In refusing debate, VLCIA staff are following orders from their board

We’ve seen Brad Lofton write I will not debate you over e-mail and We will not, however, debate you over e-mail meanwhile refusing to put tax-funded presentations and videos up for public view through the VLCIA website, and offering personal meetings instead. Having experienced one of those personal meetings down at VLCIA HQ, and having heard from others who have attended them, I know of no substantive debate that happened at those indoctrination sessions, either. Any attempt at debate or even to get Lofton to produce the scientific evidence he claims he has ends with a proclamation like this one from September:
We’re moving forward with permits in hand.
or this one from December:
We’re moving forward now, and we are looking forward to the ground breaking which will be Spring of 2011.

But let’s not be too hard on VLCIA staff. At the 21 Dec 2010 board meeting, it became clear from start (invocation) to finish that the board considers itself empowered to make decisions for the community. On the biomass issue, Gary Minchew asserted that there had been enough debate, and it was time to move on. No video; sorry, but minutes of the 11 Nov 2010 Valdosta City Council meeting include this:

Gary Minchew, 908 Moss Way, stated that he is currently a member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority and has applied for a second term. Mr. Minchew stated that he has read about the Biomass Project in the newspaper and he called Ms. Touchton and asked for a meeting with her and Dr. and Ms. Noll to discuss the Project. Mr. Minchew stated that they met today and his proposal was for the Industrial Authority to have one more public meeting with 15 minutes of pros and cons and then hopefully that will be the end of discussion. He had also suggested that they select a spokesperson and the Industrial Authority would have Wiregrass send a representative to explain the project. They agreed and hopefully this will get this off of Council’s desk.
Fifteen minutes for each side? What kind of debate is that? Especially considering that the day before, 10 Nov 2010, VLCIA had already posted on its facebook page:
The Industrial Authority stands behind its decision for the construction of Wiregrass Power LLC and feels like this green project will be a win/win for the community.

And the actual event on 6 Dec 2010 didn’t even do that: no panelists opposed the biomass plant. One panelist summarized the position of all of them:

“these things do prop up the local economy, period, end of discussion.”
The VLCIA’s hand-picked moderator, Scott James, can also be heard saying:
“we’re not going to get into debate”.

Two weeks later, Col. Ricketts referred to that 6 Dec 2010 event as:

our information exchange and panel discussion
I don’t think those words mean what he thinks they mean. He also described it more accurately as
our culminating event
In other words, as I suspected before they held it, the so-called “Forum” of December 6th was just another indoctrination session.

Norman Bennett went further in the VLCIA board meeting, saying the problem was lack of unity in the community. No board member disagreed with Minchew or Bennett on their biomass points.

Before the “Forum” the VDT warned:

The onus is on you, the Authority, to handle this in a much more professional manner than the last Sterling project.
I’m not sure that by “in a more professional manner” the VDT meant stage more polished shows.

While Brad Lofton and Col. Ricketts are the front men, staff are just following orders from the board. The unelected VLCIA board that spends 1 mil of dedicated tax money disregards citizens’ concerns, is not interested in debate, and regards the biomass plant as a done deal.


1 thought on “In refusing debate, VLCIA staff are following orders from their board

  1. matthew richard

    something stinks in lowndes county . . . our elected officials are betraying us with their environmental recklessness and their dishonest tactics . . . i hope every one of them loses their seat . . . we’re following the money . . .

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