Fuck you, Lord Barron, and your liege, King Dambly.

Fuck you Lord Barron, and your liege, King Dambly.

Asking for donations for poor student debt slaves who can’t afford to eat.

While jacking up tuition and demanding ever-higher state support.

While wasting it on middle-management deans who add no value to student education.

While wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on luxury construction projects (HUB revamp, Beaver Stadium expansion, new Engineering complex, new ice hockey arena, parking decks, power plant expansions, the list is endless) instead of maintaining old buildings, service infrastructure and dormitories and telling vanity donors to shove their egos up their asses and help pay to operate the university they claim to love or take their blood money elsewhere;

While flipping real estate off-campus to line the pockets of real estate investor cronies who build luxury housing to further indebt the debt slaves and bulk up your “accounts receivable-student loans” asset category, while threatening public water supplies, public air quality, and community food security and bankrupting public budgets to provide public services to a ballooning student population at taxpayer expense, while you whistle past, merrily tax-free;

While socking away billions in stock market investments and endowment funds and insurance reserves;

While students graduate, with their useless certificates of completion, to enter a rigged economy where you force them to continue funneling their meager earnings back to you and your cronies in the financial-educational-real estate racket also known as the “university financial complex.”

No wonder they’re drinking themselves to death.

So go ahead.

Hit up Penn State alums for five dollar donations to “beat Ohio State” at feeding hungry college students.

Don’t look at your rapacious institutional policies and set institutional priorities on educating, housing and feeding students at a level of basic dignity that won’t leave them starving while they’re in school and then indenture them for life.

Want to dispute these allegations?

Open the fucking books.

All of them.

I guarantee I can find an army of angry alums ready to flag the rampant waste, fraud and abuse, and create an actionable plan for a radically new, radically accountable Board of Trustees to cut costs and scale all the excess back to the basics and do what Penn State is supposed to do: “educate the sons and daughters of the working classes in the useful pursuits and professions of life.”

-Katherine Watt, Editor and Publisher, Bailiwick News

Bailiwick News – November 14, 2019

11.14.19 Bailiwick News – Post-election notes; air quality/public health threat updates: Penn State plans for West Campus Steam Plant expansion; UAJA sewage plant upgrade problems.

Excerpts:

Penn State plans for West Campus Steam Plant expansion

Penn State has applied to Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for state regulatory permission to install a Combustion Turbine/Heat Recovery Steam Generator (CT/HRSG) system at the West Campus Steam Plant in downtown State College.

Emissions from the steam plant already affect residents, workers and visitors downtown and on Penn State’s campus, in part due to construction of high-rise student apartment buildings that block pollutants from the emissions stacks from dispersing, and instead bounce pollutants back down to ground level given prevailing wind patterns.

Mark Huncik, an independent air quality expert and Highlands neighborhood resident who has been lobbying Borough Council for protective action on air quality issues for years, said the public comment period opened for the CT/HRSG project on Nov. 2, and lasts 30 days, expiring December 2, 2019.

Send public comment letters to: Muhammad Q. Zaman, Environmental Program Manager, Northcentral Region: Air Quality Program, 208 West Third Street, Williamsport, PA 17701, Tel.: 570-327-3648

Huncik is hoping that the Borough Council and local environmental organizations such as Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will submit public comments pressuring DEP to hold a public hearing on the project.

For those who may have forgotten, the original Highlands neighborhood, Penn State/Columbia Gas pipeline fight in 2013 was about Penn State’s plans to put a 12″ gas transmission line from the East Campus Steam Plant, along Bellaire Ave., Prospect Ave. and South Burrowes St. to supply the West Campus Steam Plant’s conversion from coal to natural gas.

However, concerned citizens figured out pretty quickly that a 12″ line was way too much capacity for the volume needed to replace the tonnage of coal with an equivalent BTU of gas.

Then citizens figured out that that was because Penn State planned to first convert boilers from coal to natural gas, and then later install a Combustion Turbine/Heat Recovery Steam Generation (CT/HRSG) system.

A CT/HRSG system is much larger, burns much more gas, puts out more toxic emissions, more noise, more everything.

Under pressure from residents and Borough Council, Penn State trustees decided in 2013 to move the proposed transmission line onto campus, where it was installed several years ago. It now runs under University Drive, Park Avenue, Curtin Road and North Burrowes St.

One more level of corruption down, in 2013 and 2014, Penn State was lying to DEP, misrepresenting its’ then-current emissions, its’ projected emissions post-conversion, and its’ power plant expansion plans, to skew the baseline emissions data and circumvent regulations prohibiting “phasing” projects to understate long-term air quality impacts.

Now is the time for people to raise a ruckus to DEP about Penn State’s bad faith, demand a public hearing, and urge State College Borough Council to use the 2011 Community Bill of Rights home rule charter amendment “Section b. Right to Clean Air” to block Penn State’s expansion of the power plant downtown.

Readers who want more of the background about the pipeline, the gas volumes, the CT/HRSG, please contact me and I’ll dig through my archives to find you relevant reporting. Most of the relevant material is in the bound volumes Energy Sovereignty and Steady State College, published by KW Investigations in 2018.

Of note, DEP’s planned approval of the project outlined below is an example of ceiling preemption as covered in the Sept. 3, 2019 Bailiwick News. The DEP, a state agency, intends to force a municipal population to accept a level of toxic air quality deemed good-enough by the state agency, regardless of whether the municipal population would prefer to protect its’ own air quality to achieve a higher standard of public health…

UAJA sewage plant upgrade problems

Ongoing delays in the upgrades at the University Area Joint Authority sewage treatment plant have been done without proper mitigation, and the project has been spewing toxic emissions on residents downwind for many months.

Mark Huncik, a local independent air quality expert, pointed out the emissions problem and the lack of effective mitigation planning to UAJA officials well before the project started, and they ignored him.

The toxic emissions from the plant during the renovation have been horrible, and have been discussed at length at Nextdoor.com…

…As the message board threads make clear, dozens of residents have been filing complaints by telephone, online and in-person with UAJA, College Township Council and the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection since at least June, possibly earlier.

All three entities have been deflecting blame for the toxic emissions onto other entities or the project contractor, or ignoring the complaints completely.

Huncik believes DEP “should be more responsive to people’s complaints and come out.  They should be requiring UAJA to do more.  They can assess violations and fines if the facility is exceeding their allowable emissions (which they do every hour the biofilter is offline).”

It might be a good thing if more concerned citizens speak out on this issue publicly and put more pressure on DEP to hold UAJA accountable for the damage to public health and local air quality…

Bailiwick News – November 12, 2019

11.12.19 Bailiwick News –  Civics Database: legal entities, geographical components, 2010 population, population notes

The data in this series of tables is compiled primarily from The Pennsylvania Manual, Volume 123, published by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, and the 2017 Centre County Municipal Officials Directory, published by the Centre County Planning and Community Development Office.

Future iterations of the table will gradually add information about municipalities, municipal authorities, intergovernmental agreements, major institutions (public and private) and other governing entities, including land area; population density; governing structure; applicable preemptive state legislation (such as Municipalities Planning Code, County Code, Municipal Authorities Act, Borough Code, Second Class Township Code, Public School Code, Sewage Facilities Act, Local Government Unit Debt Act, Intergovernmental Cooperation Act); governing board meeting schedules; most recent available annual budget; current tax rate; public services provided through departments, enterprise funds and other divisions; total paid staff (full and part-time); highest-paid executive/managerial position (if any); salary of highest-paid executive; and other data.

Letter of Interest – Interim Mayor Position

At my neighbor Jeff’s urging, I submitted a letter of interest regarding the State College Borough Council’s appointment of an interim mayor to complete Mayor Don Hahn’s term, as he leaves the position to take up a Magistrate District Judge position.

Below is my letter of interest:

“I have worked on citizen campaigns for the last 15 years as a writer, editor, publisher, community organizer and paralegal, to increase local control over ecosystem conservation for food and water security, and increase local control over public budgets to reduce the amount of taxpayer money used to subsidize the private profits of real estate developers, corporate Penn State, and other corporate entities.

I ran for Borough Council in 2019 as an unaffiliated, independent candidate, to pursue the same goals.

I have a hostile stance toward Penn State Board of Trustees President Mark Dambly, University CFO David Gray and University President Eric Barron, because I believe they are poor leaders: corrupt and unaccountable to the public for financial decisions made on behalf of corporate Penn State; I believe that their profiteering decisions harm the people of State College (including the 75-80% of residents who are students being financially gouged and rendered debt-slaves to pay for their education and housing, and the 20-25% of residents who own and occupy family homes and are being gouged to provide public services and student housing through corporate Penn State’s burden-shifting.)

I am interested in bringing this protective perspective about the abusive relationship between corporate Penn State and the people of State College, into the public forum of Borough Council meetings and using the platform of the office of Mayor to mobilize local public opinion and support local legislative action to set boundaries on corporate Penn State’s abuse of its financial and political power; increase corporate Penn State’s public accountability for its financial dealings through increased transparency of corporate financial records; and increase the financial and political power of State College residents to protect and increase our food and water security.”

A jolt of encouragement from voters. THANK YOU.

An ENORMOUS thank you to the 768 (unofficial tally) voters in State College who voted for me to have a seat on Borough Council. I didn’t win that seat, but I estimated I would get about 200 votes. So getting almost four times that amount was a huge jolt of encouragement.

Thank you also to the people in and around State College who urged friends and neighbors to vote for me. I know that my perspectives and viewpoints are far outside the mainstream, and that it’s hard to have conversations about the things I write about and advocate. So I appreciate every single one of those conversations.

With the election over, I plan to return to focusing on publishing Bailiwick News.

I’ll try to tighten the focus on civics coverage, using State College Borough Council and a few other governing boards as case studies.

I’ll do some reporting and compare and contrast analysis, to unpack the differences between how we-the-people tend to think our self-government system works, with how it actually works in practice.

I.e., Local outcomes are pre-determined long before public meetings occur, because the range of options presented to elected officials has been narrowed to a tiny fraction of policy perspectives, controlled behind-the-scenes by unelected managers, corporate lobbyists and the state legislature and courts.

I also spent a good bit of time the last few months carving linoleum block type in 96-point font, for the purpose of printing custom posters on my self-built printing press (Owl & Turtle Press). I was inspired by a visit to Nashville’s Hatch Show Print last summer.

I built my printing press several years ago, and I have enough 10-point lead type to print a small newspaper in the event that computers and the Internet and photocopiers become unavailable.

For the last few years, I’ve mostly carved larger blocks of pictures, and created note cards and calendars.

But the moveable type for the posters is mostly inspired by my deep concern about the increasing marginalization of citizen voices during public meetings. Back in 2016, in State College, then-chair of Borough Council Tom Daubert pushed through what I dubbed the “Daubert Diktat.” It was “adopted” by council without any public comment and without even a vote on August 15, 2016. It was designed to further suppress any meaningful exchange of viewpoints between elected officials and the citizen-taxpayers they purportedly represent. (8.15.16 BC Daubert Diktat)

The Centre Region Council of Governments made a similar attempt to police the tone and content of public comment this past March, covered in the March 22, 2019 edition of Bailiwick News. A couple months later, at their June meeting, COG members backed off their effort to further kill public deliberation and the free exchange of ideas, settling for a short statement setting a five-minute time limit on public comment and noting that the COG General Forum chair can shorten that time at his or her discretion.

So my idea, for the moveable type, is to produce small posters that citizens can bring to public meetings, with short, legible feedback printed on them to facilitate silent, two-way, real-time communication between electeds and citizens.

Anything goes.

Posters could say:

  • “Good idea!”
  • “Disappointed.”
  • “Use the precautionary principle.”
  • “We can’t afford that luxury.”
  • “Unfunded mandate.”
  • “This is an example of corporate Penn State burden-shifting.”
  • “This is an example of state preemption of local self-governance.”
  • “This is an example of a municipal solicitor narrowing your range of motion. Ignore him.” 
  • “Fuck you.”

So in the public meeting room, when a citizen wants to provide instantaneous yet silent feedback on what’s happening at the front, he or she can hold up a legible sign that corresponds, in full view of the electeds and in some case, the C-NET cameras.

Furthermore, electeds themselves can use printed posters to publicly, yet silently, indicate their views on topics under discussion, to whatever extent the electeds themselves believe that policy options are being unduly narrowed by unelected managers, and that deliberative opportunities – opportunities for one legislator to present information and analysis and persuasive language to other legislators, to change their minds – are being actively suppressed by the board chair and meeting “etiquette” protocols.

I have enough type carved to get started on this, and the posters are free.

Contact me at kw.investigations.llc@gmail.com to order.

Again, huge thanks to the voters who voted for me, and the supporters who supported me. 

I will run again in 2021.