This post is going to have a theme, can you guess what that is?
Our first “little” big man story, or should I say stories, of the morning…updates on the man from New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie. The little being in quotes because this dude’s future role in the GOP used to be about as big as his “big and tall” non-wrinkle pleated-front dress slacks. Now he is being booed, yeah…you read that right…booed, and you know for a man like Christie, that has to sting like hell.
For the second time this week, Governor Chris Christie was met with scattered boos when he took the stage for an event leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. The first incident occurred on Monday night, when Christie appeared alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Jersey City.
As Al Sharpton, who aired video footage from the event on PoliticsNation Tuesday night said, “It was a dramatic contrast to what we saw three months ago” when he was reelected in a landslide.
No kidding, video at the link.
Okay, you know I am joking with the BFF thing right? The NY Times had the story here: Christie Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes
Read all the stuff there, I know Dak and Boston Boomer have covered it too.
Then we have the backlash from Christie himself.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, after a low-key initial response to Friday’s explosive allegations about his involvement in a bridge-closing scandal, mounted an aggressive defense late Saturday afternoon, attacking The New York Times and a former political ally in an email to friends and allies obtained by POLITICO.
“Bottom line — David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein,” the email from the governor’s office says, referring to the former appointee who reignited the controversy.
The subject line of the 700-word email from the governor’s office is: “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell.” It offers a harshly negative portrayal of Wildstein’s character and judgment.
Sounds like one of those quickie news articles from USA Today.
Read the rest at that link to Politico, I have another link about the email here from TPM, I just wanted to use this picture: Christie Hits Back: Bridge Official Will ‘Say Anything To Save’ Himself
The full email is below.
This email goes back to an incident in Wildstein’s past…when he was a 16-year-old kid for Christ’s sake.
Geezus….go look at the full email, it is priceless.
It speaks for itself that Wildstein is out to save himself. He is not sitting on a reputation for integrity and truth-telling. So the wisdom of doing anything more than saying Wildstein is trying to save himself and lacks credibility is highly questionable. The end product here reads like it’s coming from a team or a person who is flailing and grasping at straws.
If I’m a Republican power player reading this to a get a read on what’s actually happening, what’s likely to happen next week or next month, I think I come away thinking things are considerably worse than I realized.
One more Christie link: Chris Christie should resign if bombshell proves true: Editorial | NJ.com
Forget about the White House in 2016. The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor.
David Wildstein, the man who ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures, is now pointing the finger directly at Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor knew about the lane closures in September when they occurred.
That directly contradicts Christie account at his Jan. 13 press conference when he made this statement: “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it… I first found out about it after it was over.”
If this charge proves true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because
that would leave him so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to stop the bleeding and quit. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.
Well, moving on…to another New Jersey little “big” man…Danny DeVito. Esquire Interview -The Serene Beauty of the Five-Foot Fury of Asbury Park Guy just needed a job, and instead he became Danny DeVito. And the word big is in quotes for Danny because the man is just fucking awesome and bigger than anything you can possibly imagine.
His parents sent him to board at a prep school in the upper-crust suburb of Summit, New Jersey, fifty miles north and inland. He was the baby by more than a decade to two sisters, and as the only boy—the DeVitos had suffered the loss of two children, including a son, years before Danny came along—he was their prince. His father, Daniel Sr., preferred paying tuition to bail money.
“My father was a good man,” DeVito says. “He supported his family. He always worked hard. He had a candy store, a luncheonette kind of thing, when I was born. Then he had a pool hall. That didn’t really do very well. It was small—five tables—and couldn’t really compete. But he loved to play pool.”
One of the classic experiences I had with my father was we drove from Asbury to see a guy named Mr. Blatt. Mr. Blatt had pool tables—probably had other sports equipment, too. I don’t know. All I know is we drove up to New York, I think—November, December—in one of his Oldsmobiles. He always had an Oldsmobile. It was like paradise for a kid going into this place, and he ordered five slate-top four-and-a-half-by-nine tables, which fit—just fit—in the little store he rented. And he picked out the felt, he picked out the balls, the cue balls, the chalk, the counters for the straight pool counters, pill bottles for pill pool. Picked all this stuff out. I was twelve, maybe.”
That’s a big deal for a boy that age.
“Yeah, a real big deal. And on the way home, it started snowing. One of the biggest blizzards that we ever had. And we were stuck without chains, on the way back to the shore, in the middle of it. No cell phones—you’re at the mercy of humanity. And people stopped. Somebody stopped, and they had an extra set of chains and fixed my father up. He never was slow with the duke, my father”—an old-school nod to the timeless practice of greasing the right palm in return for a solid—”so it worked out good.”
Which is a wonderful story, don’t you think? That made me think of this scene from Throw Momma From the Train:
Please go read the entire interview, it is a great long read. I’ve caught up on lots of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes I’ve missed over the years. That is one funny show.
In other news that seems fitting for something out of the circus, this article by Zach Beauchamp: The Inside Story Of The Charlatan Who Duped The Nation’s Top Conservatives | ThinkProgress
On New Year’s Eve, I learned FEMA’s “Dirty Little Secret.”
It was the title of a fascinating email, one that had somehow dodged my spam filter. The message was suffused with breathless concern about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recent order of “420 million survival meals;” such provisions are apparently “the #1 most critical item in a crisis.” You see, “FEMA knows that if you control the food supply, then you control the people.”
Normally, such paranoid ramblings merit nothing more than a quick delete and a sad shake of the head. But the New Year’s note stood out because of the source. I was being alerted to FEMA’s nefarious plot by no less than National Review, the nation’s most important conservative magazine.
“Please find this special message from our sponsoring advertiser Food4Patriots,” the publication wrote. “This important support affords us the continuing means to provide you with National Review’s distinctly conservative and always exceptional news and commentary. We encourage you to patronize our sponsors.”
Since being added to National Review’s subscriber list, I had received four emails from the venerable publication selling me on Food4Patriots’ plan to “make darn sure your family won’t go hungry or get herded into a FEMA camp” by purchasing the dehydrated food they’re hawking. Indeed, Food4Patriots is deeply ensconced in the conservative movement, placing its ads in both more mainstream outlets (Fox News, Townhall.com) and fringier sites (Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, RedState, WorldNetDaily).
But the company’s skyrocketing revenues came on the back of some (arguably) really shady practices. In fact, when I wrote National Review’s editor and publisher to give them a heads up about what I learned about the company, they promptly suspended future Food4Patriots ads.
Oh it is good…fascinating stuff, and it is a long read so go refill that coffee.
Another link for you, this is an update to something I don’t think we have mentioned on the blog before so first the back story. Sam Bee interviewed Peter Schiff, an asshole CEO. Who goes on to tell Daily Show viewers the ‘mentally retarded’ could work for $2: ‘You’re worth what you’re worth’ | The Raw Story
The investment broker and talk radio host told Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee that lifting the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as President Barack Obama announced he would do by executive order for federal employees, could have devastating effects.
“There’s a law in economics, supply and demand, that you learn in Econ 101, and if you increase the price of something, you decrease the demand,” Schiff said. “The higher you make the minimum wage, the more jobs are going to be destroyed.
The CEO of Euro Pacific Capital argued that government programs, not low wages, were trapping Americans in poverty, and claimed that paying workers twice as much would double the cost of some goods – such as fast-food hamburgers.
“I do like to taste the tears of poverty in my milkshakes,” Bee said.
Schiff said those workers already earn enough.
“Did you ever go into a McDonald’s or Burger King?” he said. “I don’t really eat there, but they don’t seem desperate and hungry to me. They’re young kids, they seem to be enjoying themselves mostly.”
People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy, Schiff claimed.
“It’s socialism that creates, you know, scarcity, that creates famine,” he said. “In a free market, there’s plenty of food for everybody – especially the poor.”
Schiff argued that eliminating the minimum wage law would allow more people entry to the workforce, and Bee asked him to identify someone whose work might be worth just $2 an hour.
“You know someone that might be? Maybe someone who is – what’s the politically correct word, you know, for mentally retarded,” Schiff said. “I believe in the principles this country was founded on.”
“I’m not going to say that we’re all created equal,” he said. “You’re worth what you’re worth.”
Okay that was crazy, wasn’t it?
Now, check out what the dude is saying now: Investor Peter Schiff digs himself in deeper after ‘Daily Show’ remarks about the ‘retarded’ | The Raw Story
Radio commentator and investment adviser Peter Schiff , who was recently interviewed by The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee for a segment on the minimum wage, is very upset that he has been pilloried for using the not very politically-correct expression “mentally retarded” on air. During the episode, when prodded by Bee to explain who might be willing to work for $2 an hour, Schiff responded, “You know someone that might be? Maybe someone who is – what’s the politically correct word, you know, for mentally retarded. I believe in the principles this country was founded on.”
Responding to public criticism about his star turn, Schiff has taken to his blog to express his displeasure with The Daily Show by pointing out that that Samantha Bee didn’t assist him with his answer and that he had delivered a four hour long disquisition on the free market and pay rates that somehow didn’t make it onto the half-hour long satirical news program.
Mr. Schiff pointed out that “Of the more than four hours of taped discussion I conducted, the producers chose to only use about 75 seconds of my comments. Of those, my use of the words ‘mentally retarded’ (when Samantha Bee asked me who might be willing to work for $2 per hour – a figure she suggested) has come to define the entire interview.” He then added, “I just couldn’t remember the politically correct term currently in use (it is “intellectually disabled”). Assuming she knew it, Bee could have prompted me with the correct term, but she chose not to.”
Mr. Schiff then went on to further clarify that there were were two groups who would probably be happy to work for $2 an hour: the more appropriately named ” intellectually disabled” and “…unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. ” He then pointed out that the Daily Show staffer who booked him for the show and attended the interview had “… been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern.”
Turning back to the “intellectually disabled”, Mr. Schiff added that if they “…can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage. ” and that “Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all.”
Some of his best friends are retards, oops… “intellectually disabled.” WTF is wrong with these people?
One of the key messages of tonight’s State of the Union address will be President Obama’s willingness to bypass Congress to create jobs and reduce inequality. As luck would have it, yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives.
What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans. The idea has been kicked around policy circles for years, but now it has a crucial new adherent: the USPS Inspector General, who endorsed the initiative in a comprehensive white paper.
I have read this whole article and I don’t know what to think of it. Dak? Any thoughts?
This op/ed is only here because of the spelling topic of the thing…not the repeal Obamacare stuff…okay. Correct Spelling, Canceled by Phil Kerpen
As an American, I laugh at those archaic British spellings. Colour? Honour? Their inferiourity, if you will, is obvious. Centre? Theatre? Ridiculous. Most of these barbaric forms were corrected in America hundreds of years ago. Yet one galling Britishism is appearing on my computer screen all too frequently of late: “cancelled,” with a gratuitous extra l.Randall Enos / Cagle Cartoons
Does something about Obamacare drive otherwise reasonable people to write about health plans being “cancelled” instead of “canceled”? Does the prospect of intrusive government involvement in health care cause us to regress? Is it subconscious deference to British and Canadian expertise at imposing socialized medicine? Whatever the cause, it needs to stop.
Google’s Ngram feature searches the vast library of books Google has digitized. A search for “traveller” and “traveler” shows the British version remained dominant in America throughout the 19th century, but by 1915 the single l version overtook it and is now dominant. Merriam-Webster even touts “traveler” as an example of a Noah Webster triumph.
It took longer for “canceled” to triumph over “cancelled,” according to Google Ngram. The single l version didn’t take the lead until 1942, and they remained competitive for the next 40 years before “canceled” took the lead for good in 1983. As of 2000, the most recent year covered by the Google data, the now-standard American version was used over 73 percent of the time. The double l monstrosity appeared destined to finally disappear. In 2010, the Associated Press helpfully reminded the world that their style guide says “canceled” has one l.
Yet lately it seems everywhere I look there are American publications going British on this word. It’s baffling. If we are slouching towards a British-style health care system, we should at least spell the canceling of all those health plans in the correct American fashion.
This leads me to a little wordplay: World Wide Words Newsletter: 1 Feb 2014 Give the mitten
Q From Michael Thomas: I was recently working an acrostic puzzle and came upon the clue, “to break up with a loved one”. The answer, which I had never run across, was give the mitten. Could you explain the history of this phrase, please?
A It’s new to me, too, Mr Thomas, as it probably is to readers, since it is now extremely rare. The meaning has often been the one you give (in the American Civil War, a soldier who received a Dear John letter was said to have been given the mitten) but it could also often mean that a woman had rejected a unwelcome admirer out of hand. It occasionally meant that a student had been expelled from college or a workman had got the sack.
It’s known to be at least 170 years old. It has sometimes been taken to be North American, as the examples that were written down first — in the 1840s — are from works by Thomas Chandler Haliburton of Nova Scotia, who had a keen ear for the vocabulary of his times. However, as it is also recorded in Britain and Canada during much of the nineteenth century, it is probably an older British idiom that emigrants had carried abroad. In support of this, at the end of the century, the English Dialect Dictionary noted it as a British regional or dialect expression in the form to send one a mitten, to reject somebody or to cast them off.
Oh why didn’t we know this when Mitt was running for Prez…we could have used that as a slogan. Let’s send Mitt a mitten. More at the link.
Back to the little big man theme: The Extreme Emotional Life of Völundr the Elf
Elves have been a fixture in the European mentality for a long time in fairytales and legends and, recently, in the most popular novels and films of our age. In this article, my aim is to determine the function of elves in Old Norse narratives from the thirteenth century by concentrating on the figure of Völundr, the protagonist of Völundarkviða, who to my mind is the most important Old Norse elf. The poem portrays his marriage to a southern swan-maiden who later leaves him. He then retires into solitude, hunting bears, and counting his rings until he is captured and enslaved by the avaricious King Níðuðr. The poem ends with Völundr’s gruesome revenge on the king and his family.
Völundarkviða is the tenth of twenty-nine poems in the Codex Regius ms of the Poetic Edda. Few Eddic poems have suffered less from scholarly neglect: a recent bibliography lists over 100 studies, not counting editions. There are grounds for this attention. To take one, Völundarkviða is usually classified as a heroic rather than mythological poem and shares common characteristics with some of the more ancient heroic poems in the Elder Edda, and yet it stands among the mythological Eddic poems in the manuscript between Þrymskviða and Alvíssmál.
Over the weekend I saw this man was buried with his Harley Davidson, did you see it?
An American biker has made his final journey on his beloved Harley-Davidson and been buried astride the motorbike in a clear box.
It was Bill Standley’s wish to share a grave with the 1967 bike, which took him travelling around 49 out of America’s 50 states.
His body was dressed in full riding gear and positioned on the Harley in a see-through box, which was driven to the cemetery on a trailer before being lowered into the extra-large plot.
Work on the unusual coffin started six years before Mr Standley’s death, aged 82.
He built the plastic casket that would hold him and his motorbike himself with his sons, and bought three burial plots next to his wife.
Damn, talk about taking it with you. There is a video report at the link, if you need to see it. The photo is enough for me.
And finally another twist on our title, but this features little big men and women…
Alrighty then. Y’all have a wonderful day, and since it is Superbowl Sunday…I guess we’ll see you around the blog later on. In the meantime, what are you reading about this morning?
Just when you think Governor CrankyPants of New Jersey couldn’t be that corrupt, more stuff starts leaking out about him.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer confirmed Sunday that she spent several hours privately with federal investigators, a day after leveling stunning accusations that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration held out Hurricane Sandy relief funds until she would sign off on a private development project, according to media reports.
Zimmer gave the U.S. Attorney’s office her journal and other documents, she said to NBC.
“As they pursue this investigation, I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor [Kim Guadagno] came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project,” she said.
Asked by Candy Crowley on CNN why she had waited until now, with the scandal swirling around the Christie administration’s purported payback move to close the George Washington Bridge after the mayor of Fort Lee refused an endorsement, Zimmer said “I really didn’t think anyone would believe me and quite frankly, if I came forward, no one believes me, then I’m going to put Hoboken in an even worse position and my number one priority as a mayor of Hoboken is to fight to make sure that we can get as many Sandy funds as possible.”
Schneider told the Washington Post that a few months after he endorsed the governor, he contacted his office about an issue he couldn’t get resolved by the state utility board
“I’m not talking to any more underlings, and I’m not being delegated to,” Schneider told Christie’s aides, a strategy that proved successful. “I got what I needed.”
The Long Branch mayor believes the help from Christie’s office can be attributed to the endorsement, even though the governor never promised him anything.
Here’s the full statement from Reed (emphasis added):
“MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week. Governor Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million dollars in federal aid and is targeted to get even more when the Obama Administration approves the next rounds of funding. The Governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she’s ‘very glad’ he’s been our Governor. It’s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political axe to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get their faces on television.”
“Our journalism speaks for itself,” MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski told Business Insider in response to Christie’s office.
The billionaire Kenneth G. Langone, Mr. Christie’s most devoted fund-raiser and loudest cheerleader, got in touch with him in recent days. Mr. Langone said he told the governor that he must be smarter about those who surround him.
“I conveyed the importance of the decisions he makes about the people around him and their qualification and their competence, including common sense,” said Mr. Langone, who called the politically motivated closure of lanes onto the George Washington Bridge “beyond the pale.”
“It upset the hell out of me,” he said.
Mr. Christie has told friends and contributors that he can weather the slings and scrutiny, even as he complains about what he sees as “piling on” by his enemies and a once-admiring news media, according to people told of his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be associated with comments that could upset the governor or his aides. Mr. Christie has leaned hard on his wife and brother for advice, in long, searching conversations. (The governor could not bring himself to watch the traffic jam-themed parody of “Born to Run” sung by his idol, Bruce Springsteen, on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” though he was told by his college-age son, Andrew, that it was funny.)
Inside Mr. Christie’s inner circle, advisers are disputing public opinion polls, which show a noticeable drop in his popularity and job approval rating, saying that his previous sky-high numbers were inflated by election-year advertising.
Several Republican governors said they were heartened by Mr. Christie’s efforts to address the controversy head-on. So long as he is telling the truth and was not personally involved in the shutdown in Fort Lee, they said, Mr. Christie will remain a major force within the party.
You just gotta love the entire party and how it just continually strives to be out of touch with reality, doncha? Just so you know, Langone is basically the guy that founded Home Depot. It’s one of the stores on my boycott list.
Is it a law of evolution that the fatter the wallet, the thinner the skin? The wallet of Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, is so fat he he must sit on it funny, yet there he was the other day, crabbing to CNBC about Pope Francis’ missive to the effect that the rich are indifferent to the poor.
Langone was careful to attribute his complaints to an unnamed fellow plutocrat, who being a rich person ostensibly took the Pope’s remarks as an insult. Langone claimed his friend was so upset by the Pope’s remarks that he was reconsidering a donation for the renovation of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
If Langone sounds a little like the guy with an embarrassing condition opening his medical consultation with the words, “Doc, I’ve got this friend…,” so be it. Langone told CNBC he advised Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York that the pope should cool it with the finger-pointing at the rich. (“You get more with honey than with vinegar,” he said.) Dolan promised to explain to the reluctant donor that he was “misunderstanding” the pope’s words and suggested he would explicate the pope’s words in a more emollient way. “And then,” Dolan said hopefully, “he’s going to say, ‘OK, if that’s the case, count me in for St. Patrick’s Cathedral.'”
Remember, this is all about a $180-million project to renovate the big cathedral on Fifth Avenue, which suggests that the priorities of the New York diocese may not leave so much room for “misunderstanding” the pope’s message.
That message, in part, was that “while the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”
Langone hates Obama needless to say. He was active against the President as he sought reelection and was pandering to Christie prior to Romney’s nomination.
Langone is a prodigious donor, having given millions to New York University and New York City charities, including the Harlem Children’s Zone. He’s also given hundreds of thousands to conservative groups, like the Republican National Committee, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super-PAC, and the American Action Network, the dark-money outfit run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. Langone strongly backed his friend Ross Perot for president in 1992 and was a bundler for Giuliani in 2008.
Last summer, after the White House and Congress (whose members Langone compared to “sex fiends” when around money) clashed over lifting the federal government’s debt ceiling,Langone branded Obama “petulant” and “unpresidential” on CNBC. He even ripped the president for entering the Oval Office without a suit jacket on—something, Langone insisted, Ronald Reagan never would have done. (PolitiFact rated this claim “mostly false”; Reagan sometimes wore track jackets in the Oval Office on weekends.) Obama is “not bringing us together,” Langone said. “Divide us and we all lose. This has got to stop.”
He’s just another one of those billionaires that thinks he knows what’s best for the rest of us and that mostly means fattening his wallet.
Meanwhile, the news about the chemical leak from West Virginia is awful. The Ohio River is tainted and Cinncinatti closed its intake valves to prevent the chemical from entering the tri-state water supply.
The chemical leaked from a tank along the Elk River in West Virginia last week. The Elk feeds into the Ohio. Traces of the chemical were found at the Meldahl Dam around 9 p.m. Tuesday and were detected at a GCWW intake around 7 a.m.
“Right at the intakes,” Jerry Schulte, a manager with ORSANCO said. “The intakes have been shut down so that’s not a concern.”
GCWW stored water and alternate sources to supply customers until the chemical plume passed Wednesday night or Thursday.
The Northern Kentucky Water District said that it has also shut down its Ohio River intakes as a precautionary measure while the remnants of the spill passes.
Water treatment experts said the water could have been treated with activated charcoal and made safe for customers to use, but Deborah Metz, a superintendent of water quality and treatment with GCWW, said, “We figure the least risky scenario is for us to just let it go on by.”
The environmental impact will be tracked by comparing fish counts and even bug populations from this spring to last spring.
“We won’t be able to detect the material it will be long gone from the system but if it had an impact on the systems we might be able to see it,” Schulte said.
Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid lawsuits and fines. This should not be possible under US Law but you know how this country is about the so-called job makers. What would be doing right now if this was Al Quaida that poisoned that many people?
Freedom Industries, the company that fouled thousands of West Virginians’ water with a chemical leak into the Elk River last week, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday.
Freedom owes $3.6 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, according to bankruptcy documents. The company also owes more than $2.4 million in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS has placed at least three liens on Freedom’s property, demanding payment.
The unpaid taxes date back to at least 2000, according to a lien filed in 2010.
Under the bankruptcy code, Chapter 11 permits a company to reorganize and continue operating.
The filing also puts a hold on all of the lawsuits filed against Freedom Industries. Since the leak last week, about a mile and a half upriver from West Virginia Water American’s plant in Charleston, about 25 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom in Kanawha Circuit Court. The company also faces a federal lawsuit.
The company’s assets and liabilities are each listed as between $1 million and $10 million in the bankruptcy filing. Chemstream Holdings Inc. is the sole owner of Freedom Industries, according to the filing. Gary Southern, who is identified as Freedom’s president, signed all of the bankruptcy documents.
On Thursday, a source close to Freedom Industries, who asked to remain anonymous because of pending lawsuits, told The Charleston Gazette that Chemstream Holdings is owned by J. Clifford Forrest of Kittanning, Pa.
A bankruptcy filing halts most litigation, forcing plaintiffs to vie with other creditors for a share of a company’s assets. More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed since the accident, which led President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency for the affected counties. The state attorney general is investigating the spill.
Shorter bottom line: This pits bankers and investors against people damaged by the company. It protects the company’s assets.
I drove south to the point where I-79 South ends, and you pick up I-64 West to head into the interstate exchanges on the freeway that runs the length of downtown. And there, about a mile and a half out, I smelled it, smelled the odor of the MCHM coming in through the car vents.
I keep hearing the odor described as “licorice.” That’s not quite right, at least to me. But I can see how you’d make that association. The smell was both sweet and sharp, and strangely light, at least in comparison to the smells I associated with chemical leaks growing up. But it was there, suddenly, like someone had flipped a switch. It wasn’t there, and then the next second, there it was.
I-64 West into Charleston, coming from southbound, unrolls in a big left-hand curve just after you come into the city. I’ve driven this route hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I grew up here. I recognize every building from the freeway—the banks, the hospitals, the hotels and apartment complexes, all of it. In the deepest part of that big left-hand curve, down off the freeway and to my left, there was West Virginia-American Water Company, and the smell suddenly became very, very strong.
On my way in, the rain had let up. Now there was low-lying fog, white-and-gray tufts and tendrils of vapor rising up from the street level all around the small wood-frame houses and gas stations and grocery stores. The sky was dark, and the fog was in the streets, and the smell was everywhere. I looked at the water company, and I smelled the air, and suddenly I was filled—I mean filled—with a rage that was quite sudden, very unexpected, and utterly comprehensive.
We can never predict what moments are going to affect us this way. I’m no dewy-eyed innocent about chemical leaks. They were regular occurrences when I was a kid. On the merits, this doesn’t seem right now to be the worst industrial threat West Virginia has ever endured. Hell, it isn’t the most immediately threatening one my family has endured personally; that would be the bromine leak in my very own hometown of Malden in the 1980s, the one that forced a complete evacuation of the entire town until the leak could be contained.
But something about this confluence, the way I had to bring potable water to my family from two hours north, the strange look of the landscape wreathed in rain and mist, the stench of a chemical that was housed directly upstream from the water company—something about all of that made me absolutely buoyant in my rage. This was not the rational anger one encounters in response to a specific wrong, nor even the righteous anger that comes from an articulate reaction to years of systematic mistreatment. This was blind animal rage, and it filled my body to the limits of my skin.
And this is what I thought:
To hell with you.
Do go read the entire thing. It’s worth it.
It took 32 years to get this holiday into law when it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1983. It took until 2000 to get all 50 states to recognize the holiday.
The House took up the bill in 1983 and it passed by 53 votes. Democrats O’Neill and Jim Wright, along with Republicans Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich, gave speeches supporting the King holiday.
But getting the bill passed in the Senate would be contentious. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina openly opposed it. At first, Helms introduced a filibuster, and then he presented a 400-page file that accused Dr. King of being a communist.
Senator Ted Kennedy criticized Helms and Senator Daniel Moynihan called the document “filth” and threw it on the Senate floor.
Despite Helms, the bill passed the Senate by 12 votes–even South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond voted in favor of the King holiday.
President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in November 1983. The first federal King holiday was celebrated in 1986.
It took longer for the 50 states to adopt the holiday. By 1986, 17 states had already adopted it. But there was strong resistance in Arizona to passing a state holiday.
The fight between state legislators came to a head when the King holiday was put up for an Arizona voter referendum in November 1990.
At that point, entertainers had started boycotting the state in protest, and the National Football League threatened to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Tempe if the holiday was defeated at the polls.
The King holiday lost in a two-part voter referendum and the NFL made good on its threat, taking the Super Bowl to Southern California and costing the state an estimated $500 million in revenue.
Arizona voters approved the King holiday two years later.
There was also a fight in South Carolina over the holiday. It was one of the last states to approve a paid King holiday for state employees in 2000.
The state’s governor had tried to link the holiday to a commitment to allow the state house to fly the Confederate battle flag. Instead, he signed a bill that approved the King holiday along with a Confederate Memorial Day celebrated in May.
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