes.

“No disrespect, but this isn’t rocket science here,” said Linda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, a small town 20 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth. “Common sense tells you the wells are playing a big role in this.”


People in the Azle area have grown increasingly angry at the Texas Railroad Commission, which has pledged to hire a seismologist to study the issue, but has refused to shut down the suspect injection wells. Almost 1,000 people attended a raucous Jan. 2 meeting in Azle, organized by Railroad Commissioner David Porter. Residents asked the commission for a 90-day moratorium on wastewater injections in the Azle area—a call reiterated today.

But commissioners, including Republican Chairman Barry Smitherman, who is running for Texas attorney general, made it clear that they have no plans to do so. Smitherman mentioned several times today that two of the suspect injection wells closest to the quake epicenter in Azle have seen reductions in the amount of fluids injected even as earthquake activity continues.

“If it had ramped up and continued to ramp up, then that might’ve been the culprit,” Smitherman said. Smitherman seemed to be suggesting that the frequency of earthquakes is linked to the rate of fluid injection. However, as NPR-StateImpact Texas has reported, the more important factor may be the cumulative total of wastewater injected.

While touting the benefits of fracking—and standing behind a weirdly technical definition of fracking to avoid making a connection between the hydraulic fracturing process and the disposal of the wastewater that results—Smitherman would promise only to study the issue more.

“We are still investigating the connection, we want to find out what the connection is, if any,” he said. “Once we find out, then we can hope to take additional steps.”

That's not going to fly in rural Texas in GOP primary season, Bare.  Nobody cares how whipped the frackers have you with their big checks; you're going to have to do something besides stall.

Here's video of him fending off a press corps that smelled bullshit yesterday.

Our pal TXSharon at BlueDaze covers fracking as her exclusive beat, and her posts are worth reading, reviewing, and referencing.

This is a plenty hot enough fire for him, but as it turns out Smitherman has a few resume' issues of his own.  For that, we go to Big Jolly.  Read the whole thing; this is an excerpt from the end.

So when Smitherman says he put “bad people in jail”, he isn’t lying. Because five men did spend a few days in jail after Smitherman prosecuted them for Misdemeanor crimes.

But Johnny Holmes he ain’t (for those not familiar with Holmes, he is a legend at the HCDAO). Smitherman never prosecuted a single felony in his short time at the HCDAO.

Why is Smitherman exaggerating his split-second as a prosecutor and refusing to talk about his 17 years as a banker? That’s a question for another day.

Look, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t know any of the candidates. Smitherman lives in Austin and his two opponents in North Texas. I just knew something wasn’t right about Smitherman’s statements, so I went looking for the truth.

And the truth is that if we as Republicans are going to dissect Wendy Davis’ life story and find exaggerations and omissions here and there, and make them into campaign issues to try and disqualify her in the minds of voters, we’d probably better look at our own candidates. And Barry Smitherman can’t pass that test. And yes, I’ve tried to contact that mysterious woman that supposedly looked Smitherman in the eye and silently thanked him for convicting her boyfriend – I haven’t been successful yet but I’ll keep trying. Because something about that doesn’t feel right either.

Dave, Wikipedia says Smitherman got fired from his job as a banker... which is probably why he doesn't like to talk about it.

Smitherman began a career in banking, and rose to become the head of Bank One's national municipal finance group before he was fired in April 2002. Bank One's stated reason for the termination was that Smitherman had failed to get company approval before he co-authored an opinion column in the Houston Chronicle with two Houston city council members, in which the authors discussed how the city could improve its credit rating. In January 2003, Smitherman became a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, and in May 2003 Perry named him to the board of the Texas Public Finance Authority.

Barry Smitherman is by far the worst of another terrible lot of Republicans running for statewide office in 2014, so I won't be sad if he doesn't clear the primary.  Then again, maybe he's the perfect conservative for Sam Houston to run against in the fall, in a Ken Cuccinelli sort of way.  You never can tell.

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