Think About It…….. May 14, 2014
I watched an amazing game of chess at the Nikiski Senior Center last Monday night. It just so happened to be center stage during the Alaska LNG Project meeting.
We watched representatives from the Big 3 oil companies talk about how great the project is and how they’re going to work hard to be good neighbors. Like pieces on a chessboard, we had the kindly bishop who did most of the legwork, but when things got dangerous, the queen swooped in to save the day.
I’m trained to see through lies. I’m paid to find out the truth and tell it to you. These people won’t talk to me, but in front of the meeting I was able to ask a direct question: “Your hand-out says you’ll start land acquisition in mid-May. We’re four days away from mid-May, where is the land acquisition up to?”
Queen to h5: The Queen, the “socio-economic expert” hastily steps in to say that she mis-wrote the handout. They don’t really mean that they’re acquiring land, what they mean is they’re starting their studies. They’re acquiring space on top of land to study things… or something. I was bewildered. I knew she didn’t answer my question: “where is land acquisition up to?” I know they’ve purchased property. She came in with a wall of vague statements and apologies which disabled any follow up.
Fred Braun stepped in at that point with a different question, and happened to point out that the project has purchased roughly 14 properties. THERE! That was the answer to my question! Turns out it wasn’t that difficult after all. So why wouldn’t they say it?
All night long, we watched the parade of non-answers. Some residents felt like they had a good meeting, and that they would get answers. Maybe they will, but I’m here to tell you that I was trained in public relations and communications. It’s Public Manipulation. It’s a fancy way of saying that they will do whatever they need to do to accomplish their goals and they’ll make you to smile while they do it.
Are these people bad people? Is this a bad project? Will this ruin the community? Certainly not. All those things are possible, but I don’t feel that way. Yet. What I do feel is sorrow and anger over how I watched some gray-headed and gray-bearded residents treated on Monday night.
These people, these social experts, should have been in there asking for permission, paying respect to the men and women who transformed Nikiski from a wilderness into a sweet, little community. They should have come in, hat in hand, asking if they would be welcome in this one-of-a-kind place, and how they could come in. They should have been the ones with the questions, with their heads bowed and their mouths shut, out of honor and respect. The residents in that hall have known this land and loved this land before it was even turned into the state which gave this project their fancy agreement.
But instead they talked about themselves. They gave no concrete information to help locals cope with possibly being removed from their homes, and for those who had concerns, they made them feel like they were asking too much, too soon.
The smiling queen, the gentle bishop, and a silent knight in the corner kept watch over their king. But who was he? “He” was the elephant in the room; the question they don’t want to answer… How far will you go to make this project happen? Would you use eminent domain to take a man’s private property if he decides he doesn’t want to sell? Will you bully and intimidate people into moving away from the land they love?
We need to know.
The question must be asked early and it must be answered now, before neighbor after neighbor sells out and increases the pressure on the remaining few.
We also need to know how far our politicians will go to protect the people they were elected to represent. Will they make a stand for the little guy? What kind of price do they put on your home? Is it $300,000 to get you to move? It is $3 million? How about $30 billion? Would they turn away a multi-billion dollar project for the sake of one family who has invested a lifetime and a livelihood in one corner of Nikiski?
Don’t let vague promises and expressions of “understanding” confuse you… on this chessboard, they see you as the pawn.
Think About It.