Friday, February 27, 2009

LETTER: LNP Conspires With Project Partners

Editor's note: The following comes from a representative of TRRAAC.

"Lancaster Newspapers refuses to report that the project partners are responsible for submitting false statements to the state government in their attempt to obtain millions of dollars to cleanup the LCSWMA dump in Manheim Township. This week, both Lancaster Intelligencer and Lancaster New Era reported on developments with the proposed relocation of the Dillerville Rail Yard. Both reporters were informed that an application submitted to the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) falsely represented that the project had already "committed" and 'awarded' $ 1 million from Department of Environmental Protection. However, neither story noted this significant fact.

"TRRAAC's investigation has confirmed the DCED application was submitted by EDC Finance in December. As recently as February 11, 2009, DEP wrote to Keith Orris of F&M and informed him the DEP application was only in process. This is evidence that the DCED application falsely represented to DCED that DEP had awarded and committed $ 1 million toward the cleanup of the dump.

"LNP is one of the largest contributors - to the tune of $50,000 annually - to the Economic Development Council of Lancaster County. EDC Finance is described on its web site as a division of the Economic Development Council of Lancaster County. Board members of EDC Finance include Larry Downing, president of Manheim Township Board of Commissioners; Michael Davis of Barley Snyder, the attorney who is representing F&M College and convinced Manheim Township that federal law preempted local floodplain ordinance; and a partner at Hartman Underhill & Brubaker, the law firm representing LCSWMA (the beneficiary of the state grant to pay the tipping fees to relocate the waste). The Board of Economic Development Council of Lancaster County includes Tom Beeman of Lancaster General Hospital, John Buckwalter of LNP, a partner at Barley Snyder, and Keith Orris of F&M College.

"It is interesting to note that TRRAAC has discovered an e-mail dated August 19, 2008 where the head of DEP's Brownfields Action Team wrote to Kathy Horvath, the DEP official responsible for reviewing the proposed cleanup plan and public involvement plan, about a conversation she had with Keith Orris of F&M. The e-mail notes that Jill Gaito, the DEP Deputy Secretary responsible for the Growing Greener grant program, had agreed that 'we would use [Growing Greener II] funds for remediation work at the Norfolk Southern project. Keith will send a scope of work so that we can start the paperwork.'

"So, while DEP was reviewing the cleanup plan and public involvement plan, apparently somebody high up at DEP decided the project would be funded before it was ever approved. Is it any wonder that DEP rubber stamped the plan on October 3?"