LockDown

First Day of School, 2018

Yesterday, my six-year-old had a lockdown drill at his kindergarten. As he described it to me this morning, I said “It’s like you’re hiding in your classroom.” He said “Mom, we WERE hiding.” I’m not sure how this is explained to kindergartners, but my 2nd grader definitely knows that they could be hiding from a gunman (or gunwoman) when they do these drills. What gets me is that I could not, with confidence, promise that they’re preparing for something that will never happen in their school. As a parent, I just have to have faith that it’s not OUR town, OUR school, where this happens next.  

Growing up in eastern Ohio, I was accustomed to a gun culture. Most men, and some women, in my rural community hunted. My grandfather was an avid hunter, planning annual hunting trips to Wyoming, Maine, or Canada with his buddies. My dad wasn’t necessarily a hunter, but kept a gun or two around for groundhogs or other pests. My brother loved hunting, and we had plenty of taxidermy in our house between he and my grandfather. I’ve shot rifles and BB guns (are those the same?) a couple of times. Hunting and owning multiple guns was just a part of life in the country.

Fast-forward to May 1999. I remember where I was when Columbine happened. I remember the names of the shooters. Fast-forward to December 2013. I was in the cloud of new motherhood with baby #3 when Sandy Hook happened. But I remember nursing my baby in the middle of the night watching a video on my phone—with Tangled’s “I See the Light” as the soundtrack– memorializing a 6-year-old little girl, the oldest of 3, who’d died in Sandy Hook. Now fast-forward to 2019. How many shootings have we had? How many victims? How many shooters? How many weeks/months have passed since our last school shooting? Have you lost track? Because I have.

I have a little bit of personal experience with school shootings. I got my MBA from Case Weatherhead School of Management in 2006. In 2002, they had opened a brand new building, the Peter B Lewis Building, designed by Frank Gehry. It’s a beautiful school, which you would expect from Gehry architecture. In spring 2003, a former student entered the school heavily armed, and a 7-hour standoff ensued with one fatality and numerous non-fatal shootings. Ironically, the Gehry design, with no right angles and a decentralized design, made it even more difficult for the SWAT team to isolate the shooter.  I knew this had happened, but I didn’t really think about it during my application to the school. When I began my MBA classes in 2004, I assumed that this was history, the shooter being someone from the community (it’s not in the best part of town), and that I probably didn’t really know anyone impacted. I was shocked in late 2005 when the case went to trial and so many of the testimonies came from people I interacted with on a daily basis. I knew an administrative assistant who had hovered under her desk for 7 hours. I knew the wheelchair-bound economics professor who had flopped out of his wheelchair and played dead. I knew the IT guy who was the ultimate target of the gunman’s ire. I knew many staff members who’d called loved ones to say they probably wouldn’t be coming home that day. This hit me hard. We had days of classes canceled for the jury to walk through our school. No longer was I detached from school shootings. This became very real for me as I walked the halls that had been stained by blood not-so-long before.

Still, these were adults. It feels different knowing that children, my children, could be the next victims.

What really gets me is that I’m represented in Congress by someone with an A+ rating from the NRA and has been completely silent on school shootings.

–> Let’s flood his inbox, mailbox, and phone lines demanding some attention be paid to school shootings.

https://gibbs.house.gov/contact/email

DC Office: (202) 225-6265

Ashland Office: (419) 207-0650

Canton Office: (330) 737-1631

Snail Mail: Representative Bob Gibbs, 2446 Rayburn HOB, Washington DC 20515



Small Town vs. Big Drilling

injection 1

We have so much work to do to further understand how current (and past) policies effect day to day life. What are these local issues, and how do larger policies effect these? One hyper-local issue in Coshocton County is injection wells.

I spent a few days in Coshocton in early August. Here, no one was talking about the Russian investigation, which was dominating national news at the time. Rather, they were talking about the threat of a local injection well permit (change from Class II to Class I) on the horizon and the fear of catastrophic water pollution.

This is the perception that I gathered:

Basically, it seems like the community is being taken advantage of by the EPA “who answers to no one” (I was told.) They have forum meetings with the local ‘leaders’ (county commissioners?) who have been told that the residents basically have no choice in the matter.

I’m not sure how many injection wells are already in the county, but here are some stats for the one I know of: (Disclaimer: these may not be totally accurate, but this is what people were saying)

Class II Well on Airport Road (near Walmart, off US-36)

  • 100 trucks/day deliver brine here
  • Every truck carries 45,000 gallons of brine
  • Deliveries happen 7 days of the week
  • Some skepticism about it ‘only’ being brine, as testing only consists of measuring pH 1x/week
  • 7000 wells (for drinking water) are located in a 2-mile radius of this injection well
  • The sheer volume of brine being injected is worrying people b/c of risk of a fissure and reported quakes in other areas (not in Coshocton)
  • Person leasing land for this well is paid $25K/mo ($300K/yr) for this land use

If the Class I injection well permit is issued, there will be different (non-hazardous) material, not just saline, injected. While non-haz mat doesn’t seem threatening, people are very worried.

I heard of a case of benzonite clay (from fracking) showing up in a drinking water well, so it seems very conceivable that these materials could show up in drinking water as well. (This person used to work on an offshore oil rig, so he seemed to be very knowledgeable about drilling, benzonite clay, & risks involved).

Obviously, people have a serious case for concern. This was largely the perception in August, and as of now, the permit has not yet been issued. Several meetings and a rally have been held. The EPA held a hearing in Coshocton in October where over 30 residents voiced concerns in 4-minute increments. It appears that the EPA was accepting comments through November 26, so we should hear soon if the permit will be granted.

I’m far from understanding the larger issues at play here. I did write to Congressman Gibbs and received an extremely pro-industry letter about job creation. (There have only been a handful of jobs created with these wells, and a very limited halo to local businesses.) Does he really believe that this is the case? Are the sixteen (+/-) jobs enough to justify the environmental risk? Or would he rather not be bothered by issues in this under-served community? I tend to believe the latter. It would be interesting, and most likely very telling, to follow the money on this one. What I have been impressed by is the level of activism in Coshocton. I am anxiously awaiting the outcome to see if the public opposition really matters at all here.

Coverage of Oct 18 EPA Hearing:

http://www.coshoctonbeacontoday.com/community-members-voice-strong-opinions-at-ohio-epa-public-hearing/?fbclid=IwAR11R03VArkfN1sZvwuMNTTpz49BwKPYt4ZxKlmc02u9FJbgJCNbtj1TN4Q

Ohio EPA Info:

https://www.epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/uic#114075321-how-does-ohio-epa-know-what-is-being-injected

Pro-Drilling Perspective:

https://marcellusdrilling.com/2018/11/ohio-epa-considers-converting-class-ii-injection-wells-to-class-i/

My letter from Congressman Gibbs’ office (August 10, 2018):

Dear Mrs. Carrion,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about fracking in Ohio. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, has been used for years, but has become a topic of debate since the discovery of domestic shale formations. As your Representative in Congress, I appreciate the opportunity to hear your opinions on this issue.  

As you may know, the discovery of the Utica and Marcellus shale formations has allowed us to tap into massive underground oil and gas reserves. With the advent of horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), Ohio is ideally situated to become a major source of domestic energy for years to come. 

While the energy industry has been investing in Ohio and creating jobs, concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of fracking. It is important to remember fracking is not new – in fact, it has been occurring across the country for over 60 years. Over one million wells have been drilled, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates natural gas production from fracking produces two-thirds of U.S. gas production. Horizontal drilling is new, and when combined with fracking, allows shale plays like the Utica and Marcellus to be technologically achievable and economically viable.  

While I am a strong proponent of developing our nation’s natural resources, I believe this work must be conducted responsibly with proper regulation. While I was a member of the Ohio Senate, I worked on S.B. 165, the first significant overhaul of Ohio’s oil and gas law in twenty-five years. S.B.165 made a number of improvements, including new well construction standards, a requirement that non-producing or abandoned wells be plugged, stronger enforcement of regulations, additional inspectors on the ground, and notification requirements for malfunctioning wells. These improvements, along with many others, provided Ohio with what many consider to be one of the strongest oil and gas laws in the nation. 

Currently, there are two methods for disposing of fracking wastewater: 1) injection into underground storage wells; or 2) using treatment plants to dispose of the wastewater. To date, no evidence has suggested the use of underground storage wells, as is done in Ohio, has resulted in drinking water contamination.    

Individual states have the authority to regulate fracking, and I believe Ohio has taken steps to ensure when fracking is done, it is done right. Furthermore, the oil and gas industry has tremendous incentive to guard against an environmental disaster. Energy companies are taking unprecedented steps to ensure safety and environmental protection, including installing triple cement casing to wells.  

The development of our natural resources brings jobs and economic growth to Northeast Ohio. Since fracking is regulated on the state level, I would also encourage you to express your concerns to your state representative and senator. You can find their contact information by visiting www.OhioHouse.gov and www.OhioSenate.gov. I hope this letter explained my position on energy development and fracking. Please keep me informed on the issues important to you by contacting my Washington, D.C. office at (202)-225-6265 or by visiting my website at Gibbs.House.gov.        

Sincerely,

Bob Gibbs 
Member of Congress

Getting Started

To begin this project, I’ve made a list of people to start contacting. I have a wide range of people on this list: some are party leaders, some ran for office, one is being impacted by the coal energy plant closure in Coshocton, one is a citizen activist that I thought asked good questions, and one is a Republican with family connections to leadership. When I reviewed my list, I was surprised to notice that they were all women. This was not intentional, although possibly a function of who I have access to. This is notable, however, because throughout the campaign, I felt like the men who were involved vastly outnumbered the women. (Granted, the campaign was to elect a man with a military history.) I was often bewildered that my demographic, Gen X suburban working moms, seemed to be the least involved and least interested in changing the political climate. In my circles, it actually felt wrong to talk about politics. More striking, I received a number of compliments from the ‘like me’s’ for being involved, getting my kids involved, and taking a stand so publicly. This is a bit confounding, to say the least.

Another thought I’ve been having is that I may have been focusing on the wrong problem. The focus this election cycle was to elect Democrats. However, looking at our very bloody red Ohio, I would say that now, in the near term, that cannot be the focus. We need to work within the constraints we’re given and hold our representatives accountable. What does this look like? I’m only starting to understand this, but I am planning to find issues and write letters to editors of local media. There is certainly no shortage of issues, but figuring out the appropriate outlets is the challenge. Stay tuned as I figure out how to navigate this terrain.

Any thoughts and/or comments are appreciated!

RED OHIO: Yeah Trumbull County! (And Coshocton, it could be worse)

2018_gov_race_and_2016_prez_race_maps

Image credit: http://www.statenews.org/post/after-2018-vote-analysts-question-whether-ohio-still-swing-state-or-now-red-one

Today Hurts

Ohio, we fought the good fight. We found activism among those who had never been politically active. We showed up. We encouraged people to research and show up themselves. 100,000 people voted for us. Yet, we lost the battle.

My kids don’t understand how we can win the debate but not win the election. It’s a tough lesson. The rules, the establishment, the autopilot, the economy, the money, the fear, the racism, the news, the middle finger to the elites—they all played a role.

At the end of the day, I’m better off. I veered off my racetrack of normalcy. I participated. I kept showing up 14 weeks in a row. I learned that I need to listen. We all need to listen.

I preach this at work. Build empathy. Listen more, assume less. Understand the journey, not just the destination. Rush to discover, not to solve. I’ve been trained to ask questions. People tell me things. I let them finish their sentences.

We don’t have black and white issues. We don’t have black and white attitudes. We don’t have black and white people. Let’s add color to this conversation. I invite you to join me.

Ground Zero

I feel connected, yet distant, from the people that put Trump in office. My hometown is ground zero for Trump love (+40!) It’s a place that’s been hurting–loss of manufacturing, farming, brain drain, and now overrun with opiods. Even more insulting, they now face environmental risks as all the surrounding states are pumping their waste into their land. They found hope in Trump- a guy pledging to look out for the little guys, their guns, and take down the establishment. Instead, they elected a hater-in-chief and emboldened criminal, determined to take us all down with him. What I cannot understand is why his story was believable to them then, and why, now, they choose to continue to support him. I’m on a listening tour, trying to understand the what’s and why’s of the past and the how’s to move forward.IMG_20180731_195955282_HDR

Race in this Race

When meeting voters on their doorsteps, my talking points have been recently reduced to ‘vote for Democrats’. But I’m missing something here. I’m missing a lot. This is the closing argument, not the opener.

Blatant racism is what got me involved. Our country has changed, and it has now become acceptable to be openly racist. This is what I’ve seen in the rural Ohio. Hispanics are being demonized, whether Puerto Rican, Mexican, or Central American. It doesn’t matter if they’re US-born citizens, if they came here to go to college, if they’re escaping violence, or if they came here to work horribly long hours in fields or slaughterhouses. In rural Ohio (and possibly throughout America) they’re all seen as ‘not like me’ and ‘not white’.

This is especially an injustice for laborers. Our economy has been propped up by this illegal labor, whether it’s been to make homes and landscaping more affordable or to make produce and chicken cheaper at Walmart. We’ve all benefited, yet how quickly we point the finger at the laborers for breaking the law and purportedly making our country less safe.

As a college-educated white woman, I haven’t experienced racism. Sexism, sure, but not racism. But I’m married to a Puerto Rican and have half-Puerto Rican children. In some places, like our elementary school, I feel like we’ve made great strides in accepting everyone regardless of skin color. My daughter has best friends that are Hindu and Muslim. My daughter was appalled learning that MLK’s best friend was told not to play with him because he was black. We don’t refer to people by skin color in our home.

Outside of our school, the racism starts. Boomers seem to carry the majority of the racism. In the past few months, I’ve heard several family members spew ridiculous opinions against non-whites. For whatever reason they believe, they feel threatened by non-white people.

I feel like this has been a rapid change. In 2005, when my husband and I got married, we had 40 Puerto Ricans come to Coshocton and were welcomed. I don’t think that would be the case today.

I don’t know when this started. Fox New has fanned the flames, and probably by most measures, started the fire. Having our first African American President played a role in creating a backlash. Social media has played a role. Gaming, Breitbart, Russians, Republicans, they can all be blamed. This started before Trump, but he’s at the helm now. He’s Racist-in-Chief, and this is why we need to fight. This is why we need checks and balances in government. This is why we need to obliterate our complicit Republican-majority Congress. THIS is why we need to elect Democrats.

My Puerto Rican Rubias (Blondies)blond puerto ricans