Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor of Natural Philosophy, Bloomsburg University
Frackers – Why Sunbury?
The gas fracking industry invariably looks for poor neighborhoods within which to locate its operations. This way they reckon the people will be easier to subdue and overcome as they are unable to generate an effective resistance to the plans. This is exactly what happened up at Riverdale in Lycoming Country with the water pumping station, when they wanted to dispossess a community living in mobile homes in an economically marginal neighborhood in order to set up operations there.
It is the same story with Moran Industries and Clean Harbors when they wanted to use the old Celotex Site in order to construct a frack waste processing plant. It is not currently proceeding, but it is certainly conceivable that they could come back if they can obtain the DEP permit that they were not able to obtain originally.
Mayor Persing has to know that they targeted that location because Sunbury, despite him having been mayor for most of the time since 1990, despite the fact that he claims to have done a ton for Sunbury, the Celotex site remains utterly blighted and is targeted by companies such as Clean Harbors precisely because it is an easy target and has rail transport.
Thoughts on Mayoral Race
Regarding the race for Mayor on November 5th, there are lots of things that could be talked about. At the top of my list, and speaking as an objective observer – I don’t live in Sunbury – it strikes me as stunning that this mayor has been in office since 1990 with only a 4 year break from 2005 to 2008, and yet at the same time, as of 2010 Sunbury is documented as having one of the highest unemployment rates in PA – 11% – and one of the poorest school districts – Shikellamy – and a poverty rate standing at 18% with an on-going dwindling tax base.
It strikes me as incredible that citizens of Sunbury continue to vote this mayor into office who, despite his claims to fame for clearing up blight. It is just not true that he has actually served the public welfare of the citizens of Sunbury.
Big Fish – Small Pond
The kind of picture that you get of Mayor Persing, and I have been to several city council meetings over the course of the last 18 months, is the picture of a guy who really wants to be a bigger fish in a bigger pond, and who is more than willing to use his city as a kind of pawn in this game of his own political aspirations. It is flabbergasting to me that he continues to be voted in as mayor given the corruption of his tutelage.
Some of the decline in Sunbury since 1990 was inevitable, and made more so because it was Dave Persing’s watch. It has to be asked what has he been doing all that time, and I can tell that part of what he has been doing is trying to realize his ambition by courting the political and economic favor of deeply corrupt and really troublesome corporations like Moran Industries and Clean Harbors.
He appears to have been simply and willfully ignorant to what was going to be processed by Clean Harbors, and more than willing to put a highly polluting waste processing plant in the middle of a city and surrounded by some of the poorest and economically marginal neighborhoods. So when people say that this is a guy who cares about blight and who cares about the economically vulnerable of the City, it just seems to me that the appropriate response to that is NO, he does not!
Smarter to Write In Mickey Mouse!
Regarding the election I am not taking sides. My view, honestly, is that almost any candidate would be preferable. It would be smarter to write in Mickey Mouse as your candidate than to continue to vote in a mayor whose history of corruption on the city council, and his just plain bullying with respect to Councilman Bartello is something that the folks of Sunbury should simply find embarrassing.
One last thing I would like to say to the citizens of that lovely city on the Susquehanna is about what is going on at the Celotex site. It may seem quiet at the moment, but whatever is going on behind the scenes, the $2.6 million that are still owed by the operators of that site for code violations have never been paid. That is a lot of money, money which could make a big difference to city finances.
The citizens of Sunbury should be paying very close attention to the relationship between Mayor Persing, Moran Industries and ultimately still Clean Harbors – a very misnamed corporation whose record of environmental pollution is horrendous. The citizens deserve very much more than the on-going blight of that location, and if there is any move to bring any frack-related industry in there again, then they should be screaming at the tops of their lungs.
They should not re-elect this mayor!
Taken from a transcript of an interview given by Dr. Lee on WKOK Sunrise with Mark Lawrence on Wednesday 30th October.
Epilogue – Enter the Clowns
Following the interview, city council wanabe Ric Reichner just had to jump in for his 5c worth. “Garbage” was his considered opinion. “Why don’t you stay in Bloomsburg? It is not the city’s fault. Blame it on the DEP, In fact, blame it on George Bush!”
Do you really want someone like this on your city council?