Archive for March 12th, 2014

by jhwygirl

North Missoula Community Development Corporation‘s executive director Bob Oaks – a long-time advocate for all things Missoula professes to support, such as sustainable commercial and residential development and affordable housing – raised some well-informed warning flags on Monday concerning DEQ’s proposed clean-up plans for one of Montana’s many superfund sites.

In fact, Mr. Oaks raised warnings back in October of last year (and probably earlier) concerning the impending clean-up plans. Oaks is no schmuck – he’s a Harvard-educated land-use planner who’s been around Montana long enough to know that when shortcuts can be taken, they will. Here are some of his words of warning from last October:

“…Also, it is likely that before the end of next summer the MDEQ will make a determination on the level of clean-up that will be required of Huttig Building Products for the White Pine facility — a state superfund site.That site’s current zoning, the current growth policy recommendations for it, and previously documented recommendations of city zoning staff and the City-County Planning Board all favor preservation of the site’s relatively open ended M1-R zoning.

This open-endedness should also argue to MDEQ for a requirement that the superfund site be cleaned to the highest standard that can be required by law, one that would also allow some neighborhood-friendly flexibility in the potential for future uses. The desire for a best possible clean-up is a long standing position of the North-Missoula CDC and neighborhood council groups. I believe that this history and the public benefit of proper site clean-up be acknowledged and honored in the organization of any future TIF district. It would not serve the public well if the rigor of any future clean-up be guided or undermined by declaration of an all encompassing urban renewal district designated as an ‘industrial park.

The timing of this initiative worries me.”

Hmmm….and where are we now? DEQ’s proposal is a less-then-full clean-up, with “institutional controls” which will limit development to a highest and best use of light industrial/commercial – throwing a wrench into the M1R (limited industrial-residential) zoning designation, by eliminating residential uses altogether. Bob Oaks’ statement on Monday:

I’m writing to refresh an earlier post to this forum related to the proposed Northside URD. Some fears I had concerning the process are now being realized in the recent MT Dept. of Environmental Quality proposed plan for final cleanup at the site. As now envisioned by MDEQ, there will be less contaminated soil removed and greater imposition of “institutional controls” than would have been required if the superior cleanup to a residential standard were required.

This decision comes from a context of seeing light industrial/commercial development as the sole highest and best use for the site. This judgment is additionally promoted in a letter to DEQ from Missoula Economic Partnership Director, James Grunke, who cites the proposed URD as part of his rationale.

An added piece of this context comes from the “Future Use Memo” to DEQ from Huttig Building Products’ attorney who, in addition to citing Grunke’s letter, states the following: “Historically, housing east of Scott Street accommodated workers employed by White Pine Sash, Clawson Manufacturing, or the railroad. White Pine Sash at one time employed more than 200 workers, and the area east of Scott Street was a convenient location. Now that White Pine Sash and Clawson Manufacturing are out of business, there are far fewer workers on the Property, and employees desiring housing close to their workplace are limited. In fact, there are several houses that are for sale or vacant in the area east of Scott Street. This is an indication that there is little desire or need to live by the Property. Moreover, in recent decades there is no longer a need to live close to work because most workers are mobile and own a car or truck. Additionally, most people do not desire to live in the proximity of the railyard due to the noise and problems associated with the transient population. It is reasonable to anticipate that the pattern of development in the immediate area of the Property will remain industrial and/or commercial.

That MDEQ is now promoting the same conclusions arrived at by Huttig is frankly disturbing. A draft of an NMCDC response to DEQ and a history of the White Pine Facility is available at the NMCDC website:

Oaks raises an important question. Huttig – the owner of the site who is on the hook for clean-up because he took that responsibility on as a condition of purchase placed by the former owners of White Pine Sash who sold the property to him (i.e., eyes wide open, Huttig took on the responsibility voluntarily) – has long advocated a less-than-full clean-up…………and here is DEQ taking up the same recommendation despite the fact that the less-than-full clean-up leaves Missoula and the community with less-than-full options as outlined in multiple community planning documents that have undergone countless community meetings. Because we all know how much Missoula residents love to weigh in on community plans, don’t we?

Who is representing who here? And what will Missoula community leaders and planners do? Roll over or speak up?

DEQ had a public meeting yesterday in Missoula – they are taking public comment through the end of this month. The public notice is here

In addition to the consolidated information at NMCDC’s website, here is the DEQ White Pine Slash newsletter from March and the DEQ proposed plan for White Pine Slash.

Constitutional Crisis?

by lizard

With 60 Minutes talking data sellers and Snowden talking to SXSW, our rapidly changing data landscape is getting some attention. Here’s a portion from the beginning of Snowden’s talk:

Well, thank you for the introduction. I will say SXSW and the technology community – people who are in the room in Austin they are the folks that really fix things who can enforce our rights for technical standards. Even when Congress hadn’t yet gotten to the point of creating legislation to protect our rights in the same manner. When we think about what is happening at the NSA for the past decade ________ the result has been an adversarial internet. Sort of global free fire zone for governments that is nothing that we ever asked for. It is not what we want. It is something that we need to protect against. We think about the policies that have been advanced the sort of erosion of ______amendment protections the proactive seizure of communications. There is a policy response that needs to occur. There is also a technical response that needs to occur. It is the development community that can really craft the solutions and make sure we are safe.

The NSA the sort of global mass surveillance that is occurring in all of these countries. Not just the US it is important to remember that this is a global issue. They are setting fire to the future of the internet. The people who are in this room now you guys are all the firefighters and we need you to help us fix this.

They’re setting fire to far more than just the internet, but for the purpose of this post, let’s stick to how extensive abuses of governments and corporations (is there even a difference anymore?) have become the norm, defended domestically by both Republicans and Democrats. Except maybe not so much Dianne Feinstein anymore, considering the recent and very serious accusations against the CIA for spying on her committee.

The question is this: can Feinstein reconcile her contradictory opinions about the NSA? This Guardian opinion piece takes a look at her political bi-poloar disorder when it comes surveillance and cute little things like the US constitution:

The exasperation with Ms Feinstein is that she directs her sense of outrage only at the CIA. It seems restricted to issues that impact on her. She is outraged when the CIA allegedly hacked into her committee’s computers. She is upset over the alleged intrusion into the privacy of her own staff. And yet this is the same senator who could not empathise with Americans upset at the revelations in the Snowden documents of millions of citizens whose personal data has been accessed by the NSA. It is the same senator who could not share American anger over the revelation of the co-operation in surveillance of the giant tech companies, whether wittingly or unwittingly.

Ms Feinstein not only failed to investigate the NSA with a smidgen of the aggression she has shown towards the CIA but has gone out of her way to be the NSA’s most prominent defender. The day after Edward Snowden revealed himself as a whistleblower last June, she was among the first to brand him a traitor. In the face of revelation after revelation, she praised the professionalism of the NSA. She defended mass data collection as a necessity, arguing that the NSA had to have access to the whole “haystack” to find the one needle, the terrorist. All this dismayed many of her Democratic supporters in liberal California and elsewhere in the US.

This is an area where young, libertarian-leaning conservatives have some overlap—or, what I’m going to brazenly refer to as “common ground”—with progressive-minded Democrats. The alternative to trying to build something positive on that little piece of common ground is to troll and ridicule #MTGOPYoungGuns on Twitter.

After Feinstein’s public accusations Tuesday morning, the phrase constitutional crisis is being used, appropriately so, I would say. Here’s how The Nation is describing the situation:

If what Feinstein alleges is true, it essentially amounts to a constitutional crisis. And she said as much during her speech, describing “a defining moment for the oversight of our intelligence community.”

“I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the Speech and Debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function,” Feinstein said. “Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”

So what is Obama, the constitutional lawyer, going to do about this crisis? Maybe he should have his DoJ prosecute Diane Feinstein, because she’s kinda acting like a whistleblower, and we know what Obama’s administration does to whistleblower’s they can’t terrorize into committing suicide or fleeing America—they go to jail like John Kiriakou:

John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who revealed details of the US government’s use of waterboarding against senior al-Qaida suspects, has written an open letter describing his time in federal prison surrounded by drug dealers, fraudsters and child molesters.

Kiriakou is three months into a 30-month sentence having pleaded guilty to disclosing the identity of an undercover CIA officer to an ABC reporter. He is one of six current or former public officials to be prosecuted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – twice the number of cases instigated by all previous presidents combined.

Kiriakou’s letter underlines in graphic form the personal consequences of the Obama administration’s aggressive assault on leakers. It comes as the attorney general, Eric Holder, is under mounting pressure following revelations that the Department of Justice secretly investigated the activities of reporters working for Associated Press and Fox News in unrelated leak investigations.

Obama could pardon Kiriakou. But he won’t. He’s too fond of using the CIA as his own personal paramilitary force, terrorizing brown-skinned foreigners with drone strikes and killing American citizens without due process.

What this particular issue highlights is that America has been involved in one long, unending constitutional crisis since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Obama had an opportunity to capitalize on hope and change by addressing the flagrant abuses of the Bush administration.

But he didn’t. And we continue to see the consequences of Obama’s failure.

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