To the editor
It may not be skullduggery, but it feels that way.
Our city council and mayor want to solve the city’s debt problem that will require a huge balloon payment soon. They ask: Who will save us from the indebtedness that previous councils, mayors and city planners brought upon us when they foolishly purchased the ESSBY land?
Superior Silica Sands to the rescue! This giant corporation is willing to solve the council’s problem by dragging thousands of tons of sand across state lines into our town for shipment to fracking sites. Our council seems to have made up its mind to accept this solution.
The folks who live in North Branch, however, are not so keen to have microparticles of sand floating through town promoting silicosis, fibrosis and other lung diseases, especially in their children. They don’t want to see huge sand-hauling trucks clogging and damaging the city’s roads. They don’t want their property values to plummet. They don’t want to open the door to further harmful developments of the sand industry which will surely come to North Branch as it has to other towns who have signed away their rights to large fracking enterprises.
It seems the mayor and council have decided the safest way to proceed is to keep as low a profile as possible. No referendums. No town meetings. Let the public comment at council meetings be relegated to the end of the meetings after all the votes of the evening have been cast. Don’t supply information on health issues, don’t warn people of decreased property values and don’t publish in the local papers the timeline for closing on a deal that’s already been decided on.
And especially don’t tell the citizens what the city officials offered to Superior Silica Sands that persuaded the company to pursue negotiations with North Branch after it withdrew its offer because of public outcry.