Finger-pointing in the Wrong Direction?

Posted In: Politics, State, Local, Opinion,   From Issue 625   By: Michelle Hurd Riddick

02nd November, 2006     0

Editor, The Review:
 
I must take serious issue with comments by Commissioner Ken Horn in his recent Review Magazine interview regarding his candidacy for the state house seat being vacated by Rep. Kahn.

Ken Horn once again states special interest groups are having backroom meetings with state and federal agencies with regard to the Saginaw River, dioxin, the dredge project etc. Besides it not being true I think it worth mentioning this is the same Ken Horn who never once objected to the 8 months of absolute darkness in the closed-door negotiations between Dow Chemical and the state. The same Ken Horn who never gave a care about dioxin until he decided to run for state rep. The same Ken Horn who throwing his hat into the Great Lakes legislative ring didn't take up for public health, the right to fish safely or have a backyard free from Dow's dioxin. Instead he sided with Dow Chemical, the Chamber of Commerce and Representative Moolenaar of Midland who continue to ignore that Dow Chemical is responsible for the dioxin contamination in our communities, parks, yards, rivers and Lake Huron. They lay blame on the citizens in the class action, the environmental community, the DEQ BUT never lay blame on the responsible party: Dow Chemical.

Ken Horn goes on to say because of these backroom dealings " we the people" will be forced to pay an additional $1,000,000 dollars. Not true. The additional costs are a direct result of poor planning on the part of the Saginaw County Public Works Director, Jim Koski, and the Corp of Engineers (CoE). Cost increases are due to the need (to meet state law) for cross dikes and a slurry wall intended to contain highly contaminated sediments. These so called " betterments" are being required because Mr. Koski and the CoE failed to fully assess the site location and geology before committing to dumping the dredgings into a slurry pit, within the floodplain of the Saginaw River.
Want to talk costs, Ken Horn?   How much do you think it has cost the taxpayers of Michigan for 30 years of Dow Chemical's political maneuvering, legal threats, deficient work plans, a plethora of studies and deliberate attempts to delay investigation or cleanup. I suggest you factor in the cost of state and federal employees (DNR, DEQ, MDCH, EPA, CDC) trying to protect public health, recreation and natural resources. Dow is costing the taxpayers millions wasting the time of these agencies.

Ken Horn should pay closer attention to what Mr. Koski is doing and he should acknowledge that these highly contaminated sediments in the Saginaw River cannot be contained in the proposed slurry pit. Ken Horn should also respect the backyards and people being forced to live next to this site. Most of all Ken Horn should respect the right of people, and taxpayers to have access to information and to engage in conversations with public employees over resources they own.

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

Ken Horn's Reply:

My first reaction to Michelle Hurd-Riddick's tirade is, "lady thou dost protest too much." I said in the Review forum that I'm furious that our State and Federal agencies are playing backroom politics, which incite false outrage in our community. I did not include her special interest group in this comment.

I did not say, "special interests groups are having backroom meetings with state and federal agencies with regard to the Saginaw River" as Michelle Hurd-Riddick suggests; those are her words.

 I did say that our government agencies have a cozy relationship with extreme special interest groups, which may or may not include Michelle, but she would know better than I. Michelle was the very first person to come to the aid of the DEQ when I challenged them at my Legislative sub-committee over House Bill 4617. She sat side by side with them as I fought the property rights violations they continue to carry out, as they hold 8,800 of our friends and neighbors hostage along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers.

Michelle and I had a private meeting a year ago and she is well aware that I'm not debating her commitment to the health concerns along the river; I'm fighting for the rights of my homestead property owners to remove the label of "industrial facility". Industrial facility designations have a specific purpose as economic development tools. The label is onerous for more than one reason; at its worst this designation legally binds the owner to "mitigate and remediate" the damage to their soil. The homeowners are not the responsible party and should be held harmless.

My greatest concern with Ms. Hurd-Riddick is that she does not have a solution, and will not allow anyone else to suggest one, because she has a very personal bone to pick with one are corporation. She will conveniently ignore a very comprehensive University of Michigan Study, because of her utter distrust and because the study does not meet her conclusions.

Michelle and I spoke at SVSU, and we agree more than she lets on in her letter. If Michelle is offended at the notion of a cozy relationship between her group and state agencies she needs to look at that more introspectively.

In the meantime, I call for all parties to bring a safe and reasonable settlement to this dioxin issue, and I continue to call on the Governor to remove that insidious facilities designation from our homestead properties. My obligation, first and foremost, is to my resident constituents. I will fight to my last breath for freedom and liberty, and for each American citizen's property rights.

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