In modern vernacular, the phrase "poisoning the well" describes a method often used in communicating to prime the audience with adverse information (true or untrue) about an opponent from the start, in an attempt to make your claim more acceptable, or discount the credibility of your opponent’s claim.  A simple example might be "Harold is a crook, don't trust what he says." ."  It is derived from the ancient wartime practice of putting poison into the water supply of the enemy before an attack, so as to make the task easier.

At the August 10, 2015 Ludington City Council meeting, the modern and ancient versions of this tact came into play on an otherwise unambitious meeting agenda, where four things were to be accomplished, nothing remotely dealing with well-poisoning:

1)  Approve a street closure for Stearn's Drive for a 'Back to School Bash' event at the Jaycee's Mini-Golf course.

2)  Present an ordinance to establish Readiness-to-serve charges for the bigger supply line pipes that Michigan Power will need when it comes on-line with the city (would not affect smaller sized pipes)

3)  Approve of two traffic control orders (TCO) for parking:  one near the city marina transient docks to allow emergency personnel to park near the fire boat, the other near the Kiwanis Band Shell

4)  Approve bid for roadwork on S Delia Street

As usual, these topics involved minimal discussion and were passed unanimously by the five councilors present (Councilor Johnson and Tykoski, along with City Manager John Shay, were absent).  Perhaps, Shay's no-show kept the agenda items minimal; at any rate, the rest of the officials present seemed to me to lack vitality at this meeting, something that always seems to happen when their well-paid master/slave is not there.  They finished without any communications or miscellaneous business, other than advertisements

The energy of this meeting belonged to the public commenters.  Three citizens stepped up to the podium and respectfully registered their critiques of current public policy.  This began shortly after the 02:00 in this video of the meeting

LCC Aug 10 from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

Nancy Mustaikis got up first, she is not a rookie on addressing the council, notably resisting the city's attempt to establish a historical district and to charge her extra for maintaining the sidewalk in front of her property.  She was 'absolutely appalled' at what the state/city has let the contractor that is tearing the old Lyon's Market (at the NE corner of Danaher and James) get away with.  Waving a plastic-wrapped chunk of asbestos towards the council, she explained it was laying on the sidewalk, coming from the demolition site.  She claimed kids and construction workers were playing/working in that area over the last week, with no fences up. 

"Those are my grandkids across the street, and now they're exposed to asbestos-- who's responsible?"  She said as she ended with a polite 'thank you'.  The headless council never even tried to answer the question or champion her concern of someone poisoning the wellness of our community. 

Another council commenting veteran, C. Dale Bannon, expressed concerns over the TCO for parking near the fireboat.  His concern was that the general community would be losing two parking spaces in a highly-used area during the summer months.  He expressed a desire to hear the rationale, proposed signage, etc. for this decision, and hoped they took all factors in account before deciding on it.

 LPD Chief Mark Barnett and former policeman Councilor Castonia addressed some of these shortly after the 17:00 mark, commenting that the emergency parking space is needed for quick responses when people's lives are in danger.  Councilor's Krauch and Holman asked some questions concerning alternatives.  I had my own alternative at the end of my statement at 05:00 minutes into the meeting' video a transcript of which follows, followed by some additional analysis:  

"I must remind the council of some of their involvements from the last meeting.  First, the Department of Environmental Quality states that "anyone discharging waste or wastewater into the surface waters of the state is required by law to obtain a NPDES permit."  These are valid for four years, at which point they are either re-issued or not, the City of Ludington's was not back in 2011, and received major flags from the DEQ.  All this is available at their website; FOIAs to the DEQ confirm it. 

As the city manager for over four years covertly, and often unlawfully, directed money towards engineering, legal issues, and cost of service studies in order to remedy the problems, the citizens of Mason County, your kids, your parents, your friends and associates, have dealt with unsafe and unhealthy levels of pollutants being dumped into a still-water lagoon off the Pere Marquette River.

Instead of publicly acknowledging the problem and working openly to find a solution, our manager did nothing constructive and instead chose a secretive and destructive path that put us downstream wallowing in dangerous waters for four years.  This council may like basking in filth and corruption, but the public doesn't.

Second, the City has went with Fishbeck for doing the engineering portion of the wastewater treatment plant, just like it did for the water treatment plant upgrades.  Both times without competitive bids.  Instead of telling us why this is clearly to the city's advantage, we are given a litany of praises for Fishbeck's professionalism and experience while showing none ourselves.  A look at our city's dealings with Fishbeck for the engineering costs of the Washington Avenue Bridge and the 2012 Water Reliability Study shows that even when four other companies bid lower than Fishbeck given the same specs, Fishbeck gets the contract, because they're so damn professional and have so much experience. 

When our local engineering firm, Nordlund & Associates submitted a bid nearly a fourth of what Fishbeck submitted for the bridge engineering, the city threw away $170,000 of our money to hire this Grand Rapids firm over a local engineering firm with plenty of experience and professionalism.  The Fishbeck firm later asked for $47,000 more than their bid.  This is not competitive bidding this is blatant cronyism, pure and simple.  Stop wasting our money, and follow the rules.

Third, after reviewing the materials concerning Claire "the Bookgirl" Whitcomb that I received from a FOIA request, noting that the city pulled her vendor's permit after she was allegedly guilty of being an overly aggressive salesperson, I can only scratch my head.  Her story of being summarily banned from operating in Ludington was picked up by the Associated Press and broadcast over the nation, giving one the impression that she accosted others and worse.  The written record doesn't verify that.

This girl was banned from selling in Ludington based on inconsistent and second-hand information.  She was banned without any sort of defense to the hyped up charges, which the city said amounted to window peeping, trespassing, begging and soliciting alms, and tampering with property.  There was absolutely no adequate investigation into the complaints made by the city and the LPD, nor were her rights of due process taken into account before her permit was taken from her.  Her livelihood was curtailed by our officials acting beyond their official capacity to revoke her permit, while defaming her in the process.  That's not funny Mayor.

And yet, I see in this meeting that the chief wants to create two parking spaces on the street adjacent to the docks at the city marina that currently house the Ludington fireboat.  The city marina is a recreational boating facility created and maintained largely by funds from the State Waterways Commission, which states that only "vessels" can be moored thereon.  The term "vessel" , by law, does not include watercraft owned by the state or any political subdivision, which includes the fireboat and even the DNR's boat which is anchored beside. 

These boats, as well as the many charter boats that operate from within the city marina, are truly unlawful trespassers, and operating outside the clearly written laws of our state.  What's preventing us from banishing them from the docks where they cannot lawfully reside?  Your "yes" vote for this traffic control order [Here's where I was cut off, I finish my prepared statement.] will only affirm that you abide by such wanton lawlessness, while condoning the stoning of a visitor to our shores selling door to door."

Usually in these comments, I stay on script because I hope to finish what needs to be said in their entirety within the allotted five minutes.  The comment I made to the mayor (in red italics) was unscripted, coming when I was relaying the injustice shown to Claire Whitcomb, injustice that just may come back upon their unwise decision to pull her permit without authority or due process.  Whatever humorous exchange he had with the city attorney should have been delayed to a lighter moment, like when his city government isn't being accused of well-founded charges of slander and overstepping their authority.

The first topic I presented definitely falls within poisoning of the well that we all partake of.  The City leaders could make me look very stupid if they could show a current and valid NPDES permit, like this expired one from Dow/Oxychem but they don't have one that is current or legally valid.  That chemical waste floats downstream into PM Lake and then Lake Michigan, into our environment. 

The second topic I presented shows that the well has been poisoned for Ludington receiving fair bids in projects.  If you go to an auction, the highest bidder always wins, when you have fair bidding for services, the lowest competent bidder must always win.  Otherwise, claims of favoritism and cronyism stick.  Ludington's leadership has cost us plenty by not doing a competent job of competitive bidding.

The third topic showed the rhetorical use of 'poisoning the well'.  I have heard several good reports about people's experiences with Claire, but due to some unsubstantiated rumors received by the city, poisoning the well, she was exiled before given any chance to respond.  The poisoners won thi battle, for now. 

And the last topic about the fireboat, the DNR boat and all those charterboats squatting in the city marina contrary to state law was summarily ignored by the city council.  The chief would not have to reserve two prime parking spaces from the population if they would have their boat parked in a legitimate place, like at a private marina, or their own tract of dockage on the southeast side of the PM bayou.  They wouldn't have to travel through significant Macker or Independence Day traffic on their way to their boat from their home in either case.

The municipal marina's history of ignoring their contracts and the law has led to poisoning the well for the longer-established private marinas.  Our current officials will proudly tell you that they run the city marina as if it is a private business.  But what they don't tell you is that private businesses are not eligible for millions of state and federal grants, that they pay their share of property taxes, that they pay taxes also on their gas, etc.  The winner is a foregone conclusion; how do you compete with public entities without restraint, ethically or financially?  Enjoy the hemlock.

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Would this lead one to believe the high cancer rate in Ludington is a direct result from Dow(OxyChem)?  Rumors  abound in the medical community the correlation between Dow and the high rate of cancer in the Community.  

Do you have a ready source or reference that shows Ludington has a high cancer rate, Jasper, or is it just hearsay at this point?

It could be a factor-- for many years they had a very diverse amount of poisonous chemicals being produced here.  I am still not sure why the Oxychem's new permit was denied, and why it hasn't been renewed since the same time Ludington's expired.  Of course, for the last couple years at the helm of Ludington and with plenty of influence at Oxychem, John Henderson never publicly divulged the shortcomings of either nor worked to get these required permits. 

It is hearsay, and of course we all know about rumors living in such a small area.  

But, does this hearsay have some validation?  There does appear to be many people in this area who have either died of cancer or are battling cancer as we discuss this?  

There once was a web-site that listed various factories and their omissions either by air, or water etc...Let me see if I can go and find it!  I don't recall at this time the name of it. is the name of the site.  However, the data is very old.  Currently if one desires to go the site it states they are working on reformatting and updating it.  

It does have interesting data on it from 2002.

quick google search

Facts.. those pesky little things that make you look dumb :)

Mason doesn't look too bad, so I would put Jaspers comment under the category of alarmist, hearsay and ignorant, another great example of speaking before doing the proper research to back up your statements. On the other hand we don't expect much more out of the type of folks that regularly contribute to this forum of "free speech".

You know Rotta, your site has a motto "Featuring the Right to Speak Freely and the Duty to do so Responsibly Since 2009". I'm all for speaking freely, however the majority of people on this site have missed the point of "do so responsibly". Responsibly would be not posting unsupported statements, not calling names, and being open to a point of view other than yours. Responsibly would be researching a statement and looking for collaborating evidence before you post.

Freedom of speech is a powerful tool, it should be used responsibly and respectfully. It is also dangerous so when you wield it you have a duty to do so "responsibly".

In Jasper's defense, he reported what he had heard from one or more medical professionals from the area who may or may not know what they were talking about, and he noted it was hearsay and labeled it as such.

Many in our community, especially from our media, listen to the words of LPD Chief Barnett, City Manager John Shay, and Sheriff Cole and attach some importance to them, even if they are wrong, untruthful or just spouting propaganda.  I will presume Jasper did the same with his source(s).  Instead of calling him and his sources 'alarmist' or 'ignorant', I asked him for more info and verification, and he didn't make something up in his reply, but offered the best he had. 

Your first attempts at describing what "major flag" meant and your own continued use of strident rhetoric denouncing the Torch members and its founder is a lot less responsible, IMHO. 

Perhaps you may wish to comment and bring to the front contradicting bits of data about my points made in the comments at the meeting.  To whit:

1) show me Ludington's WWTP current NPDES permit that the DEQ says doesn't exist.

2) tell me why Fishbeck's continued contractual employment by Ludington without competitive bidding practiced is ethical and legal within the charter

3) tell me why Claire Whitcomb's exile and defamation from the City of Ludington was proper and lawful.

4) give me a legal authority or authorization that allows the city's fireboat, the state's conservation officer boat, or private charter boats to be entrenched at our city marina. 

Someone sounds like a hypocrite to me. " Responsibly would be not posting unsupported statements, not calling names, and being open to a point of view other than yours".  But, right off the bat calling people ignorant... and disregarding an alarmist point of view or opinion, with your GRANDIOSE comment.  Alarmist, involving free speech?  Ignorant comment stemming from butt hurt?  

The only thing I can agree with is your statement," On the other hand we don't expect much more out of the type of folks that regularly contribute to this forum of "free speech". Takes one to know one butt head. Thanks for contributing your dribble. haaaaa

Our trolls ain't the smartest bunch.  They join, become a member, contribute to the discussion and then insult themselves, as you noted. 

And when given the opportunity to think for themselves and respond to things that matter to the people that live here, like the four questions above, they ignore it and go on with their trolling.  Which in this case seems to be putting up irrelevant EPA memos from the last millennium.

Junno is one of those same people that go to the beach to watch the city-hall-sponsored bonfire and listen to the loud music, both against the laws established at the beach, but would be hunting down the Beach Patrol if you fed a seagull.

Right'   and, 911 on speed dial... Custom boot licker! These type of people report people buying hamburger with food stamps as they are walking out the store with steaks from money they embezzled somewhere...

That's not funny Mayor. This is just speculation but I think the reason the mayor was so jovial while you were speaking was because Junno was hiding under the Mayor's desk. The Mayor would surely have been frowning if Junno had chipped teeth. 

Here's another possibility:  if you noted at the (00:30) mark the mayor says that Councilor Johnson and Tykoski are excused, but says nothing about whether the absence of City Manager John Shay is excused or not, part of his duties include attending these meetings. 

Maybe, just maybe, he was present all along.  Shay doesn't have chipped teeth, so the giggling was an appropriate response.  A last thought, I have never seen John and Junno together in the same place.

Imagining all these scenarios has made me cancel lunch and reach for the Pepto.


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