Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Man Without a Conscience

The Northwest Arkansas Times reported but failed to connect the dots and missed the real story; however, local bloggers at Street Jazz and Albunique immediately saw the irony in Dan Coody's most recent outlandish flip-flop-fib.

In October 2007, the Think Outside the Bottle campaign kicked off nationwide, urging municipal governments to cut off bottled-water contracts and announcing that mayors of Boston, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Portland, Chicago, and Salt Lake City were joining in the effort. They argued that bottled water corporations are changing the way people think about water, manufacturing artificial demand for an essential resource that flows directly from our taps. Moreover, the plastic bottles require massive amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture and transport, and billions of these bottles wind up in landfills every year. Ultimately, the marketing convinces one in five people that the only place to get drinking water is from a bottle, it threatens the political will to adequately fund our public water systems.

Nine months later, in June 2008, Mayor Dan Coody held a big press conference to announce that Fayetteville would no longer use public funds to purchase bottled water and that he would pull water bottles from city-owned vending machines. We were then treated to constant replays of his sideshow on Government Channel 16. Greg Harton immediately lavished praise on Coody for "trying to carve out a role as the community’s conscience." Local retailers of tap water purification systems, like Moshe and Hamsa Newmark and Jeremy Hess, quickly endorsed Coody for reelection. Coody followed with big hype for a Cowbird-paid trip to Washington to talk about how municipal water systems were suffering.

Then the charade began to unravel. Just three weeks ago, Richard Drake reported on Street Jazz that bottled water was still being sold in vending machines in City Hall. Drake also discovered that Coody had tried to rewrite history to make himself look like he was ahead on all the other mayors in the country, claiming that Fayetteville had banned bottled water several years ago under his leadership.

Today, Dan Coody dropped all pretense of any concern about the problems created by the bottled water scam. He brags that he has been recruiting a foreign bottled water company from Iceland to set up a regional distribution center in Fayetteville. Coody thinks they will store that water in the asbestos filled Mexican Original plant that has sat vacant for years since Dan just had to have it.

So much for the alleged superiority of water from the Beaver Water District. So much for the environmental consequences from manufacturing and disposal of plastic bottles and the carbon footprint of those delivery trucks. So much for Dan Coody's fake commitment to sustainability. So much for anything Dan Coody says between now and the end of the year.

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