[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/



“Beware of developers bearing gifts. Be especially wary of developers who propose to swap the equivalent of a handful of magic beans for the right to annually spew tons of poisons into the surrounding air and water.”

 

http://www.record-eagle.com/2004/dec/29edit.htm

 

Title: Printer Version: http://www.record-eagle.com/2004/dec/29edit.htm

December 29, 2004

Tondu Corp. was always out for No. 1

The issue
- The spurned developer of a coal-fired power plant demands $810 million from Manistee

Our view
- Tondu Corp. never had Manistee's best interests in mind

      Beware of developers bearing gifts. Be especially wary of developers who propose to swap the equivalent of a handful of magic beans for the right to annually spew tons of poisons into the surrounding air and water.
      Manistee officials this year rightly heeded a litany of ominous signs and denied a special use permit sought by Houston-based Tondu Corp. and Manistee Salt Works Development Corp. to build a massive coal-burning power plant on the shore of Manistee lake.
      Tondu waltzed into Manistee and promised riches to leaders of the rustbelt-in-transition Lake Michigan port community. Let us build our plant here and we'll shower you with jewels, the developer said. Full-time jobs, construction wages, an annual $2 million "community services" fee, Tondu cooed.
      And don't worry your pretty little head about the 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 100 pounds of mercury each year. Trust us, the developer/seducer said.
      Manistee didn't swoon, however. The developer's numbers didn't jibe and by April, after hard-working community activists dug up a long list of negatives - serious, wide-ranging pollution concerns, regressive impact on a tourism-based community and tax-free status for a developer that stood to rake in millions of dollars annually - the city's planning commission wisely told Tondu it wasn't welcome.
      All of which prompted Tondu, initially full of smiling, back-slapping benevolence, to show its true colors and transform into the snarling despoiler the community's less-naive anticipated all along.
      Tondu promptly ignored its promise to pay Manistee a six-figure permit study and review fee and in July filed a federal lawsuit against the community in which it claimed $100 million in damages.
      This month, the company hiked that demand to $810 million, based on an expected annual profit of $27 million projected over 30 years.
      That figure speaks volumes of Tondu's lust for a cut-rate date with Manistee. The company saw a site where it could build a huge plant - primarily on the backs of taxpayers - then quietly negotiated a municipal energy-provider agreement (though not with Manistee) that would have provided it tax-exempt status, while offering its would-be host a pocketful of change.
      Tondu clearly doesn't handle rejection well. Now it hopes to bully the city into some sort of settlement or convince a federal judge to overturn the city's decision.
      Whatever the outcome, Tondu exposed itself as a charlatan of the worst kind. And from Day 1, Tondu's message to Manistee couldn't be clearer: Pick your poison.