Archive for January, 2010

Indicted

WOW

That is all I can say! Ruffin Poole was indicted on 51 charges. He’s being described as ex. NC Gov Easley’s right hand man. He showed up at the Federal Building in downtown Raleigh this morning…in cuffs. I was at the Fed Building this afternoon handing out press packets to local news affiliates for Waterfront Sportsman and the EIC.

I stood across the street talking with a member from our group and as I looked at the Fed Building I thought to myself, “My god…what have we become?”

When I read the press packet information I just shook my head in sadness, disgust, and anger at the opening sentence, “How much damage has the Hunt/Easley/Perdue dynasty of misappropriations of environmental funds done to Homeland Security and the well being of our military and their families in the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan?”

How could you? That’s what I would ask these gov’t officials. We ALL have to live on this Earth…regardless of our political affiliations, ethnicity, social class, creed, religious beliefs, etc. etc. etc. Why would elected “trusted” officials ALLOW, CONDONE, and ASSIST in acts that have harmed and killed people in NC. Why would they? How could they? How do they sleep at night? How do they look their children and grandchildren in the face KNOWING the water they drink is contaminated? And to allow our military bases to become contaminated is LOW. I come from a military fam and know quite a few ppl still enlisted. Our military personnel and their families go through a lot…and now they have to be exposed to toxic waste on the bases in NC. Disrespectful, dishonorable, and shameful.

I’ve been working withWFS and EIC for almost a year and not once have I felt that they should give up. The only thing I’ve felt is that the group should not have to exist. We shouldn’t have to band together to expose these atrocities, because these atrocities shouldn’t even be happening. We shouldn’t have to witness the spreading of sludge on the grounds of an elementary school. We shouldn’t have to be banding together protesting the mining of Uranium in a climate that’s not suitable to do so. We shouldn’t be witnessing our shorelines disappearing. We shouldn’t be getting sick from drinking and bathing in tap water. We shouldn’t have to watch our govt officials and their constituents get indicted for the mess that they’ve done.

To quote Michael Jackson, “Look what we’ve done to the world…look what we’ve done.”

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NC Democrats must again overcome corruption rap

By GARY D. ROBERTSON – Associated Press Writer
Tags: NC Capitol Letter

RALEIGH, N.C. — For the past decade, North Carolina Democrats in charge of state government have been successful persuading the public they’re unlike fellow party colleagues who’ve ended up behind bars.

Democrats have remained in power in the Legislature and at the Executive Mansion despite the news of illegal activities that sent then-House Speaker Jim Black, Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps and Rep. Thomas Wright to prison.

They’ve done so while passing tougher ethics and campaign finance laws, and even expelling Wright from the Legislature. At the same time, they’ve had political advantages to get their message out, such as outraising Republicans on campaign dollars, pushing education initiatives and presiding during a span largely marked by growth and prosperity in the state.

Last week’s indictment of corruption charges against Ruffin Poole, a close aide to former Gov. Mike Easley, however, comes when Democrats lack the advantages of recent years.

The state is struggling with 11 percent unemployment during a deep recession that caused Democratic lawmakers to approve higher taxes. Their campaign fundraising advantage is threatened by departures and retirements of prolific state Senate fundraisers.

Add last week’s GOP victory in the U.S. Senate race in liberal Massachusetts and angst over the health care overhaul in Washington and it may prove more difficult for Democrats leading into the 2010 elections to counter any perceptions that they’re associated with another federal investigation that could unearth more indictments.

“This could be a scenario where you have the megastorm, where you have just a terrible economy, you have unrest and anger with the electorate and then you have (corruption) on top of it,” said Brad Crone, a longtime Democratic consultant in Raleigh. “It’s been a constant drumbeat … there will be a price to pay for it.”

Poole is accused of 51 counts, including bribery, racketeering, money laundering and extortion during his years as Easley’s personal assistant and special counsel.

The indictment describes Poole, 37, as the “go-to guy” to get things done in Easley’s office, with people calling him “the little governor” because of Easley’s reliance on him to assist political supporters.

Poole took trips on the checkbook of a Wilmington investor and Easley political supporter while helping expedite projects in which the financier and others had invested, according to the indictment. He also made returns of at least 25 percent by investing his money in some of those same coastal developments, prosecutors allege.

“Never before have you seen an allegation of corruption going that close to the governor’s office in modern history,” Crone said.

Republicans jumped on the charges, with state GOP chairman Tom Fetzer calling it part of the “culture of corruption that has risen out of a century of one-party dominance in state government.”

Democrats have sat in the Executive Mansion since 1993 and held almost continuously the power in the Legislature since the late 1890s. Party leaders say they’re disgusted by the charges, if true, but argue they’ve been leading on ethics issues for years.

“We have changed the culture in the Legislature,” said House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, adding they’ll consider other restrictions when lawmakers reconvene in May, if necessary. “I’m a citizen of North Carolina. I want it to be cleaned up.”

The Legislature passed sweeping new rules essentially banning gifts to lawmakers and top executive branch leaders in 2006 and expelled Wright for unethical behavior.

Gov. Beverly Perdue also has demanded tougher gift bans in the wake of investigations of free meals from vendors to some state employees and local ABC boards.

Perdue feels the indictment “is a sorry distraction for the people of North Carolina, and we are all tired of it,” said Chrissy Pearson, her spokeswoman.

Some Republicans have gotten in trouble with the law, too, although the largest headlines have been left for the Democrats because of their majority status in government.

In previous election years, the corruption associated with Black and Wright didn’t bleed over into other legislative districts by hurting the prospects of other Democratic incumbents just by association. It shouldn’t happen this year, either, Hackney said.

“I don’t see how Ruffin Poole’s indictment affects somebody running for a House seat in eastern North Carolina if there’s no direct connection,” said Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategists who used to work with former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt.

Hackney and other Democrats are hopeful the economy will turn around by the November elections so they’ll have some more positive things to talk about with voters.

Easley wasn’t accused of wrongdoing in the indictment and his attorney said he wasn’t aware of Poole’s alleged conduct.

Activities surrounding Easley while he was governor have been the subject of federal and state investigations in the year since he left office in January 2009. Neither probe is complete.

A lot will depend on whether Easley is charged with crimes. Democratic legislative candidates statewide would have to respond against more than just the “little governor,” but the public face of the state party for eight years.

Comments:

I’ve said time-n-time again…greed/hubris/avarice know no party line, no creed, no religion, no color. There is corruption w/in all parties. There are back door deals, bathroom soirees, etc. I’m a victim starting back in the mid ’80’s when I complained about the water at my home in Pamlico County. Unbeknownst to me, I was railroaded by the AG (Easley back then, Hunt was Guv, and Sec of State was Rufus) and it cost me, my family, my biz partners a whole chain of very successful retail stores.

So, I became a real estate developer. Guess what?! I ran headlong into the toxic water issue AGAIN. I’ve bumped into a series of environmental/developmental injustices along the way & am now known as Forest Gump of the Environment.

The powers-that-be created a Frankenstein. There’s no satisfaction in revenge when people are dying from toxic water and thousands of acres of our coast sink beneath the waterline.

Dale Swiggett
Waterfront Sportsman & the EIC

Waterfront Sportsman Remembers R. Horace Swiggett, Jr

BURLINGTON — Mr. R. Horace Swiggett, Jr., age 77, died Monday, January 18, 2010 at the Hospice Home.

Born on September 8, 1932 he was the son of the late Robert Horace Swiggett, Sr. and Dovie White Swiggett. He was married for 57 years to Margaret Jarrett Swiggett who survives. Mr. Swiggett was a graduate of Duke Law School, was a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Alamance County Bar Association, Academy of Trial Lawyers of the Carolinas, and a member of the 50 Years North Carolina Attorneys. He also served on counsel for the Environmental Investigation Coalition.

In previous years he practiced in Alamance and Guilford counties as an advocate for harmed parties and in his words ‘keeping hope alive for those who need it the most.’

He was a true waterfront sportsman and enjoyed traveling with his wife Margaret in their motor home on numerous trips to visit with family members. Horace was an avid fisherman, hunter and a member of the “OO” Hunt Club.

Mr. Swiggett is survived by his wife of the home; sons, Robert Horace Swiggett, III of Burlington, M. Dale Swiggett and wife Cindy of New Bern, and David M. Swiggett and wife Jackie of Crystal River, Fla.; a daughter, Rebecca “Becky” and husband Craven Mitchell of Farmer City, Ill.; grandchildren, Julie Hope Swiggett, Daniel Swiggett, Matt Swiggett, Timothy Swiggett, Nathan Swiggett, Scott Swiggett, Trey Mitchell and Cody Mitchell; great grandchildren, Hailey Swiggett, Alexis Swiggett and Alistair Swiggett.

He was preceded in death by three sisters; Lois Hightower, Doris Kerr, and Bobbie McGuire.

The funeral service will be will be held 2 p.m. January 22, Northside Presbyterian Church by Pastor Jim Mitchell. Interment will follow at Alamance Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends and supporters from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday evening at the funeral home and other times at the home.

Memorials are asked to be made to the R. Horace Swiggett Institute of Environmental Politics, 221 Jupiter Rd. Weaverville, N.C. 28787. This think tank and school offers new support for academics and professionals to improve continuing education of instruction of principles of true science and ethics. The curriculum was developed for attorneys, accountants, and public servants to improve coordination of public policy, the environment and quality of life. The school is named in his honor for his love of the environment and lifelong dedication to help mankind.

Wendell Falls Development fined $21,000 by EPA

Original post: http://www.indyweekblogs.com/triangulator/2009/10/20/wendell-falls-development-fined-21000-by-epa/comment-page-1/#comment-24196

By: Lisa Sorg

Wendell Falls Development has been fined $21,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act, according to an EPA press release issued today.
The financially embattled developer, which owns what was once projected to be the largest subdivision in Wake County—4,000 homes on 1,400 acres—was cited for alleged stormwater-related violations. The violations reportedly occurred at three construction sites, including Wendell Falls Parkway.
Earlier this year, ABC 11 TV reported that Wendell Falls owes the town of Wendell and Wake County $400,000 in delinquent taxes.
Seventeen companies or municipalities throughout the Southeast were penalized from July to September. Lake Glad Commercial, which operates the Highland Trails Commercial Center in Creedmoor, received a $5,000 penalty, also for violations related to stormwater runoff. According to an online property listing, the 249-acre mixed-use development on Highway 56 is for sale for a tidy $7 million.
The town of Rutherfordton was fined $900 for failing to comply with federal requirements in applying biosolids—byproducts from treated wastewater—that can be applied to land as fertilizer. However, if improperly applied or treated, the biosolids can expose people and animals to unsafe levels of bacteria and viruses.

Wow, where to begin? First off, let’s address storm water run-off. It’s caused by impervious surfaces (parking lots, roofs, etc). WalMart is the largest creator of storm water run-off from impervious surfaces created by vacant buildings, new roads, parking lots filled with cars leaking toxic fluids, and big box buildings. WalMart locations are fined daily by EPA. WalMart policies just look at the problem as ‘a cost of doing business.’

DENR/DWQ has a ZERO score on the water quality report card and promotes importation of out-of-state municipal sludge to be used to dilute medical waste, chemotherapy, and biotech waste. We have 1 billion fish killed in Neuse River over 18 years from New Bern, NC Wastewater plant at the intersection of Neuse Blvd & Glenbernie Dr. to prove this point. More importantly, we have Sen. Tony Rand and Bev Perdue funding city owned cancer clinics in Fayetteville to cover up Labcorp, Alamance Medical Center and UNC dumping billions of toxic medical specimens into Burlington and Orange Water Sewer Plants, then spreading sludge.

Fines do not improve water quality. Govs Hunt, Easley, & Perdue have simply over sold NC. Everyone must be rewarded to improve water quality, but only if land owners encouraged through tax credits will improve water quality.

NC HB 1567 “Tax Credit for Innovative Stormwater Controls” was created by Prof. Don Yelton and is the only chance for water quality to be improved in NC. The New Lake Jordan Rules do not even address land application of sludge, the principle threat to water quality worldwide. Also check out HB 1170 “Study on Sludge Application” & HB 1218 “No Sludge Spread on Certain Public Spaces.”

Dale Swiggett
Waterfront Sportsman & the Environmental Investigation Coalition

water_warrior 20 January 2010

Fern Shubert Announces NC Senate Campaign

http://www.topix.com/forum/city/pageland-sc/T1T4FL784KCD6E7JR#lastPost

Fern Shubert Announces NC Senate Campaign District 35 Union-Meck

Angry Voter

Asheville, NC

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#1

21 hrs ago
Thank God that Fern Shubert is stepping up to the call of much needed leadership for Union County!
Fern, a self employed CPA, is one of the smartest women in NC, and knows MORE about the statewide CORRUPTION than probably anyone else in the state!
She should have been elected Governor or maybe Auditor, but now UNION County can send her back officially!

Union County MUST send Fern Shubert BACK to the NC Senate for another term! Thanks for your support!

Bill Hargett

Waxhaw, NC

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#2

21 hrs ago
I agree 100% Fern Shubert is an honest lady. She was a very influential state senator. If she had had the financial support Richard Vinroot had she might have won the Governor’s chair.

She was among the first to expose our crooked speaker of the house, Jim Black. In her gubernatorial campaign against Mike Easley she very carefully pointed out inaccuracies in his personal finances alluding to influence trading with powerful coastal NC developers. She has been proven correct by Easley’s appearance before the board of elections.

Fern is by far the best politician of either party to come out of Union County. She has the connections to get things moving. Regardless of your political party remember that a vote for Fern is a vote for honesty in our government.

water_warrior

Mebane, NC

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#3

2 hrs ago
This is Dale Swiggett, publisher of Waterfront Sportsman and co-founder of the Environmental Investigation Coalition and I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of collaborating w/ Fern on tracking down the corrupt politicos in bed w/ big businesses whose actions have seriously harmed all NC taxpayers and our environment.

Fern is a rare politician who does not hesitate to call out anyone (regardless of party affiliation) who is more interested in serving themselves and the industries throwing $$ at politicos for special favors instead of the People who elected them in public office. And I have no doubt that Fern will accomplish what others fail to do – address the People’s existing needs and give EVERYONE in the district fair representation in Raleigh.

Thank you, Fern! All of us at WFS and the EIC have known for a while that you would be called up to justly serve the People once again. It’s impossible to keep a good woman like you down 🙂

We’re behind you all the way!

From the News and Observer: What’s in a cigarette? FDA to study ingredients

Before I even repost this…the title alone already made my face go into the “No Shit Sherlock” look. Wanna know what’s in a cig read the ingredients…do your own research. By now you should all know that cigs are full of all sorts of things. You wanna smoke…go ahead that’s your choice. Okay now to the article:

By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM – AP Tobacco Writer

RICHMOND, Va. — The Food and Drug Administration is working to lift the smokescreen clouding the ingredients used in cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In June, tobacco companies must tell the FDA their formulas for the first time, just as drugmakers have for decades. Manufacturers also will have to turn over any studies they’ve done on the effects of the ingredients.

It’s an early step for an agency just starting to flex muscles granted by a new law that took effect last June that gives it broad power to regulate tobacco far beyond the warnings now on packs, short of banning it outright.

Companies have long acknowledged using cocoa, coffee, menthol and other additives to make tobacco taste better. The new information will help the FDA determine which ingredients might also make tobacco more harmful or addictive. It will also use the data to develop standards for tobacco products and could ban some ingredients or combinations.

“Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don’t know what’s in them,” Lawrence R. Deyton, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s new Center for Tobacco Products and a physician, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

While the FDA must keep much of the data confidential under trade-secret laws, it will publish a list of harmful and potentially harmful ingredients by June 2011. Under the law, it must be listed by quantity in each brand.

Some tobacco companies have voluntarily listed product ingredients online in recent years but never with the specificity they must give the FDA, said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

For example, Altria Group Inc., based in Richmond and the parent company of the nation’s largest tobacco maker, Philip Morris USA, has posted general ingredients on its Web site since at least 1999.

Cigarette makers say their products include contain tobacco, water, sugar and flavorings, along with chemicals like diammonium phosphate, a chemical used to improve burn rate and taste, and ammonium hydroxide, used to improve the taste.

Scientific studies suggest those chemicals also could make the body more easily absorb nicotine, the active and addictive component of tobacco.

“Until now, the tobacco companies were free to manipulate their product in ways to maximize sales, no matter the impact on the number of people who died or became addicted,” Myers said. “The manner of disclosure previously made it impossible for the government to make any meaningful assessments.”

About 46 million people, or 20.6 percent of U.S. adult smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, down from about 24 percent 10 years ago. It also estimates that about 443,000 people in the U.S. die each year from diseases linked to smoking.

Tax increases, health concerns, smoking bans and social stigma continue to cut into the number of cigarettes sold, which were estimated to be down about 12.6 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year.

Cigarettes and their smoke contain more than 4,000 chemicals; among them are more than 60 known carcinogens, according to the American Cancer Society. But scientists say they can’t yet tell all they’ll learn from the new data because so little is known about how the chemicals combine to affect people.

“The reality is that we have known so little over time that it’s difficult to know with much accuracy what getting a good look is going to tell us about what we could do in the future,” said Dr. David Burns of the University of California-San Diego, scientific editor of several surgeon general reports on tobacco.

The real test is whether the FDA acts on the information it receives, said David Sweanor, a Canadian law professor and tobacco expert. Canadian authorities are collecting similar data, but they haven’t taken much action based on it, which is critical, he said. The European Union also has similar submission requirements.

Myers warned that a list of ingredients or an unexplained product label is “just as likely to mislead as it is to inform” if consumers don’t know about the relative effects of ingredients.

Altria has supported what it has called “tough but fair regulation.”

But its chief rivals – No. 2 Reynolds American Inc., parent company of R.J. Reynolds, and No. 3 Lorillard, both based in North Carolina – opposed the law. They said it would lock in Altria’s share of the market because its size gives it more resources to comply with regulations and future limits on marketing under the law. Altria’s brands include Marlboro, which held a 41.9 percent share of the U.S. cigarette market in the third quarter, according to Information Resources Inc.

Comment:

The most abused substances are alcohol, sugar and nicotine. All are poisons that people choose, no one twists their arms to consume.

So when is the FDA gonna’ tackle the really hard issue of food safety?! Toxic water has trickled down (sorry, but couldn’t help the bad pun) to our country’s food stocks, whether it be our crops being grown in sludge (bio-solids for the politically correct out there) or crops being nourished w/ reuse water from municipal sewer plants.

No one chooses to eat contaminated food, drink toxic water, or breathe in steam in their bath/shower w/ toxic water being used.

Oh yeah…history repeats itself, right? The tobacco industry had bought-n-paid for scientific opinions. Just like DENR and DWQ on state level all the way up to Federal level.

Just ask our military serving at Camp Lejeune and our other eastern military bases. Govnt wants to ban tobacco on our bases yet don’t give a hoot about soldiers getting sick and dying from toxic water.

Dale Swiggett

Mining Question?

Thank you Karen Maute:

http://www2.godanriver.com/gdr/news/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/danville_letters/article/mining_question/17116/

Mining question

By Published by The Editorial Board

Published: January 17, 2010

To the editor:

The Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority (DPRIFA)

consists of City council and Board of Supervisors members. According to state

code and local ordinance, the authority exists to enhance the economic base for

the member localities and to promote the health, safety, welfare convenience and

prosperity of inhabitants of the region and the commonwealth.

At present, DPRIFA is developing the Berry Hill Mega Park and has spent

approximately $13 million.

Pittsylvania County’s administrator has been quoted as saying that

installation of roads, utilities, erosion control, grading and making the site

into a park will cost $222 million.

Everyone is hopeful that this park will be developed resulting in long-term

employment and economic opportunity.

DPRIFA member and Supervisor Coy Harville was quoted as saying RIFA has no

intention of mining uranium at the Berry Hill megapark site. Parcels purchased

by DPRIFA have historic Marline uranium leases. DPRIFA now owns the mineral

rights in the megapark.

If no uranium mining and milling are planned for the megapark, why not pass a

resolution declaring that to be the case?

KAREN B. MAUTE

Mount Cross

Va. Beach weighs in on mining study

By Published by

The Editorial Board
Published: January

17, 2010

Here in the Dan River Region, the predominant public opinion about uranium

mining and milling appears to be, “Wait for the study’s results to come in and

then decide.”

If that’s how most people really feel, then it’s a triumph for Virginia

Uranium Inc.

For more than two years, the company wanted the National Academy of Sciences

to study uranium mining and milling. They’ve got the study from the agency they

wanted and the public has, for the most part, taken a stand on the sidelines.

How long people will remain there is anyone’s guess.

That hasn’t stopped Virginia Beach, which drinks Pittsylvania County water,

from taking a keen interest in what might happen at Coles Hill, the site of a

119-million pound deposit of uranium ore.

At about the time Virginia was placing a moratorium on uranium mining,

Virginia Beach was starting to fight Southside Virginia and the state of North

Carolina for the right to withdraw 60 million gallons of water a day from Lake

Gaston. Today, Virginia Beach depends on Lake Gaston water, and some of the

water in Lake Gaston flows past Virginia Uranium’s Coles Hill site.

For that reason, Virginia’s largest city is conducting a study of its own to

determine what would happen if a weather-related disaster at Coles Hill affected

the water supply it relies on.

“We’ve concluded that it’s very important (that) this be done,” said Thomas

Leahy, Virginia Beach’s director of public utilities. “… We think it’s a

question that has to be answered. No one else is going to do this study.”

The National Academy of Sciences is studying uranium mining and milling in

Virginia, not just the portion of Virginia about six miles northeast of Chatham

that sits atop billions of dollars worth of uranium ore.

Virginia Beach will spend $437,000 on its study. Pittsylvania County doesn’t

have that kind of money, of course, but even it did, it’s unlikely that it would

spend any money to study any aspect of the proposed project. The Board of

Supervisors can’t even bring itself to say that it doesn’t want uranium mining

or milling in the new industrial megapark it’s building with Danville off Berry

Hill Road.

Virginia Beach continued interest in this project — and its willingness to

put its money where its concern is — represents a wild card VUI most likely

never expected to see played.

Given the high stakes that are involved, we welcome any and every bit of

credible, third-party information about this complex project. Virginia Beach has

a stake in this project. Since 1998, they’ve consumed some of our water. If they

can’t drink it, we certainly can’t drink it.