The proposal by Senator Troy Fraser to change the governance of the Texas Water Development Board, detailed by Asher Price in Sunday’s Austin American-Statesman, is scary stuff.
Problem #1: It’s the brainchild of a politician with whom Rick Perry is joined at the hip.
Problem #2: Why change the governance of an agency that has never had a hint of scandal and works just fine as it is?
Problem #3: Fraser’s proposal changes the management structure from a citizen board to professional, paid bureaucrats who are appointed by and report to …Rick Perry
Problem #4: Does the Legislature really want hand over to Perry a $2 billion pot of money after the way CPRIT squandered $3 billion?
Price writes in the story:
[The governance proposal] “is a really bad idea,” said Jack Hunt, who retired from the board in 2011 after 13 years and, as the retired CEO of the King Ranch, fits the profile of most of the board members, who have run banks and large businesses.
Weir LaBatt, another former board member, said, “I don’t have an axe to grind with the governor . . . .” But it’s just power politics and not good for the State of Texas”.
Perry’s office made supportive noises about the bill. “It seeks to ensure that the agency tasked with overseeing this investment is properly structured to manage the increased activities of the board,” said a spokesman for the governor. The new board would “provide the appropriate oversight that the people of Texas expect with their tax dollars.”
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I hope that the Legislature rejects the Fraser-Perry governance proposal and takes the position, “Once burned, twice shy.” At the very least the governance proposal should be expanded to include (1) an inspector general; (2) regularly scheduled audits; and (3) an oversight board that reports to the speaker and lieutenant governor on a regular basis about issues it has uncovered. It might help if Attorney General Abbott, who sat on the oversight committee for CPRIT, actually pays attention to what the agency is doing. Alas, history has shown that if Perry is set on rewarding his pals, he’s not going to let anything stand in his way. Everything he touches, sooner or later, involves rewarding his friends.