Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor. It is a symbol of despair. Cheap prices make for cheap goods; cheap goods make for cheap men; and cheap men make for a cheap country.”
April 21, 2009 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Crestwood is the "best-run town in America" because it's "run like a business".
"Our budget is $2 million dollars a year while a town of similar size, with 12,000 people, might have a budget of $10 million["], said City Director Frank Gassmere. Added Mayor Stranczek: "Folks are happy here and I intend to keep them that way."
Taxes are so low, property tax payers get rebates! Privatizing local government works brilliantly!As long as you didn't drink the cheap, cheap municipal water -- for the last twenty years.
posted by orthogonality (103 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's in your Small Government cocktail?
posted by orthogonality at 11:30 PM on April 21, 2009


Yeah, that first link was great until it turned into a bizarre anti-gay thing, and my crazypants don't fit me anymore, so I just had to stop reading it. I will just have to stick with my socialist left wing town with good water, thanks.
posted by padraigin at 11:38 PM on April 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


My mail box is filled daily with genuinely concerned Americans about what can they do to turn things around? In August I wrote a column titled, Born Homosexual, Prove it. I didn't just write the article and move on. Once it was posted, I downloaded a copy and mailed one to every California Supreme Court Justice. Why? Because ultimately, the question about giving Sodomites and lesbians special class distinction for the purpose of marriage will be decided by California's highest court. I wanted these judges to get my article pointing out that there isn't a scintilla of any credible scientific evidence that sodomy is anything other than a chosen behavior and not a genetic predisposition.

Sounds like she's been drinking the local water. Apparently vinyl chloride causes more brain damage than we thought.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, the town was "secretly... drawing water from a contaminated well, apparently to save money," and kept doing it for more than 20 years "even though state environmental officials told them at least 22 years ago that dangerous chemicals related to a dry-cleaning solvent had oozed into the water." They lied repeatedly to state regulators about using the well, and lied repeatedly to their customers about the safety of their water.

Yes indeed-- that town is run like a business.
posted by dersins at 11:45 PM on April 21, 2009 [120 favorites]


"Here's your yearly check! Don't mention it, it's nothing. Oh, and oops, we poisoned the well. Don't mention that either."
posted by iamkimiam at 11:50 PM on April 21, 2009


Second link, interesting. Fourth link, interesting (and sad). Second link and fourth link together, fascinating.

Third link, redundant. First link, highly offensive, not to mention poorly thought out on its own dubious merits. (If we let go of all the government employees, aren't they going to start competing for the jobs we've just pried back from those dirty, dirty illegals? Really now.)

Next time, less padding, please?
posted by bettafish at 11:50 PM on April 21, 2009


Jesus Christ, that's why you drink Coca-Cola with every meal.
posted by mazola at 11:50 PM on April 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jesus Christ, that's why you drink Coca-Cola with every meal.

Does the town have cheap enough water to attract a Coca-Cola plant?
posted by heathkit at 11:52 PM on April 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the second link:

Every tax increase referendum by the schools has been defeated in the past 25 years except the last one--Stranczek opposed them all, except the last one.


This is probably the saddest sentence I've read since "For sale: baby shoes, never used."

What kind of sadistic fucking town doesn't want to fund their schools?
posted by padraigin at 11:55 PM on April 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


The budget for California with a full time Marxist legislature is in excess of one billion dollars....

lol. Marxist. Yes thats the California State Assembly all right. Everybody sitting around, talking about perpetual revolution and the historical inevitability of class revolt. Yes, I remember the day last year when all means of production were transferred to the proleteriat and the State was dissolved. Good times, those were.
posted by Avenger at 11:56 PM on April 21, 2009 [59 favorites]


For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems...

Well, thank goodness it wasn't flouride. If there's anything I've learned from reading the intarwebs, it's that flouridated water is the devil's brew.

Seriously, though, this is a sad and outrageous story. And the only thing more sickening than finding out that a town's leaders chose to poison their fellow residents is knowing that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other towns doing similar things that just haven't been found out yet.

My own town went through a contaminated water scare about a decade ago. There used to be signs in the grocery store warning pregnant women and the elderly to use bottled water (which has always struck me as a little weird; if it's unsafe for one segment of the population, it's unsafe for all of us). We finally got a new water-treatment facility and the city sends out notices every year giving the results of state testing and detailing the exact levels of all the things they test for. We've supposedly got some of the safest water in the state now, but I still feel a twinge of paranoia when I drink from the tap.
posted by amyms at 12:06 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given that it's Earth Day today, and just in case you missed it:

over the last 20 years, U.S. manufacturers...have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into our waterways. Happy drinking.
posted by ornate insect at 12:07 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


over the last 20 years, U.S. manufacturers...have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into our waterways. Happy drinking.

Bah. I'm sure the FDA and the EPA are well-funded enough to ... [drinks water] ... to monitor the hands of Christ around the throat of the hitler bugs crawling in my brain.
posted by Avenger at 12:13 AM on April 22, 2009 [20 favorites]


This is a bad, bad chemical. Here's a fact sheet about TETRACHLOROETHYLENE, and here's an MSDS. Whoever is responsible for this is evil, evil, evil.

Next time, less padding, please?

Did you have something to add to this conversation, or were you just in the mood to grade posts?

Next time, less grading, more contribution to topic at hand. Please?
posted by bigmusic at 12:15 AM on April 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


Crestwood's actions began to come to light after a mother refused to stop asking questions about why her teenage son suffered leukemia as a toddler.

Yay mom.
posted by davejay at 12:16 AM on April 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


"Sounds like she's been drinking the local water. "

Using municipal water is a choice!
posted by orthogonality at 12:27 AM on April 22, 2009


Vinyl Chloride: A Case Study of Data Suppression and Misrepresentation "First, the assessment downplays risks from all cancer sites other than the liver. Second, the estimate of cancer potency was reduced 10-fold from values previously used for environmental decision making, a finding that reduces the cost and extent of pollution reduction and cleanup measures. We suggest that this assessment reflects discredited scientific practices and recommend that the U.S. EPA reverse its trend toward ever-increasing collaborations with the regulated industries when generating scientific reviews and risk assessments."
posted by tellurian at 12:28 AM on April 22, 2009


lol. Marxist. Yes thats the California State Assembly all right.

Next time you hear/read a moron using a term like "Marxist" or "socialist" and have the opportunity to respond, try asking them to define the term. Hours of laffs or your money back.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:42 AM on April 22, 2009 [13 favorites]


From the article: "It is unknown if the water contributed to any health problems in Crestwood"

Do we have any information about how the decision to continue to use the polluted well was taken? The well was used "for up to 20% of the water supply some months" which in the absence of other data I'm going to assume was 10% for 3 months, or 2.5% of the water supply.

If the decision was made after expert advice and consideration ("okay, that's a level of exposure that's consistent with our pollutant-laden environments and in line with agreed scientific levels of risk") then that's one thing.

If it's stupidity or mendacity ("It looks clear! These Government regulations are all hippy tree-hugging crap!" or, even more seriously, the people who made these decisions made sure their families and friends never drunk the water) that's a different thing.
posted by alasdair at 12:57 AM on April 22, 2009


Based on the information in the Tribune article I mapped a dry cleaners matching the reporters description* to this this location - note in street view the water tower (and well apparently) is clearly visible. Playfield Cleaners is the unnamed but likely** source of the dry cleaning pollution and they have this little gem on the front page:
Make A Difference! Don't throw away your unused hangers, return them to Playfield Cleaners. Help us save the environment for future generations.
NOTE: A check with the EPA shows that Playfield Cleaners hasn't had any environmental compliance issues in the last five years, so they apparently been following the regulations, whatever those are.

*the likely source: quote "a dry cleaners in a strip mall less than 300 feet from Crestwood's well, just across a narrow, tree-lined creek that drains into the nearby Cal-Sag Channel"
**but then again maybe little PCE pixies did it!
posted by zenon at 1:02 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


OK, having posted, I'm looking at the Chicago Tribune article again, and the latter (both stupidity and mendacity) looks more plausible from what I can glean from the rather confused article. Is this right?

1986
* State EPA finds PCE contamination in the well, village officials promise not to use it, the EPA stops testing it. (The sequence of these events is not clear.)

1986-2007
* Federally-mandated reports produced by village officials claim the well is not used, but it is, to save money.

2007
1 EPA tests village water supply, finds twice the permitted level of Vinyl Chloride, a PCE breakdown product.
2 EPA demands that the well is treated or shut off. Village officials shut it off.
3 Despite being legally required to do so officials do not tell the villagers about the contamination.
4 Village officials issue a press release saying contamination isn't a problem since they don't use the well, which has been true for about five minutes and is therefore misleading.
5 Village officials refuse to talk to the Chicago Tribune and explain themselves.
posted by alasdair at 1:13 AM on April 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Not funding schools and sending contaminated drinking water to the residents while telling them that everything was great?

The town really WAS run like a business.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:14 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


bigmusic: Did you have something to add to this conversation, or were you just in the mood to grade posts?

Hey, some of us click on posts about small town government/small town scandals and expect to read a story about said governmental scandals - not illogical, bigoted diatribes from people who just can't get their minds out of the bedrooms of our friends, or blog posts which just link back to said diatribes. 'Scuse me for suggesting that not all sources are appropriate or relevant.

That said, orthogonality, I do appreciate the post. I'm certainly being reminded to haul out my Brita filter.
posted by bettafish at 1:19 AM on April 22, 2009


an all-volunteer fire department (whose members are paid for each call)

And there's no way that could go tragically wrong.
posted by robtoo at 1:21 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd make a joke about homeopathy or sodomy, but their thinking "we'll just water it down five times, that'll do" is really pretty sickening.

I only read the last article. Will there be criminal charges?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:30 AM on April 22, 2009


"some of us click on posts about small town government/small town scandals and expect to read a story about said governmental scandals - not illogical, bigoted diatribes"

I wanted to contrast the wingnut-gasm over small gummint privatization woo-hoo! with its consequences. That required linking to the laudatory diatribes about Crestwood.
posted by orthogonality at 1:31 AM on April 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think it's time businesses stopped operating like businesses.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:37 AM on April 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


Do you realize that fluoridation homosexuality is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?
posted by Poolio at 1:41 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is the rate of cancer-per-capita higher in Crestwood than in the rest of Illinois? Because one toddler with leaukemia does not an epidemic make.
posted by PenDevil at 1:57 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the illogical, bigoted diatribes made a perfect comparison/contrast with the Chicago Tribune, a paper which (used to at least) have a reputation as being very conservative.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:04 AM on April 22, 2009


So I keep seeing the phrase "run like a business" in these celebratory circle jerk kinds of blog posts, but it doesn't mean what I think they think it means.

So I find myself wondering, is there anything illegal about starting a company where you're business plan is to not screw around with money sinks like inventory or maintenance (but pay yourself a huge salary) and then folding in about six months after you've soaked up all the venture capital you can wrangle? I mean sure, if you lie about what you're doing it's fraud, but what if you're 100% honest about it, just leaving out the "and then the company is going to go down in flames because no one in their right minds would do business with them" conclusion?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:21 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is the rate of cancer-per-capita higher in Crestwood than in the rest of Illinois? Because one toddler with leaukemia does not an epidemic make.

I don't know whether there's been a proper epidemiological study, but that kid isn't the only resident who claims to have trouble that could be traced to the contaminated water. Tricia Krause has been gathering evidence and mapping things out. See here, for instance. I'd like to see an organization such as the CDC have a look at what she's gathered.
posted by pracowity at 2:38 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


... precious bodily fluids... guy was on to something there...
posted by From Bklyn at 2:56 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting, that these people were so concerned about saving money that wasn't even theirs. That would mean that they would knowingly poison and sicken their constituents for the grand reward of what, precisely? Bragging rights to say, "We got an article written up about how much money we save!"?

On an individual level, this would be like hearing a mother spout about the great savings she's managed by careful coupon management and be invited to the homes of others to speak about it, only to later to find that she's been scrimping on the purchases of sugar and substituting the odd handful of chips of lead paint, instead. And the mom was on food stamps, so she wasn't even saving her own money. It isn't even greed. It's hubris.

To harm so many to lay claim to so very, very little. It reminds me of the dioxin trouble in Missouri. A man, who was paid money by the municipality to put oil down on the roads to keep dust down, was also paid to get rid of dioxin. You can save a few bucks by just ... putting it in the oil, and getting rid of it on the roads. Private contractors for the win!

I always hear strong talk from tough, community-minded people about "sending a message."

Sending a message here would be to haul these petty officials, shrieking in terror, from their offices in broad daylight, then give them the old Dutch water torture, involving the collar. You fasten a large collar, shaped like a funnel, over the victim's neck. Then you simply pour water in. They'll swallow to avoid drowning, you see. I think a great deal of water heavily laced with the PCE in question should do. Get them nice and dosed up.

Next, a special referendum to pass money to have some live webcam feeds of them rotting away in hospitals with all kinds of cancers. Finally, to have everyone who must apply for a business license or wins an public office watch an hour of it, with handy background material.

But that, that would be cruel.
posted by adipocere at 3:22 AM on April 22, 2009


I wanted to contrast the wingnut-gasm over small gummint privatization woo-hoo! with its consequences. That required linking to the laudatory diatribes about Crestwood.

Okay, that I can get. Complaint recanted, orthogonality, and thanks for clarifying.
posted by bettafish at 3:27 AM on April 22, 2009


It's interesting, that these people were so concerned about saving money that wasn't even theirs.

I always expect to read in these cases that the money was - however circuitously (via kickbacks from private contractors or however) - theirs.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:31 AM on April 22, 2009


For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems...

See, this proves libertarianism is right. Obviously if all the residents kept drinking the contaminated water for so long, that's what they wanted, so that's what was provided to them. Cheap, toxic, deadly water. It all makes sense.
posted by splice at 3:36 AM on April 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


an all-volunteer fire department (whose members are paid for each call)

And there's no way that could go tragically wrong.


Actually, 87% of fire departments are volunteer or mostly volunteer and protect 38% of the population. Volunteer firefighters are well-trained and generally members of the communities they serve.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:45 AM on April 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


god bless you ronald reagan.
posted by geos at 3:51 AM on April 22, 2009


It's interesting, that these people were so concerned about saving money that wasn't even theirs.

If they are professional bureaucrats, people hoping to move up in the ruling class, being seen to save lots of tax money ("cutting waste" or whatever they chose to call it) would be a point of pride and just the sort of thing they would want put on their resumes or brag about in political advertisements. Headlines like "Mayor Returns $48 Million to Taxpayers" bring in votes (power, fame, money, spouse upgrades, etc.).
posted by pracowity at 3:55 AM on April 22, 2009


adipocere: That would mean that they would knowingly poison and sicken their constituents for the grand reward of what, precisely? Bragging rights to say, "We got an article written up about how much money we save!"?

I wonder if it might not be ideology, pure and simple, and a belief that it was the 'damn liberals' telling them that the well was unsafe. The wingnut conservatives have this real doubt about facts -- they seem to believe in a 'conservative reality' and a 'liberal reality', and refuse to participate in the liberal version.

I can easily imagine them tapping the well in some kind of crisis. Nobody complained or got sick, so that lowered the barriers to doing it again, and again.... it saved big money, and obviously there was no real problem, since nobody was complaining. It was just those damn liberals whining -- that well was perfectly safe. It would be interesting to find out if they were drinking the water themselves: that would tell us a lot about whether they thought the danger was real.

splice: I don't think that this is related in any way to libertarianism or free marketers or any of that. There was a clear regulation, and this government entity chose to lie about complying with the regulation to save money. That could happen under any government type or ethos.
posted by Malor at 4:03 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


87% of fire departments are volunteer or mostly volunteer and protect 38% of the population

And I'm sure that they do a fantastic job. But financially incentivising (presumably low-paid) workers to start fires?
posted by robtoo at 4:21 AM on April 22, 2009


I'm certainly being reminded to haul out my Brita filter.

I can't tell if you're kidding, or not. Just in case you're not: A Brita filter will not remove dry-cleaning chemicals from your drinking water.

Basically, they remove some metals (lead, copper, cadmium, and mercury--which can be bad for you) and chloride, which is how they make your water taste better.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:22 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This entire town sounds like the song "Stuart" by the Dead Milkmen.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:22 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


What kind of sadistic fucking town doesn't want to fund their schools?

Just about every small-to-mid-size town in the US. It's the rare school funding referendum that gets approved in this country. In my area, you regularly hear the "I don't have kids, I shouldn't have to pay for the schools." sentiment...even from people who had kids, but said kids have now grown and moved-on. And, of course, there's the usual anti-union people who are dead-set against their tax money going to the teachers.

If you live in a community that regularly approves funding increases, count yourself blessed.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:44 AM on April 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


I wonder what the "city fathers" [sic] used for drinking water. Where is Marge serving the three-eyed fish when you need her?
posted by OmieWise at 4:46 AM on April 22, 2009


Seems like there's a definite conflict here between what the Illinois EPA and the federal EPA are saying about safe levels of PCE in drinking water. And the fact that *state* officials also went out of their way to not tell the townspeople what they'd discovered in 2007 is just appalling.

ortho: I wanted to contrast the wingnut-gasm over small gummint privatization woo-hoo! with its consequences. That required linking to the laudatory diatribes about Crestwood.

I dunno, instead of editorializing at us, I kinda would've preferred links to further developments, like news that the current mayor (son of the last one) has hired a PR firm and responded:

In the two-page letter, obtained by the Tribune, Stranczek does not deny the village pumped water from its contaminated well for more than two decades. But he stresses that the well has not been used since 2007, when the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency found cancer-causing vinyl chloride in the water and ordered the village to shut off the well.

Stranczek acknowledges that village officials relied on the well to supplement treated Lake Michigan water that Crestwood purchases from neighboring Alsip. He said the well was used when demand was high, and the water was treated with chlorine, which kills bacteria but has no affect on chemical contaminants such as vinyl chloride.

"There is no evidence that the drinking water that flowed from our kitchen taps contained any substances inconsistent with what the law allows," Stranczek writes.


Yeah, well, I think I'll wait for the trials to decide if that's true or not.

PenDevil: So is the rate of cancer-per-capita higher in Crestwood than in the rest of Illinois? Because one toddler with leaukemia does not an epidemic make.

Looks like all we have so far (3 days in, remember) is anecdotal reports like the ones at the start and end of this article, but I'm sure lawyers are already gathering evidence.
posted by mediareport at 4:47 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the hell kind of PR agency tells people to say things like "There is no evidence"? It's like mounting a PR campaign saying "I will get off on a technicality" or "The body will never be found".

You can't catch me is never good PR.
posted by srboisvert at 4:55 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


In my area, you regularly hear the "I don't have kids, I shouldn't have to pay for the schools." sentiment...even from people who had kids, but said kids have now grown and moved-on.

Everyone, even if they never had kids and never will, cares if the rest of the population is well-educated. You want a well-educated doctor, right? You want your cashiers to be able to count change, right? You said you want those lazy immigrants to learn English. Well, someone has to teach it to them.

Education funding is yet another way in which the conservative hatred of government is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

10 DEFUND SCHOOLS
20 POINT TO STUPIDITY OF POPULACE AS REASON THEY CAN'T BE EDUCATED
30 GOTO 10
posted by DU at 5:02 AM on April 22, 2009 [13 favorites]


Basically, they remove some metals metal particulates - not soluable forms - (lead, copper, cadmium, and mercury--which can be bad for you) and chloride, which is how they make your water taste better.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:03 AM on April 22, 2009


BET THOSE STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS WISH THEY HADN'T MAILED AWAY ALL THEIR TEA
posted by Damn That Television at 5:21 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


DU, lots of conservatives don't want public schools to exist at all.
posted by octothorpe at 5:25 AM on April 22, 2009


Yeah. Same kind of conservatives that whine endlessly about socialized medicine and then get all uppity when the Spanish Flu kills everybody.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:45 AM on April 22, 2009


The worst part of this whole incident is that it makes Natalie Merchant a prophet.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:52 AM on April 22, 2009


What kind of sadistic fucking town doesn't want to fund their schools?
I remember Alabama in 1999 (2000?) where after a tax was eliminated (the franchise tax was found unconstitutional) the electorate was given three options: a) an education lottery, just like the one in Georgia b) cut education funding by 11% across the board c) raise other taxes. 54% voted "screw the kids".
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:12 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


for what it's worth, i grew up in a town next to crestwood.
the things i associate most with crestwood are: giant piles of dirt along the cal-sag canal, strip malls, and express buses to the casinos in indiana.
posted by andshewas at 6:15 AM on April 22, 2009


Does the town have cheap enough water to attract a Coca-Cola plant?

that may not help
posted by pyramid termite at 6:27 AM on April 22, 2009


The budget for California with a full time Marxist legislature is in excess of one billion dollars
Yes, it's comparing state expenditures to municipal expenditures, but I can't help pointing out that $1,000,000,000 for a state with ~37,000,000 people in it means a per capita budget of $27.21, whereas Creston's per capita (with the numbers cited in the articles) is $166.67.
posted by adoarns at 6:35 AM on April 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


Penny wise and pound foolish.
posted by sciurus at 6:38 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's funny how being mayor can be a hereditary position.

if you read the articles it's clear that the reason they've been able to keep taxes low is a result of:

1) being the location of the local walmart shopping complex
2) welching on health benefits by hiring people part-time rather than full-time.

the whole thing is a perfect demonstration of what the reagan revolution is about.
posted by geos at 6:47 AM on April 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


At this point I wouldn't be too opposed to a Marxist legislature, actually.

so much for my chances at running for President now.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:47 AM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


There was one good idea they had: using a private snow removal service, which makes sense for a small village or town, since the business could serve several different towns.

But other than that, it just reminds me why paying taxes is patriotic. Even if I think all property taxes ought to be replaced by income-based taxes, so as not to screw senior citizens and other people of limited means who nonetheless might have a nice house.
posted by jb at 6:47 AM on April 22, 2009


Some nights, Chet Stranczek wakes after dreams of undersea cities and women unmarred by symmetry. He keeps this a secret from his family, his town; who could withstand their beauty?
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:51 AM on April 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


I was not surprised in the least to find that the second article lauding Crestwood's over the top corner cutting was written by the odious Dennis Byrne.
posted by Reverend John at 7:00 AM on April 22, 2009


in the tiny little village from whence i sprang, there are no property taxes & water & sewerage service might actually be all the way up to $10/month now. (it was $2/month back in the 60s/70s, and i think that somehow included a rental fee for our mailbox over at the post office, because no one got mail delivery, we all had to go to the p.o.) the last time they paved the streets, they paved everyone's driveway, too. no charge, of course, if you're down & out, you can always get a job working 'on the town.' (it probably made us feel more sophisticated to say 'town' than 'village.') i started working when i was 15 as a lifeguard at the 'little pool' (the outdoor pool located on the hill at the park), and moved up so that i worked at both the little pool AND the big pool down in town (an olympic sized heated indoor pool w/a sauna). we also had a (one, count 'em 1) tennis court & 2 playgrounds. for a place that pretty much is 2 blocks wide & 7 blocks long. oh. we also had a library inside the municipal building (which was built at the same time as the volunteer fire dept.) but the library never had any books in it. for a while it was used as a meeting place for the quilting society.

to the best of my knowledge, the water there was & is fine. the air, on the other hand, not so good. even though i grew up in its shadow, it seems like the village's benefactor takes out a lot of its dirty little secrets on new jersey (although to the best of my knowledge, no health studies have ever been conducted on my hometown).

not sure what the point here is except there's always a trade off.
posted by msconduct at 7:01 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


> And I'm sure that they do a fantastic job. But financially incentivising (presumably low-paid) workers to start fires?

You're seeing a problem where one doesn't exist. I've lived in and been a member of volunteer emergency-response organizations that did pay-per-call. (It's probably a lot more common than you realize.) The amount of money involved is very small; it's basically just there to cover your gas. They money is a basically token compensation in order to not have volunteers getting screwed for their public service, or making it so much of a pay-to-play that only those with a lot of disposable income can afford to join.

If you're deranged enough to start fires in order to get the few bucks you'd get for responding, there are a lot more profitable criminal activities you could engage in. (E.g. siphoning diesel from the equipment or stealing supplies.) At some point you just need to trust the good intentions of the people involved, and that trust begins at a level well below trusting them not to generate their own calls.

It's also worth noting that at least in my hometown, nobody was even close to maximizing their call pay given the number that just came in naturally. In other words, if someone really wanted to make more money, they could have done it just by turning out to more calls when the radio went off. There's no need to steal when there's money effectively on the table.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:08 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's people like this that give municipal cost management a bad name.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:13 AM on April 22, 2009


I'm certainly being reminded to haul out my Brita filter.

I can't tell if you're kidding, or not. Just in case you're not: A Brita filter will not remove dry-cleaning chemicals from your drinking water.


I thought that too, and I was all ready to come charging in with "hurf durf carcinogen eater", but actually a bit of googling reveals that activated carbon filters like the Brita will remove Vinyl Chloride just fine.
Yay for our miraculous all-adsorbing friend, the humble carbon atom in one of its many allotropes!
posted by atrazine at 7:16 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, that "Dissecting Leftism" blog is kind of scary. Notice how the banner picture of Palin is twice as big as the Reagan one?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:35 AM on April 22, 2009


The only ideology behind the "small-government, run it like a business, drown it in the bathtub" proponents is " I am a selfish motherfucker who doesn't want to share and refuses to play well with others." Small-minded and sad, really.

Government-as- business is a canard. The aim of business is to be profitable. The aim of government is to be effective. Not the same thing.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:42 AM on April 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


geos: "it's funny how being mayor can be a hereditary position."

Wait, who did he inherit it from? Or do you just mean "for life"? Mayor-For-Life is actually pretty common in small towns, especially when you're successful. Not to mention Senators and Representatives even from big places.
posted by Plutor at 7:45 AM on April 22, 2009


"if you read the articles it's clear that the reason they've been able to keep taxes low is a result of:

"1) being the location of the local walmart shopping complex
"2) welching on health benefits by hiring people part-time rather than full-time.

"the whole thing is a perfect demonstration of what the reagan revolution is about."


Also they favoured commercial over residential development. Be interesting to see the ratio of commercial:residential square footage in the town.
posted by Mitheral at 8:14 AM on April 22, 2009


The budget for California with a full time Marxist legislature is in excess of one billion dollars

I confess I'm a bit gobsmacked by this statement. It's sort of like saying "California's full-time plochoppist governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in excess of one foot tall," or "the full-time Marxist moon is in excess of one mile away."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 AM on April 22, 2009


A different approach can be found in the city of Medicine Hat:
The City maintains competitive tax rates and does not impose a business tax. The City's entire tax structure is property based. The City also owns, operates, produces or generates and distributes its own natural gas and electric utilities. The dividend from the utilities is shared with customers and taxpayers, resulting in some of the lowest tax and utility rates in the country.
posted by No Robots at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


geos: "it's funny how being mayor can be a hereditary position."

Wait, who did he inherit it from? Or do you just mean "for life"? Mayor-For-Life is actually pretty common in small towns, especially when you're successful. Not to mention Senators and Representatives even from big places.


it says when old man stranczek retired the town council selected his son to replace him.
posted by geos at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2009


This entire town sounds like the song "Stuart" by the Dead Milkmen.

Landing strips for gay martians?
posted by electroboy at 8:39 AM on April 22, 2009


"activated carbon filters like the Brita will remove Vinyl Chloride just fine.
Yay for our miraculous all-adsorbing friend, the humble carbon atom in one of its many allotropes!"


So the government in this town could just issue everyone Britas.
posted by fuq at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2009


You know what else was "run" like a business for the last 8 years? By "run" I mean "focus only on short-term gain to the largest insider shareholders and get out before your house of cards collapses."
posted by Mister_A at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly being reminded to haul out my Brita filter.

I can't tell if you're kidding, or not. Just in case you're not: A Brita filter will not remove dry-cleaning chemicals from your drinking water.

I thought that too, and I was all ready to come charging in with "hurf durf carcinogen eater", but actually a bit of googling reveals that activated carbon filters like the Brita will remove Vinyl Chloride just fine.
Yay for our miraculous all-adsorbing friend, the humble carbon atom in one of its many allotropes!


This is somewhat misleading. It is true that granulated activated carbon (GAC) is a mainstay in the remediation of groundwater pollutants, but they are typically used on a large scale (500 gallon vessels in series type of thing) with near constant monitoring due to saturation or breakthrough. Installing a $12 brita filter may remove SOME of the solvents, but will not remove ALL of them. Especially if you never change it out!

It's kind of shocking really that cases like these are still happening. But then again I live in Marxist California where there are laws to keep people from doing this sort of thing. Like required testing of municipal well water annually.
posted by Big_B at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2009


Hey Big_B remember when Enron stole all your energy and then tried to sell it back at a huge markup? That was awesome. Go business! The market cures all ills!
posted by Mister_A at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2009


So the government in this town could just issue everyone Britas.
That's precisely what the DC government did when elevated lead levels were found--everybody got a package on their front steps, no lie. Eventually, yes, (most of) the lead pipes were replaced, but the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:07 AM on April 22, 2009


Here's a fact sheet about TETRACHLOROETHYLENE,
Ingestion:
Not highly toxic by this route because of low water solubility. Used as an oral dosage for hookworm (1 to 4 ml). Causes abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness.

Skin Contact:
Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects.

Eye Contact:
Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

Chronic Exposure:
May cause liver, kidney or central nervous system damage after repeated or prolonged exposures. Suspected cancer risk from animal studies.
Crestwood: What are you complaining about? We've kept you worm free for the last 20 years?
posted by quin at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2009


Eventually, yes, (most of enough of to prevent major lawsuits from the rich honkies in NW) the lead pipes were replaced, but the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

But again, and this is how I know, the Brita's only work on lead particulates and not soluable lead, the real issue in DC's water problem. My block was tested to show over 20 times the EPA safe level for soluable lead. DCWASA has not replaced a single lead pipe on my block, despite having to fix large sections of the watermain that collapsed and washed out the street. To "fix" soluable lead DCWASA just added more chemicals which may have their own longterm health problems.

Sorry, I'm a little touchy on the water thing after Frontline last night.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:31 AM on April 22, 2009


There was one good idea they had: using a private snow removal service

Plow King, or Mr. Plow? This really is a Simpsons town.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The other failure of government here is the lack of enforcement and accountability on the part of the agencies in place to assure safe drinking water.

"The village avoided scrutiny by telling state regulators in 1986 that they would get all of their tap water from Lake Michigan, and would use the well only in an emergency. But records show Crestwood kept drawing well water on a routine basis—relying on it for up to 20 percent of the village's water supply some months."


So, Illinois EPA took their word for it and performed no compliance inspection?

Both the Federal and State EPAs have got no teeth when it comes to enforcement, and the people they are supposed to be policing do not fear the agencies. If municipal water suppliers (or food suppliers, or really any polluters) feared the consequences of non-compliance, then stories like this would be more rare.

I once worked for a state EPA doing stormwater compliance inspections, and the only reason anyone ever corrected problems was because they feared negative PR for "not being a green". Actual enforcement only came to the most severe and chronic offenders.
posted by nowoutside at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2009


So the government in this town could just issue everyone Britas.

That of course, would be Socialism, along with suing the government and former politicians. The proper libertarian action to do would be for the citizens to buy their own filters, or move to some other area.

Also, is there any way Stranczek can blame this situation on Gay Marriage? If it can just be shown to be the fault of the gays, everyone will fall back in line again.
posted by happyroach at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2009


"I dunno, instead of editorializing at us,"

I don't think quoting what someone says is editorializing. Thank you, though, for linking to the current mayor's response, a story that wasn't published when I posted this FPP.
posted by orthogonality at 10:34 AM on April 22, 2009


Yes, activated charcoal can remove organics, but that requires a lot of charcoal and a long residence time, neither of which are found in the pitcher. Don't you think they'd be falling all over themselves to claim it if it did remove them?

Brita itself claims that its pitchers remove:
Chlorine (taste and odor) Water additive used to control microbes Bad taste and odor

Lead Corrosion of household plumbing systems: erosion of natural deposits Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development; children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults: Kidney problems; high blood pressure

Copper Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits Shot term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress. Long term exposure: liver or kidney damage

Cadmium Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints Kidney damage

Mercury Erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and croplands Kidney damage
posted by hydropsyche at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2009


At this point I wouldn't be too opposed to a Marxist legislature, actually. so much for my chances at running for President now.

Yeah, that comment was pretty special olympics.
posted by rokusan at 10:46 AM on April 22, 2009


If someone stuck poison in your kid's baby bottle, I suspect that might raise some folks' ire.
I don't see how this is different.
Compensated? Fined and punished? They used to tar and feather Tories who refused to join the revolution. Ride them out of town on a splintery rail while pelting them with rocks.
Some guy knowingly poisons my family for 20 years, I don't think I'm going to be happy with just his wallet. I don't believe in the death penalty, but if anything should be a capital offense, it's things of this nature.

"Both the Federal and State EPAs have got no teeth when it comes to enforcement, and the people they are supposed to be policing do not fear the agencies. If municipal water suppliers (or food suppliers, or really any polluters) feared the consequences of non-compliance, then stories like this would be more rare."

Perhaps that enforcement could be privatized. I'm sure the parents of the toddler would like to have some words with the village officials.
Completely unrelated: people spontaneously combust all the time.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:49 AM on April 22, 2009


I'm picturing the town sign as,

WELCOME TO CRESTWOOD

POP. 12000   ELEV. 600

"Google Ron Paul"



posted by mattdidthat at 11:39 AM on April 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yes, activated charcoal can remove organics, but that requires a lot of charcoal and a long residence time, neither of which are found in the pitcher. Don't you think they'd be falling all over themselves to claim it if it did remove them?

Pur's ultimate faucet filter claims to remove 90 to 99% of a number of organics, though vinyl choride isn't mentioned.
posted by eye of newt at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2009


Funny, mattdidthat, I was going to post about this guy's use of town property for his neo-con views. He was legendary in these parts for this stupid sign. The article is the only free one I could find.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:16 PM on April 22, 2009


Correction - he says the sign is his property. Whatever. The guy's an asshole, regardless, and Crestwood is no great shakes, unless you like strip malls and diesel fumes.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:19 PM on April 22, 2009


Pur's ultimate faucet filter claims to remove 90 to 99% of a number of organics
I've often wondered if 90-99% of organic contaminants aren't normally found in tapwater. That, or I'm a cynical dick.
posted by Decimask at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2009


U.S. manufacturers...have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into our waterways

Even worse if you use pharmaceuticals you are also "releasing" them into our water ways.
posted by tkchrist at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2009


Derailing just to say that that NewsWithViews site is some Grade-A nutbar persecution complex stuff. Yikes.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:44 PM on April 22, 2009


I wonder how much money the mayor pocketed by doing this.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:38 PM on April 22, 2009


Oh Lord, do journalists love the word "tainted".
posted by neuron at 9:32 PM on April 22, 2009


Lord knows I've tried, but I just can't get the taint off me.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2009


Try a scalpel. You may have difficulty sitting comfortably for awhile, though.
posted by dersins at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2009


Taintectomies are usually needless procedures that are hyped to increase revenues for hospitals.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:05 PM on April 23, 2009


I live 3 suburbs over from Crestwood. None of this surprises me. The entire area nearby is questionable. Crestwood was a dumping ground for a lot of chemicals. Palos Hills was a clay depositoryand...say hello to the Manhattan Project chemical waste in our forest preserve.

Well at least it explains the 6 thumbs I have.

I'm sorry but any chemical or nuclear waste that was contained in the 40's are things I just don't feel safe about. Remember when doctors used to smoke while examing you? Yea, same kind of health and safety thinking going on with containing the waste.

I feel so warm and fuzzy.

Must be the nuclear waste.
posted by dasheekeejones at 10:44 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Alone Among the Ghosts...  |  In September 1969, Simon & Sch... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments