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E-M:/ Alpena, Michigan Activist SLAPPED for Environmental Videography



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Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com
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On this Memorial Day weekend, when we all remember those who
have died defending the constitutional freedoms we all enjoy, comes
news of an attack on Constitutionally protected First Amendment
freedoms of an Alpena Area environmental activist  whose videotaping
has played an important role in efforts to fight the burning of hazardous
waste at the Lafarge Corporation.

Mr. John Smigelski of Alpena is a retired paper mill worker and grandfather
who has performed a herculean effort to protect Alpena area citizens
and document environmental violations from the Lafarge Corporation and
its burning of hazardous waste in the city limits of Alpena.  He is one of 
the key volunteers of the Alpena MI-based Huron Environmental Activist League.

For nearly 5 years, Mr. Smigelski has been going out twice a day to catch
Lafarge in any acts of emission standard violations involving fugitive
dust and excessive visible stack emissions.  John's motivation for 
this "beyond the call of duty" effort are his grandchildren who live
in the shadow of Lafarge's stacks in Alpena.

And now Mr. Smigelski has been targeted with what is known as a 
strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) in the form of a 
complaint against him under Michigan's anti-"stalking" law.

Mr. Smigelski's volunteer work involved documenting extremely heavy fugitive
dust 
emissions from the handling of cement kiln dust containing toxic constituents
from the burning of hazardous waste at Lafarge; the company was literally
taking fine, dry cement kiln dust and dumping large transfer trailers down a
one hundred foot embankment. 

Mr. Smigelski's work also involved
documenting the heavy, turbid discharges of quarry water drainage, in violation
of Lafarge's federal wastewater discharge permit, into the Thunder Bay
Underwater Preserve on Lake Huron.  He has documented the movement
of hazardous wastes into the Lafarge complex by the Lake States Railroad,
whose tracks run through the City of Alpena.   John's videos documented
that the Railroad was hauling toxic waste through the 
City of Alpena over extremely degraded tracks with rotted ties and
broken metal track components.

Mr. Smigelski's work has had a large impact on environmental 
enforcement activities.  His tapes have been viewed by key Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. EPA officials
in Lansing and Chicago.  His tapes were also
entered into the record of the damage cases in U.S. EPA's 
national cement kiln dust policymaking activities.  His tapes 
led to transportation safety enforcement actions and the 
subsequent upgrading of all of the railroad tracks bringing hazardous
waste to Alpena, which is one of the largest hazardous waste disposal
sites in the U.S. sitting right on the shores of Lake Huron.

The stalking complaint against Mr. Smigelski was brought by 
a Mr. Ronald T. Donokowski in the Circuit Court of Judge John
Kowalski in Alpena.  Mr. Donokowski is a brakeman for the 
Lake State Rail Road.  Mr. Donokowski, however, is represented
by the lawyer for Lake State Rail Road, Flint Attorney Thomas A Conley.

Lake State Rail Road is partially owned by Lafarge Corporation.

Most recently, Mr. Smigelski has complained to the Michigan
Department of Transportation and to Lafarge Corporation 
concerning the conditions at railroad crossings entering
into the plant site, and the recent occurrences of accidents and 
near accidents at this site.

This type of case is precisely why Michigan's stalking statute should
probably be struck as unconstitutionally vague and over-broad;  when it
was passed, the American Civil Liberties Union Michigan Chapter 
articulated its concern that the statute might be used to suppress
the types of First Amendment protected political conduct in which  
Mr. Smigelski has been engaged.   A Texas statute on stalking
was recently declared unconstitutional for declaring constitutionally
protected conduct as illegal.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for June 3, 1997 in Judge Kowalski's
courtroom.  John has had to hire an attorney to defend against
the stalking complaint.  I suggested that he contact ACLU for help also.

Letters of encouragement, contributions to his legal defense
and inquiries concerning the filing of amicus briefs are welcome:

John Smigelski
333 North Eleventh
Alpena  MI  49707
(517) 354 4574


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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)


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