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Re: E-M:/ Shutting down Gov't: Who ya gonna call?

Thanks for the supportive comments. I appreciate it.

Press Secretary McCann,

Thank you for doing your job today and issuing a comment, although ...I detect a patronizing tone in your email. Speaking truth to power isn't designed to make the powerful feel comfortable.

I never said  there aren't numerous environmental employees doing their darndest to do a good job. I suggest to you that the difficult and thankless environment your employees sometimes find themselves in is often created when there is a political agenda going on higher up than them, and they're the ones that have to look the community members in the eye.

So it's just so acutely ironic that DEQ, DNR and other state employees are feeling powerless and manipulated right now by a process that they did not create and by a power struggle that is using them to affect another outcome. 

Feels awful, doesn't it?

As I have been told repeatedly for the last year and half working with residents in this community, this is how life feels everyday if you live in Benton Harbor and are watching this park, and indeed your entire town, being stolen from you through a manipulative and not transparent process.

Painting my comments as some minor disagreement between DEQ and the "environmental community's concerns" and talking about this as a decision already made,  "we can move on," is part of the manipulation we are all witnessing. I'm talking about how residents in Benton Harbor are being ignored --then and now--at all levels of government, and the rules and processes are being played against them to ensure a certain outcome.

What we do not see, in the budget impasse, are calls to put these corporate-favor projects on the table. Instead, there's this continued shift of more wealth to the already wealthy and powerful, bowing down to big business, contemplating their inappropriate and obscene proposals like putting fancy golf courses in public parks and other unethical consumption of our commons, our natural resources. In the closed-door sessions tonight, there's little transparency.

Campaign finance reform is needed.

The DEQ's integrity is absolutely on the line.

McCann's right, we can all do more good by communicating with one another in an open and honest manner. Starting with DEQ Chief Steve Chester.

Did Mr. Chester act as quickly as you responded to me to inform the Governor, even if not legally required to do so, that approximately 100 people attended a DEQ hearing in Benton Harbor in January, and another 30 or so  attended a DEQ hearing in Benton Harbor in early September, and how the public expressed in no uncertain terms that they were vehemently opposed to a golf course being built in Jean Klock Park? Didn't this say to the State that something is very, very wrong? Were the concerns expressed to the DEQ brought to the DNR's attention? Why did comments not trigger an Environmental Impact Statement for this federal undertaking, that would evaluate a loss of the park on this minority community? Did it convince the DNR that a Community Recreation Plan must be done, as required by their grant programs? No. Did the DNR send the DEQ hearing comments to the National Park Service? No.  To date the environmental reports, even economic studies, submitted to the NPS have not been released despite a FOIA request. Exactly what can the public respond to if the information is not even provided?

So the question is why? Don't you have honest and open communication between units of government?

When Mr. Chester responded to U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. last February  Chester claimed the reason why he delayed his written response for a month "ensued from our desire to provide a complete and accurate response." Then why did Chester not mention that there was a DEQ hearing or the results of that hearing?  In answer to the Congressman's questions regarding the "environmental justice impact of the proposed private golf course on [the] minority community" Chester wrote:

"Let me state first that the golf course will be a public course, although it will be considered 'up-scale.' Three golf holes and appurtenances are proposed within the boundaries of Jean Klock Park. These holes will be placed on the landward side of the dunes and the fairways will not interfere with the public's enjoyment of the dune crests and the lakeshore. Even though these holes are within the park boundaries, the general public will have access to these areas..."

After the public testified at that hearing that they feel the loss of the park would be
illegally going against a court agreement,
going against the donors' wishes,
going against an historic deed that the whole community understood,
going against community hopes for the future,
harmful to the wetlands,
depriving children of equal access to their park,
ruining the beauty of the lakefront,
a permanent land use change,
a terrible risk,
a sacrifice they were not willing to make,
destroying dunes saved for over 90 years,
the home of a threatened species,
a sacred place for weddings, baptisms,
their public park for future generations preserved in the same natural state as had been preserved for them??

"Will not interfere with the public's enjoyment?"

Being ignored, being railroaded and having to endure "fixed" decisions are injustices African Americans are all too familiar with.

My allegations are not baseless Mr. McCann.

LuAnne Kozma

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