Subject: Meeting with Andrea
Just a quick recap of a meeting I had yesterday with VLCIA's Andrea Schruijer. When asked where we were with the private prison issue, she responded, "we contractually agreed to a 3rd extension with a term of 365 and CCA has until March 13, 2012 to request that extension." So I asked," if CCA doesn't request a 3rd extension, then the issue is over, right?" She replied, "If there's no response from CCA, then it is up to the board to determine how to move forward." When I asked her why they would even consider honoring a contract extension to CCA knowing some of the controversy over CCA's business practices, she replied, "because there is a partnership between the VLCIA and CCA and we are contractually bound to a 3rd extension."
I pointed out that the private prison industry wasn't interested in public safety and rehabilitation they simply wanted to make a quick buck off the lives of others. I informed her of the chronic employee turnover, understaffing, high rates of violence and extreme cost cutting which all have been attributed to CCA.
I told her that Lowndes County already had its own share of air pollution and that amount of air pollution here is directly proportionate to the amount of lung and bronchial caner in our area. I encouraged her to consider sustainable businesses for the future economic growth of our community, not smoke stack business. Her reply, "so what you are saying is that you think the industrial should just close its doors?" I actually hadn't thought about that but the question did make me ponder.
I left her with a 91 page research report which takes a critical look at the first twenty years of CCA's operations. I requested an email response of her thoughts about the report and am currently awaiting the response...
Biomass did come up in the conversation and Mrs. Schruijer was quick to assert that
"biomass DO NOT not come here because of community activism." She stated, "the reason was because there was no buyer for the product" and a few other excuses I neglected to pin down.Sure, community activism had nothing to do with the biomass plant not opening. Har. That explains why VLCIA approached the County Commission about asking the Commission not to extend the contract, and why VLCIA sent a delegation up to Atlanta to ask Wiregrass Power not to extend their contract.... Sure it does. Sorry, I can't type very well while I'm laughing.
She did mention wealth in our community but it seemed impossible to get the idea through to her that wealth does not always mean money. I asked her, "what sense would it make if there are lots of jobs created by your smoke stack industries and all the employees have great health insurance but their kids and elders are suffering from bronchial disorders and lung disease which in turn drives up your healthcare expenses." There is cap on medical insurance you know. I have no recorded response of her reply. Seems like they would launch their own risk/benefit analysis and KNOW the risks involved in smoke stack industries. I pointed out the ethics involved here as well.
I was deferred to the VLCIA attorney when asked about specific questions pertaining to the Purchase and Development Agreement between the VLCIA and CCA. After about 30 minutes, the meeting was pretty much put to an end...
-Bobbi A. Hancock
It took Ashley Paulk to be a big man about biomass and to tell us all that. Maybe this time somebody on the VLCIA board can be a big man or woman and stand up for the community against the private prison.