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December 05, 2005

Of interest in the pig plant discussion...

In 1996, the Charlotte News & Observer won a Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series of stories on the impact of the pork processing industry on North Carolina.

Go to http://pulitzer.org, go to the archive and use the search by year function to find 1996. Interesting reading.

Posted by jcb at December 5, 2005 12:23 AM


I have a few comments about this. I'll say upfront that I do live in upper Rock Island County, but not the Barstow area.

All you have to do is look at Iowa's riverfront and Illinois' riverfront to contrast and compare. Iowa has many large and fine homes on the river, while Illinois chose, centuries ago, to foul it's own riverfront for jobs and economic growth. In my view, it's a little late in the game to get the vapors about pig vapors, when our state has a history of nest-fouling (fowling?).

I certainly understand why the neighbors are against this and why politicians in charge of more taxation are for it, but let's all get a grip here----Barstow will not be the next Wildwood.

As to the Pulitzer prize winner in NC---that was a decade ago, and I assume that the technology concerning pork processing plants has been appropriately updated. Let's at least give them a hearing.

Posted by: paladin at December 5, 2005 02:56 PM

A very simple solution for all concerned would be to simply stop eating pork. Eventually it would have an impact.

(I realize most people will consider this a loony idea and a loony outlook and I'm sorry but, hey...)

I read a farm industry article that stated the plant would be capable of killing 1,000 pigs an hour. That's a truly disgusting thought, and no one has mentioned how truly dehumanizing it will be to work in such a hell hole.

Nobody wants to think about the fact that hogs are intelligent, curious animals. Pigs are a lot like dogs.

And for you townies, hogs don't stink if you don't force hundreds of them to live in the same small space.

Sooner than you think, there will be vat-grown meat in the stores that will be indistinguishable from the real thing. Seems like a logical and humane thing to me for people who think they have to eat flesh.

Vat-meat wouldn't damage the environment or screw up property values. Of course, the previous writer acts like people in Barstow shouldn't complain, since they aren't in an expensive neighborhood. Maybe he/she would have a different out look if he/she lived out there.

Posted by: Vita at December 5, 2005 04:22 PM

So true, Vita, everyone should complain, but if everyone has the NIMBY attitude, how will we ever have progress? Or should we just lament the lack of those good union jobs we had in the '80's before we had a global economy? Should we pretend we don't have a global ecomony in order to molify the NIMBY's among us? I dunno. I guess we could all move South and West, but then who would turn out the lights in the QC? Unions? NIMBY's? Vita?

PS: Hey Vita, don't believe everything you read---they might have an agenda!

Posted by: paladin at December 5, 2005 05:42 PM

I don't equate the pork plant with "progress." Why is it that so often if someone objects to a project, they're routinely accused of being against "progress?"

New jobs and new buildings are not progress if they cause more harm than good in the long term. Unfortunately, our leadership (and here I mean public and private) insists on focusing exclusively on the short-term, and that prevents us from making true progress.

Also, there should be an end to economic development types beating us over the head with that old moldy ghost, the farm equipment disaster of the 1980s. That can never happen again because we haven't got those jobs to lose, so why do they keep talking about it except to try to frighten us into accepting things on face value?

I heard someone (I think an East Moline official) prating about how we need to remember the 1980s and how important it is to diversify the economy. Hmm. Don't we already have a bunch of people cutting up dead animals in Joslin?

Posted by: Vita at December 6, 2005 08:22 AM

Actually Vita, I mostly agree with you. Also I could live forever and never eat another bite of pork ;-).Also, I mentioned that I do understand the NIMBY POV.

From your previous comments, I gather you live in Iowa. Things are different over here in Illinois. Iowa is a right-to-work state and Illinois is heavily unionized, plus has oppressive laws concerning Workman's Comp and other issues. The fact that IL is even in the running for the pork project is astounding, in my view. Combine that with the fact, as you mention, that Joslin is just down the road from this property, and you will begin to see the point I made in my original comment that IL has been fouling it's nest for more than a century, so what's the big deal here?

I also mentioned that there will be studies out the wazoo, including the federal government, concerning this project, so I just wish everyone wouldn't be so reactionary, and just give the process a chance. It seems that every project proposed here is met with hysteria. Let reason rule.

Note to jcb: Wouldn't a good assignment for some D/A reporter be to go to some other Triumph site and see what happened? Just askin'.

Posted by: paladin at December 6, 2005 01:20 PM

I think people are a little reactionary because they may have noticed that citizens around here are almost never successful in stopping a project once the econ-dev boys get the ball rolling.

On the Illinois side I can't think of any projects that were stopped because a lot of people objected. The most recent ones I can think of were the Big Island mining project and the 7th Street widening in Moline. In both cases, there were a lot of neighbors who turned out for meetings, organized, presented a factual case and got zip for it.

East Moline is using the classic business-city-official shut up and hurry up play on the pig plant. In other words, keep it hushed up as long as possible and then ram it through as fast as possible before anybody has time to get organized against it. The proverbial "done deal."

Posted by: Vita at December 6, 2005 03:28 PM

Paladin, the only other Triumph site is St. Joe, Mo., and its not in operation yet.

Posted by: jcb at December 7, 2005 12:18 AM

Vita, you got me thinking about more projects around here which met with more or less massive citizen protest, but which were implemented anyway. And you know what? Most of the hysteria and histronics proved to be false. "The public" has cried wolf too many times and has lost credibility with the rest of us. I'm specifically thinking about riverboat gambling, the WalMart project on JD Expressway and the more recent Great Escape movie theatre.

I was/am personally opposed to gambling, but gambling czar Denny Jacobs was elected again and again despite his role of chief architect of local gambling. All this great gambling money was supposed to ride to rescue the local schools, but my school is in more dire straits financially now than before gambling came here. But on the other hand, I doubt all the dire predictions of gambling opponents came to pass either.

As to the WalMart build up on JD Expressway---there was hysteria from environmentalists about loss of wetlands (which has been addressed), flooding (also addressed) and traffic jams (still a problem, in my view)----38th St. and JD is a mess. The traffic problem was the main objection about Great Escape, which turns out not to be a problem---the traffic is no worse than before (which is bad enough).

My point is all these projects met with public resistance, all went on anyway, and the naysayers were mostly wrong.

I don't really know what to think about the Triumph project. It bothers me that EM seems to be pushing it through without appropriate citizen input, but still, once the feds get involved, as they surely will, no stone will be unturned---it's our tax dollars in action!

As for odors---tell me about it! I live in rural Port Byron, but when the wind is just right, we can smell the corn processing plant in Clinton. I guess the only solution for people who don't want to live with offensive odors, sights, noises, etc. is to live in a bubble. Good luck with that!

Posted by: paladin at December 7, 2005 12:18 PM

Article in the New York Times over the weekend on the progress of "in vitro" (vat-grown) meat.

"Scientists at NASA and at several Dutch universities have been developing the technology since 2001, and in a few years' time there may be a lab-grown meat ready to market as sausages or patties. In 20 years, the scientists predict, they may be able to grow a whole beef or pork loin...

"But if in vitro meat becomes viable, the environmental and ethical consequences could be profound."

Posted by: Vita at December 12, 2005 08:21 AM