Oyster backroom deal gets another setback
An Austin State District Judge has sent the Chambers Liberty County Navigation District back to Anahuac with another stinging legal defeat. Maybe it is time for the politicians and their buddies to end their play to get rich from the oyster business.
After stopping the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from giving oyster leases the chance to transplant oysters to safer waters in October, Judges in Galveston and Austin have sent a clear message.
Judge Lonnie Cox in Galveston has issued a temporary injunction to stop STORM, the politically connected company at the heart of this oyster fight, from interfering with other oyster boats trying to make a living in Galveston Bay.
Now Austin Judge Rhonda Hurley of the 98thDistrict Court in Austin has rejected an attempt by Chambers County politicians from getting the State Capitol courts out of this oyster battle.
STORM, a Chambers County company run by local judge Tracy Woody received a lease from the navigation district to control 23,000 acres of oyster production in Galveston Bay, about half the crop. Other companies already have existing leases from the State Parks and Wildlife. The state has gone to court, alleging the lease deal was illegal.
The CLCND lease to STORM. reeks of insider dealing. CLCND leased the land for 30 years, for $1.50 an acre a year, even though the oyster production in this public water is worth tens of millions of dollars. There were no requests for proposals, no competition, and no advance notice of the deal in clear violation of state transparency laws.
CLCND Commissioners are appointed by Liberty and Chambers County Officials.
“We applaud the State of Texas for defending Galveston Bay from this illegal oyster grab,” says Lisa Halili of Prestige Oysters. “Taxpayers in Chambers and Liberty County should rise up and demand these commissioners rescind this deal, or resign. We will not stop until this corruption is fully exposed.”