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By MB Condon
Goldendale 

Chamber too cozy on Nestle

 


On May 23, 2017, a group of 25 Goldendale citizens who are concerned about the lack of information and transparency regarding the hypothetical Nestlé water bottling plant submitted a Public Records Request to the City of Goldendale.

Under RCW §42.56 et seq. we requested “copies of public records, including preliminary findings, committee reports and studies, and correspondence, both written and electronic, by the Mayor, City Council members and City Administrator regarding a proposed invitation to the Nestlé Corporation, or any other company, for a water resource bottling venture.”

We received the requested documents on June 2, 2017. The documents include:

• Initial communication with the Nestlé Corporation from a private citizen that contains preliminary water source need estimates.

• 61 Letters opposing the sale of our water to a corporation and a proposed water bottling plant. Many letters contain background information and documented research on Nestlé and the water-bottling industry, as well as specific questions about the City’s proposal. There were no documented responses from the mayor to questions.

• 0 Letters of Support.

• The City’s action plan for recruiting Nestlé and creating an image of community support through limited public input from “community leaders”.

Of great concern is the documents show a pattern of access and influence that the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce has with the mayor regarding this issue. Documents show the Chamber has:

• Monitored a community Facebook page to ‘evaluate’ opposition.

• Provided the Mayor and City Administrator with outside business contacts who they present as ‘more credible’ than local citizens.

• Provided a contact list of 26 water bottling companies from the NW Bottling Association for solicitation.

• Communicated talking points and strategy plans with a small group of (un-elected) insiders, to the exclusion of the City Council members.

Most disturbingly, what the documents do not include are any water studies or analyses of potential impacts to city water users, downstream wells, local agricultural water users, or wildlife resources. There is no evidence that the Mayor has contacted other communities who have been impacted by a Nestlé bottling facility. And in contrast to Mayor Canon’s repeated statements—during City Council meetings, as recorded by the local newspaper, and in conversations with private citizens—there is nothing to show that the mayor, city administrator, or the city council have done the due diligence of researching the issue and communicating that research to the community in a transparent process.

People who live in and love Goldendale have been waiting for seven months to hear from the mayor.

Therefore, we have formed a citizens group to actively respond to the lack of information and transparency:

Our H20 • Goldendale Water Coalition

We are encouraging the community to join Our H20 at the Goldendale City Council Meeting on June 19th at 7pm. Mayor Canon has repeatedly stated that he will present his ‘report’ in June, and this final June meeting of the Council will be his opportunity.

Our H20 • Goldendale Water Coalition

 

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