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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

WHO IS MORE DETERMINED? CHRIS BORELLO OF "CONCERNED CITIZENS OF STARK COUNTY" OR RON PONDER OF "POINTS TO PONDER?"




Christine "Chris" Borello of Plain Township is Stark County's most determined civic activist, bar none! She doesn't always prevail, but she seemingly never quits.

If you are  skeptical of yours truly's assessment of Borello, just ask present or former public officials:  U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown,  Congressman John Boccieri (former),  Congressman Ralph Regula (former),  Commissioner Todd Bosley (former), North Canton Council president and Regula chief of staff (former) Daryl Revoldt,  director (former) of the Canton Health Department Bob Pattison or Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis.  And this is the short list.

As president of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT), she fought tirelessly for the citizens of Uniontown and western and southern Lake Township (she formerly resided in Lake) since the early 1980s to get a cleanup of the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) as a superfund site.  IEL is an abandoned quarry that was used by the Akron-based rubber companies, among others, to dump toxic industrial wastes into.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for Borello with quite a number of highs and lows.  But she has been steadfast and faithful to the cause.  While the SCPR hasn't always agreed with her take on the IEL related issues or her processes, there is no doubt that she is a committed and, in the sense of her determination, a highly admirable person.  Even public officials for whom she has been "a royal pain in the __ __ __ to," admit that her persistence is impressive.

If more of Stark County citizens took their citizenship and the obligation to contribute the the good of the whole as seriously as Borello, we would see far more effective government at the national, state and local level than we do. 

Borello's most immediate issue seems to have shifted from a focus on the IEL to a pursuit of the natural gas hydraulic fracturing issue.  Of late, the oil and gas industry has been filing hundreds upon hundreds of leases at the Stark County recorder's office (as well as over a good deal of Ohio) and many locals think that sooner or later the likes of the Chesapeake Energy Company (out of Oklahoma) will be moving into Stark County to begin drilling for rock encased natural gas located several thousand feet below the surface.

Borello is convinced that hydraulic fracturing (see the graphic below) represents a danger to Stark County's fresh water supply because of the use of various toxic chemicals in the fracturing being high pressured into the rock together with sand and, of course, water.  Accordingly, she has joined forces with local government officials Louis Giavasis (Plain Township trustee) and Mary Cirelli (Canton councilwoman) in their efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing in Plaint and Canton, respectively.



Giavasis has encountered strong opposition in Plain.  From whom?  The SCPR believes - at the hand of fellow trustee Scott Haws - who is  working in concert with Representative Kirk Schuring.  While each deny to The Report that they are biased in favor of allowing the fracturing, The Report is highly skeptical.  The Republican Party in general is well known to be favor of, remember - "drill, baby, drill" - and neither Haws nor Schuring has set themselves apart from the general party position.

And, that they moved to derail the original meeting (December 14th) set up by Giavasis to have an "inform the public" session (inviting Stark's Ohio General Assembly delegation, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), oil and gas industry representatives and anti-fracturing activists), further fuels The Report's skepticism about their insistence that they are open minded on the issue.

This is where WHBC1480's Ron Ponder (Points to Ponder, M-F from 10:00 a.m to Noon) enters the picture.

Without getting into whom contacted whom, suffice it to say as one of Stark County's most accomplished interviewers and framers of local issues, it is no surprise that Ponder surfaced as a neutral mediator/moderator for the Giavasis planned public forum with the added wrinkle (by Ponder) of having two meetings (now set for January 20th and 27th at Oakwood Middle School - 7:00 p.m.); one for ODNR (on the 27th) and the other on the 20th for other stakeholders.

By the way, the SCPR applauds Ponder for his interest and involvement.

However, Chris Borello is not all that pleased with the two meeting setup and in a series of e-mails between herself and Ponder (copied to many third parties, including yours truly) has insisted that Ponder revert to the one meeting format envisioned by Giavasis.

Readers of the SCPR also need to be reminded that Giavasis claimed he was going to force a vote (at the Plain trustee meeting of December 28th) on his offered resolution to ban hydraulic fracturing in Plain.

Yours truly never believed that Giavasis had the political gumption to proceed.

So it was no surprise whatsoever to the SCPR that Giavasis capitulated to a letter written (but sent on an expedited basis via e-mail in the evening of the 27th) to the Plain trustees (Giavasis, Leno and Haws) by oil and gas attorney William G. Williams (himself a Plain Township resident) demanding that the trustees reject the Giavasis initiative.  Williams and a Chesapeake Energy Company representative showed up at Plain Township December 28th meeting to register opposition in person.

Back to Borello and Ponder.

What follows is an edited version of the exchanges between Borello and Ponder on what the format of the meeting or meetings (depending on who got her/his way) is going to be.  As readers can see, Ponder held his ground with Borello notwithstanding her coming back again, and again and again after her initial e-mail.

One cannot fault Borello from trying, but Ponder is no shrinking violet himself.  The back and forth e-mails transpired from 1:17 p.m. Sunday through 10:25 p.m.

Interesting exchanges, no?

From: crborello
Sent: Sun 1/2/2011 1:17 PM
To: Ron Ponder
...

 Residents have also expressed concern about there being two meetings, just a few days apart, on the 20th and 27th, and are asking why all parties, including the State Agency. ODNR, put in charge of drilling via SB 278 6 years ago,, can't be present in the same room at the same time at the first meeting? 

....

Therefore, we are requesting, as the designated meeting facilitator, that you please go back to Kirk Schuring and ask that ODNR be responsive to the public, by showing up at the first meeting.   If they still feel the need to still have a second one, that is their choice., but ODNR clearly needs to be present at the first one.
...
We therefore propose the following:

ODNR presentation to open up the meeting in first 15 minutes
Panel discussion an hour and then open up for
Audience comments/questions last hour, limited to 5 minutes each....with some flexibility to allow the meeting to run over a little past 9:00 , if there are folks who signed up that have not gotten a chance to speak yet. 
 ...

Also, Please clarify:  When you say "questions" will be allowed  - you certainly will permit people to express "comments" as well, correct?  You won't censor them, by saying only questions can be asked, will you?

Please respond as soon as possible via e-mail, so all interested parties can be informed and educated up front to what is agreed upon.
   

From: Ron Ponder
To: crborello
Sent: Sun, Jan 2, 2011 4:17 pm
...
.i will allow comments, not just questions, but as you said, this will not devolve into a shouting match where nobody can hear nor understand what they need...i want facts, not political sound bites nor emotionally-wrought decisions....right now i feel that two hours is not nearly enough time for everyone to say their say nor hear the facts, so i am not inclined to change the format from two meetings...based on the original provisions that i agreed to, that is my decision and not sen schuring's nor anybody elses...i have not heard any convincing arguments yet to convince me to do otherwise.
...

From: crborello
Sent: Sun 1/2/2011 4:36 PM
To: Ron Ponder
 
...

It is unreasonable to expect families with children, work schedules, baby sitter issues, elderly who don't like to go out on a winter night etc. to attend back to back meetings ...If the goal is to have a good airing of the issues, it is all the more important that all stakeholders are in the room at the same time, to hear the relevant discussions.
...  
From: Ron Ponder
To: crborello
Sent: Sun, Jan 2, 2011 4:40 pm

...  my intention is to provide a forum whereby information can be exchanged in a civil manner...by having odnr at another meeting does not negate nor diminish their responsibilities to tax payers  ... .


From: crborello
Sent: Sun 1/2/2011 7:26 PM
To: Ron Ponder

Your response earlier this afternoon today  - the part about having a "forum in a civil manner" and our request that the State agency, ODNR, be in attendance at the first meeting, really seems to be implying that you ( or others?) believe that ODNR's presence on the 20th would somehow mean the meeting could not be civil !? This is pretty incredible, if infact, this is what you are suggesting here.
...

So, we really need to know:  Are you telling us that ODNR has told you flat out that it is refusing to attend the first meeting? If so, please ask them why is our Stark community is being singled out, since  we have been informed that ODNR has in fact attended many public meetings where folks were emotional, such as in nearby Bainbridge, where a gas well reportedly caused problems with residents' wells, and we heard folks were plenty angry. ... Or, are you saying you just simply refuse to ask them?  Again, if so, please tell us specifically why, because our citizens and elected officials seriously deserve to hear the rationale behind this in either instance. 

From: Ron Ponder <RPonder@whbc.com>
To: crborello@aol.com
Sent: Sun, Jan 2, 2011 8:19 pm

... and one more time, this is my decision to continue to have two separate meetings, and if i should change my mind i will inform you and the public. also, i really don't care if some think odnr is being shielded. that is not my concern. my concern, one more time, is to provide an objective two meetings where citizens can be presented with information and whereby they can ask questions and get answers. ...

From: crborello
Sent: Sun 1/2/2011 9:30 PM
To: Ron Ponder
   

But who said this "schedule"/ format,  is written in stone?

Citizens really do hope that you decide  to ask ODNR to be present on the 20th, because this should be a two way street, not simply ODNR "presenting"/ lecturing  people, but, rather, just perhaps, ODNR  might also be open to the idea of learning from our citizens as well ... - ie., government for and by the people, ya know?   If this agency is not present, than this exchange cannot occur.  By separating the meetings, the flow of information will be diluted/controlled, by making it harder for people to attend both dates, for reasons previously stated. ( And , we still have yet to  ascertain your rationale for not inviting ODNR to the meeting on the 20th in the first place,  after all these e-mails throughout today, which is truly perplexing...).
.
Sunday, January 2, 2011 10:25 PM
From:
crborello
... the meeting dates are set and i will waste no more time debating them. you, along with the public are welcome to attend. you are also welcome to not attend. the decision is yours.  ...
..  

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