Sunday, April 8, 2018

Conflict of interest plagues Pen Argyl's consultant choice to fight Synagro/Waste Management/Green Knight biosolids plant in Plainfield Township

At the April 4 Plainfield Township planning commission review of Synagro's proposed crap bakery on land owned by Waste Management, in association with Waste Management's purported non-profit arm Green Knight Economic Development Corporation, appeared representatives for Pen Argyl in opposition to the project.  This included Solicitor Peter Layman of Bangor, and environmental consultant Trudy Johnston, President of Material Matters Inc in Elizabethtown.

Peter Layman and Trudy Johnston, representing the Borough of Pen Argyl
in opposition to the proposed Synagro biosolids plant

Some in the audience took note when a representative for Synagro and Waste Management suggested that Ms. Johnston is acquainted with Synagro's planned use.  It turns out that Ms. Johnston is intimately familiar - her company's website states its specialty:
Material Matters offers a range of services relating to all aspects of wastewater solids and residuals beneficial use, including product management, process optimization, demonstration trials and research studies, regulatory permitting, and regulation compliance. 
Hmm.  Let's look deeper to see if this funny smell gets worse.  In a September 3, 2010 Times News article, it is reported that Johnston and fellow employee Jennifer Callahan requested to appear at a Schuylkill County board of supervisors meeting and
distributed literature which presented a highly favorable perspective regarding the use of biosolids when, in fact, the use of such sludge is seen as controversial and a potential threat to health and safety.
Highly favorable perspective from Ms. Johnston on the use of biosolids?  This smells like crap alright.  Here is another odorous sample:


At time stamp 00:10 in the video above on the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association's YouTube channel the speaker indicates Johnston is the president of MABA's board of directors, and the video is dated July 19, 2017.  Wow, the president of this as well as her company - she's the belle of the Brown Stink Ball.  Take note of her enthusiastic manner as she speaks to the shift in public perception of shit through a change of terminology from "sludge" to "biosolids".   Trudy gets shit done, but it seems like she may be enamored with it.  Here is the 2016 Form 990-EZ that MABA files as a non-profit, dedicated to the dissemination of sludge.  Look on page 2, and you will see that in the list of officers Ms. Johnston is at the top of the heap - the president:

Mid Atlantic Biosolids 2016 Form 990EZ on Scribd

Then there is this promotion of the whimsically named Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center, from President Johnston's MABA's website (emphasis added):

Jesus H Christ this looks bad, to use an expression of my father's.  Now let's put it all together, using the sponsor brag from the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association website, with a suggested future entry:

Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association Sponsors for 2018 includes Johnston's Material Matters, Waste Management, and Synagro - Add Green Knight and you have four of a kind!

Green Knight may be the next sponsor to add to this rarified list.  After all, Green Knight for the past five years has had plentiful income but almost eliminated donations to social service organizations - contrary to Green Knight's mission statement.  Yes, they gifted the Blue Mountain Library $10,000 in emergency funds recently, but in the past they would spread over $100,000 in one year to 25 to 30 causes, at $3000 to $4000 each.  They could easily come up with $5000 to give MABA, which they would likely consider a good cause.  Now they appear to be focused on commercial development, and handing opportunities to their own board members to cash in on GK's "philanthropy".  A non-profit tracking agency determined that Green Knight Economic Development Corporation does not meet its criteria as a charitable organization after reviewing GKEDC's IRS Form 900 statements and does not list it in their database, according to a reply to an inquiry as to its absence.  More on Green Knight in a future post.

Holy shit Batman!  What the hell is going on here?  Johnston's entire agenda is to make shit smell better, and spread it as far and wide as possible.  She rubs elbows with Synagro and Waste Management, on the short list of sponsors of the organization of which she is president.  This is who is helping protect Pen Argyl from having a biosolids facility move in next door?

Mr. Layman was the Plainfield Township Solicitor in 1997 when the Trail Agreement/Easement was negotiated with Waste Management.  This agreement turns out to be very weak, in that the end date of Waste Management's use - which was the justification for the agreement - is not directly tied to the landfill shutting down.  Mr. Layman may not appreciate his name being associated with it, but facts are facts.  If the agreement had been drafted properly, Synagro's plant on the proposed site would not even be a possibility, and Plainfield's residents would not be fighting for the right to use their own property as the agreement calls for - in a timely manner, not several decades from now.

Pen Argyl council members may want to reconsider this arrangement.  Johnston should paying Pen Argyl - one can imagine however she is collecting a consultant's fee.  Sweet.  Johnston may be out having lunch with the opposing parties, and there is no code of conduct that regulates such a consultant's disclosures.  Hey guys, I'll buy today.  WTF.