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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    the workgroup developing this bill only representatives of polluting industries Only three environmentalists were even listed among the 38 members of the workgroup When PEER contacted the two Sierra Club representatives listed as workgroup members State Sierra Club Director Ken Kramer told us they did not participate after attending one or two meetings Kramer said there d been no input from our group and certainly no sign off on the final outcome 4 The rest of the members who wrote the legislation consisted of a who s who list of polluters 35 representatives from business associations or large companies They included lobbyists for the Texas Chemical Council the Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce the National Federation of Independent Business and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas representatives of agribusiness the insurance lobby and an array of polluting companies like Dow Chemical Temple Inland Dupont and Union Carbide A handful of employees of various state agencies 7 were also listed as workgroup members In other words far from representing input from industry and environmental representatives as Senator Brown and Rep Jackson would have their colleagues believe the authors of HB 2776 s policies came nearly universally from polluting industries State Superfund bill weakens environmental protection It s not surprising then that the policies implemented in HB 2776 enormously favored polluters and property owners who would otherwise be liable for pollution The highlights include Limited liability for lenders and fiduciaries for hazardous waste cleanup and the impact of pollution on the public Extended immunity from liability for off site contamination i e for contamination of other people s property under certain conditions Allows the TNRCC Chairman to remove facilities from the state Superfund list even if a landowner has not requested it Changed requirements for de listing state Superfund facilities Previously sites could only be taken of the Superfund list after a public contested case hearing HB 2776 changed that requirement to mandate only a public meeting before sites were taken off the list Ended TNRCC s practice of filing state liens on state Superfund sites Under the new policy TNRCC merely sends the landowner a bill Allowed new options to resolve polluter liability including covenants not to sue mixed i e partially public funding for cleanup projects and partial settlements where the polluter pays less than the full cost of the cleanup Created a new class of state defined Innocent Property Owners and authorized TNRCC to issue certificates of innocence which absolve the property owner for liability for hazardous waste on their properties How Texas industry runs Texas Texas superfund laws were designed to hold accountable individuals and businesses whose toxic pollution threatens public health HB 2776 is yet another example of how under Governor George W Bush Texas industry has reduced legal liability for its actions weakened public participation and reduced penalties and enforcement by state agencies charged with protecting public health and the environment In Part 11 PEER will examine how this bill turned into a

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article11_recgovernor.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    cost of the cleanup This bill created new loopholes to absolve polluters from liability loopholes that were much more favorable to industry and property owners These included covenants not to sue mixed i e partially public funding for cleanup projects and partial settlements where the polluter pays less than the full cost of the cleanup The prevailing trend here is for the public to pick up an increasing portion of the tab for privately generated pollution in the guise of settlements and covenants Innocence Found Another limitation on liability in HB 2776 was labeled the Innocent Property Owners program TThe idea behind the initiative was reasonable on the surface that property owners whose land was polluted by somebody else shouldn t be liable for cleaning it up The bill authorized the TNRCC to issue certificates of innocence to applicants if their property is contaminated as a result of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on the property if the applicant did not cause or contribute themselves to the contamination As of October 1999 69 certificates had been issued under this program This provision poses numerous real problems First it overturns longstanding Texas law that historically holds all property owners responsible for cleanup of their own property Existing statutes already allow the owner of property that has been contaminated by someone else to force the polluter to pay damages But for participants in the Innocent Property Owners program HB 2776 took the onus of cleaning up contaminated property entirely off the owners In the long term this increases the likelihood that taxpayers must finance cleanup of these sites Second while some industrial sites have been rejected some innocent owners have operations that may themselves pollute Companies that have received certificates of innocence include a dry cleaners a concrete plant an ink manufacturer and a chemical products firm Finally the vast majority of innocence certificates approved by TNRCC have been for residential developments apartment complexes or shopping centers and retail outlets in other words places where people are likely to come into close proximity to the contaminated land HB 2776 limited the likelihood that polluted land would be cleaned up by the responsible parties instead shifted the cleanup costs to the taxpayer Limiting Public Input on Hazardous Waste Cleanup HB 2776 also went a long way toward limiting significant public input into the state s Superfund hazardous waste cleanup process It allowed the TNRCC Executive Director to remove facilities from the state Superfund list even if the request came from someone other than the landowner Moreover it changed the requirements for de listing facilities Previously sites could only be taken off the Superfund list after a public contested case hearing in which neighbors of the site had the right to inquire as to the sufficiency and quality of the cleanup Arguments were made during the legislative session on why limiting contested case hearings might harm the public interest The owner of a contaminated site might

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article12_recgovernor.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    Robert E O Bryan Union Carbide Corp 1 000 1 000 1 500 3 500 Mary Reagan Winstead Sechrest Minick 20 500 6 000 11 500 38 000 TOTALS 386 400 116 000 358 611 861 011 Karen Neeley with Independent Bankers Assn lobbied on behalf of the legislation but was not on the workgroup However the PAC contributions tell only a small part of the story Many company executives and lobbyists have been major contributors to George Bush s gubernatorial campaigns Many of these individuals give to their company PACs and also give directly to candidates There are no limits on what donors PACs lobbyists or executives can give to candidates and some have been extraordinarily generous to the Governor Counting the contributions from the PACs and individuals associated with the workgroup participants brings the total to 3 159 715 PAC Individual Contributions to GW Bush Gubernatorial Campaigns from Superfund Workgroup Participants PAC Individual Contributions to GW Bush Gubernatorial Campaigns from Superfund Workgroup Participants Company Association Represented Total to GWB 93 98 American Insurance Assn 24 500 Arter Hadden 179 200 Assn of Fire Casualty Co 43 300 Baker Botts 76 000 Brown McCarroll Oaks Hartline 35 000 Capital Consultants 10 750 Dow Chemical Company 35 100 Dupont 1 000 Independent Bankers Assn 7 000 Motorola 5 500 Nat l Federation of Independent Business 8 700 Small Craig Werkenthin 1 500 Temple Inland Forest Products 27 000 Tx Ag Aviation Associates 9 000 Tx Assn of Bus Chambers of Commerce 796 750 Tx Chemical Council 545 811 Tx Farm Bureau 100 400 Tx Oil Gas Assn 1 189 204 Union Carbide Corp 3 500 Winstead Sechrest Minick 38 000 Total 3 159 715 Lobbied on behalf of the legislation but was not on the workgroup The most generous of the companies represented in the workgroup included Enron 301 500 Tx Chemical Council Tx Oil Gas Assn Arter Hadden 179 200 Law firm Beecherl Investments 159 750 Tx Oil Gas Assn Farmers Insurance 121 000 Tx Assn of Business Chambers of Commerce Sanchez O Brien Oil Gas 115 000 Tx Oil Gas Assn Wagner Brown 112 500 Tx Oil Gas Assn International Bank of Commerce 106 000 Tx Assn of Business Chambers of Commerce Hunt Oil Company 105 000 Tx Oil Gas Assn The Sterling Group 100 000 Tx Oil Gas Assn Tx Assn of Bus Cham of Comm Most generous individual contributors among the organizations represented on the workgroup include Louis Beecherl 146 000 Beecherl Investments oil gas Tom Loeffler 141 000 Arter Hadden Edith Peter O Donnell Jr 141 000 oil gas Kenneth Linda Lay 122 500 Enron A Sanchez 106 000 Sanchez O Brien Oil Gas Corporation Ray Hunt 105 000 Hunt Oil Co William McMinn 100 000 Sterling PEER researchers also examined the companies and individuals which were listed as applicants for the new designation of Innocent Property Owners See Superfund a Super Deal for Texas Polluters Part II for details We found that 17 of

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article13_recgovernor.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    gained a lead in the official vote in Florida Given the fact that Gore had won the national popular vote such a turn of events could have undermined the Republican drive to brazen itself into the White House At the very least it would have made stealing the election a more difficult proposition Then on December 9 like the proverbial cavalry to the rescue the US Supreme Court issued an extraordinary order to stop the recount It did so prior to even holding a hearing on the merits of the suit filed by the Bush camp In issuing the order to halt the recounts Justice Scalia was fairly brazen writing that the vote counting had to be halted because it might do irreparable harm to Bush In other words Bush might lose Three days later in a 5 4 decision the right wing majority headed by Scalia declared that counting all disputed votes was a violation of equal protection of the law that in any event the US Constitution did not give the people the right to vote for president and that there was not enough time to set new criteria for a fair count of contested ballots in Florida On the basis of this thoroughly cynical and unscrupulous legal concoction the Court majority handed the election to Bush The media report released last Monday was carefully framed to obscure these political issues and manipulate public opinion The news organizations involved knew that the vast majority of the people would not read the details of their findings but would only hear the sound bites on the evening news or see the newspaper headlines seeming to vindicate Bush s installation in the White House In fact the actual findings of the media consortium contain information that is highly damaging to Bush and the Supreme Court The study found that hundreds if not thousands of legal votes for Gore had not been counted These fell into two categories They included undervotes that upon examination were found to be valid under Florida law i e the ballots showed a clear indication of the intent of the voter The other category was so called overvotes ballots that were wrongly rejected because a voter punched or marked a ballot for Gore and also wrote in the Democratic candidate s name circled it or made some other mark around or near the candidate s name or party According to state law these votes were also legal and should have been counted The study acknowledged that if all of the undervotes and overvotes in Florida had been examined fairly and objectively and the legal ballots in these categories had been added to the final tally Gore would have won the election The Wall Street Journal is forced to admit for example that the study provides strong evidence that a clear plurality of voters went to the polls on Nov 7 2000 intending to vote for Mr Gore The New York Times states that the study found Mr

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article1_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    far the American ruling class is prepared to go in breaking with traditional bourgeois democratic and constitutional norms Is it prepared to sanction ballot fraud and the suppression of votes and install in the White House a candidate who has attained that office through blatantly illegal and anti democratic methods On December 12 2000 the US Supreme Court did precisely that Five right wing Republican justices unelected and unanswerable to the American people handed down a decision reeking with contempt for democratic rights and devoid of any legal or constitutional scruples This was a court whose majority had employed the mantras of states rights and judicial restraint to curtail the power of the federal government to enforce laws protecting the rights of workers and minorities But when the issue was posed what considerations would guide the resolution of the contested election in Florida the need to determine the will of the electorate or the desire of the most right wing sections of the ruling elite to install its man in the White House the Supreme Court inserted itself into the internal affairs of Florida and took the extraordinary action of overriding the state s highest court The Florida Supreme Court had overruled the attempt of the state s Republican administration headed by Governor Jeb Bush to certify George W Bush the governor s brother as the winner of the presidential race on the basis of a margin of a few hundred votes Republican election officials had secured Bush s margin by blocking or disregarding hand counts of thousands of ballots that had not registered a presidential preference in the machine tabulations Such hand counts are stipulated in the law of Florida and most other states as the means for resolving contested elections The Florida high court demanded that the uncounted ballots be counted In taking this action the Florida justices invoked the basic democratic principles of popular sovereignty and the right to vote They asserted The right of suffrage is the pre eminent right contained in the Florida Declaration of Rights for without this basic freedom all others would be diminished Antonin Scalia the ideological spokesman for the extreme right wing faction on the US Supreme Court excoriated the Florida court for raising these democratic principles On the basis of a reactionary interpretation of the US Constitution one that flies in the face of constitutional jurisprudence since the Civil War he declared that American citizens had no constitutional right to vote for the president of the United States This explicit repudiation of the right to vote became the anchor for the December 12 decision that installed George W Bush in the White House by discarding the votes of thousands of Floridians The following day Democratic candidate Al Gore delivered a craven concession speech equating the court s attack on the right to vote with the rule of law and calling on all Americans to rally behind the president elect Two months later in a report to an international school in

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article2_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    Overwhelmingly it is a list of Democrats Secretary of State Harris declared George W Bush winner of Florida and thereby president by a plurality of 537 votes over Al Gore Now do the arithmetic Over 50 000 voters wrongly targeted by the purge mostly Blacks My BBC researchers reported that Gore lost at least 22 000 votes as a result of this smart little blackbox operation The first reports of this extraordinary discovery ran as you d expect on page one of the country s leading paper Unfortunately it was in the wrong country Britain In the USA it ran on page zero the story was simply not covered in American newspapers The theft of the presidential race in Florida also grabbed big television coverage But again it was the wrong continent on BBC Television broadcasting from London worldwideóeverywhere that is but the USA Was this some off the wall story that the British press misreported Hardly The chief lawyer for the U S Civil Rights Commission called it the first hard evidence of a systematic attempt to disenfranchise Florida s Black voters So why was this story investigated reported and broadcast only in Europe for God s sake I d like to know the answer That way I could understand why a Southern California ho daddy like me has to commute to England with his wife and kiddies to tell this and other stories about my country In this chapter I take you along the path of the investigation step by step report by report from false starts to unpretty conclusions When I first broke the story I had it wrong Within weeks of the election I said the Harris crew had tried to purge 8 000 voters While that was enough to change the outcome of the election and change history I was way off Now after two years of peeling the Florida elections onion we put the number of voters wrongly barred from voting at over 90 000 mostly Blacks and Hispanics and by a wide majority Democrats That will take us to the Big Question Was it deliberate this purge so fortunate for the Republicans Or just an honest clerical error Go back to the case of Thomas Cooper Criminal of the Future I counted 325 of these time traveling bandits on one of Harris s scrub lists Clerical error I dug back into the computers the e mail traffic in the Florida Department of Elections part of the secretary of state s office And sure enough the office clerks were screaming They d found a boatload like Mr Cooper on the purge list convicted in the future in the next century in the next millennium The jittery clerks wanted to know what to do I thought I knew the answer As a product of the Los Angeles school system where I Pledged my Allegiance to the Flag every morning I assumed that if someone was wrongly accused the state would give them back their right

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article3_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    then reprint a diet of press releases and canned stories provided by government and corporate public relations operations Take this story of the list of Florida s faux felons that cost Al Gore the presidential election Shortly after the U K story hit the World Wide Web I was contacted by a CBS TV network news producer eager to run a version of the story The CBS hotshot was happy to pump me for information names phone numbers all the items one needs for your typical quickie TV news report I freely offered up to CBS this information The office of the governor of Florida Jeb Bush brother of the Republican presidential candidate had illegally ordered the removal of the names of felons from voter rolls real felons who had served time but obtained clemency with the right to vote under Florida law As a result another 40 000 legal voters in addition to the 57 700 on the purge list almost all of them Democrats could not vote The only problem with this new hot info is that I was still in the midst of investigating it Therefore CBS would have to do some actual work reviewing documents and law obtaining statements The next day I received a call from the producer who said I m sorry but your story didn t hold up And how do you think the multibillion dollar CBS network determined this Answer We called Jeb Bush s office Oh I wasn t surprised by this type of investigation It is in fact standard operating procedure for the little lambs of American journalism One good slick explanation from a politician or corporate chieftain and it s case closed investigation over The story ran on television but once again in the wrong country I reported it on the BBC s Newsnight Notably the BBC is a publicly owned network I mean a real public network with no funds generously provided by Archer Mobil Bigbucks Let s understand the pressures on the CBS TV producer that led her to kill the story simply because the target of the allegation said it ain t so The story demanded massive and quick review of documents dozens of phone calls and interviews hardly a winner in the slam bam thank you ma am school of U S journalism Most difficult the revelations in the story required a reporter to stand up and say that the big name politicians their lawyers and their PR people were freaking liars It would be much easier a heck of a lot cheaper and no risk at all to wait for the U S Civil Rights Commission to do the work then cover the commission s report and press conference No one ever lost their job writing canned statements from a press release Wait You ve watched Murphy Brown so you think reporters hanker to uncover the big scandal Bullshit Remember All the President s Men was so unusual they had to make a movie

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article4_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    Bush barred from voting The fact that 90 percent of these 40 000 voters were Democrats should have made it news because this maneuver alone more than accounted for Bush s victory I was going crazy Gore had not yet conceded the timing of Part II was crucial Where the hell was it Finally an editor told me The story doesn t check out You see we checked with Jeb Bush s office and they said Argh It was deja vu all over again Another staffer added as a kind of explanation The Washington Post would never run this story Well he had me there They hadn t they didn t Not yet At least Salon helped me sneak the first report past the border patrols So God bless America While waiting for the United States to awaken I took my BBC film crew to Florida having unearthed a smoking gun document I had a page marked confidential from the contract between the State of Florida and the private company that had purged the voter lists The document contained cold evidence that Florida knew they were taking the vote away from thousands of innocent voters most of them Black It was February I took my camera crew into an agreed interview with Jeb Bush s director of the Florida Department of Elections When I pulled out the confidential sheet Bush s man ripped off the microphone and did a fifty yard dash locking himself in his office all in front of our cameras It was killer television and wowed the British viewers We even ran a confession from the company that was hired to carry out the purge operation Newsworthy Apparently not for the United States My program BBC Newsnight has a film trading agreement with the ABC television network A record twenty thousand Net heads in the United States saw the BBC Webcast and several banged on the door of ABC TV s Nightline to run our footage or at least report what we found Instead Nightline sent its own crew down to Florida for a couple of days They broadcast a story that ballots are complex and Blacks are not well educated about voting procedures The gravamen of the story was Blacks are too frigging dumb to figure out how to vote No mention that in white Leon County machines automatically kicked back faulty ballots for voter correction whereas in Gadsden County very Black the same machines were programmed to eat mismarked ballots That was in our story too Why didn t ABC run the voter purge story Don t look for some big Republican conspiracy Remember the three elements of investigative reporting risk time money Our BBC Guardian stories required all of those in short supply in U S news operations Finally in February my Part II the report that was too scary and difficult for Dan Rather s show found asylum in the Nation magazine that distant journalistic planet not always visible to the naked eye

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article5_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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