It’s been too long since we visited with our good, good friends at
multinational predator Nestle Corporation.
Then again, I doubt they’ve missed us much, being as they’ve been busy making all the "World’s Worst Corporation" lists (‘#10 with a bullet), suing small towns in Maine into oblivion, trying to illegally obtain new water sources, and splitting the town of McCloud in two over a rapacious contract they’ll do anything to protect.
At the Underground, we have to wonder: Where do they find all the time?
The McCloud Update
In McCloud, Nestle was finally browbeaten into re-issuing their wholly inadequate Environmental Impact Report, which somehow failed to quantify the downstream impacts of removing a few bazillion gallons of water from Squaw Creek (among other omissions).
Fans of local intrigue will no doubt be pleased to know the McCloud Services District — the collection of individuals who negotiated what has to be one of the worst contracts of all time — recently lost a member.
Rather than replace the lost member (as per custom) with the person receiving the next-highest number of votes in the last election, they bypassed him because he "couldn’t be objective about the Nestle proposal."
Instead, the district board installed the postmaster, a Nestle proponent. Apparently, being "objective" is all about being pro-Nestle.
You see this happen everywhere Nestle appears; they show up quietly, identify likely targets, spread a little money around, make a few promises, and let the small-town politics split the community.
Am I exaggerating? Read on…
The Maine Update
Regular readers will remember the town of Fryeburg, Maine — a small town that repeatedly said "no" to Nestle’s attempts to open a truck loading station (complete with 100 truck trips per day, 24/7).
Sure, the town rejected Nestle’s application many times; voted "yes" on a moratorium prohibiting this kind of project; and beat Nestle like a cheap rug three times in court (including an argument in front of the Maine Supreme Court), yet — showing the kind of stick-to-your-guns grit popularized by corporate
sleazes self-helpers everywhere, Nestle’s not done with Fryeburg.
They filed yet another legal appeal, and it’s clear the goal isn’t to prevail because their cause is just, but to bankrupt those fighting the project.
Unintentionally funny quote of the week?
"I think all parties would like to reach a conclusion," said Philip Ahrens, one of three attorneys representing Poland Spring…"
See, given that Fryeburg’s residents (and the courts) have said no, and no, and no again, I thought they had reached a conclusion.
Dollars From Heaven
Sure, it’s a good time to be Nestle’s legal representatives – billable hours are falling from the sky like $500 bills from heaven – but we’ve gotta ask; is bankrupting a small town trying to defend itself really part of their "good corporate neighbor" policy?
We’re just asking is all.
Still, all this litigation makes me nostalgic for the good old days here in Mt. Shasta — those halcyon days when Nestle subpoenaed the private financial records of project opponents in what you’d have to call a clear attempt to intimidate those who would speak out against them.
Ahh, good times. Good times.
More on The Maine Update
Lest you think Nestle’s attention is wholly occupied by the town of Fryeburg, Maine, we’ll point your attention towards another quasi-legal attempt to circumvent what the rest of us foolishly consider "laws" (and what Nestle considers obstacles to be brushed aside).
They want to pump water from a watershed within the town of Sterling (though the reservoir itself is owned by the town of Clinton).
Today’s Most Telling Quote From a Maine Resident? Coming right at ya:
"We were being told by these corporations that there was not much that we could do to limit their activities, and it did not seem that our select board had much authority either. It seemed to me that these corporations were telling us that we must accept these damaging activities into our town, even though the majority of our citizens objected," said MacLeod.
Welcome to the Wonderful World of Nestle. It’s highly likely you won’t enjoy your stay.
The Summary Update
Frankly, I’ve abandoned all hope of keeping Nestle out of McCloud; their water contract with McCloud is so lopsided — buying water at 1/10 the current rate for the next 100 years and selling it at above-gasoline prices — that Nestle will do anything to protect it.
What’s left is a tiny thread of hope the town can negotiate more favorable terms, and that the McCloud River (and Squaw Creek) aren’t terminally harmed by the project, especially in the face of the uncertain effects of climate change.
In a decade or two, it’s possible the town’s costs of supporting Nestle will outstrip the payments made by the company, and Nestle’s exclusivity clause would even bar businesses like micro-breweries from locating in the town.
And for all this, McCloud "benefits" from a handful of $10/hour jobs, sells its water at 1/10 the going rate, and gets saddled with the costs of maintaining the wells and infrastructure.
If that’s real economic advancement, I’ll crack open a bottle of Arrowhead/Nestle water and drink it.
See you drinking tap water, Tom Chandler.