[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Greeting from the Third World!
Greetings from The Third World!
Ever wonder why Louisiana's so polluted? It's not that the people want
to commit suicide or violent crime to which pollution may contribute.
It's because of politics and dictatorships --Louisiana-style.
Shintech, the proposed world's largest dioxin factory, was mentioned on
the front page of the state paper --the Baton Rouge Advocate on Tuesday,
July 22, 1997. Since the article is no longer online, I'm sending it
to the list at-large. Pardon this repeat!
Governor's threats on aid criticized
By MARSHA SHULER
Capitol news bureau
Gov. Mike Foster is interfering with academic
freedom by threatening retaliation against Tulane
University because its law clinic is supporting
environmental interests in a battle with industry,
academic leaders said Monday.
Professors and the head of Louisiana's independent
college group said Foster's threats against the
university could have a "chilling effect" on
university independence and academic freedom.
The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic has been
active in representing some St. James area residents
concerned about the location of a Shintech chemical
The clinic's lawyers have challenged the state permit
for the $750 million plant in a rural area populated
by poor people -- most of whom are black.
Foster has called the staff of the law clinic "a bunch
of vigilantes out there to make their own law," and
said they are stymieing economic growth.
Foster threatened to go after Tulane's tax breaks and
ask supporters to reconsider their financial
contributions because of the clinic's activities.
Tulane President Eamon Kelly, who is out of the
country, has defended the clinic in the past. He said
he has no intention of interfering with the clinic's
opposition to the Shintech plant site.
Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and
Universities executive director William Arceneaux
said Kelly has told him he plans to meet with the
governor to "explain to him the role law clinics play
and the role of academic freedom in our colleges
and universities that we need to safeguard at all costs."
Arceneaux said the governor's threats are troublesome.
"Our first thrust will be to try to educate the governor how these
clinics operate. I don't think he understands the whole academic freedom
issue as it operates inside a university," said Arceneaux, who
represents eight private colleges, including Tulane
and Loyola universities, which operate law clinics.
At the schools, senior law students get a chance to
work on real cases under a lawyer's oversight.
Arceneaux said the environmental law clinic sees its mission as defender
of the environment and of these poor people ..." who live near
potentially hazardous sites.
Arceneaux said this is not the first time Tulane's
Environmental Law Clinic has been "under the gun."
"They don't hesitate to take on the big boys. I look at
it as a healthy situation for the state and everybody else."
Robert Kreiser, associate secretary of the American
Association of University Professors, said anytime a
politician interferes with "the appropriate function
of a college or university," there is reason for concern.
Kreiser said Foster's threats "could have a chilling
effect" on academic freedom and clinic operations.
"If the clinic is assisting individuals pursuing complaints, if that is
consistent with its mission, it is quite inappropriate for a governor to
threaten the operations of the clinic," Kreiser said.
"It's not appropriate for political, ideological or other reasons to be
threatening to the academic freedom for those who are part of the
clinic," Kreiser said.
Dr. George Strain of LSU, past president of the Association of Louisiana
Faculty Senates, said Foster is directly facing freedom of speech
"This could be viewed as suppression of freedom of speech and academic
freedom," Strain said.
"Faculty commenting on a law is certainly within their academic right
and academic freedom to comment," Strain said.
In a Louisiana Public Broadcasting segment of "Louisiana: The State
We're In" recently, Foster accused the law clinic of trying to do
everything in its power "to hold up this (Shintech) plan to the
point that it was not economically feasible for it to come here."
Foster said Louisiana could lose jobs because of the law clinic's
"They are a law unto themselves. They have decided who will come to
Louisiana and under what rules," Foster said.
Foster was asked what was wrong with St. James residents getting legal
help from the clinic.
"Tell them to spend their own money to do it. Quit spending Tulane's,"
Louisiana Environmental Action Network executive director Mary Lee Orr
said residents living next to the proposed Shintech plant do not
have the financial resources to hire attorneys.
Orr said the Tulane clinic has given them the kind of voice which until
now has only been available to "big business."
"It sounds like he is afraid of the new dynamics," Orr said.
Foster did not return a phone message seeking reaction.
However, Foster's deputy chief of staff, Terry Ryder, said, "those who
cheaply holler academic freedom need to think it through very carefully.
Sometimes the clinic goes too far."
Ryder said the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic needs to be "less
extreme" in its approach.
(Story ran on July 22, 1997)