Letters to the Editor - Nov. 10

November 10, 2012

County’s deal for school land still needs to be explained

To the editor:

I was struck by a question not answered by Commissioner William McKinley in his Oct. 2 letter regarding the recent purchase of land for the proposed West City elementary school. Assuming that McKinley’s facts are accurate, he still has not answered the question that lends a certain odor to this purchase.

First, it stretches the imagination of any Washington County homeowner who has endured the settlement on a mere house to believe that The Rachuba Group received approval on their site plan in 2006, but none of its officers or lawyers, nor any county officials, noticed that the necessary signatures were absent.

Second, officials with Hagers Crossing Multifamily LLC owned the property in November of 2011, and sometime between then and the recent sale to the county noticed the signatures weren’t attached. If the appropriate signatures were missing, then the plan had not been approved by definition. 

Third, no one should be angry at Hagers Crossing Multifamily LLC as they are in the business of making money — and they made some. The problem is how three commissioners decided to spend our money by buying property whose lineage is questionable.

I would like to know, and the citizens of Washington County deserve to know, who is ultimately responsible for the assumption that signatures missing from a 6-year-old document could simply be attached retroactively, thereby tripling the price of a piece of property that was under consideration as a possible school site?

Until it can be determined, perhaps in court, that the site plan with the missing signatures was valid in the first place, the commissioners need to declare this sale null and void. To allow this transaction to stand — given the incredible circumstances of the sale — only increases the notion, fair or not, that this deal was unethical if not illegal.

Mr. McKinley, maybe Washington County paid too much and maybe we didn’t, but we deserve to know with 100 percent certainty that the deal was properly processed. After all, the county insists the settlement papers on our homes be 100 percent processed. The commissioners should be held to the same standard.

Kurt Britner

Oil companies seem not to care about environment

To the editor:

I would like to comment on a column that appeared some time ago in The Herald-Mail by Art Callaham, who was discussing the behavior of corporations regarding the environment.

I believe Mr. Callaham is being too kind to and apologizing for the oil industries. I would like to point to a few facts. Exxon Valdez spilled crude oil, which caused a tremendous damage to the environment in the Pacific Ocean. Polluted places are not fully recovered yet. This does not say much for a company that cares for the environment. Considering the fact that a person may be put in jail for not paying a parking fine, it is unconscionable to think that Exxon can get away with it.

The Gulf Coast oil spill by BP was, in part, the result of disregard for safety. Cutting corners to save money cannot be considered a responsible act. Fishermen who were not able to fish as a result of the spill were offered the job of cleaning the oil spill. Now, they are suffering from breathing difficulties. 

A recent article in Science, written by three scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, clearly indicates the effort used by BP to suppress their finding regarding the quantity of oil spilled into sea. In fact, it is alleged that BP attempted to destroy the estimate of spill by their own engineers. Certainly, this does not bode well for a company that projects an environmentally responsible attitude.

This kind of corporate behavior should be judged against NASA, which spent a lot of effort and money to ensure the safety of its astronauts. They tried to eliminate risks as far as possible within their ability. This should have been the norm for the oil companies to follow. Unfortunately, it seems that the first objective is to make money with little incentive to care about the environment.

I should know it. I used to work for one.

S.V. Yumlu

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