FOR RELEASE Sept. 18, 2017
REPEATED LACK OF DUE PROCESS AND FAILURE TO RESPOND TO PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW CALLED OUT BY NEIGHBORS FOR LIVABLE SAINT PAUL ON FORD SITE ZONING PROCESS
Massive pollution, failure to follow established procedures and slow-walking of Data Practices Request information may lead to effort to secure injunction to prevent final vote on Ford site zoning plan.
(Saint Paul, MN) Attorney Fritz Knaak called the repeated lack of due process and failure to respond to public’s right to know by the City of St. Paul some of the most egregious failures he has seen in decades of practicing law.
“Misrepresenting the opposition of residents to the Ford site zoning plan, failing to follow established protocols by the Highland District Council in delivering nearly 1,000 voices of dissent to the plan to the City Council are just the tip of the iceberg of the City’s failure to follow due process,” said Knaak at a Saint Paul City Hall Press Conference. “Worse, the fact that the City Council is failing to hold Ford Motor Company’s feet to the fire to clean up 100% of the pollution at the site before a zoning plan is passed is simply unacceptable.”
Knaak cited a July 14th letter to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in which Friends of the Mississippi River Executive Director Whitney Clark raises concerns over the failure of the Ford Area C Comprehensive Site History & Investigation Report II to deal with significant pollution issues: “Overall, there is significant understated water quality contamination at the site and a significant risk of future contamination to groundwater and the Mississippi River that is not adequately addressed in the Report.”
In one section of Clark’s letter to MPCA entitled “Thallium as an example Water Quality Parameter that is an Understated Risk in the Investigation Report” Thallium is determined to be on the Ford site in significant amounts and its impact on public health is described this way: “Thallium has been called the “poisoner’s poison” since it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.”
Knaak addressed a series of failure on the part of the City to follow its own processes leading up to the planned final vote on September 27th and also slammed the City for failing to respond to his clients multiple requests for public data in a timely manner. “Time and time again the people of this community have asked for information to understand why the City is hell bent on passing this zoning change to the Ford Plant Site without any publicly stated deadline,” said Knaak. “Whats the rush? What’s the hurry? Why is the City Council not doing its own due diligence in demanding Ford clean up the land they polluted?”
Above all else, Knaak said the City Council should delay any final vote on the Ford zoning plan until citizen’s concerns have been addressed, public information disgorged and the community can lead the conversation on a plan that is better suited to the future of Saint Paul. “What possible reason could the City of Saint Paul have for not listening to its citizens,” asked Knaak. “Unless there’s some secret agreements or discussions that have taken place outside of the public space that would, in and of themselves, simply further the need to go to court to ask for an injunction to stop the City from moving forward.”