Sunday, November 04, 2007

Patterson Promises News on Sale of Christmas Mountains

If we go by the hints he's been dropping, today is the day Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson unveils his plans to sell the Christmas Mountains.

Patterson wants us to believe that the land board will be approving a bid so superior to the option of placing the land with the National Park Service, as was originally intended, that it will make the public forget that Patterson is selling our public land to a private developer.
“[T]he outcome I have in mind WILL result in better stewardship, and better access than a simple transfer to the NPS. All of this will become apparent after the bids are recd [sic] and the winner is selected (assuming we have a winner).”
Last week's profile of Jerry Patterson in the Dallas Morning News was a fawning piece with a title that tells it all: "Texas Land Commissioner Patterson keeps cool, packs heat." The gist of this article is that Patterson is an ideologue who is just standing by his principles.
He has already taken quite a bit for telling National Park Service officials that if they wouldn't let people carry firearms on the property, he wouldn't sell it to them. No guns, he told them, no deal.
That's as close as the article gets to explaining the real reason Patterson has drawn the ire of environmentalists. By buying into Patterson's argument that he comes in for so much criticism because of his stand on guns, the author completely misses the point - Patterson is selling public land, donated and designated by the donor for preservation and the enjoyment of the public, to private developers in defiance of common sense, contractual obligation and ethical responsibility.

Patterson is moving forward with this sale despite that fact that the sale doesn't comply with a key provision in the original contract and breaks a promise made by the state's previous land commissioner to the donors. Whether it's pure cronyism, or some misguided libertarian impulse, it's a flagrant misuse of public office.

Patterson, who said the state won't comply with a provision in the contract giving the original donors a say before anyone else acquires the property, is pushing forward with the sale. The land office reported two bids before a 10 a.m. deadline on Wednesday. The School Land Board, over which Patterson presides, is expected to select a winner next week.

Conservation Fund President Larry Selzer said Wednesday that it was at the request of state officials that his organization donated the property to the General Land Office in the first place. He said the state wanted to preserve the property and so specifically committed to the donors that the mountains would remain in public hands.

Glenn Smith at BOR sums it up when he asks:

How is it Jerry Patterson believes this land that's our is his land?

He was greatly offended last year when I raised objections to the sale of the most pristine part of the Black Gap Wildlife Refuge. He went so far as to alter a map he gave to reporters to try and show he land he wanted to sell was not part of the Refuge, which everyone knows it was.

Thin-skinned and mule-headed, Patterson plays Chupacabra to Texas natural treasures. Like the legendary Mexican monster does to chicken blood, Patterson sneaks around at night sucking the land right out from under our feet.

Now it's the Christmas mountains he wants to sell, and Patterson is more full of stuffing than a Christmas turkey. Today's NYT piece on this tragedy by Ralph Blumenthal is solid. Read it.

According to the FWST, the announcement may come this afternoon.
In a tantalizing news release issued Friday, Patterson vowed to make a "surprise announcement regarding the sale of Christmas Mountains." He called a news conference for 2:30 p.m. Monday.
We'll keep you posted.

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