From Our ReadersIssue Date: November 21, 2019
Do whistleblowers and hotline tippers reporting behaviors they become aware of directly need anonymity?
Three factors in my opinion need to be considered " the power differential between the reporter and the subject of the report, the personal and financial risk to the reporter, and the value of these reports in crime fighting and fraud detection.
The issue of the power differential between the reporter and the subject of the report refers to wealth, social and personal connection, and social/professional status. I would argue that the bigger the differential means the bigger the need for anonymity. For example, reporting on our supervisor, boss, or other person with better connections or recognized power can open you up to shaming, isolation, and reprisals you can't handle.
The financial and personal risk to the reporter seems obvious to me. These risks include manipulated job loss, and threats of physical and property damage to you and your family by the subject or the subject's supporters. This leads to feelings of being terrorized.
It seems clear to me without anonymity, whistleblower provisions and police tip lines would be ineffective in combating fraud, abusive behavior, and crime.
Reports from these sources as happened in the Ukrainian reports are examined by legal and independent referral departments for credibility (probable cause) before becoming handed over to investigators. These reporters do not charge.
Interesting history of local mining. Many things have made today's mining much worse than yesteryear's. In the gold rush days, mining was like picking the chocolate chips out of the cookie. Notice the pickaxe and shovel on the WI flag. Today's mining is mining the sugar out of the cookie. About 98% of today's mine product is waste rock. The local proposed metallic sulfide mine's waste rock reacting with air and water, becomes sulfuric acid.
To get the gold from the proposed massive pit, 50 yards from the Menominee River (then intending to tunnel under the River) the excavated mineral-rock gets ground to the size of talcum powder. That's a lot of loud, earth-shaking dynamite, digging, and grinding, creating massive dust. The retained dust goes into vats of lethal cyanide (to float off the gold). The other dust gets all over everything, causing sulfuric acid in contact with air and moisture. (Is that dust in your lungs? Your kids'? Grandchildren's? Eagles'?) The rest of the reactive rock, would remain on site, causing acid mine drainage for thousands of years. That acid could be neutralized with limestone, but Aquila's application said that's too expensive for them. Their plan is to plow up dirt to surround (dam) their forever toxic waste slurry here.
People mistakenly believe if Michigan approves the permits, then no pollution occurs. That's simply not true. Nothing changes the basic chemistry of sulfide-bound minerals naturally becoming sulfuric acid. If excavation starts here, so will the acid mine drainage that leaches other toxic metals into our surface and well water.
The proposed upstream "tailings management facility" (a dam) is the very worst but cheapest way to store toxins on-site forevermore. Because so many of that type failed causing catastrophic deaths and destruction world-wide they are now banned in Brazil too. Hundreds of people died in Brazil's 2019 dam failure. Today's massive mines cause far more damage than in the past.
The Flambeau mine in Wisconsin's past, only one-ninth the size of the proposed pit here, did not process nor bury their wastes there. Still, its toxic leaching (greatly exceeding normal/allowed mineral levels) was documented in the original court case and its appeal.
Aquila's September 11, 2019 reply to EGLE/MDEQ's request for more information said that the risk of mine failure here is "negligible". That's a bold-faced lie. The risk to our water, tourism & manufacturing economy, our health, and our environment is 100%. There has never been a sulfide mine that did not pollute. Fresh water is a precious, and quickly becoming a scarcer resource. Join us or donate to keeping ours clean now.
Let's leave mining here in the past.
Letter to Editor:
Five years ago (2014) on the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down in Germany on Nov. 9, 1989, I wrote a letter which was published to the Peshtigo Times Newspaper. That day in history was my youngest daughter (Michelle Mattison at the time) 20th birthday. Michelle witnessed and took part in the coming down of the Wall. She had entered the U.S. Air Force in November of 1987, did basic training in Texas, attended Presidio in Monterey, California for a year majoring in the Polish language. In May 1989 she was sent to Berlin, working in translation and intelligence, which is why she had the opportunity to be there Nov. 9, 1989.
Now, it will be 30 years since the Wall came down and she is married, working for the Ottawa National Forest with her husband, Anthony Holland, sharing the life of their daughter, 13 year old Addison in Watersmeet, Mich.
My father the late Walter Bialkowski came to America as a young man from Poland, proudly became an American Citizen and served in the U.S. Army in World War I. He worked in factories to earn a living and attended night school to learn to read and write the English language before entering the service. His price in being an American could be felt. He told many stories of when Poland was not on the map and the immense difference between the privileged and the poor.
My sister, the late Eugenia Smoczynnski, my husband, Melvin Smiley and I were blessed to be able to travel to Europe for a month in October of 1990. She enjoyed the first week in Poland with relatives, then to Germany for two weeks with Michelle in Berlin and missing what was left of the wall and momentous of flowers in memory of those who had lost their lives in attempting to leave the Russian sector or to visit families on the other side. She traveled with her through many countries and when we left Germany we three went on to England and Wales. It was a most beautiful trip that working hard, and saving our money allowed us to enjoy. The City of Warsaw, Poland was still feeling the effects of World War II with their city water being not drinkable and due to politics the store shelves were poorly stocked, many items not available (Berlin was one of the most beautiful cities I have been in America, having rebuilt it after bombing it to the ground in World War II.
What I am attempting to say, can't we all work together to keep this beautiful world God have given us and not continue to have wars and kill each other? It starts with each individual doing their share, leading productive lives and our leaders to do good for our country and not just for themselves.
When will it all end? We have so very much to be thankful for every day. Shirley Prudhomme wrote an article about the wall in 2014 which prompted me to write my letter in November that year. Now I am thinking again of that Historical Day and praying that this beautiful world will survive even through all the convoluted politics of all its countries and leaders. It appears that since the Wall came down world peace has lessened not improved.
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