Tuesday, February 19, 2019

We Care About Our Lake

photo by Anthony Curi
watch this cool video light show below or at You Tube

We're Locals And We Care About Our Lake

It's been a frustrating and an exhilarating week for the hardworking activists that make up Toledoans for Safe Water. (You can read what they've been doing lately on last's week blog, Our Children Are Paying Attention.) Their citizens' initiative to stop the blue-green algae blooms caused by the constant polluting of their city's drinking water supply by CAFOs and other industrial polluters finally gets onto the ballot and people are voting early in record numbers for a special election in the bitterly cold, snowy and icy month of February and then guess what? The opposition wakes up and starts a very negative and downright despicable radio ad campaign against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) within the last two weeks of the campaign. 

A mysterious group formed only this past week, "Toledo Jobs and Growth Coalition" (which is actually a front for a PAC called Strategic Public Partners Group), is the creator of these very slick ads and negative text messaging. They  insinuate that the Toledoans for Safe Water activists are all "out-of-state radical environmentalists," and one radio spot even went as far as to call them "extremists who want to poison your water." Another group, "Real Solutions for Lake Erie," has placed memes on Facebook featuring a stock photo of a mother and two young children cowering from the "threat" of cleaner drinking water and an algae-free Lake Erie. The radio commercials are being broadcast on all the major radio stations in the Toledo area on an almost hourly basis. Thousands of potential voters have heard them already.

Did these brave activists simply give up in the face of such outright lies and  slander? What do you think?
After a successful "LEBOR Light Brigade" demonstration, the activists got down to work spreading the message that Toledoans' chance of protecting their drinking water and their lake was under attack by outside interest groups. These special interest groups include:

The Associated Construction Trades unions 
The American Petroleum Institute
Ohio Oil and Gas Institute
Ohio Farm Bureau
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Ohio Chemistry Technology Council
Ohio Agribusiness Association
Ohio Dairy Producers
Ohio Pork Council
Ohio Poultry
art by Mirek Czech/photo by Stefania Czech
Family, friends and strangers alike took up the cry for sharing this vital information with others. Here are some of their eloquent comments posted at Facebook this past week:

Rob Morrison --
"Listening to the radio today while working. More than one station is running an anti-Lake Erie Bill of Rights commercial today. They angrily proclaim that out of state special interests are trying to put this through to take away jobs, close factories, and ruin the economy. I know for a fact this issue was started locally, and how could anybody be against holding polluters accountable for destroying our water? Oh yeah, those who profit from polluting are. We know the algae problem is caused by pollution. We know the water is not safe to swim in or drink most of the time. Wouldn't it be nice to do something about this now so future generations can enjoy our largest natural resource? Wouldn't it help the local economy if our water wasn't green during the warm season? We have a river/lake that is dying and all you can think about is jobs/money? Wow, unbelievable! Those who pollute our rivers/Lake Erie (or pollute anywhere for that matter) should be ashamed of themselves. Let's take pride in our lake! Vote YES for Lake Erie Bill of Rights."
photo by Crys Janko

Barbie Huffman --

"Funny how all the anti-Lake Erie Bill of Rights ads claim it's out-of-town extremists trying to push this bill. Last I checked, I personally know most of the authors and activists promoting it. Unless they have been lying to me for years about living here, which is highly unlikely seeing as I've been to some of their homes myself, then I can guarantee they are the locals. These ads are dangerous and lying just as much as Trump lies. Do your research and vote in favor of LEBOR this month in the special election. If you have any questions please ask. I have not been working on this campaign but I support it completely. Don't want another episode like in 2014 where we couldn't even shower because the water was so toxic? Vote for LEBOR! I may not know all the answers to your questions but I can direct you to those who do know. The ones putting the negative radio ads out are the actual out-of-towners who are just looking out for corporate interests and not the populations interests. Taking a cue from Trump, they are accusing this bill's authors of that which they are guilty of. #fakenews"
The artist Mirek and his mom

James Siegel --

"To 'Real Solutions for Lake Erie' -- Your ad is laughable as if those communities along the lake should vote against their own self interest. Well, I will be voting yes! Yes for clean water, yes for our tourism industry, yes for a clean lake no longer polluted from agricultural runoff, farmers whose only goal is profits over clean drinking water. Yes, cities along Lake Erie have been taken advantage of for too long. Well, guess what? Hopefully on February 25 it will end and start a new era for those who live and play on Lake Erie. Yes on the 26th!"
photo by Crys Janko
Why do we need the Lake Erie Bill of Rights? Here's a good explanation from ACLE's (Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie) Newsletter:

Toledo water and sewer ratepayers have already invested over ONE BILLION DOLLARS to reduce phosphorus and other pollutants that used to go straight into the lake from our treatment plant and combined sewer overflows. When will factory "farms," the Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), start paying to treat what they dump -- the equivalent of more than Chicago and Los Angeles' untreated sewage? How much longer will we subsidize their profits by allowing them to use our precious lake as a free public toilet?"

More about who is behind these attack ads on local radio stations (from Facebook):

"At least two shadow PACs - "Toledo Coalition for Jobs and Growth" and "Real Solutions for Lake Erie" - were formed in the last week out of nowhere to attack the Lake Erie Bill of RIghts. The former has been airing a series of attack ads on various local radio stations, and the latter is employing a strategy of digital attack ads.

The only information we can find about these groups is that a guy named Brandon Lynaugh is the treasurer for one of them. He's a big-money political-hack-for-hire who chose to look like a James Bond villain in his professional head shot. (http://www.sppgrp.com/team/brandon-lynaugh/). He's from upstate New York, and he's airing ads insisting that our activists group is made up of "out-of-town extremists." The irony is palpable.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that an innovative effort to protect Lake Erie and hold its polluters accountable is being hit with a well-funded smear campaign full of outright lies. The same people that make money by not cleaning up their mess are paying slick PR firms to convince people to vote against protecting their own water supply.

It's beyond time for us as citizens and voters to start questioning what we hear in the media and why. Think about this: if the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is unenforceable or ineffective, as opponents of it have charged - then why is it worth the cost of hiring a slick PR firm and running all these ads to opposite it? If it won't hold up in court - why not just let it pass and challenge it then?

A lot of sheltered people take for granted that we have access to clean water. A lot of people have already forgotten the 2014 water crisis. A lot of people are too gullible to think for themselves when they hear an attack ad on the radio.

Our drinking water is on the line. The imperative is to go to the polls this February 26 and vote YES on the Lake Erie Bill Of Rights. Please make sure your friends, family, and coworkers all turn out to vote. We need to send the message to the political hacks of the world that we can't be duped against."
Markie Miller, organizer with TSW, reports:

"I have been trying to find information on this Real Solutions for Lake Erie - I am assuming it is the exact same as the Toledo Jobs and Growth Coalition, but it helps to have some proof. what I did discover though and again, to no surprise, was the Mahoning Valley Jobs and Growth Coalition filed last year by David Langdon. 

Youngstown Registration: https://bizimage.sos.state.oh.us/api/image/pdf/201826303340…
These two documents are identical, but it might help with anyone you know that is skeptical of us saying this is just industry hiring corporate lawyers to do their dirty work. 

Toledo Registration: https://bizimage.sos.state.oh.us/api/image/pdf/201903601378

The Ohio Growth Partnership is listed with a Columbus address, but when I googled it I got a listing for a real estate property and when you look up that name it just goes to David Langdon again in West Chester, OH. https://bizimage.sos.state.oh.us/api/image/pdf/201826103364

Just interesting stuff you might wanna look at."

The next week is going to be tough, because the attack ads might migrate to television, newsprint and mailers as well as radio ads and text messages, but the local activists of Toledoans for Safe Water aren't going to stop. It's been over two years for these fighters working on collecting the 10, 600+ signatures to place this citizens initiative on the ballot, fighting tooth and nail against Toledo City Council and the Lucas County Board of Elections and facing challenges from the Ohio Supreme Court to this day.   If these obstacles haven't shut them down, why would a bunch of billionaires hiding behind their lobbyists and PR firms have any chance of doing so? 

Here's to "gutsy Midwestern self-respect and determination"!

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From Faithful America:

President Trump’s so-called "national emergency" on the border comes as a church and cemetery in Texas is on the verge of being forever cut off from the rest of the United States.

Jackson Chapel United Methodist Church in San Juan, Texas is the first Spanish-speaking Protestant church in America. Its origins go back to the 1850s: The property was a stop on the Underground Railroad and the chapel was built by an interracial family whose descendants continue to live nearby.
Construction is scheduled to begin next month on 33 miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley.

Customs and Border Patrol has so far ignored neighbors’ attempts to ensure that the wall and accompanying 150-foot enforcement zone don’t cut right through the middle of the church and cemetery grounds - forever separating their family’s gravesites from the rest of the United States.

Tell Customs and Border Patrol: Save historic church and cemetery from Trump’s wall.

- Michael

From Friends of the Earth:
Constant efforts from Friends of the Earth members like you pushed Kroger to phase out its use of bee-toxic pesticides on the garden plants it sells -- but these and other toxic pesticides are still making their way onto Kroger’s shelves in our food.  New tests by Friends of the Earth found that Kroger brand breakfast cereal, apples, applesauce and pinto beans contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. Do you want brain-damaging, cancer-causing or bee-killing pesticides in the food that you or your family eat? I sure do not. 

Supermarkets like Kroger could take action to make sure the food we buy doesn’t contain these toxic pesticides. But we need your help to convince Kroger to act NOW. That’s why people across the country will be participating in a national action to deliver letters to Kroger stores demanding that it take immediate action to address this issue. We need you to join them!
Visit a Kroger-owned store Feb 23rd - Feb 26th: Sign up to deliver a letter to your local store manager asking them to take immediate action! We’ll send you everything you need to visit your local store.

Kroger is the largest traditional supermarket in the country. It owns over 3,600 stores. Aside from “Kroger” stores, the retail giant owns the following stores too: Baker’s Supermarkets, City Market, Dillons Food Store, Fry’s Food and Drug, Gerbes Super Markets, Harris Teeter, Jay C Food Stores, King Soopers, Kroger, Owen’s, Pay Less Super Markets, QFC, Ralphs, Pick ‘n Save, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Metro Market, Copps, Scott’s, Smith’s, Fred Meyer, Foods Co. and Ruler Foods.

This means that if you have one of these stores in your community, it is owned by Kroger and could be selling food with toxic pesticides too. We found that samples of Kroger brand food tested at an independent lab contained glyphosate, which is linked to cancer, DNA damage, endocrine disruption and is a driver of monarch butterfly decline. We also found Kroger brand food contained organophosphate pesticides, which are associated with reduced IQ, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and are extremely toxic to wildlife. We also found neonicotinoids, which are a leading driver of bee decline and associated with hormone disruption.

The Trump administration is running the EPA, which means we can’t count on the federal government to get these pesticides out of our food system. We need Kroger to step up and clean up its supply chain!

Will you join us?
Help save bees and make sure Kroger commits to selling food free of toxic pesticides. Sign up to deliver letters to your local Kroger-owned store Feb 23rd – Feb 26th. 

Kroger is dragging its feet to act. Last June it pledged to phase out bee-toxic pesticides on the plants that it sells. This is a good first step, but it doesn’t address the toxic pesticides in its food. We can’t let this retail giant off the hook by doing nothing to address the bulk of the products that it sells. 
We need people across the country to ramp up pressure on this retail giant by demanding that Kroger and all of the stores that it owns immediately commit to stop selling food with toxic pesticides linked to cancer and brain damage. Can we count on your support?

Will you help ramp up the pressure? Delivering a letter is fun and easy. Sign up now and we’ll send you a printable letter and step-by-step guide to make your delivery a success. 

Standing with you,
Tiffany Finck-Haynes,
Pesticides and pollinators program manager,
Friends of the Earth

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