Like so many others, I’m lying low during this pandemic/polar vortex collaboration. While cooped up Thursday the 11th, I thought I’d listen to the County Executive Committee meeting that morning. While listening, there were a few items that struck me as needing clarification. I thought, since I’m cooped up anyway, maybe I can offer some translations for anyone who didn’t catch what was said.

Early in this meeting, after Supervisor Middleton raised valid concerns about issues that are under review by Environmental Services being moved to Executive while still be worked on by the former, Chairperson Nelson said to Supervisor Middleton “You are new here, so maybe you don’t know how these things work” and “You are wrong.” He was condescending, combative and rude. But it’s also difficult to imagine that Supervisor Nelson would say this to anyone else on the committee. In my opinion this translates to: Not only do I not want to have a dialogue about this issue, but I don’t want to have a dialogue with YOU, and I will shut you down, all on account that you are a woman. 

Later in the meeting, Supervisor Olsen spoke of his concerns with moving forward with any kind of environmental review on the CAFO issue. He argued that it makes no sense to have any scientific knowledge of how bad industrial factory farms might be for the health of Polk County residents, because at the end of the day, everything we do is bad. If we find that industrial factory farm would be detrimental, then we will also, by extension, have to regulate every one’s pet chicken and lawn maintenance regimen. This is an ignorance is bliss, zero sum game. He seems to be saying: I want to sweep this under the rug, because I’m not here for dialogue or to do my job. I’m here to muddy the waters.

As Supervisors Nelson and Olson took charge of the floor, piling on words but saying nothing, they continually tried to tie stopping any environmental review on the industrial farm issue with the very serious issue that we have in the county with methamphetamines. As if one cancels the out the other. They don’t. At other meetings, these two supervisors have bad mouthed their own constituency while comparing these two vastly different issues, as if to say that if you are concerned about CAFO’s you are stupid. Why? Because…Meth. But, unfortunately, I see this as them confessing: We don’t know how to do our jobs. 

Michael Noreen


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