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E-M:/ More details: Traverse City Record Eagle ran first AG declines to prosecute MSU Trustee for enviro violation

FYI -- TCRE reporters did the reporting on the Don Nugent/Mike Cox story that was run, with additional reporting, by MSU State News this week -- see below


Anne Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter

From: Bill O'Brien [mailto:bobrien@record-eagle.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 3:12 PM
To: Anne Woiwode
Subject: Re: E-M:/ State News reports AG declines to prosecute MSU Trustee for enviro violation




My name is Bill O'Brien and I'm the business editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle. I wanted to expand on the e-mail you circulated Monday evening. Regarding the "investigative flair" of the State News into MSU trustee Don Nugent's environmental issues at his Graceland Fruit Inc., pleased be advised that this story is a lesser version of a major report on Graceland Fruit that was published in the Nov. 20 edition of the Record-Eagle.

Our reporter Pat Sullivan did a major expose on Graceland's contamination issue, while I did a separate story on the implications of Nugent's tax-free Agricultural renaissance zone he received from the state. It was a major research effort that was weeks in the making that was condensed into a much shorter story that was sent out Sunday on the Associated Press wire. The State News apparently picked up that story and supplemented it with some of their own reporting - but I wanted you to know the true source of the story. You can view it on our web site at www.record-eagle.com


Bill O'Brien

----- Original Message -----

From: Anne Woiwode

Sent: Monday, November 21, 2005 7:40 PM

Subject: E-M:/ State News reports AG declines to prosecute MSU Trustee for enviro violation


Showing an apparent flair for investigation, the Michigan State University student newspaper reported today on a situation where the recommendation of DEQ that criminal charges be pursued against a company headed by a member of the MSU Board member was declined by AG Mike Cox -- see below.   This raises some questions for me as well about recent efforts in the legislature to exempt food processing operations from nuisance claims (SB 668-669). AWM



Trustee's company accused of polluting

>From staff and wire reports

Graceland Fruit Inc. and the state have been negotiating a civil settlement in a dumping case involving thousands of gallons of blueberry waste.

Donald Nugent, a member of the MSU Board of Trustees, is president and chief executive officer of the Frankfort-based company.

The State News could not reach Nugent after repeated attempts Sunday, and university spokesman Terry Denbow was unable to be reached for comment.

Farmer Charles Brozofsky said he discovered contamination, illegally dumped upstream from his property in Benzie County, in late 2002.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, began an investigation into the dumping in 2003, and eventually recommended that criminal charges be pursued against Graceland Fruit Inc. and Bonney Bros. Pumping Co., the company responsible for hauling and dumping the waste.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox denied the request to prosecute the case, and opted to pursue the civil settlement instead.