Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in November, 2011

The Washington Missourian

The Ameren Missouri coal-fired power plant in Labadie is the second worst mercury polluter in the nation, according to a recently study released by Environment Missouri, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Researchers with the environmental group analyzed new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data in the study, “America’s Biggest Mercury Polluters — How Cleaning Up the Dirtiest Power Plants Will Protect Public Health,” released this week.

The EPA accounts for the emissions in its annual toxics release inventory. That inventory utilizes self- reported data from power plants.

The Labadie power plant produced 1,527 pounds of airborne mercury emissions in 2010, according to the study, second only to the Big Brown Steam Electric Station and Lignite Mine in Fairfield, Texas. That site produced 1,610 pounds last year.

As a whole, Missouri power plants emitted 3,835 pounds of airborne mercury in 2010.

Ameren was responsible for 3,699 pounds as a company.

We didn’t need this study to tell us how big of a polluter Ameren is in Franklin County. Neither did the county commissioners when they recently decided to give Ameren the green light on building a 400-acre coal ash waste dump in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain. The Franklin County Planning & Zoning Dept. had the data all along. It included the following statistics in a power point presentation in May of 2010 in a series of open houses to discuss existing conditions in the county:

Other Pollution:

  • Franklin County ranked #5 in Missouri (2007) for total toxic chemicals disposed of or released
  • 93.7% of toxic chemicals came from Ameren power plant in Labadie
  • Majority is solid waste stored onsite
  • > 1/3 waste comes from air emissions (hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, sulfuric acid, metal compounds (e.g., mercury)

There are 114 counties in Missouri. Ranking 5th among them for anything is pretty impressive. Presiding Commissioner, John Griesheimer, 1st District Commissioner, Terry Wilson, and 2nd District Commissioner, Ann Schroeder, all had this data at their fingertips and none of them ever brought it up in public. By a vote of 2 to 1 they sided with the 2nd worst emitter of mercury in the nation over the health and well being of the county. This was never a case of not knowing the risks. They knew and they gave Ameren what it wanted anyway. Let’s not forget that.

Franklin County may be setting the trend that drags this country into adopting some form of universal health care for all citizens.  Universal health care has strong support from the 45 million Americans without health insurance.  That support declines considerably among citizens that have health insurance with many fighting to maintain the status quo.  Franklin County may help change that perspective.

During a recent conversation with a friend, I learned that a certain group of area doctors that have joined together to offer outpatient surgery are now asking their patients that have insurance to pay their portion before any procedures are performed. continue reading…

If shopping for a golfer in the family, golf balls are always a hit.  You can support America while satisfying your special giftee with American made golf balls by Titleist and Pinnacle.  Unfortunately, those are the only two mass market makes of golf balls still made in the USA.  Help Uncle Sam after this turkey day and your green will reduce the trade deficit red ink and the dark clouds of unemployment.

David Klarich has announced that he is stopping all operations of the West County Republicans.  He notes that the WCRO has been improving state and local policies since 1980.  I found this an interesting date and decided to take a quick look at how the average American is doing since that time.  This data from Credit Slips provides some perspective.  Does it sound like policies and results are improving?

Income growth:  Through this last period, the income gains have skewed increasingly not just to the top, but to the very tippy-top.  From 1946 – 1976, the average income growth for the “bottom” 90% of households was 92%, compared to 25% for the top 1%.  But from 1976 to 2006, the bottom 90% saw only 10% growth, while for the top 1% it was (wait for it –)  239%. (Sources for this and related figures are cited in the appendix to CRL’s comments to the Fed’s then-proposed rules defining unfair and deceptive practices for credit cards.)   For a really cool visual of this uncool trend, take a look at the graphic in Clive Crook’s 2006 Atlantic article called “The Height of Inequality.” And while you’re there, the story’s pretty interesting, too.

Savings:  A chart on the “By the Numbers” page on Inequality.org shows that the savings rate roughly doubled from 5% in 1949 to over 11% in 1982.  Since 1982, it looks like a downhill ski slope, and the rate was in negative territory by 2006.

Debt:  The debt-to-disposable income ratio of American households more than doubled from 60% in 1980 to 133% in 2007.  A recent article in the Economist says that household and consumer debt went up from 100% of GDP in 1980 to 173% now.

I just received the first copy of my new subscription to The Nation and was happy to read Louis Uchitelle,’s latest – The Vicious Cycle of Joblessness.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Uchitelle during my work with the Granite City Steelworkers as they highlighted the use of Indian made tubular steel pipe for a pipeline that ran right by the Granite City Steel plant.  I enjoy his writing and his committment to the issues of workers and the unemployed. 

This article is a very interesting read, touching on several topics related to the unemployed, their outlook, and damage to society of long-term joblessness.  I do have a disagreement with one of the points in this article.  Regarding the lack of rallies for the unemployed he writes “Unions contribute to the passivity by focusing their energies on the already employed – mainly their members and those they seek to organize.”  I would point out that since members pay the dues and invest their volunteer efforts with their union it is only natural most of the organizations energy would be focused on the members.  That said, there are few other groups doing as much to help the unemployed.  Two quick examples come to mind.  The first, U Cubed or the Union of the Unemployed put together by the International Association of Machinists. This organization strives to provide the unemployed with an avenue to share their stories and build political power.  Secondly, the  UAW Local 2250 Community Service Committee at the GM Wentzville plant is actively assisting not only the unemployed but the homeless in that area.  When necessary, they leave food, clothes, and other items at locations frequented by the homeless.  This is done by volunteers after they have worked an 11 hour day at the plant or on weekends. 

There are many more examples but I agree with Mr. Uchitelle’s premise that the time is coming when the unemployed will rise in protest and demand more from the richest country on earth.

Lieutenant John Pike of the University of California Police Department pepper sprays nonviolent UC Davis student protesters.

When a report came out last week by Rick Ellis of the Minneapolis Top News Examiner that cited an anonymous “Justice official” who claimed the crackdowns were coordinated by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) there was understandably much skepticism. But it has now been confirmed that a non-governmental organization (NGO) called The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private think tank, whose executive director sits on the DHS advisory council, was at the center of the coordinated evictions.

The White House says there was no Federal oversight, but …

Speaking to Democracy Now! On November 17, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler acknowledged PERF’s coordination of a series of conference-call strategy sessions with big-city police chiefs. These calls were distinct from the widely reported national conference calls of major metropolitan mayors.

The coordination of political crackdowns on the Occupy movement has been conducted behind closed doors, with city officials and PERF refusing to say how many cities participated in the conference calls and the exact nature of the discussions. Reports of at least a dozen cities and some indication of as many as 40 accepting PERF advice and/or strategic documents include San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Portland, Oakland, Atlanta, and Washington DC.

Not only were the crackdowns on Occupy a coordinated and nationwide effort (which is creepy enough) but they appear to have gone private sector by an outfit tied to DHS. Behold the corporate security state. Chilling.

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Automotive News featrued this story regarding the ability of the future mid-sized GM pickup, that will be built in Wentzville, to reduce operating costs for pickup owners while providing 90 percent of full-size capability.  It also features a good picture of the truck.  It is scheduled to begin selling as a 2014 model, probably in fall 2013.  Hiring for the third shift to produce this vehicle will probably be in early 2013.  Of course, in the auto industry, this is subject to change.

If you are like me and thought it curious that Occupy encampments from St. Louis to Oakland to Portland to NYC and elsewhere were all raided in the span of a few days in what seemed to be a coordinated national crackdown then this little slip up by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan will come as no surprise …

Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking in an interview with the BBC (excerpted on The Takeaway radio program–audio of Quan starts at the 5:30 mark), casually mentioned that she was on a conference call with leaders of 18 US cities shortly before a wave of raids broke up Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country. “I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation. . . .”

So 18 city mayors (many Democrats) have been comparing notes on their collective “situation” and unsurprisingly each city arrived at a similar talking point for justifying the raids: health and safety.

While that might not come as a surprise to readers of this site, this might. According to the examiner.com the crackdown came on the advice of Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal agencies. That would be the same federal agencies lead by the “socialist from Kenya” President Barack Obama.

So where are the constitutional scholars of the Tea Party now? Why aren’t they screaming their heads off about government overreach, oppression and interference? It’s right there in the First Amendment, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble …” And yet, they remain silent.

The Occupy movement has accomplished a couple of things so far: It has exposed “Tea Party Patriots” as the phoney baloney corporate sponsored stooges they always were. Their silence speaks for itself. But it has done something even more important. It has exposed the bipartisan nature of America’s oligarch. Not the paranoid version Glenn Beck feverishly ranted about on his TV show, but a demonstrably real one.

The corporate class with the help of their Congressional allies on both sides of the isle will howl in protest at any mention of limiting campaign contributions as an affront to their first amendment rights, but a sustained peaceful protest over economic injustice by the rest of us? Unacceptable! Send in the riot police with pepper spray and rubber bullets. That can’t be tolerated.

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