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Browsing Posts tagged John Griesheimer

The editorial board at STLToday offers this cogent point of view on County Commissioner Griesheimer’s violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The cartoon pretty much nails it …

R.J. Matson/Post-Dispatch, June 14, 2012

The Franklin County Commission has decided to allow volunteers to sign up to lead the prayers before meetings. That might work, but not if those volunteers are all of one faith and make religious preferences clear in their words. The ACLU is right to keep watching the unfolding conflict.

We have no doubt that some of the people urging Mr. Griesheimer to stand fast will be offended if he chooses to protect those minority voices represented by the ACLU’s lawsuit. But that is precisely what he should do. The cause of religious freedom demands it.

Griesheimer seems to be banking on the idea that most people on those sign up sheets will be offering Christian prayers. He may regret that. Either way, he could have saved county taxpayers a lot of money and himself a lot of time had he simply agreed to use the generic and nonsecular word “God” in his invocations instead of the secular “Jesus.” There is already some court precedent for its use before government meetings. Even that goes too far in my view but it’s a reasonable enough compromise.

I have a hunch that County Counselor Mark Vincent knows this perfectly well and is just playing along for political reasons. For the county commission to prevail in its efforts to overturn two centuries of jurisprudence would be quite remarkable.

Let the cries of the persecuted Christians begin …

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he is putting a temporary pause on beginning the commission’s weekly meetings with a prayer after receiving a letter dated March 21 from the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.

In the letter, the organization’s legal director, Anthony Rothert, said the ACLU received a complaint “about repeated instances of sectarian prayer offered at meetings.”

Each Tuesday for more than a year, Griesheimer has begun the meetings with a reciting of the pledge of allegiance and a prayer to God and Jesus Christ.

The prayers have varied from thanking God for the weather and the World Series Championship of the St. Louis Cardinals to asking for protection for servicemen and – women.

Rothert said sectarian prayers — in this instance, Christian — at county commission meetings are unconstitutional.

Griesheimer said addressing the situation isn’t easy.

“I don’t back down from a fight, but what we’re dealing with is (potentially) taxpayer money,” he said, noting that the county could incur costs if faced with a legal challenge.

“I think temporarily we’ll go to a moment of silence,” Griesheimer said.

Greisheimer makes it sound like this is a minor legal snafu and once County Council Mark Vincent works his magic Sleepy John can go back to singing the praises of Jesus before each official government meeting. But it will be no more Constitutional in six months than it as been all along.

He’s right about one thing, county taxpayers will be the ones to incur the legal costs of fighting this if Greisheimer persists, and it will all be for naught because the county does not have a legal leg to stand on.

Meet The Press

MR. GREGORY: You’ve been more pointed when you talk about in favor of Governor Romney. You say he will never embarrass you. Do you think Newt Gingrich will embarrass the party?

GOV. CHRISTIE: I think Newt Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time. Whether he’ll do it again in the future, I don’t know. But Governor Romney never has.

MR. GREGORY: You say he’s embarrassed the party. How and where do you worry he might do it again that makes him unelectable?

GOV. CHRISTIE: Well, listen, David, we all know the record. I mean, he was run out of the speakership by his own party. He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations. This is a guy who’s had a very difficult political career at times and has been an embarrassment for the party. You remember these times, you were here. So the fact of the matter is, I don’t need to regale the country with that entire list again except to say this. I’m not saying he will do it again in the future, but sometimes past is prologue.

It’s funny, not long ago Franklin County Presiding Commissioner, John Griesheimer, used those exact words to describe Sen. Brian Nieves (R-26) to me. “He has been an embarrassment for the party.” The thing is, Griesheimer, like Christie, doesn’t fully appreciate how radicalized the Republican base has become. There’s simply no more room for moderates in today’s GOP. The Reagan era is over.

Players like Nieves and Gingrich get it, and are more than happy to provide tons of red meat for their own narcissistic gain and to hell with the establishment. In the case of Nieves, he has little else to offer the party faithful but fear and victimhood, virtual catnip for the persecuted conservative who is afraid of everything from Muslims to Medicare. Gingrich, on the other hand, has a few ideas. They’re just awful ideas.

Moderate Republicans who embraced the teabaggers and the fire breathers back when they were blessedly re-branding conservatism after George W. Bush so thoroughly discredited it (I thought irreversibly at the time) must have figured they’d be able to rein them in once the elections were over. But they appear to have unleashed a Kraken of radicalism in their ranks that is threatening to devour them instead.

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.

I’m bumping up this piece from May 25, 2010. It still blows my mind that the county’s own research shows Ameren is responsible for most of the county’s pollution and here they sit, poised to allow them to pollute us even more. Amazing. It would be different if they were ignorant of the facts. But the commissioners have the information on file down the hall in the Planning and Zoning Department.

On May 17th, 2010 the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Dept. held the first in its series of open houses to discuss existing conditions in the county and to get ideas and concerns from the public. The presentation provided lots of statistics but one section in particular stood out for me. From the PowerPoint presentation we learn …

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)

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To hear Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer and County Council Mark Vincent tell it, plenty of time has been made available to the public for comment on the new land use regulations being drafted for Franklin County. But as I remember it the public was consistently silenced when it came to discussing any specifics of the coal ash landfill Ameren Missouri wants to build in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain, or the hazards that will inevitably come with it.

They told us only public comments would be allowed that pertained to land use regulations in general. They said any discussion of coal or Ameren’s proposed landfill was out of bounds and would not be allowed. They said it was irrelevant to the regulations under consideration and the public should restrict its input to this vary narrow interpretation.

So I was a little shocked to see that the written document of the proposed regulations is almost entirely dedicated to the subject of storing coal ash waste in a landfill somewhere in Franklin County. I wonder where that might be?

The county commissioners have essentially told the public opposition to Ameren’s landfill to “sit down and shut up,” while hiding behind procedure and legaleze. They can now make the claim that they gave the public a fair hearing while pushing through regulations custom made for their most vital constituent: Ameren. All these public hearings were just for show.

You really have to read this article in The Washington Missourian for the sheer hilarity. Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer (Sleepy John around these parts) is fed up with Labadie Environmental Organization President Patricia Schuba and demanded a public apology at a recent forum. He’s just beside himself, you see, because an “unnamed representative” (presumably Rep. Scott Dieckhaus) heard from “an unnamed man” who said he overheard Schuba make “some derogatory comments” to “an unnamed woman” about Griesheimer and his son.

And what were those derogatory comments? Well, Griesheimer couldn’t say, but during the course of that conversation with the unnamed woman the unnamed representative said the unnamed man overheard Schuba make a comment to the unnamed woman about Griesheimer’s son. Griesheimer couldn’t remember exactly what the unnamed representative said the unnamed man overheard Schuba tell the unnamed woman, but it was something to the effect that Griesheimer’s son works for union contractors and he is lobbying for Ameren, or something.

In summation: Someone told Griesheimer that someone overheard Schuba tell someone something that wasn’t really derogatory about Griesheimer and his son, and then Griesheimer demanded that Schuba hand over her lunch money.

Seriously, it’s like we’re governed by the junior high school drama club. Who elects these morons?

This is hilarious (and kind of sad). Despite The Washington Missourian’s best efforts to give the county commissioners some cover for their votes that will soon be cast to allow Ameren Missouri to build what I like to call “The John Griesheimer Toxic Coal Ash Waste Dump,” their latest poll indicates public opinion has actually gotten much worse since last fall.

As of July 18, 2011

At a time when it’s hard to get people to agree on much of anything, that’s a pretty solid consensus. The only other poll I am aware of on this issue was conducted by Rep. Scott Dieckhaus in October 2010.

Question 11: Should Ameren be permitted to proceed with its plans to develop a landfill to store coal ash on its property near the Labadie power plant if done in accordance with federal, state, and county regulations?

Yes: 40.1%
No: 47.8%
No Opinion: 9.4%
No Response: 2.7%

Despite the ridiculously weighted question (note the qualifiers, “on its property” and “if done in accordance with“) Dieckhaus couldn’t even get a plurality in his mostly conservative district to answer yes.

Griesheimer and the other county commissioners are out there on their own with this one. Franklin Countians hate the idea of putting toxic waste in a floodplain and understand whose bread is being buttered here. The good ole boys club should stop hoping some measure of popular support for it will magically appear to save them. There isn’t any. Should it come to pass, The Griesheimer Landfill will stand as yet another reminder of how the demands of the people are obstructed by the whims of industry, power, money and influence.

As the county commissioners near a decision on whether or not to allow Ameren to build a coal ash landfill in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain, the National Weather Service is forecasting unprecedented water levels along the Missouri River. That could be an awkward decision for the commissioners should there be major flooding in Labadie this summer.

But get this …

Griesheimer said he has heard concerns about some of the dams, which have been in place for more than 60 years, failing.

“If they would, it could be a catastrophic event that would wreak havoc on everything downstream,” he said. “That’s not as wild of a scenario to believe as one might think.”

Now he tells us. The decision to build a landfill of any kind in a floodplain, let alone one that will contain toxic materials, should have been a no-brainer. It’s a stupid idea. But by all indications Griesheimer not only appears to be on the verge of allowing the landfill to go forward, but openly admits to the local paper he understands there is aging infrastructure upstream that could be catastrophic to Labadie Bottoms should it fail. To use his own words, “That’s not as wild of a scenario to believe as one might think.”

But here’s what irks me. Griesheimer’s party wants to cut spending. Part of that spending could be used for things like, oh, I dunno, upgrading aging dams on the Missouri River. At the same time they side with industry at every turn — in this case Ameren — giving them leniency to store toxic material in a floodplain downstream from the very aging infrastructure for which they want to cut spending. Of course, more stimulus money could go toward upgrading said infrastructure, and would have the ancillary effect of creating more jobs, but the geniuses in Griesheimer’s party oppose that too. Brilliant.

 

In 2010, Rep. Scott Dieckhaus (R-Washington) surveyed his constituents and asked the question: “Should Ameren be permitted to proceed with its plans to develop a landfill to store coal ash on its property near the Labadie power plant if done in accordance with federal, state, and county regulations?”

Weighted as that question is, by a margin of 48/40, respondents still answered “no.” And yet, Dieckhaus has remained publicly silent on this issue, one of the most important facing his district.

In fact, so many people are opposed to Ameren’s plans to store its toxic coal ash waste in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain that the Planning and Zoning Board (and now the County Commissioners) have been forced to relocate their normally sparsely attended hearings to East Central College because the commissioner’s chamber can’t handle the capacity.
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