Founder of USUncut, the group holding tax dodger protests at noon today:
This story’s about Texas, but I know that soon this will be even more parts of Pennsylvania, thanks to the political payoffs the gas industry invested in our new governor Tom Corbett, who is so firmly in their pocket, he might as well be lint. If we know there’s one thing Republicans cherish, it’s their right to allow their corporate patrons to fuck up the environment and then blame the Democrats who have to come in and clean it up!
Fearing for his children’s health, Mayor Calvin Tillman is leaving behind his government position and getting out of Dodge… or rather, Dish.
Dish, Texas is a town consisting of 200 residents and 60 gas wells. When Tillman’s sons repeatedly woke up in the middle of the night with mysterious nosebleeds, he knew it was time to move — even if it meant leaving his community behind. In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, Mayor Tillman reveals that when it came down to family or politics, the choice wasn’t a tough one to make.
Tillman, first elected mayor of Dish, Texas in 2007, has spent his time in office fighting to regulate natural gas companies that are drilling into the Barnett shale, which holds up to 735 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
According to the Associated Press, residents of Dish have complained of nosebleeds, pain, and poor circulation since the first compressor station was built in their town in 2005, though there is no hard proof linking the health problems to the natural gas drilling. The air over the Barnett Shale near Dish was found to contain high levels of the toxic chemical benzene, shown to cause cancer. The town’s mayor is leaving it all behind.
Last Memorial Day was the final straw. Tillman’s 5-year-old son awoke in the middle of the night with a severe nosebleed. As Tillman describes to HuffPost, “He had blood all over his hands, blood on the walls — our house looked somewhat like a murder scene.” In the weeks prior, both of Tillman’s sons had experienced severe nosebleeds. At the same time, the town was surrounded by a strong odor from their natural gas facilities.
While Mayor Tillman acknowledges there could be other explanations, he feels, “It’s one thing if I’m exposing myself to something… but with our children, it’s just a completely different story. We just couldn’t take the chance after that.” Around the country, similar reports of nosebleeds can be found among residents living near hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” sites, though the energy companies insist that their methods are safe.
“Safe” as in, nobody can pin it to us quickly enough to keep us from drilling until it’s too late.
I wasn’t there because of the heavy rain, but lots of other people were:
TRENTON — In front of a crowd of thousands of protesters, the president of the state’s largest teachers union accused Gov. Chris Christie of trying to foment a civil war within the middle-class.
“All of New Jersey’s middle-class is hurting, but this governor and his right-wing supporters are trying to start a middle-class civil war,” said New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian.
As she spoke, thousands of public workers filled the street in front of the Statehouse, wearing ponchos and holding umbrellas to keep as dry as possible in the pouring rain. State Police estimated the crowd at 3,100.
The rally, organized by the state AFL-CIO, was both aimed at pushing back against benefit concessions demanded by Christie, and in support of Wisconsin public unions, who are fighting Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to roll back their collective bargaining rights.
In his budget address earlier this week, Christie said private sector workers “support the rich benefits of public employees.” He’s pushing for major givebacks from the workforce, including paying more towards their health premiums and downgrading future pension benefits.
Local union officials spoke one after another at today’s rally, each handing over checks to Wisconsin AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale, who told the crowd “our fight is your fight, and our fight is for the middle-class.”
The featured speaker, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, compared Christie to Walker and other Republican governors, saying “they were not elected to dictate.”
“They were elected to solve problems, not create conflict,” Trumka said.
About half a block away from the rally was a counter-protest led by Americans for Prosperity New Jersey Director Steve Lonegan.
“Here’s our message to our friends down the block: Go back to work. We’re paying you,” said Lonegan, who told the crowd that “the battle that you’re seeing today is a war against the taxpayers.”
MADISON—Following action by lawmakers to approve a rule change that clears the way for closing down the State Capitol and ejecting the people protesting Governor Walker’s bill to curtail union activity, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association called on the governor today to keep the capitol building open and allow the peaceful protesters to remain.
“The law enforcement officers from across the state that have been working at the Capitol and have been very impressed with how peaceful everyone has been,” said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer.
“As has been reported in the media, the protesters are cleaning up after themselves and have not caused any problems. The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate most union activity in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public. The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.”
Palmer also announced that, beginning tonight, the WPPA is formally requesting its members from across the state to come to the Capitol to sleep amongst the throngs of other union supporters.
“Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and
Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” continued Palmer.
“That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”
After being booed by the other patrons, the owners asked WI Gov. Scott Walker to leave a Madison restaurant. (And the blogger who wrote about it took down the name of the restaurant after the owners started getting threats. Guess one of the wingnut terror monkeys smelled liberal prey!)
Shawn Colvin, ’88 Philly Folk Fest (I was there):