According to an article in today’s Dispatch a vocal opponent of the proposed pork plant, Dawn Marner, who lives near where the plant would be built, has been fired from her job with A.D. Huesing. She had faxed two letters relating to the plant from a company fax machine to Silvis Mayor Lyle Hohse and East Moline assistant city administrator Rich Kehner in the last three months. She did not use company letterhead but the fax machine included text in the transmitted image identitifying the machine they were from.
East Moline Mayor John Thodos and Moline’s RiverStone Group spokesman Robert Imler said they spoke with two A.D. Huesing managers last month about the plant after hearing about plant related letters with A. D. Huesing’s name on them. Ms. Marner was fired without explanation a day after the company board chairman questioned her about a newspaper story about a public argument between her and Mayor Lohse about the letters being made public. “The owner was mad at me because it got out in the news.”
Since people from all over the world read this blog I need to explain a little of the above. Moline's RiverStone Group is a corporation which owns undeveloped land in rural East Moline, Illinois. This land is wetlands and is prone to flooding. East Moline Mayor John Thodos is one of a number of local elected officials who are eager to have Triumph Foods build a pork processing plant on Riverstone Group's land because it will supposedly bring 1000 jobs. He is so eager for these jobs (and so unconcerned about the environmental impact of building on flood-prone wetlands) that he is willing to give huge tax breaks to the project. These tax breaks (which may or may not be required for Triumph Foods to build the plant, no proof was ever presented to the public) required approval by 3 city councils and the county board. It was at the city council meeting at which votes on the tax breaks were to be voted where opponents such as Ms Marner made such a fuss that the mayor and his corporate partners took actions such as the ones described above. Also note that the mayor, the Riverstone Group and Triumph Foods devoted little effort to trying to persuade the public of the benefits of their proposal. All their efforts seemed to be concentrated on convincing the city councils and county board to approve the tax breaks. Their efforts appeared to me to be mostly strong-arm tactics such as the ones described above.
It sounds to me like the two sides in this debate are playing by different rules. The pork plant opponents are trying to prevail by persuading the public with their passion and their arguments. The pork plant proponents are going to win by silencing their opponents.
And you thought that this was a democracy in which the public would ultimately decide.