This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Thursday, October 10, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
193.....Ongoing News and Old Issues
196.....Further Bizarre revelations in 2018
199.....Lanxess Show Their Colours
Ongoing News and Old Issues
The April 22, 2017 Record published a story about the purchase of Chemtura Canada by Lanxess Canada.215 Lanxess was a subsidiary of Bayer AG, the chemical and pharmaceutical giant founded in Germany. Lanxess representatives claimed that they will support and follow through on all ongoing environmental plans in Elmira, underway by its predecessors Chemtura Canada.
In June 2017, the “Elmira Boundary Rationalization” plan was in full gear. There had been a few public meetings in the past discussing this somewhat radical turnaround from previous plans which had appeared to favour both industrial development and an Elmira vehicle by-pass on the west side of Elmira. The by-pass had long been promised by senior levels of government as it would remove stinky and unhealthy diesel fueled trucks from proceeding slowly through the downtown area of Elmira. Additionally the intersection of Arthur Street (Hwy #85) and Church Street (Hwy #86) is narrow and congested even without truck traffic. Any truck making a left turn from Church Street onto Arthur Street would back up traffic behind it. This intersection had also been a factor in the opposition to the proposed Bio-En plant from a few years earlier. That plant was located just north of the Arthur and Church Street intersection and the additional truck traffic bringing in foodstuffs for production of methane at the plant was a concern for locals living nearby.
While no one denies that congestion in the Elmira downtown area and the need for a by-pass exists, the idea of placing the by-pass on the east side instead of the west side of Elmira seems bizarre. First, the Canagagigue Creek floods during spring runoffs and also during heavy rainstorms. To punctuate this reality the tremendous rainfall during June 2017 caused extensive flooding across Arthur Street north barely a quarter mile north of the Arthur and Church Street intersection and it also flooded immediately downstream of the Chemtura now Lanxess 25 Erb Street property. Bolender Park just across Church Street from Lanxess was similarly submerged. The second problem is contamination both in and along the Creek and likely on the Stroh and Martin farms, which would be part of the proposed by-pass and east side developed lands.
Was the intent to save millions in remediation costs by rezoning these farms from agricultural/residential to commercial/industrial? With such a rezoning the cleanup criteria are dramatically decreased thus resulting in a reduction of actual cleanup work and associated costs. In effect, the filling in of contaminated low lying areas would essentially just bury DDT, dioxins/furans, and other POPs such as PCBs and mercury.
Furthermore there were suspicions that this east side by-pass was going to be a more expensive route with the low elevation requiring major quantities of fill to be placed in order to raise the new north-south highway (i.e. the by-pass) above the floodplain. A long and expensive bridge would also be required on the east side due to the flooding of the Canagagiguie Creek.
Another ongoing issue had to be the pathetic failure of Chemtura and then Lanxess to elevate the off-site pumping in the Elmira aquifers to the promises made by Chemtura Canada and CRA in November 2012. These promises were frankly incredible at the time but Chemtura was beginning to get a lot of pressure from multiple sources over its long time commitment to restore the Elmira aquifers to drinking water standards by 2028. In May 2012, the still relatively new CPAC with professional outside expertise combined with professional inside expertise had publicly determined that the likelihood of Chemtura achieving drinking water standards in the Elmira aquifers was essentially zero. CPAC members presented their information to all parties including Woolwich Council and the local news media. Of course, both Chemtura representatives and the Ontario MOE West Central Region went ballistic with denials, only to roll over six months later in November 2012 with the stunning announcement that independently they had determined that they were not going to make their 2028 commitment and deadline unless major changes were made. All of this was discussed back in Chapter Fourteen. Well, five years after those announcements (November 2017) the off-site containment & treatment system’s pumping rates had indeed been increased to between sixty-two and sixty-four litres per second from the November 2012 rate of approximately fifty-two litres per second. This increase was neither the initial promise of triple nor the later promise of a doubling of the pumping rates. Moreover the promised in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) or off-site source removal did not happen either. The actual increase in pumping was about twenty-one percent. These numbers include all the off-site pumping wells at the time.
The more I’ve learned over the last few decades both environmentally and politically, the more of a cynic I have become. I really was, up until age fourty, very unworldly. I truly believed that mankind and the world were on a one way direction of improvement and enlightenment. I actually believed that our governments consisted of the best and brightest among us with the majority never losing sight of the public interest. Life in all its grandeur and disappointment has intruded upon that fantasy. It’s really only been the last twenty years at the most that I’ve also understood that politics and the environment are horribly intertwined. Horribly intertwined because politics are the absolute boss of whatever actually does get accomplished to delay the likely and inevitable crash of the human race on earth. In fact, in my worst moments, I only hope that when mankind becomes extinct on this earth that people don’t destroy all remaining life along with themselves.
In May 2017, I received ten reports written by Conestoga Rovers & Associates between 1983 and 2015. The reports had almost nothing to do with Uniroyal Chemical, or so I thought when I first received them. They were, in fact, technical reports describing methane problems at the former Bolender Landfill. Somewhat to my surprise many of these reports referred to the landfill as the Bolender Park Landfill. I did not know the exact location of the landfill but had always assumed that it was directly underneath the current park itself. According to these reports that was not so. In one of the reports the park land was identified to the immediate south of the former landfill and butted against the north side of Church Street in Elmira.
I found the material in the ten reports both shocking and devastating. Once again I learned the hard way through experience as to how perfidious the local political scene actually is. The Canagagigue Creek, a tributary of the Grand River, runs in a generally north-west to south-east direction from its source north of Floradale, Ontario to its mouth at the Grand River, just south of the village of West Montrose. The landfill was located on the east side of the Creek as was the park just south of it although there was a footbridge across the Creek to a small piece of parkland on the west side of the Creek butting up against Church Street. Now, what shocked me was learning the history of the search leading up to 1962 for a new landfill for Elmira. The landfill was located and operated from 1962 until 1970 and I was appalled to learn who had been in charge of it. The Town Council of Elmira had a Sanitation Committee whose members directed the search for the new landfill just prior to the closing of the municipal landfill (M2) in 1962 now located on the south-west corner of the Uniroyal/Lanxess property. The Chair of the Sanitation Committee in 1962 was Councillor Art Gorman, General Manager of Uniroyal Chemical at that time. To add insult to injury this Sanitation Committee was in charge of accepting industrial wastes at the Bolender Landfill. These CRA reports as well as reports written in the 1980s and early 1990s by consultants such as CH2M HILL and others suggest that Uniroyal’s industrial wastes may have been limited to filter cloths and some resins. I’m sorry but this is an absolute classic case of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Uniroyal and many other local industries had been using the Elmira town dumps for decades and the likelihood of either Woolwich Council or the Sanitation Committee with Art Gorman as chair turning down industrial wastes of any kind seems to me to be remote.
During the summer and fall of 2017, I went to Woolwich Council as a delegate five different times all in regards to the methane issues at the former Bolender Park Landfill. I was careful to always present different and new information and discoveries so as not to disturb the tender sensitivities of this council. Recall that a little over a year earlier they had been publicly humiliated -- this time in regards to their blatant attempt to censor topics going to council meetings for discussion. When their censorship was exposed they then made a feeble attempt to rewrite what they had said and done but all the local news media including those in Kitchener-Waterloo were all over their excuses. My delegations were factual and straightforward. I included both titles and page number references to specific CRA reports written about the landfill. It was like talking to a bunch of rocks. I believe that over the course of five presentations to council on this subject I may have been asked one question. Even Councillor Merlihan seemed to keep his head down. Sometimes there were no questions for me and I returned to my seat in the gallery. Dan Kennaly, Woolwich Township staff answered a question or two from Woolwich councillors. I often found that his answers did not coincide with the CRA information in its reports. Some of my follow-up delegations referred to incorrect answers and statements made after I had sat down at the end of my previous delegation. Some of these corrections referred to detections of methane far in excess of the lower explosive limit (LEL) at the monitors on the east side of the landfill, particularly close to the west end of High Street and the homes nearby. Other information I presented included homeowners on George Street indicating that the garbage limits were not as indicated in the CRA reports but extended right to their backyards bordering Bolender Park. I even had a copy of a soil investigation report done prior to the construction of the new children’s splash pad in the park. The soil investigation report indicated a larger area of garbage disposal and the CRA reports indicated the severity of the explosive methane concentrations detected over the previous thirty-four years and as recently as 2015. Woolwich Councillors were in full denial and ostrich mode throughout my five delegations.
Woolwich Councillors were also in a dispute with Frank Rattasid, the new owner of 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers Inc., who was not amused to learn that he’d been sold a bill of goods by the Township regarding the methane issues on the property at 39 Arthur Street North in Elmira. The previous owner was Mr. Paleshi and he had had a gas station and auto recycling yard on the property for decades. He had cooperated with Woolwich Township in regards to allowing access to his land to install both methane monitoring probes as well as installing a methane collection system. There had been consistent problems and issues with the collection system as well as with various probes over the decades. After reading the reports and conducting some independent research, I had concluded that Woolwich Township and their consultants, Conestoga Rovers, had been less than diligent in their combined efforts, actions, and decisions to protect potential victims of methane concentrations that could result in highly explosive conditions in any area of buildings where ignition sources existed such as gas water heaters and furnaces, fireplaces, or machinery. The machinery reference is primarily in regards to the Elmira Pet Products Co. plant on the north side of the former Bolender Park Landfill. I understand that over the decades there have been a number of small fires and strange happenings on the property. One of the most bizarre was in regards to the death at work of an experienced, long-time employee. The circumstances were incredibly difficult and awful for the man’s family as he was working the night shift and was alone at the time. The next morning, a Saturday, when he did not return home by the expected time his wife drove over to the plant. She found him dead on the floor. While there obviously is no good way to find a spouse or family member has passed on, this clearly had to be terrible. There was much speculation as to the cause of death including electrocution and even what appeared as a grasping-at-straws suggestion that lightning may have hit the building potentially causing the electrocution. To date, I have not seen any follow-up conclusions as to the cause of death. While his death may be unrelated to high methane readings found on their property decades ago, I am unaware of any investigation to determine that. I criticize the CRA representatives for their early abandonment to monitor the Elmira Pet Products Co. property. It seems peculiar to me that dangerously high methane readings both on the east side near High Street and George Street homes as well as north of the site (at Elmira Pet Products Co.) were not followed up with regular monitoring whether or not new probes were needed to replace either damaged or missing probes.
On August 4, 2017 the Woolwich Observer published an excellent editorial suggesting that diligence and care is needed to ensure the safety of residents as well as of owners and workers at the 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers Inc. operating on the 39 Arthur Street site. The Observer also published the following story with the unfortunate and probably inaccurate title “Elevated methane levels at former Elmira Landfill don’t extend to nearby residents."216 Let’s give the Observer the benefit of the doubt and suggest that those responsible for the title were simply being optimistic and upbeat with the title and story. They appeared to have accepted assurances from Woolwich staff as well as the MOE at face value. I have learned over the decades never to do so. If they had the facts to support their positions, then fine. Otherwise not. There were also suggestions in the Observer editorial that the MOE were in fact on the job, monitoring the situation. That may have sent alarm bells ringing through those Elmira residents who remember the hollow assurances of the MOE both before and after the Elmira Water Crisis starting in November 1989.
In November 2017, I submitted a typed list of fourty questions to Woolwich staff and councillors in relation to the Bolender Park Landfill. Some of the questions were historic in nature and several were questions regarding current actions and efforts underway as recent as 2015. Woolwich Council and staff did what they do best, which was to stall for months. In conversation with Woolwich Councillor Pat Merlihan, I was advised that a staff report had been written and was to be submitted to councillors for discussion at their March 6, 2018 council meeting. Staff submitted the methane report to councillors who approved the report. Having gained a much better understanding of this township’s actual procedures versus its written ones, I expect that this report met council’s private approval first before being trotted out for public review.
Apparently Staff were advised not to answer allegedly “historic“ questions from the previous November. No rationale was given to me as to why. Staff, therefore, answered only two of my fourty questions in the report. Even at that, I found the answers inadequate. Councillors once again swept a potentially dangerous problem under the rug while hiding behind their consultants, CRA, as well as the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This hiding is exactly what successive councils did for decades while Elmira’s water was slowly contaminated with carcinogenic industrial chemicals. I find that politicians learn nothing from history, and in fact do their best to avoid it. It seems to me voters also have short memories and do not remove incompetent, lazy, or biased councillors from office.
Frank Rattasid spoke at Woolwich Council on a number of occasions. His family business was started in Elmira in 2016 and Mr. Rattasid was often accompanied to council meetings by his wife and son, Frank Rattasid Jr. These were not naïve or inexperienced people either in the business world or the political world. They had legitimate concerns with not only the suddenly reappearing methane issues but also with Woolwich Township’s rather peculiar attitude towards their business. Both Frank and his son spoke to councillors at length in regards to business problems they were having with Woolwich staff. Some of the business problems included a pretty clear bias against 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers Inc. engaging in metal recycling. Considering that a major part of automobiles is the steel and other metal parts, that is odd on the face of it. There is also the issue of accepting junk metal of all kinds and paying customers for it rather than the customers leaving it in backyards or ditches. Woolwich staff gave the Rattasids a hard time about their having a large bin out for customers to dispose their worn out and broken metal parts, appliances, tools, etc. into. This objection was only slightly lessened after Frank provided photographs of other businesses around Elmira with outside metal bins for collecting metal garbage.
Another bone of contention above and beyond the methane issues was the discovery of an illegal municipal waterline crossing the Rattasids property. This waterline ran parallel to the eastern property line of 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers Inc. and provided water to the Elmira Pet Products Co. on the north side of the recycling company. Apparently, even before Mr. Chris Paleshi owned the property, Woolwich Township had permitted the then owners of the former landfill to run the waterline across their property and to connect it into the municipal waterline already in existence on High Street. The owners at the time and the Martin Pet Foods Plant did not have any legal easement on the deed to the property. Mr. Paleshi has since indicated that he did not know that this waterline ran across his property and so Mr. Rattasid was unaware when he bought the property that this waterline existed.
It is my understanding that Mr. Rattasid is not opposed to assisting Woolwich Township’s methane problem including further incursions on his private property. He is opposed however to giving Woolwich Township carte blanche to continue doing as they see fit, whenever they so choose on his private property. He is aware that, for example, the illegal waterline just north of his property crosses provincial land (former railroad line) and that a modest fee is paid to the province by the Township for that incursion. He is also aware after reading and having discussions that Woolwich Township have not properly attended to nor responded appropriately to three decades of technical reports regarding the production, migration, and collection of explosive levels of methane gas in and around his property. Mr. Rattasid’s son, Frank Jr. and I carefully read the collection of CRA technical reports and certainly we were not impressed with either the monitoring or maintenance that was done on the gas collection system over the decades for the Bolender Park Landfill site. The utter failure of the collection system (for various reasons including the collection probes being regularly flooded with groundwater) probably contributed to the longevity of the problems. CRA personnel on occasion offered strong recommendations such as the installation of methane warning devices in High Street homes that appeared not to have been communicated to the homeowners nor acted on by Woolwich staff or council. In my opinion this entire file has been mishandled and considering the dangers of explosion involved, probably to the point of negligence based on reading the CRA reports, my own research, and receiving what I view as inadequate responses to questions I asked Woolwich staff and council.
Further Bizarre Revelations In 2018
The citizens of Woolwich Township were greeted with the fabulous spectre of a midterm councillor resignation. The spectre was fabulous because it was the least qualified, most inexperienced councillor, Scott Hahn who resigned. Also you will recall that Councillor Hahn had the most blatant, most obviously egregious, Electoral Financial Statement possible with the exception of Councillor Mark Bauman who managed not to submit anything. Councillor Hahn’s Electoral Financial Statement initially had only approximately two hundred and fifty dollars worth of expenses noted, which ended up being slightly north of three thousand dollars when the smoke cleared. The ensuing gamesmanship by him and by the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) was a ridiculous disgrace and all credit goes to Dr. Dan Holt, CPAC member and former chair, who brought these provincial election law violations to the MECAC’s and the public’s attention.
Why was this resignation a spectre in the first place? It’s not as if citizens are legally or even morally obligated under all circumstances to complete their elected terms of office. Some elected citizens have died while holding office and obviously were unable to complete their term. Others have had major health reversals resulting in either surgeries or bed rest or otherwise being physically incapable of attending to their duties. Perhaps some have suffered close family members either becoming very sick or even passing on. None of these were the case regarding Councillor Hahn. In fact, the word spectre might be inappropriate except that his replacement for the rest of the term actually ended up being someone with even less municipal management knowledge than he had, if that were possible.
Mr. Hahn was elected based on the usual in Woolwich Township, namely a well-known in the area last name. Additionally, he had spent time in the militia drinking and socializing with like minded individuals. He had spent nine months overseas in Afghanistan and certainly there is a lot of respect in Elmira for military veterans. With those qualifications he was elected instead of mature, educated, intelligent, and experienced citizens who could have stepped in immediately and helped manage Woolwich Township in a professional manner. It is of course not Mr. Hahn’s fault that the citizens who elected him were so foolish as to ignore far better qualified candidates. It’s even ironic with the current emphasis on qualified persons (QP) allegedly, only being allowed to attend so-called expert, technical meetings with Lanxess and the MOE. If followed to its logical conclusions, one must ask if only QPs should be allowed to run for public office or whether only QPs be allowed to vote for our elected representatives.
Councillor Hahn resigned from elected office in January 2018 citing that he was too busy. Really? When he ran for office he was a young husband and father of twenty-six years of age without municipal, political, or based on his age even much life experience. He had a full-time job in his father’s business, his own home to maintain plus he had a wife and very young children. I wondered early on why he ran for municipal office in the first place. Supposedly, shortly before his resignation, he’d been given a promotion by his father in the family business. This reason was given publicly for his inability to finish out his term. A skeptic on the other hand might speculate that Mr. Hahn, son and father, may have decided that after all the negative publicity including MECAC, court dates, and media stories, that Mr. Scott Hahn’s chances of re-election were slim, and thus, why wait for the inevitable loss .
Later in January 2018, the first runner-up for Ward One councillor in the 2014 municipal election, Dr. Dan Holt, addressed Woolwich Councillors. He advised them that in October 2014, thirteen hundred voters had expressed their wishes that he represent them at council and with the resignation of Scott Hahn he was prepared to do so. Of course these were the very same Woolwich Councillors who had decided to roll over in 2015 and let Chemtura Canada and the MOE continue to have their way in all matters pertaining to the decades long, already admitted failed groundwater cleanup by 2028. This incompetent council viciously and dishonestly threw out CPAC while lying through their teeth in regards to Dr. Holt, me, and other CPAC members. This same council had been caught red-handed and in 2016 exposed censoring citizen delegations speaking to council in regards to the Chemtura cleanup efforts. Woolwich Councillors quickly made it clear that they, and they alone, had the final say as to how a new councillor would be chosen to replace Scott Hahn. While the final decision was theirs they did have to follow the rules in the Municipal Act of Ontario. Unfortunately, the Act gives councils considerable leeway in choosing which selection method to use. Councillor Merlihan advised his fellow councillors that the quickest, least expensive, and least disruptive choice acceptable according to the Municipal Act and in his opinion most democratic was for Woolwich Council to indeed appoint the first runner-up, Dr. Holt, who had already advised that he was willing and available. Apparently Woolwich Councillors had absolutely no intention of doing what was most democratic or most fair. They decided by vote of three to two to go through a two month, expensive, and time-wasting formal Application process. While this decision was a poor one, it paled in comparison to council’s complete disregard and disrespect both for its own process but also for the ten applicants who followed the process in good faith. To say that this council lacked any shred of decency, fair play, or respect of due process became obvious to all who followed this disgusting and contemptible sham.
The Waterloo Region Record carried an opinion piece by Luisa D’Amato titled, “In Woolwich a vacant council seat exposes bitter divisions.” Ms. D’Amato quoted Mayor Shantz as suggesting that there is a learning curve to becoming a councillor. Dr. Holt rather dryly advised that his having a PhD pretty much validates his ability to learn and quickly. Mayor Shantz suggested that she owes it to other interested candidates including former councillor Julie-Anne Herteis to open up the application process. Ms. D’Amato of the Record also quoted Richard Clausi who stated that “There is a lot of bad blood that revolves around the environmental problems we have here."217 That was the gist of it as Sandy Shantz had no intentions, after slandering Dr. Holt less than three years earlier, to have Dr. Holt then sit on council with her.
The February 1, 2018 Woolwich Observer carried both a cartoon showing a Kool Aid jug present during council discussions as well as an editorial titled, “Put public first in filling council seat."218 The cartoon with the Kool Aid jug is, of course referencing the poisoned Kool Aid used in the Jonestown mass suicides and massacre. The editorial writer advises readers that involved citizens with a true desire to further the public interest need only apply. The writer suggests that those “inside the bubble” such as staff have different priorities than the elected councillors. Or at least councillors should be looking at the big picture and not agreeing to spending that does little for the public while satisfying administrative needs and program spending only. The Observer’s editorial makes it clear that a new councillor must be careful not to be co-opted by the entrenched system in place.
On February 8, 2018, the Woolwich Observer published an editorial titled “Vacancy gambit means council has to deliver.” Councillors did no such thing. The “vacancy gambit” consisted of two councillors, Murray Martin and Larry Shantz, in concert with pretend Mayor Sandy Shantz, spouting platitudes about “due consideration” and “keeping options open.” As the title of the editorial states filling the vacant councillor’s position was nothing but a gambit. The editorial states that the most democratic decision would have been appointing Dr. Dan Holt so that 1,036 Woolwich citizens would choose Dr. Holt rather than five councillors doing the choosing. In fact it was the same three: Martin, and the two distantly related Shantzs who ended up eventually choosing Julie-Anne Herteis for the vacant council seat.219
In this same edition of the Woolwich Observer its cartoonist “Arnold,” had his cartoon published titled “Big Brother Woolwich.” The five councillors are seated exactly as they voted, across from each other, with Murray Martin saying “I sure know who I don’t want in our house” and Sandy Shantz stating, “We’ve got to stick together on this one.” The caption at the bottom says “First there was Big Brother. Then Big Brother Canada. Now the finest in reality TV comes to Woolwich in the selection of a new member of the household…” The nearly ubiquitous Kool-Aid jug is also in the cartoon and the meaning of the cartoon is crystal clear: Three members of Woolwich Council will pick the replacement for Scott Hahn, not based upon merit or the voters’ wishes, but upon their personal comfort level with sitting with the individual over the next eight months.220
The process was a horror show! It wasn’t even well orchestrated and orchestrated it was. Most of the other eight applicants who went to the trouble of applying in writing, attending a council meeting, and then speaking for ten minutes made no attempt to throw their names in the ring for the municipal election eight months later. All these excellent candidates learned as I had that local politics in Woolwich is all smoke and mirrors. The Council was a self-entitled clique focused on maintaining the status quo and not rocking the boat. Dr. Holt was way too honest and decent for their likes combined with commitment and strong character. They couldn’t baffle him nor could they intimidate him. Councillors were incensed when simple Todd Cowan won the mayor’s chair over Bill Strauss and Pat McLean so they sure as heck weren’t even going to open the door a crack for Dr. Holt. A couple of them might even have been embarrassed after council’s tacit and explicit libeling of Dr. Holt’s character and skills from three years earlier, followed by his publicly humbling the pack of them in 2016. Having to serve with him even for eight months on council would be way too close to eating crow for them, and the electorate be damned.
In mid- February the Observer published an article titled, “Woolwich sets out process for filling vacant council seat” and on March 1, 2018 an article titled, “Woolwich picks former councillor to fill vacant seat.” Steve Kannon of the Observer states: “Herteis was selected by the five remaining councillors from among ten candidates at a special Woolwich council session Tuesday night, winning three of five votes cast on the first ballot. The other two votes went to Dan Holt, the first runner-up in the 2014 municipal election. The voting process lasted only minutes in what appeared to be an orchestrated effort that placed Herteis’ experience above all other considerations. Eight of the nine candidates who had previously made written applications outlining their bids for the seat, made pitches to councillors who listened but asked no questions of any of them."221 “Afterwards, Holt said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.” “It was pretty obvious what was going to happen."222 Frankly I believe that while the Observer were 100% accurate about the appointment being orchestrated they gave council the benefit of the doubt in suggesting that the appointment was based upon Herteis’ “experience.” What a joke. Regardless of her personal attributes, she was an embarrassment on the 2010-2014 council due to her inexperience and inabilities. I with others suggest that council simply wanted a seat filler who would not rock the boat and would be duly appreciative of the salary to be banked while not reading the reports or doing due diligence. The council split was the same from the first of the month when councillors Merlihan and Bauman favoured appointing Dr. Dan Holt to the position.
A few weeks later, I was advised face to face by a person with direct access to Woolwich councillors, that indeed the process was exactly as grotesque as it appeared to be to the public present at the penultimate council meeting. Eight educated, intelligent, and experienced applicants delivered carefully prepared and professionally presented delegations to Woolwich Council. While admitting the decency of at least one of the council members, in my opinion none of them could hold a candle to the qualifications for office that these serious applicants had. It was embarrassing to me that three of the five idiots on council should ever be in a position to judge those far more qualified and likely more honest than they could ever hope to be. Then Ms. Herteis spoke. It was pathetic. She stated that she was a former councillor as the current council members knew. She stated that she did not have a university degree but she did have “experience.” She did not appear to have a prepared speech or notes and it showed. The only thing she failed to say was that Sandy and council had already rubberstamped her for the opening occasioned by Scott Hahn’s resignation.
The Woolwich person involved was working in the performance of their duties when we had the heart to heart talk. No commitments were made by me beforehand although the person involved tried to invoke them after the fact. This person’s words and meaning were crystal clear. Three council members had decided unequivocally that they were going to give the vacancy on council to Julie-Anne Herteis prior to even listening to any of the other applicants who were to speak at the upcoming council meeting. These three council members did so on the first ballot despite Julie-Anne’s pathetic, yet completely confident in the results, presentation. She knew, council knew, and those in attendance that evening figured it out nearly instantly. Those three councillors namely Shantz, Shantz, and Martin were disrespectful of the public, the applicants, the process, and the Township itself. Frankly, to my mind they brought the administration of Woolwich Township into gross disrepute. They were beyond shameful. Was Mr. Flip Flop, Mark Bauman, part of the orchestration despite voting for Dr. Holt? Very difficult to say although nothing surprises me anymore.
Lanxess Show Their Colours
Lanxess purchased Chemtura Canada in 2017. By this time, Jeff Merriman, Environmental Remediation Manager of Chemtura had been interviewed by Bonita Wagler and Michael Heitmann for their documentary. The Woolwich Observer published an article in February 2018 regarding Lanxess management who rescinded their permission for these two film makers to use either Mr. Merriman’s statements or for the film makers to use any footage that they had done on the Chemtura site. It was a nasty and devastating blow. It was also unnecessary. The Documentary titled “Grand Illusion” as well as the predicament of Ms. Wagler and Mr. Heitmann was also described in a story in late November 2018 in the Waterloo Region Record.223
Having seen an early draft of the documentary I was actually impressed with how prominent a role was given to Mr. Merriman as he defended quite well the Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura and eventually Lanxess’s role in the whole cleanup process. Yes other individuals were also interviewed for this documentary that had opposing views such as me, Dr. Richard Jackson, Dr. Dan Holt and others. Nevertheless I found the story the filmmakers presented was balanced and no one had as much single input as Jeff Merriman who completely defended his employer whole-heartedly and professionally. I suggest that the last minute backing out by Lanxess will do them far more public relations harm than anything said by their harshest critics in the documentary.
The years 2017 and 2018 were important ones in the Uniroyal Chemical saga. Plans are in place for the long term burial of “sinks” of persistent organic pollutants on the off-site east side of Lanxess Canada, on the Stroh and possibly Martin farms. The Elmira by-pass and highway will likely and eventually be routed through these two farms. Woolwich Township Councillors once again did their image and reputation no good with their blatant and amateur hour appointing of a councillor to replace Scott Hahn. For political observers, it was shocking as was the October 2018 municipal election. More games are played in the next chapter in regards to the proposed cleanup of the Canagagigue Creek and its’ unfortunately accompanying Site Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA).
ENDNOTES for Chapter 24
215 Brent Davis, “Lanxess pledges to carry on cleanup at Chemtura site”, Waterloo Region Record, April 22, 2017, p.D18.
216 Steve Kannon, “Elevated methane levels at former Elmira landfill don’t extend to nearby Residents”, Woolwich Observer, August 4, 2017
217 Luisa D’Amato, “In Woolwich, a vacant council seat exposes bitter divisions”, Waterloo RegionRecord, February 2, 2018
218 Editorial, “Put public first in filling vacant council seat”, Woolwich Observer, February 1, 2018
219 Editorial, “Vacancy gambit means council has to deliver”, Woolwich Observer, February 8, 2018
220 Scott Arnold, “Big Brother Woolwich”, Woolwich Observer, February 8, 2018
221 Steve Kannon, “Woolwich picks former councillor to fill vacant seat”, Woolwich Observer,March 1, 2018
223 James Jackson, “Elmira water documentaries in limbo”, Waterloo Region Record, November 29, 2018