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Advertise on the Tentacle

March 10, 2009

Misinformation and Playing Politics

Farrell Keough

Some interesting events have occurred over the last few weeks that are seemingly disparate, but in fact, have many commonalities. The main connection is the discussion of the Waste To Energy (WTE) plant.


Let’s review some recent actions by the anti-incinerator group. A place to start is the signs printed exclaiming “No Incinerator.” While catchy, these do not actually deal with the truth of the proposed facility. But that is politics and influencing the public, (even with falsehoods) is a way to achieve a desired end.


The WTE is a state-of-the-art plant to deal with our ever increasing waste. This facility will create some needed energy as well as reducing the volume of waste by up to 90%. Obviously, many more issues surround this plant, but that is not the intent of this column.


The current proposal given to the Board of County Commissioners is based on the most conservative pricing that could occur. In short, the price came in much higher than originally thought.  While it still will save the county money in the long run, it would also be prudent for the commissioners to outline the costs and show the public that money will be saved by this solution.


Some of those in the anti-incinerator camp have spoken to the costs. This is all well and fine and should be vetted. Some have also spoken to the particulates released from the stack. Again, this is valid as long as truthful information is disseminated. Unfortunately, many in this anti-group have presented misleading information with a purpose to falsely influence the public. We have become a society easily swayed by terms like “toxic,” even if the basis for concern is scant.


The anti-incinerator group has developed a large email list and consistently sends out blasts which present negative information. One will quickly realize they offer no viable alternative to our problems. Sending emails is a valid political process, but keep in mind the information is not necessarily reliable.


Recently, an email blast was sent out with a web page claiming to be a “parody” of this trash process. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first column on was a parody. This anti-incinerator web site attributed false quotes to private citizens as well as elected representatives. And to make matters worse, the author remained anonymous.


After many, many people received this blast, the truth of this false-parody come to light. A search of the website ownership indicated that Doug Pierce, (a recent appointee to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee – SWAC) was the writer. Once he was found out, he wrote an email to the commissioners, among others, indicating he wrote this out of “frustration” with the process occurring around the Waste-To-Energy review.


This is the kind of cowardice that is happening with the anti-WTE group. Many of those involved will not admit who they are; yet they send out these invective writings and misinformation. They waste the valuable time of our commissioners and write incredibly nasty emails to various public officials. In short, it is the “scorched earth” method of politics from the past.


This leads to another recent action that may seem disconnected but has a direct bearing. State Sen. Alex Mooney has forwarded a bill in the General Assembly which prevents siting a WTE near Monocacy National Battlefield. The bill had an immediate flaw as an existing WTE, (in Montgomery County) is already within the proximity of an existing battlefield. In short, Senator Mooney did not undertake the due diligence required to propose such a bill.


But the question is: why would Senator Mooney forward such a bill? It is rare to see him involved in local issues, so one has to question the motive behind this action.


The answer is rather simple. Senator Mooney is backing Michael Hough for state delegate to District 3-B. County Commissioner Charles Jenkins has also put his name in for that position. Making the incinerator an issue in the campaign is viewed as a way to differentiate the two candidates. This may well be a reasonable distinction, except for one fact – Michael Hough and Senator Mooney are unaware of the issues surrounding our serious problems with trash disposal.


This truth became evident when Mr. Hough spoke at the commissioners’ public hearing on the proposed trash burning plant. Mr. Hough read a speech against siting this facility at the McKinney location. Not only did Mr. Hough have no alternative, but he had little-to-no knowledge of the many proposals put forward by the commissioners as alternatives to a WTE. In short, Mr. Hough was trying to get good press, but was sorely lacking in his research of the actual issues surrounding this current proposition.


And this does not stop here. Senator Mooney has also indicated he has not researched the issues surrounding the incinerator proposal. Yet, he is proposing a bill limiting this process. One can only surmise this is a purely political maneuver.


How did Senator Mooney’s bill get forwarded? That, too, is a situation of strange bedfellows. On a recent Blaine Young Radio Show (WFMD 930 AM), Senator Mooney was interviewed. The host did an outstanding job of getting to the nub of the issues surrounding the death penalty bill that Senator Mooney voted to send to the full Senate floor. Was the senator bamboozled by the Democrats? It looks that way.


But I would posit that another action took place. The co-sponsor of Senator Mooney’s bill on the siting of a WTE is Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D., Montgomery). The Democrats needed a Republican vote in favor of ending the death penalty. Hence, one must wonder if a backroom trade was made to get Senator Mooney’s vote.


Is this the kind of representation we want in Fredrick County? Bills forwarded for political gain at the cost of local needs. If you have not already done so, take a strong look at Commissioner Charles Jenkins and see that his record is one of straight talk and no shenanigans.


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