But who is really spreading "misinformation?" Two of Clean Line's most recent one-sided media excursions contained information and quotes from company executives that were outright lies.
First, the "miscommunication" in Arkansas Business about the Plains and Eastern Clean Line:
It has been in the works for the past half-decade and will build two lines intended to connect the Midwest’s wind resources to surrounding areas with less potential to generate wind, such as Missouri and southern Indiana. About 7,000 megawatts of power in Oklahoma would become available to surrounding states.
The second lie was apparently just a "miscommunication" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial. Matthew Stallbaumer from Kansas has been chasing that one around all week. What he found was a shocking lack of honesty. In Matthew's own words:
"Mr. Lawlor has been through this before, in Kansas, where he says the company has completed buying the land it needs for that portion of the line."
The landowners know this isn't true. But there was some hope on my end that our land would no longer be impacted, so I called the St. Louis Dispatch and spoke with Deborah Peterson, Editorial Writer, who told me she was involved with writing the editorial. She assured me that what was printed was what Mr. Lawlor communicated to her.
So I tried to call Mr. Lawlor, his reputation for not answering his phone or responding to messages is accurate, so I called Clean Line's office and waited on hold rather than leave a message. I spoke with Grain Belt Express representative Ally Smith. She admitted they are still negotiating easements in Kansas, which conflicts with Mr. Lawlor's statement, and promised to check into the situation and call me back the next day to explain how something so wrong could be communicated/printed.
Three days go by, no call back. I called Ms. Smith again, but had to leave a message, no call back. Finally, this afternoon, Ms. Smith answers her phone, she claims to have tried to call me earlier in the day (I had no missed calls on my phone) but let bygones be.
Turns out there was a "miscommunication" between Mr. Lawlor and the STL Dispatch editorial board. That was the extent of the explanation. No mention of what he really meant or said, but to me it seems pretty hard to confuse anything with owning all the property they need in Kansas. (I wonder if lies count as miscommunication, I guess one could argue they do, I wonder, was Ms. Smith miscommunicating to me?).
I asked Ms. Smith about Clean Line's Code of Conduct found on their website and these lines specifically:
I c. Do not misrepresent any fact.
II h. Do not represent that a relative, neighbor and/or friend have signed a document or reached an agreement with Grain Belt Express Clean Line.
III b. Do not discuss your negotiations or interactions with other property owners or other persons.
It's pretty evident that some if not all of those codes have been ignored by Mr. Lawlor. I asked Ms. Smith who is responsible for enforcing those codes and what the penalty is. I was asked to be put on hold. Then she made efforts to dodge the questions, instead offered that they had contacted the paper to report the error, that it may or may not be corrected, and there is nothing else they can do. I asked again who enforces the code and what the penalty is, doesn't seem like that tough of a question for a company who touts their transparency and integrity and efforts to inform every chance they get, but Ms. Smith couldn't answer the question beyond "it's a managerial process". Perhaps Mr. Lawlor will enforce the code upon himself and penalize himself. I was told I must file a complaint regarding the code and their internal managerial process would determine its merits. I thought I was filing a complaint with my initial call, but it turns out it has to be in writing. I asked whether she could file a complaint on my behalf as she is aware of the situation now, turns out Clean Line employees can't file a complaint, they aren't in a position to hold themselves or each other accountable regarding their own Code of Conduct. So, how can their managerial process result in any penalty if they can't enforce it upon themselves?
Does anyone still think Clean Line will be accountable for any other promises or statements they make to property owners, commissioners, press, politicians or investors?
In Mayberry, we just call that "lying."