Intense, incessant citizen pressure our only salvation

For the record– serial failures by myriad public agencies and private entities to protect Crown Hill’s woods confirms Richard Ottinger’s Earth Day profundity about the importance of citizen pressure–

At the behest of two congressional representatives (Rep Carson and Sen Donnelly), in May, 2017 the VA and Crown Hill announced an agreement to correct their unfortunate mistake by relocating the VA’s planned cemetery to an adjacent open field, thus sparing the woods and finally validating the protests and intense work of many hundreds of citizens over 8 months to persuade the various deciders about the value of the endangered woodland.  This agreement followed a series of failures by public agencies and several private entities over those months.  To record and memorialize, here is a list of the entities– most of whom/which failed to properly serve and protect both the public interest and the interest of the plants and animals at the site.  Limited space dictates that it’s primarily just a listing without detail explaining the various failures.

  1. Crown Hill Board of Directors and executive management, Gibraltar Remembrance Services, LLC
  2. The Veterans Administration/National Cemetery Administration
  3. The authors of the September, 2015 Final Environmental Assessment— ASC Group/Indianapolis, Enfuse Environmental of Pine beach, New Jersey, and Concourse Federal Group (all are VA contractors)
  4. Indiana Department of Natural Resources/Division of Forestry
  5. Indiana Department of Environmental Management/Office of Water Quality
  6. The National Environmental Policy Act, the federal Administrative Procedures Act, and local land use/environmental plans
  7. Federal judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, ruling to deny protesters’ sought-after injunction
  8. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (initially balked, causing much citizen angst, but finally stepped up)
  9. Rep. Andre Carson (initially balked, causing much angst, but finally stepped up)
  10. City Councilor Joseph Simpson (defiantly oppositional to protesters throughout)
  11. Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association leadership (board president Clark Kirkman— the only Board member voting to oppose saving the woods
  12. Print organizations– The Indianapolis Star and Indy Midtown magazine (a private commercial publication) – minimal coverage (by the Star) and biased/ distorted yellow journalism promoting the pro-forest destruction position of the VA, Crown Hill, and Midtown, Inc. (by Indy Midtown magazine)

Rep. Richard Ottinger’s statement (From his speech at the first Earth Day in Washington, D.C) certainly rings true today, considering the thousands of hours of citizen advocacy which had to be applied to save Crown Hill’s north woods:

“Intense, incessant citizen pressure is the only thing that will save us.  We must assume that we are surrounded by rapacious developers, callous industrialists, inept public agencies, and insensitive politicians, and that our only salvation is in our two hands.”  Richard L. Ottinger, U.S. Representative, speech, Aril 22, 1970

Equally resonant is P.J. O’Rourke’s question:  “Our government: what the %^&* do they do all day, and why does it cost so goddamned much money”?  (Parliament of Whores)


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