The Settlement of the Wind Turbine Lawsuit
Reserving Judgment Until the Terms Are Announced
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
As predicted, the apparent settlement of the wind turbine lawsuit has sent the ex-mayor and his sycophants into a tailspin. From all accounts, they are witnessing the crumbling of this year’s faux election issue, and that has left them utterly desperate to find some way to cast the matter in a negative light. It is of no concern to them that this is a positive development for Addison. For these folks, if it’s not their development, they attack it. So, they continue to beat what is quickly becoming a very dead drum.
The level of misinformation is astonishing. Yet, they claim to have spoken to an unnamed “outside expert” with “no ties to Addison.” You have to laugh. After all, these are the same folks who published the supposedly unsolicited letter from the North Carolina politico. You may remember my three-part “I Smell A Rat” series, where we dispelled the myth of the North Carolina claims and exposed this individual as a local resident. And lo and behold, there was Mr. North Carolina on the campaign finance report of their candidate, to whom he was a paid political consultant. So, you’ll pardon me if choked a bit on the “outside expert” nonsense, especially when I read the rest of the misinformation. We’ve all seen that song and dance before.
So, let’s dispel a few myths from the negative spinners.
First, they cite the court’s file, which reflects an announcement of settled. I say “announcement” because that’s what we lawyers do on the Thursday before a Monday trial setting, as required by the Dallas County local rules. Upon receiving an announcement of settled, the court removes the case from the next week’s trial docket, and usually issues an order setting a deadline for submission of final documents. Totally routine and utterly insignificant.
Second, there is Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which states that to be enforceable, settlements must either be announced on the record (typically happens when everyone is present at the courthouse for some reason) or reduced to writing and signed by the party to be charged (fancy language for the person with the obligations under the settlement). I’m sure when the Texas Supreme Court promulgated that rule, they thought of Yogi Berra, who famously said: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” For us lawyers, that is ever so true. The devil is always in the details, hashed out in the written settlement documents. They take time to draft, particularly in cases like this one where there are multiple parties. Again, totally routine and utterly insignificant.
Third, without any knowledge of any of the terms, the negative spinners continue to foment the false narrative that the settlement includes a confidentiality provision. There is no basis for this nonsense. Although confidentiality provisions are common, they are not typical in cases involving municipalities, precisely because taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent (or recouped). But then, these same folks supported the prior administration’s improper suppression of Lea Dunn’s key memo, and the use of taxpayer dollars to buy Lea’s silence in her separation agreement. The suppression of such information made their 2016 campaign of lies possible. I’ve written much about it. For now, I’ll leave it at this: these folks know nothing about accountability.
Look, I doubt seriously that this council would agree to confidentiality. It’s not their style. They are truthful and transparent to a fault. I’m betting they agree with me that the public does have a right to know the details of this settlement. And for that reason, I’m quite certain that we’ll learn the terms as soon as the ink on the settlement documents is dry.
In the meantime, don’t believe the negative spinners. Let’s keep Addison moving in a positive direction. It’s the Addison Way. And so is patience, as we wait for news of the settlement terms.