Thursday, January 17, 2008
From Water to Kool-Aid
The recent water wars between Florida and Georgia have caused even some of the staunchest “no such thing as climate change” people to sit up and take notice that water is indeed a finite resource. The water war continues locally, with the Nestle Corporation donning the benevolent local disguise of Poland Spring, attempting to suck our local aquifers dry, so that they can sell our water to the highest bidder.
Some of our local legislators are getting involved. Last week in Concord, I was present for a hearing on HB 1353, An act relative to local control of water resources. This is bi-partisan legislation, sponsored locally by Representative Tom Buco. One of the other sponsors is Rep. Neal Kurk. As I signed in, in support of the bill, I noticed that Rep. Gene Chandler’s name was at the top of the page - against the bill. Being on the same side as Neal Kurk was shocking enough. If Gene Chandler and I were in agreement, surely a plague of locusts would be unleashed upon the Mt. Washington Valley.
The State of New Hampshire is the steward of NH’s water resources. The Department of Environmental Services (DES) makes the decisions about large groundwater withdrawals. They seem to come down (as everything in NH does) on the side of business, so it was no surprise to hear them testify that they wish to continue to maintain their control. There were lobbyists on hand to echo the same sentiments. The lobbyist for Ski NH does NOT want the townspeople involved in the decision making process. Those silly townspeople might eventually rebel at the need for a ski area to suck up millions of gallons of water to make snow in October or November. They could buy into the global warming conspiracy and decide to protect their water supply - and heaven knows, we can’t have that.
Gary Abbot, the lobbyist for the Association of General Contractors supports the perpetuation of DES as the deciding body. He is concerned about who would be making technical decisions - certainly a valid concern. Steve DelDeo, lobbyist for the NH Water Works Association, said that the bill would exacerbate water issues already in place. It’s safe to say, bill or no bill, water issues will continue to exacerbate.
During the course of his testimony, Rep. Kurk said that there must be public input into public policy regarding finite resources. This bill as it is written has some flaws. As it stands, the bill requires an affirmative vote of municipal legislative bodies prior to any large groundwater withdrawal. If 10 towns surrounded an aquifer, or if an aquifer involved one or two states, this could be a real problem. Reps. Harry Merrow and Howard Cunningham both testified that they support the intent, but not the bill as it is currently written.
Willie Farnum was sent to the hearing by the Tamworth Board of Selectmen. He echoed the concerns of Merrow and Cunningham. Farnum also brought up the fact that if towns are not in control of the decision making process, they can incur greater expenses (as did the town of Moultonborough with Castle Springs) which can have profound impact on a community. Farnum said that each community should have the right to say no to a bottling plant. Crow Dickinson of Conway supports the bill, finding it a step in the right direction. He agreed with the others who feel that the bill needs fine tuning. There were about 30 people present for the hearing, including half a dozen folks from Carroll County. Those Carroll County legislators who aren’t paying attention to water better listen up. The control of our water supplies is among the most important issues we face. Water is essential to life - which means that those who prefer to pander to business better think twice. Business may line pockets, but constituents vote you in and they can just as easily vote you out.
The bill was heard by the Resources, Recreation, and Development Committee. This was my first experience with this particular committee, and I was impressed by their willingness to work on this bill in subcommittee, in order to make it workable. This spirit of cooperation guarantees not only better legislation, but better feelings about the process.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an editorial about the “dark side” of GOP presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul. I wrote: “Heaven help the hapless writer who actually uses critical thinking skills in a story on Paul. Legions of Paul’s cultish supporters show up to tell the writer how wrong he is for trying to hold Paul accountable for his own statements.” That proved to be most prescient. Within 15 minutes of the column being published on my blog, I began to get anonymous emails. By morning I was getting anonymous hate emails, with threats. I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen enough “Paullowers” on the internet to know what was coming.
Jennifer Call wasn’t so lucky. Ms. Call is the town clerk of Sutton, NH. There was an error in the paperwork that was turned in to the state, after the primary. It seems Paul had 31 votes in Sutton, but somehow that number hadn’t been transcribed on to the return sheet. As anyone who has ever participated in the ballot counting process is aware, it can be noisy - and at the end of a long day, mistakes can be made. The error was easily cleared up in the morning, the proper numbers faxed to the Secretary of State - and then the phone began to ring. The Paullowers had decided that Ms. Call was the ringleader in the plot to defraud Ron Paul of his 31 votes. Callers accused her of fraud, of treason, and at least one said she ought to be shot. They pretended to be media, in order to trick her into speaking with them. Most of them were from out of state. They harassed her at home. Ms. Call had to request an unlisted phone number.
The zombies have moved on, undoubtedly off to harass other people in other states. I’ve been wary of judging a candidate by his supporters (as a Kucinich staffer you can understand why) but in this case, I’ve lost all reluctance. This is not an ordinary campaign, this is a cult. Some campaigns become cults - the LaRoucheites, for example. LaRoucheites are extremely annoying, but not menacing. The Paullowers are so righteous in their brainwashed anger that they will threaten anyone who dares to disagree with their leader - and anyone unlucky enough to make a mistake.
“So, I guess when you mix Kool-Aid with bongwater… you get a Ron Paul supporter.” V the K, commenting on the Flopping Aces blog.
Posted by susanthe at 11:41 AM