24 Sep 2009

Who will speak for us? Redux

I first published this in February, 2008. Not much has changed and ALL of it still holds true as it did 19 months ago. See a few updated comments in red below.

Where to begin? Although I've been away for some time, I've kept up with all the goings on over the incinerator. And in my travels I've had the opportunity to learn much more than I ever wanted to know about incineration, and the pro-incinerator lobby. They are powerful and vocal and are everywhere. They are masterful at showing the best side of incineration and hiding the deep, dark deadly secrets.

They will show you the clean, Darlington-looking control rooms and allow you to speak with those who depend on the industry for their livelihoods. They will point out a school or daycare or apartment building or clothesline just within spitting distance of the incinerator and tell you everyone is content and happy with it. And it makes you want to spit.

If you travel a little farther afield and speak to people not on the industry's "okay list", you'll find a lot of worry, a lot of dissatisfaction, and a lot of anger surrounding the incineration industry. Especially from those who were led to believe that it was safe with few emissions because of all the scrubber technology and monitoring. They found out differently AFTER the fact. They found out that livestock on farms were affected and now it's not safe to drink the milk or eat the meat that has 'bio-accumulated' toxins in them. It has now begun to hurt the farming industry and as that knowledge spreads, it will devastate it.

They found out that they are having higher rates of birth defects in infants in areas within a 20 - 90 km radius of these stacks. They are having more chronic lung disease problems such as asthma (sound familiar?) and certain types of cancers.

But in most cases, their governments are silent. They don't want to be sued and they want to keep up their denials. There are some in government who are trying to speak out and are muzzled. There are many in the general population who are not muzzled and are being heard world-wide, if you care to listen.

Our elected (and unelected) officials have chosen not to listen. They are content to listen only to the paid EFW lobbyists the Region hired to promote incineration. Yes, that's right, they were hired to get it through the EA process and get it approved. They were not hired to do objective testing or studies - and that is more than evident from the so-called studies already completed. Look at the air quality statistics brought forward at Regional Committees and Council, and at Clarington Council numerous times. Those numbers came from the appendices of the Region's very own hired consultant's studies so they cannot dispute them. But those numbers were hidden deep in those pages and never, not once, brought forward by the consultants in all their presentations to committee, council, or the public at the public information sessions, even when asked about them. When air quality numbers are hundreds and thousands of times worse in Clarington than in East Gwillimbury, but they are rated as equal or both "neutral" for advantage or disadvantage, you know SOMETHING isn't right.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Confidence in the EA process has been dwindling as it has become increasingly evident that results appear to be manipulated in such a way as to promote or ensure the desired outcome of the process. This is not wild speculation. It seems so abundantly obvious if anyone takes the time to actually read not only the executive summary of these studies, but also dig deep into the bowels of the consultant's analysis to extract the fact from the faeces.

That so many of our elected officials are taken in by this spin and haven't taken the time to flush out the truth for themselves is highly disturbing. These are the people who are entrusted with our health and well-being, yet they refuse to listen to the groundswell of doctors in Durham Region who are vehemently opposed to this incinerator. They refuse to read the medical journals or numerous studies that would support the contention that there are emissions that cannot be captured by present technology - emissions that are bioaccumulative and dangerous to humans, especially in the fetal stages, infants and toddlers, and those with chronic illness who are already compromised. Tiny nanoparticles that can penetrate all organs including the brain through the blood/brain barrier.

They are entrusted with keeping our environment safe and healthy, yet refuse to listen to experts or environmental groups and choose instead to believe the consultants who are paid to PROMOTE incineration, the lobby groups and the industry.

They should be protecting agriculture in the region, including livestock operations, but have ignored expert studies and peer review literature which explains the risks and already proven effects on the food chain.

They should be caring a lot more than they are - and should show some common sense. Mayor Abernethy continues say they MUST push this EA through (though he neglects to say it should be done properly instead of FAST). The way this EA is being conducted, speed is so much more important than accuracy, and speed is a good way to hide many of the facts that should be made public knowledge.

Take the ridiculous reasons given by most Regional Councillors for approving the Courtice 01 site as the preferred site for the incinerator to be built - so that they can get ALL the information needed to make an informed decision. Then they went ahead and made a MAJOR decision in the EA process steps WITHOUT having the necessary information to make that decision. Talk about loony and backward. They needed to have technology information before choosing the site. They completely ignored the information given to them by residents and doctors and experts regarding air quality, for example, using that fake excuse that they want to get more information. Why make such an important decision without having the information first? We know why - it is an excuse they can use to push the EA farther and farther down the road and enable it to skip over information that should be given tough scrutiny. Instead it will get short shrift.

Sept 2009: And it did. This Regional Council approved the EA studies at their June 24th meeting, the last meeting prior to their summer vacation. This was BEFORE all the studies were completed, BEFORE all the results had been reported, BEFORE the Peer Reviews were completed, BEFORE the final of the DRAFT EA was completed.

Which means that ALL those ridiculous excuses for pushing this EA ahead at every step were just that - ridiculous excuses. That they wanted to have "ALL the information" before giving approval? If that were really true, wouldn't they have waited for the final studies and peer reviews to be completed before approving it? There is no excuse or justification for their actions that will make this community believe them or trust them again.

The public is not being fooled, other than a few who have listened to their politicians and not questioned any of the information or done any research themselves. And those are the people who won't be changed anyway. They're probably still using that old DDT in their yards and have kept the asbestos in their walls and don't worry about it because they're not sick yet. They probably smoke too (no lung cancer yet) and think there will be hundreds of jobs to run this new facility. They certainly haven't done their homework there, either.

The incinerator lobby can be excused to some degree for their shameless promotion of EFW, WtE, incineration or whatever you want to call it. They get paid for it. But the fact that our politicians in whom we place our trust are shamelessly promoting it and not even asking questions is totally inexcusable and disgraceful.

That our Mayor Abernethy and Regional Councillors Charlie Trim and Mary Novak put the Region AHEAD of Clarington is disgraceful and inexcusable. Where they got the idea that their first allegiance is to the Region, above Clarington and its residents is not hard to figure out. They are being used by the Region to get what the Region wants. And they haven't even figured that out yet.

Add Local Clarington Councillor Gord Robinson to this bunch. He betrayed his constituents in Clarington, including his agricultural constituents by flip-flopping and voting to approve the Host Community Agreement - an agreement that did NOT contain the monitoring that had been promised to Clarington residents previously by the Region, but ended up being too expensive for them to include in the final EA. No agricultural monitoring for effects from the incinerator. He told other Councillors it was included when it wasn't. A request from the Agricultural Committee was not even considered by Clarington Council because Councillor Robinson decided to betray us all and receive it for information, not vote to endorse it. While I was not present at that meeting, it was talked about afterward by residents and the information can be found in Council minutes.

It is unbelievable that these three (Abernethy, Trim, Novak) voted AGAINST the motion by Brian Nicholson that said if a municipality was an unwilling host, the region would not force an incinerator on them. They would not even protect their own municipality - the Region as always comes first. None of the three can claim they are being protective of Clarington or NOT putting the Region first in all things incinerator.

This is why these three must NEVER be allowed to be re-elected in Clarington. (Add Councillor Robinson so there are now four) They have given up their right to speak for us since they have never spoken for us. They speak for the Region at all times. This is something none of us should forget, no matter how this incineration farce turns out. They have not stood up for Clarington. Only our four local councillors have done so. Hats off to Councillors Foster, Hooper, Woo and Robinson (REMOVE ROBINSON). They are the only ones looking our for our welfare, and it can't be easy with the pressure from the Region and from our Mayor. They deserve our gratitude and our support. And more than ever now.

Now comes the PR farce the Mayor is trying to foist upon the good citizens of Clarington. These people who will be speaking are not experts on incineration. They are promoters, lobbyists, but where are the experts? How can residents give their councillors questions to ask the presenters before they hear them speak? Our hands are tied and the Mayor knows it. That is why these people were invited by our Mayor are being promoted in this forum rather than at an open forum where residents can ask questions.

There is so much more to say on this subject and it will be said. The entire scenario as it is playing out simply disgusts me. All that I hold dear, namely fairness, openness, honesty, transparency, democracy... they are all missing from this entire process. The dirty little bag of tricks continues but is not fooling anybody. Instead it is strengthening those in opposition to this entire debacle. The word is rapidly spreading. They may have the votes at Regional Council to approve this incinerator. But WE have the votes at the ballot box, and we will not forget.

I reiterate: WE WILL NOT FORGET.

Watch now for all the green washing attempts by individual Councillors and Mayors who voted in favour of the incinerator without having all the facts first, without listening to the residents, without considering all the documented evidence against incineration and without regard for our health or that of our children. WITHOUT having any proof that is is SAFE. The best that could be said by our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kyle, was that he couldn't find irrefutable proof that it ISN'T safe. But he also could not find proof that it IS safe.

Absence of proof is not proof of absence. Whatever happened to the Precautionary Principle?

18 comments:

  1. You're right, WE WILL NOT FORGET!

    Those Regional Councillors who voted in favour of the incinerator:

    Crawford (Ajax)
    O'Connor (Brock)
    Grant (Brock)
    Abernethy (Clarington)
    Novak (Clarington)
    Trim (Clarington)
    Pidwerbecki (Oshawa)
    Johnson (Pickering)
    McLean (Pickering)
    Ryan (Pickering)
    McMillen (Scugog)
    Pearce (Scugog)
    Herrema (Uxbridge)
    Shepherd (Uxbridge)
    Emm (Whitby)
    Perkins (Whitby)

    The above must all be defeated in 2010!! Especially Abernethy, Trim, Novak, Perkins, Pidwerbecki, O'Connor and Johnston

    The following voted for no incinerator, and we must work hard to see them all re-elected in 2010

    Jordan (Ajax)
    Parish (Ajax)
    Cullen (Oshawa)
    Gray (Oshawa)
    Henry (Oshawa)
    Kolodzie (Oshawa)
    Lutczyk (Oshawa)
    Neal (Oshawa)
    Nicholson (Oshawa)
    Littley (Pickering)
    Drumm (Whitby)
    Mitchell (Whitby)

    Locally (Clarington) we must support Woo, Foster, and Hooper, and we will see the end of Robinson for sure!

    Oh yes, and let's not forget our good pal Roger 'Mao' Anderson: this bully must go!!

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  2. In the main blog, the webmaster cites a suspected "green-washing" by pro-incineration Councillors and Mayors between now and Nov., 2010, and I dare say he is probably correct.

    This made me think of the entire process by which we in Clarington (and Durham) ended up with the EFW breezing through Regional Council.

    A play on words then would bring me to think of some of the colours (other than 'green'...as in washing).

    There's 'yelllow' - that's what Mayor Abernethy and Councillors Trim, Novak and Robinson are. They, along with many elected reps outside of Clarington are all afraid of our unelected Regional Chair (Anderson).

    There's 'blue' - the way most of these same people will feel after Nov., 2010.

    There's 'black' - that describes the day in June when these same folks gave the nod of approval for the incinerator.

    There's 'red' - the colour many residents are feeling due to the democratic deficit we have in Clarington and Durham.

    Then there's 'white' - that describes the colour of the elephant.

    Finally, there's 'brown' - that describes the colour of the crap we were fed by the incinerator salesmen/consultants(?) throughout the entire scam.

    My take on 'green' will be the colour of the money it will cost us in increased taxes, the money that will be lost due to devalued real estate values, all the money that will be going from here to the operators (Covanta) in the USA...and they call this a made in Durham solution; I think not.

    Green is also the colour of the leaves on local fruit/vegetables/livestock feed, etc., all of which will be tainted; that will put a major dent in that industry, while the incinerator will produce about 30 full-time jobs - another made in Durham solution.

    The stack emissions will be spewn well beyond the borders of Durham, the bottom ash will be trucked to New York and the fly ash (the small portion that will be caught in the filters - not to be confused with the most dangerous nanoparticles that will be caught in your/your childrens lungs) will be shipped to somewhere like Sarnia...you call this a made in Durham solution? I would call it shades of 'grey'.

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  3. Hello,

    This is Elise from Rogers TV-Durham Region.
    The host of Talk Politics, Tom Calow would like to have you on Talk Politics to discuss matters to do with the incinerator. If you could give the producer, Debbie Seeney, a call at (905) 436-4102, we would love to have you as a guest on Thursday October 9/2009. We are live at 9 pm, so call time is 8:30. Please let us know if you are interested.

    Thanks,

    Elise Hawley

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  4. OK - here's a suggestion. Unless they fix it this time when they look at the Municipal Elections Act, there's a loophole about a mile wide. Candidates have a spending limit, but people who are not candidates have no limits at all. You can run weekly newspaper articles saying don't vote for incinerator supporters and there's NOTHING the candidate can do. Mark

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  5. How about incumbent mayors who use a "Mayor's Corner" in a newspaper or Clarington.net municipal publication as free campaign advertising? Or incumbents who get their pictures in the newspaper as much as possible or try to get their quotes in as much as possible? Looks like they have no real limits on this type of behaviour and they can "work the system".

    Those advantages don't go unnoticed. No election legislation will be able to stop up all the loopholes. Some candidates will find new ones.

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  6. News Alert (CP wire; dateline Oct. 21, 2009)

    CLARINGTON MAYOR CHARGED WITH FRAUD

    In a late breaking story, the Mayor of Clarington (Jim Abernethy) has been chaged with fraud for impersonating a 'leader'.
    The Mayor had no comment at the time of his arrest other than to say it was a "conten-chew-ous" issue.

    Three of his Council collegues, Regional Councillor Mary Novak, Regional Councillor Charlie Trim and Local Councillor Gordie Robinson were all named in the charges as filed, as being suspected of stupidity and arrogance in suporting the Mayor in his bid to please Durham Region Chair Roger Anderson rather than the good people of Clarington who elected these people to represent them; not Durham Region or the real winners in the incineration battle, Covanta, Jacques Whitford and York Region.

    More to follow.

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  7. The best thing Abernethy could do for Clarington now, is to announce his pending retirement. That way, a 'real' leader would emerge to take back Clarington in 2010.

    As well, it would allow many of us to concentrate on working our collective tails off to ensure the likes of Trim, Novak and especially Robinson are not re-elected. They simply don't deserve it; not after bungling the incinerator debacle, our budget dilemma, etc.

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  8. I ran into a friend of Muttons the other day, asked him if he was running again for anything, he said that Mutton was going to challenge Anderson for Regional Chairman in 2010. So I went through the bit about Mutton working for Covanta and EFW etc. His friend says that Mutton quit the Covanta file.
    So now I have been asking around why would he walk from Covanta. Rumor has it that Mutton through his association with Covanta has found some very inaccurate numbers in the Deloitte business case and in the cumulative emission data. Stay tuned for this, someone needs to get him to talk on record.

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  9. That shouldn't surprise anyone. Many inaccuracies in numbers in the business case and in cumulative emission data were found and presented to Durham regional council before their decision. They refused to listen to anyone other than the Covanta - oops - Consultants. They also chose to believe the Covanta people (including Mutton) rather than their own constituents.

    What good could or would Mutton do now for residents? Would he push to have the incinerator plan scrapped? I doubt that. He is part of the reason it was approved, because of his lobbying.

    If he really wanted to do some good he would go to the Province with his information and his position or former position and try to stop it. Will he do that? I doubt that too. He would need to prove himself but that might not be politically expedient with other regional councillors if he wants their vote for Anderson's seat. Then again they should all be angry that Anderson duped them into voting for the expensive and polluting plan. If Mutton could convince them of that.

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  10. Regarding the size of the proposed facility and the partnership between Durham and York, keep your eye on York in the next short while; it could be interesting...

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  11. It looks like we will have a 400,000 tonne per year incinerator instead of 140,000. Does Durham have any say in the size, if York wants to oversize it because of their Dongara Pellet Plant problem? Did Durham Councillors give up their right to say no to such a size? Or will they have a chance to redeem themselves and a good excuse to turn back the clock on this ill-advised, cockamamy project?

    Can you imagine a 400,000 tpy garbage burner in Durham? Looks like York wins again, as it is winning on the Big Pipe and Big Stink in Pickering.

    Why does Regional Council continue to give away the store to York? There must be a reason. How does Regional Chair Anderson keep convincing them to do such things in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary? What does he hold over them, or are they merely unable to think logically and independently without GUIDANCE from their fearless leader? Is it the wheeler/dealer syndrome? Very sad for them.

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  12. Once again, as the note above would suggest, it's time we had an elected Chair in Durham.

    There are (unfortunatly) still a few countries in the world with dictators and even a few municipalities in the free world; it's time (here in the free world) to put a stop to coronations - let the 'leaders' answer to the people who pay them!

    We in Clarington should be asking our Council to endorse an 'elected Chair' position, to keep in step with other lakeshore municipalities like Oshawa, Ajax and Pickering.

    Our town motto says "Clarington - leading the way" Perhaps that was before Abernethy, Trim, Novak and Robinson.

    We certainly don't lead the way now. The above members, elected to represent the people are not doing so, and no doubt will all be tossed out in Nov., 2010.

    In the meantime, we should be pushing for a motion to elect the Chair. This is the most senior and powerful voice for Durham, and he/she should be accountable to the people. Right now, Anderson is not!

    On second thought, the real power is with the people come Nov., 2010.

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  13. To Mr. Richards and others we need to look beyond just the one issue of the EFW. WE need to get all of the councillors out for they have shown that they cannot balance a budget without the year over year tax increases. They all need to go. WE need to have a vote on EFW, we need a business plan that can freeze taxes without having to build houses over every thing to pay for it. We have many problems and our council can't see the forest for the trees. They all need to go.
    Clarington Tax Guardian

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  14. Time for a new blog!!!

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  15. Where are the supporting facts?

    Did you provide links in a previous post or something... because without them it looks like scare tactics.

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  16. Dear Frugal;

    The only thing you need to be "scared" of is the re-election of Mayor Abernethy, or any of his cohorts in Clarington Council like Charlie Trim, Mary Novak and especially, Gord Robinson. You also need to fear the re-election of some of their 'cronies' from other municipalities in Durham (see my first post for a list).

    Rumour has it that Abernethy and his inflated ego are prepared to run again. Same rumour would suggest that Charlie Trim will run against him for Mayor. However, a credible candidate should be able to clean up Clarington by defeating both of them at the same time! By vacating his Regional seat, Charlie will open the door for Local Councillor Robinson to try for a Regional post - should not be hard for a credible contender to knock him off. It is understood that Novak ( or as I call her, 'No-back') will try to retain her Regional seat. However, with her allowing the incinerator in her own Ward, without any resistance or sincere questions, it should be a fait accompli for any credible candidate to take her out. She garnered 3,081 votes in the 2006 election, but there were another 9000+ votes cast against her (split between 4 other contenders). The secret here is for only 1 or 2 serious contenders to run.

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  17. The heading of the current blog says "Who will speak for us?

    Let's see now, our Mayor has stated publicly that it is his job to speak for the Region (1 down, 6 to go). During the incineration debate, it was shown that Regional Councillor Charlie Trim and Regional Councillor Mary Novak speak for our unelected Regional Chair, Roger Anderson (3 down, 4 to go). Until recently, it looked like Ward 4 Local Councillor Gord Robinson spoke for his ward and for Clarington, but after his famous flip-flop (which one you may ask...I'm talking about the useless Host Community Agreement between Clarington and the Regions of Durham and York) it is clear Gord is speaking for himself and also for Roger Anderson (4 down, 3 to go). I am therefore of the opinion that only Local Councillors Adrian Foster, Willie Woo and Ron Hooper are speaking up in the best interests of Clarington taxpayers. What we need to do now, is to convince these three to run and take over the top jobs (Mayor and 2 Regional seats)so that we have a voice once again.

    With a lot of hard work,a good candidate and a group of dedicated citizens we should be able to see the end (thank goodness of a failed (in my opinion) Abernethy. Again, with the same thing in mind, it should not be too hard to rid ourselves of Nobak; I'm sorry, I meant Novak. Seems Trim is about to give up his Regional seat. I hear that he may run for Mayor! If so, we should be able to get rid of him and Abernethy at the same time; no recycling here! Either way, we get rid of Trim (his 'best before date' is long past anyway). That leaves Robinson (I heard someone yell "hey Flipper" on the streets of Orono today as he walked by...no, not me!)and he and his ol' boys network will not be strong enough to keep him in office after 2010, even with the help of all those developer dollars.

    So, to answer the question posed by the heading; 3 out of 4. After October, 2010, let's hope for the sake of Clarington and our children that it's 7 out of 7!!

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  18. Jim Richards, Orono, ON.Monday, December 07, 2009 4:58:00 pm

    I see in the local paper (This Week....) that Whitby Mayor Perkins and Whitby Reg. Councillor Emm are complaining about the condition of regional and local roads! These are two of the same Reginal politicians (leaders!)(along with 14 others) who voted not that long ago to appease our unelected Chairman (Roger Anderson) and his puppet, Cliff Curtis (Commissioner of Works)to spend millions of our dollars in Federal gas tax rebates to support the operation of the feared incinierator in Clarington. They voted to spend these milllions, intended for roads, bridges and infastructure, then have the gall to complain that there is not enough money for road repairs - go figure! Many letters and delegations to Regional Council ( mine included) over the past year have warned that by spending these millions for the garbage incinerator so that some politicians could claim that there was no increase in taxes as a result went unheaded. Truth is, your taxes will rise to fix the roads, etc., that was covered by the tax rebate!! Your taxes will increase to pay for the roads, etc., but weak poiliticians like Perkins and Emm will not be willing to accept the responsibility for that reason; they're weak! They are in the Anderson camp, and we the taxpayers will pay the price. This is why people like Perkins and Emm as well (especially) as Clarington Councillors like Trim, Novak and Mayor Abernethy need to be relaced in 2010, but also, underscores the reasons why we need an elected Regional Chair - not one who is subject to a coronation because of horse-trading.

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