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Re: E-M:/ Dr. Devra Lee Davis, Natl. Book Awd finalist 2002, Comingto East Lansing!
- Subject: Re: E-M:/ Dr. Devra Lee Davis, Natl. Book Awd finalist 2002, Comingto East Lansing!
- From: Praxis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 09:05:34 -0500
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- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
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Wonderful posting on an important topic.
Samuel DeFazio, Praxis
We are all in for a very special treat. Devra Lee Davis, author of "When
Smoke Ran Like Water, Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against
Pollution," National Book Award, bronze medal winner for non-fiction
in 2002, will be spending a day in East Lansing. For more information about
Devra and her importance to us, read below.
The date: April 8, 2002, a Tuesday. Here's her schedule:
3:30- 5:30 Michigan State University, Communication Arts Building, Room
7:30- 9:00 Schuler's Books, Meridian Shopping Mall, Okemos
This is a rare opportunity for government officials, the media, teachers,
environmentalists, and concerned citizens to learn about our environmental
health from a master. Devra is on a national book tour and recently appeared
on NOW with Bill Moyers and on the Diane Rehm show. For more information
about Devra, including a score of interviews about her dynamite book, see
her website at:
Devra covers Lansing's Ingham County Health Department's environmental suppression
scandal in her book, as well as a surfeit of similar stories that have kept
smoke in the eyes of so many citizens and government officials, damaging
For more information, please call me, Brian McKenna at (517) 337-8913, or
send me an e-mail at email@example.com
Why is Davis important? Let me share this story. . .
Under the Engler administration there were rampant abuses in environmental
health enforcement and right to know, data suppression. A 1998 survey by
PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) found that more
than half of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality employees (52%)
expressed fear of job retaliation for advocating environmental enforcement.
A similar percentage (54%) knew of cases where employees were transferred
or reassigned for "doing their job too well" in a controversial project.
PEER mailed surveys to 1462 DEQ employees and had a 41.6 response rate,
(609 responses). You can view the results for yourself at the PEER website
You can read several comments by MDEQ workers at the time including this
"Director Harding has been picked by the Governor to cater to the Regulated
Community. Wasting resources on customer service training and programs like
Environmental Assistance Division. The Director hand picking industry friendly
Division Chiefs. Division Heads ignoring technical staff to favor industry."
If these results are anywhere near being accurate, then citizens should
be distressed at the Engler Administration's treatment of honest employees
seeking to do an honest day's work. When citizens are denied the facts they
do not have the wherewithal to fully understand the issues. Several leading
Michigan environmentalists are excited by Governor Granholm's selection of
Steve Chester, a very knowledgeable environmental lawyer with a good track
record, to replace Director Harding. Chester was listed in the Environmental
Law Section of the "Best Lawyers in America" for the 1997-98, 1999-2000,
2001-2 and 2003-4 editions.
In general, why don't more government workers speak out? Because all too
often, government workers who simply do what they were hired for and report
on the true state of affairs in their fields, can suffer severe financial
losses for speaking up. Their reputations can be sullied and they can be
demoted, reassigned or pushed out of their jobs.
This process was well depicted in the 1999 movie, "The Insider" with Russell
Crowe and Al Pacino. Crowe played Jeffrey Wigand, the high-level corporate
executive who blew the whistle on Brown and Williamson Tobacco and precipitated
what became the $236 billion settlement against Big Tobacco. This settlement,
the largest class action suit in history, signaled Tobacco's admission to
pushing an addictive substance and causing the deaths of a hundred thousand
people a year. As a staff scientist, Wigand had first hand knowledge of Brown
and Williamson's deceptive and indeed deadly practices. Soon after he voiced
a difference of opinion with company policy, he found himself fired for "poor
His story, it turns out, is all too common.
Devra Lee Davis, a world-renowned epidemiologist, has just written a powerful
book that tells scores of these stories. "When Smoke ran like water: Tales
of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution won the National
Book Award, bronze medal prize for 2002. One-third-murder mystery, one-third
biography and one third muckraking expose of systemic environmental science
corruption and oppression, Smoke reveals the intricate details on how the
dominant culture operates to keep smoke in our eyes. Davis tells us about
her own experience when she went undercover on a flight to Paris with a 10-pound
scientific particulate-matter-sniffer (pre-911 when no questions were asked
about such devices) to answer Senator Daniel Inouye's question about why
he always got sick on the flight from Hawaii to D.C. Her answer: scientifically
speaking, there was no "non-smoking section" on our airplanes. It's the plane
truth today, but not when she gathered the proof. Yet that discovery was
buried for four years until the government felt that more orthodox studies
could determine the veracity of the claim. What was the cost in lives resulting
from the U.S. government's silence? Well let's just say that the airline
stewardesses who sued the airlines would have liked to have known this information
when Davis found it.
There are a number of stories of good people - dedicated scientists - being
censored and deprived of a good working life for simply doing their job:
telling the truth. . . .the uncomfortable truths concerning what they discovered
about our air, water and environment. But by challenging power in its various
forms - the bureaucratic power of governmental administrators, the ideological
power of positivist science, the corporate power of the Fortune 500, and
the political power of entrenched interests aligned with the status quo -
they were prevented from serving the public interest.
I guarantee one and all a terrific time on April 8th. Please consider atendingone
of the two events. Let's make Dr. Davis feel at home in Lansing!