Bailiwick News – Volume 3 Preview – Centre Region Inverted Totalitarianism

I might write and publish a few more Bailiwicks before the end of the year, on the Beta Theta Pi prosecutions; the Slab Cabin Run water and farmland protection campaign (aka Toll Brothers/COG “Shitwater Mills” public-private partnership project in Ferguson Township); the Spring Creek Watershed Commission’s languishing Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan update process; Penn State’s corporate governance, tax exemptions and profiteering; and/or a couple other topics.

Might not. Covering public corruption in Centre County is, as they say, like trying to drink from a fire hose.

Looking ahead to 2019, for Bailiwick News Volume 3, I’ll be delving into the ways in which local governments in Centre County – as structured by the Pennsylvania Constitution and related state laws – represent examplars of inverted totalitarianism.

The term was introduced by Sheldon Wolin in 2003, to describe political systems – managed democracy – in which managerial skills are applied to basic democratic political institutions.

“…By using managerial methods and developing management of elections, the democracy of the United States has become sanitized of political participation, therefore managed democracy is “a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control”.

Under managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state because of the opinion construction and manipulation carried out by means of technology, social science, contracts and corporate subsidies.

Managerial methods are also the means by which state and global corporations unite so that corporations increasingly assume governmental functions and services and corporations become still more dependent on the state. A main object of managed democracy is privatization and the expansion of the private, together with reduction of governmental responsibility for the welfare of the citizens…”

Bailiwick coverage will likely focus on three intertwined issues: presenting evidence that the Centre Region Council of Governments is an excellent case study in managed democracy sanitized of citizen impact; exploring what proportion of the citizens of the Centre Region understand and explicitly consent to being managed in this way; and exploring how those who understand and yet do not consent to living under an inverted totalitarian local government might craft tools to change the form of government under which we live.

Quick Update re: the Shit Pit

COG General Forum met this evening as scheduled.

By unit vote, the five municipalities that participate in the regional parks program voted to endorse the easement, thus clearing the way for Toll Brothers contractors to start blasting and excavating in the Harter-Thomas recharge area in the coming weeks, and to ultimately build a large sewage holding tank and high-pressure sewage pipeline about a mile from our main public water supplies.

There is a lot of information to process, research and write about in coming days as construction and operation unfold, and as the political, public health and ecological consequences come into sharper view.

Some numbers to think about, for those interested in math:

  • 1,093 x 100 gallons per day = 109,300 gallons per day sewage flow, using DEP 1997 Domestic Wastewater Manual. 109,300 gpd is greater than the 50,000 gpd trigger for public notice back in 2014, which didn’t happen.
  • 1,093 x 70 gallons per day = 76,510 gallons per day sewage flow, using an extrapolation of the UAJA per capita sewage flow factor (1 EDU = 175 gallons per day per 2.5 people per household). 76,510 gpd is greater than the 50,000 gpd trigger for public notice back in 2014, which didn’t happen.
  • 268 apartments x 175 gallons per day per EDU = 47,950 gallons per day sewage flow, using UAJA’s EDU system of 1 EDU per dwelling unit, regardless of occupancy. 47,950 gpd is less than the 50,000 gpd trigger for public notice, and it’s the calculation actually used on all currently available sewage planning documents. For 1,093 residents, this amounts to just under 44 gpd per capita.
  • According to Cory Miller of UAJA during this evening’s meeting, the DEP authorized the Centre Region in 1996, through the Act 537 Plan, to use the EDU calculations of de facto 44 gpd instead of the 1997 manual’s 100 gpd calculation method, regardless of actual populations to be served, because we’re apparently extra good at water conservation around here, and our infiltration rates (the amount of stormwater that seeps into newly-installed conveyance pipes), is so very tiny. Further research needed to confirm or refute Miller’s assertions.
  • Miller also stated a “safety factor” of four (4) has been used in this project design. Whether the appropriate safety factor is the same in all settings, under all geologic and climate conditions is another question for further research.
  • In any case, the pump station, wet well and high-pressure pipeline as designed for the Cottages and now government-approved by Ferguson Township (December 2015), DEP (January 2016), UAJA (August 2018) and COG General Forum (this evening) are sized for 47,950 gallons per day, with a maximum peaking load capacity of 4 x 47,950 = 191,800 gallons per day.
  • If it turns out that the actual daily load is 76,510 gallons per day (at 70 gpd per capita) then the peaking load will actually be 306,040 gallons per day, and the pump station as designed and government-approved will be undersized by 114,240 gallons per day.
  • If it turns out that the actual daily load is 109,300 gallons per day (at 100 gpd per capita) then the peaking load will actually be 437,200 gallons per day, and the pump station as designed will be undersized by 245,400 gallons per day.

Feel free to check my math. (I’ll check it tomorrow too).