Instead, the arrogant Texas snake oil salesmen attempted to hijack the forum and disenfranchise the very folks the forum was intended to hear from. Does "Clean" Line think the ICC was fooled? Do they think they changed anyone's mind last night? Or, more likely, did they simply demonstrate their arrogance and lack of morals to the Commission and the community? One thing is certain, "Clean" Line made no friends, only enemies. Ut-oh, "Clean" Line!
Read about the forum in The LaSalle News Tribune (pictures and video, too!)
"Clean" Line's problems began well ahead of the forum, when its hired public relations "team" arrived and insisted on setting up a table in the lobby. Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, other "Clean" Line agents set up a gigantic sign next to their gas-guzzling SUV that was to serve as a check-in point where the company's imported supporters could get their "Clean" Line t-shirts, talking points and other party favors. Soon, numerous white vans arrived and disgorged the classic contingent of union guys and students, who were suited up in the ugly orange t-shirts and hustled to the front of the speaker sign-up line. "Clean" Line also attracted the usual gaggle of government and business interests who paraded before the hearing officer to state that they supported the project because they believed they could profit from it.
The ICC sign-up table was manned by two local volunteers. "Clean" Line personnel appointed themselves as monitors of this activity, certain that "the locals" would stack the deck (and they weren't particularly nice about it either). Citizens were told that sign-up would not begin until 6:30. However, someone apparently tipped off the hearing officer that the crowd was much larger than anticipated and that sign-ups should open earlier. And isn't it really coincidental that "Clean" Line managed to shove their union, government and business guys to the head of the sign-up line before it even opened. Why, it's almost like they knew that sign-up would open earlier than the citizens had been told, and maybe intended to stack the deck with their own imported speakers so that the real people the forum was intended for were shut out.
You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to fool "a bunch of farmers" though, and the citizens quickly rallied and got in line. Later, groups of students from the university arrived to be suited up in orange shirts and hustled into line, but it was much too late. The line stretched well outside the school. The students were disrespectful (and several appeared to be chemically altered) and the police were asked to intervene to keep students from harassing citizens.
And speaking of harassment, I've gotta give a "big man" award to "Clean" Line Executive Vice President Jimmy Glotfelty, who thought it was a good idea to get into a shouting match with the high school FFA members who were greeting folks at the door and handing out BlockRICL literature. Maybe Jimmy didn't realize that the kids didn't write that (although he was told) but since when is it okay to harass kids? Jimmy's arrogance was not appreciated by the adults watching this spectacle, and when an adult stepped in, Jimmy got even more irate until the police were summoned. It's notable that the citizen is the one who was big enough to disengage and walk away. While "Clean" Line showed their true colors last night, the citizens refused to be baited and behaved like the ladies and gentlemen they are. Bravo, BlockRICL!
Because so many citizens showed up to speak at the forum, the crowd soon overwhelmed the 500+ seat auditorium and people were standing in the aisles. When the auditorium couldn't hold any more, and most of RICL's orange shirts were relegated to the lobby, Clean Line implemented a plan to replace citizens in the auditorium with orange shirts from the lobby. A "Clean" Line rep. was observed complaining to one of the police officers that the fire marshall needed to be called to enforce the occupancy limits of the auditorium. Sure enough, folks were soon told that if they couldn't find a seat, they would have to leave. While unlucky landowners who failed at this game of musical chairs were filing out of the auditorium, "Clean" Line reps. were busy shoving their orange shirts INTO the auditorium and escorting them to any empty seats they could find, causing further human traffic jams. Nope, nothing underhanded about that little scheme.
The performance of "Clean" Line's Texas executives at the forum was quite revealing. Despite being given several minutes at the beginning of the forum to make his case, VP Jimmy Glotfelty scooted out of the auditorium as soon as he was done speaking, like his shoes were on fire. After he was done harassing people outside the auditorium, he deigned to sit among us, but his actions clearly demonstrated that he was totally bored and not listening to any of the citizen comments. He stretched out and feigned sleep, after he got bored playing with his iPhone. And the people are supposed to believe that this demonstrates an earnest effort to work with landowners to appease their concerns? Jimmy clearly couldn't be bothered with "the locals."
In a classic case of pointing the finger at someone else, "Clean Line" accused the opposition of line jumping by signing up people to speak who were not present. "Clean" Line was the only one who had the nerve to do that, and they got publicly slapped down by the hearing officer for it. A woman from Morris County development something-or-other appeared in a different speaking order than citizens had seen her sign up. That was confusing... until it was recognized that she had also signed up as another woman, who did not get up when her name was called. Instead, "Clean" Line pushed one of their imported speakers to the front of the auditorium to "speak for" the woman who didn't answer. The audience objected, and the hearing officer was told that the woman whose name was called had not even signed herself up. The hearing officer asked the woman (who it turns out was present) if she had signed herself up, and she had to admit that no, someone else had signed her up before she arrived. The hearing officer made him sit down. The man who attempted to line jump finally got another turn at the microphone, when his name finally appeared in the order in which he had arrived. And then... poetic justice intervened. Just as he was about to open his mouth and begin his spiel, the hearing officer looked at his watch and announced that it was now 10 p.m. and the hearing was over. Foiled again! Turns out that he was some vice president at Southwire, flown in from Atlanta just to speak in favor of the project (because it will make money for his company). And he failed. Just like "Clean" Line.
The only thing "Clean" Line accomplished last night was to ruin their own credibility with the ICC with their desperate attempts to silence affected landowners and stack the deck in their favor. Arrogance isn't the recommended posture for out-of-state snake oil salesman.