BUT DID THE COMMISSIONERS TAKE CORN SERIOUSLY?
On the February 11 request of the COalition to Re-route Nexus (Nexus being the name of a high pressure [1400 psi] natural gas pipeline) proposed to traverse Stark County, the Stark County commissioners agreed to set a work session to get more detailed information on Nexus from CORN.
The meeting was held on Tuesday, February 24th.
- SCPR Note: Stark County commissioners' work sessions are held almost weekly on Monday and Tuesday of each week beginning at 10:00 a.m.
- LINK to prior SCPR blog on pipeline issue.
At Tuesday's meeting, CORN said the coalition had garnered support of its mission from 14 political subdivisions in the pathway of the pipeline. Two such supporters include the city of Green at the northern/western edge of Stark County and Lake Township in Stark.
Spectra/DTE has specifically dubbed the project for website purposes as being the "Nexus Gas Transmission" (NGT) project.
Interesting enough, NGT (i.e. to say the Spectra Energy part of the partnership) showed up at the meeting.
And it appears that NGT was more persuasive than CORN.
For the SCPR learned today that Commissioner Janet Creighton (a Republican) apparently decided immediately after the meeting that she was not going to be a signatory to any letter nor vote for any resolution.
Creighton, the SCPR thinks, signaled clearly during yesterday's meeting she was not favorably disposed to CORN's request.
She was particularly annoyed that CORN's projected proposal would add 10 miles of Stark County which would be traversed by Nexus.
In answer to The Report's inquiry today, Commissioner Richard Regula (also a Republican) said he agreed with Creighton's position.
Only Commissioner Thomas Bernabei is a possibility inasmuch as he said he has not yet made an individual decision as to whether or not he supports CORN's re-route crusade.
But he, as president of the Board of Commissioners, did say that he did not anticipate that there would be an "up or down" vote as a body on CORN's request at a future regular meeting of the commissioners.
If he were to participate, it would be as an individual.
One of the complaints of CORN has been and came up in yesterday's meeting is that NGT refuses to meet with the civic activist group.
As yesterday's meeting broke up, The Stark County Political Report asked NGT spokesman John Sheridan why NGT has refused to meet face-to-face with CORN.
Take a look at this less than a minute video.
A snub! And an outright blank stare!!
As shown in the video, Ian Nickey of Hick Partners (a public relations firm out of Columbus) seemed to be in a panic mode in making his way from his place in the second row of chairs through the first row (Sheridan's locale) to insert himself between Sheridan and yours truly.
There appeared to be about half-a-dozen "protectors" of Sheridan in the the NGT entourage.
All of which, in the SCPR's viewpoint, belies the promise by NGT to "be transparent" and to "[welcome] community involvement at all stages," to wit:
Not (i.e. the video above) a flattering picture for Spectra Energy, no?
And maybe even worse, "a red flag" that citizens and government officials across the pipeline corridor need to take a closer look at the proposed project, no?
Stark Countians should be wondering why Sheridan (who, it appears, to himself to be a public relations type) wouldn't answer The Report's question.
CORN, for its part, is not opposing the Nexus pipeline as such; merely its route through Ohio and more specifically (of local interest) Stark, Summit and Medina Counties.
The SCPR agrees with CORN that pipelines traversing American (including, Ohio and Stark County) are a necessity and also happen to be the safest way to distribute natural gas.
BUT, again agreeing with CORN, the pipelines need to take the least intrusive route in terms of population centers so that if one of the pipelines blows (which is relatively rare but which one recently did in West Virgina), human death and injuries are kept to a minimum. Moreover, in a relocation, it is likely that the potential economic/financial loss to property owners will be lessened as well.
What is troubling to the SCPR and should be to Stark Countians (not only on the matter of minimalizing death, injury and property loss) is the apparent incommunicado of Spectra Energy and its partner DTE Energy in refusing one-on-one engagement with everyday citizens like the folks who make up CORN.
While it was laudable and constructive for Stark's commissioners to have hosted yesterday's session as requested by CORN back on February 11, the commissioners may have dropped the ball in not pressing Sheridan hard enough to agree to direct talks with CORN representatives.
One of the problems with private enterprise is that too many of them highhandedly (companies and unincorporated entrepreneurs, alike) think they can invoke public processes (in this case federal government [i.e. the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - FERC] approval of the pipeline) without being directly answerable to affected citizens.
On this count, NGT/Spectra/DTE comes up way short on fielding the legitimate concerns of citizens who live in the neighborhoods that the NGT defined pathway is to traverse.
Let the SCPR pause right here.
Another crazy thing about yesterday's meeting (the other being the NGT Nexus group's unwillingness to have direct talks with CORN) was that CORN was not prepared to share with commissioners a detailed map of the alternative plan they have in the works for FERC to adopt as the certified pathway for the Nexus pipeline over that proposed by NGT.
Isn't that wild?
The lack of a map was not likely a factor in Creighton's decision, but it certainly didn't help any that CORN officials seemingly were making a secret of its plan.
The CORN plan, as the video immediately below shows, is designed to go through southern Stark County rather than on a line through the city of Green (Summit County) on a line that would bring Nexus through Stark on a latitude about midway between State Street and Midway Street and on the southern side of Lake-O-Pines Street in Lake Township. As proposed, Nexus would then continue through Marlboro, Nimishillen and Washington townships.
But why no actual map?
It was really strange yesterday as NGT and CORN presented their cases to the commissioners the degree to which that there was any dialogue between NGT and CORN, it was mediated through the president of the Stark County commissioners; namely, Commissioner Tom Bernabei.
The lack of communication in the assessment of the SCPR (which The Report attributes fully at being at the hand of NGT) has a juvenile quality about it.
Major American corporations act this way?
At the end of this blog, The Stark County Political Report presents "the entire session" as recorded by yours truly for readers to get a full sense of NGT's attitude.
The Report thinks that the arrogance of the NGT group comes through loud and clear as one progresses through the video.
Before getting to the full video, The Report has chosen some highlights of the work session for those SCPR readers who do not want to view the full one hour plus video.
But first accolades for Stark County commissioners Janet Creighton and Bernabei.
Before their election in November, 2010; there was no county government structure for a full airing of controversial issues, citizen concerns or oversight of county departments of government. With prior boards of commissioners, citizen/county government interaction was a hit/miss matter.
With their taking office came the institution of work sessions (when needed) at 10:00 a.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays of each and every week.
Consequently, Stark Countians, if they want to be heard or know about how county government functions; only need to avail themselves of a weekly opportunity to attend scheduled work sessions.
It is disappointing to the SCPR that Creighton seemingly summarily rejected CORN's petition without citing a rationale therefore.
But that is Commissioner Creighton. She can be entertaining as a political personality. But such a characteristic could result in her on occasion experiencing "foot in mouth."
The CORN folks are everyday citizens who do not have big corporate bucks at their command like NGT does. CORN impresses the SCPR with the due diligence the group has shown (except for the map thing) in putting together an alternative pipeline plan.
Only in America can a group like CORN succeed. Whether or not a public official agrees with these activists, they deserve a reasoned answer.
Stark Countians should not be pleased with discourtesy that Commissioners Creighton and Regula is demonstrating on this matter.
The SCPR suspects that because CORN seems to have a Summit County political center of gravity, they had little if any chance to convince Creighton and Regula.
CORN is not going to quit despite the Stark County setback.
Should the pipeline eventually be built on NGT's proposed pathway and on the off chance there is an accident within the next few years that cost lives, injuries, or extensive property damage; it is not going to set well that the commissioners invite CORN in and explain their reasons for denying the request that the commissioners weigh-in in support with FERC.
NOW TO TOPICAL VIDEOS OF YESTERDAY'S MEETING
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
SPECTRA ENERGY & DTE ENERGY
COalition to Re-route Nexus
THE ROUTE OF THE PIPELINE (WITH TIMELINE FOR CHALLENGE)
THE ROUTE OF NEXUS
OUTREACH & TRANSPARENCY
THE SAFETY OF THE PIPELINE
THE ECONOMIC/FINANCIAL BENEFITS/DEMERITS OF NEXUS
To conclude this blog, for those readers who want to take in the entire meeting (1 hours, 17 minutes, 30 seconds), here is the video of entire work session: