Tesoro Bakken Train Stopped, Temporarily — 700 Show Up!

how do we stop the bleed in higher education which is the bleed of participatory governance?

This will be quick since I have to hoof it to the Vancouver City Council in support of a resolution to NOT allow that dirty, rotten thug of a company, Tesoro, to run its rails of immolation from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to our “port” of Vancouver. A virtual pipeline on rails, and what a stupid idea this is. You know, in a world of sickness, more kids with more lung ailments, more talk about mitigating climate warming by REDUCING CO2 emissions. Mark that 380,000 barrels of oil pushed through towns, expanses, metroplexes DAILY thanks to the Energy Mafia, the One Percent, the speculators and the hedge funders and banks.

Tesoro is a killing company, razes rainforests, pushes people off land, fouls/foils the air, freshwater, marine ecosystems and the political process with its rot-gut lawyers, lobbyists and political whores. April 2010, seven killed in Tesoro refinery at Anacortes. Millions now being sought by six of the families of the dead. Here, from the Seattle Times:

The $2.38 million fine levied by the state in its 39-page citation, which the company can appeal, is the largest in agency history. Still, it seems puny in light of these conclusions:

“L&I inspectors found that Tesoro disregarded a host of workplace safety regulations, continued to operate failing equipment for years, postponed maintenance, inadequately tested for potentially catastrophic damage and failed to properly protect their workers from significant risk of injury and death.”

The word failure echoes through the citation with a steady drumbeat of withering repetition. The state lays out Tesoro’s failure to train and equip workers, failure to adopt good engineering practices in refinery operations, failure to manage change, failure to maintain equipment and inventories of spare parts.

Seven people died because of conditions the state concluded their employer was “plainly indifferent” to correct. A preventable catastrophe certainly not unknown in the industry.

So, we get our three minutes at the mic and some nodding off city council members, the thing of a broken political system since it’s up to them to vote on opposing the death oil rail hub in our fair little city or not.

Remarkably, it was the largest city council meeting in Vancouver’s history. There were exactly 140 people signed up to speak, and my dance card was 135. I showed up, and more than half a grand of people were in the Hilton ballroom to accommodate the crowd. As usual, no young people were there. Really. It was a white crowd, for sure, and the senior citizens, well, they were there en mass.

Funny, though the few Tesoro legal brawn types and PR folk and then a few construction tradesmen, well, they were fish out of water. Strange thing, this representative democracy, these elected officials up there staring at us. Strange how the crowd actually says the pledge of allegiance (not in my house, my book, and I don’t need no stinkin pledge to make me whole, or whatever citizenship this is being the only super power). Stranger even the forty-year-old new mayor of Vancouver yipping and yapping about decorum, about the rules of engagement, about being nice, no applause or outbursts. This is the system of white men with no lips, young or old.

His little tongue in cheek – “We don’t want me to have to ask you to leave. That’s why we have a few of Vancouver’s finest in blue back there.” Har-har, the white crowd murmurs. Really, this constant Capitalism police state, rules-rules-rules society. At a meeting where people are giving public testimony supporting a resolution to put the city council in the position of having a voice whether Tesoro gets in Vancouver or not.

Can you believe that? A resolution that asks the state that the city of Vancouver through its elected officials will have a say in whether the oil port gets built. In a system that gives Tesoro more rights than the entire city, the entire Clark County?

Tesoro, already in the state process for an EIS and working with SEPA and following state laws around a process of getting licensed to have a port facility to receive this highly volatile oil, knows that the process mutes cities and hobbles cities and derails public sentiment against them. Again, that singular thing in capitalism – corporations help write the laws, and they are people, giants, who have more rights than the community of Vancouver. This is a society of paper pushers, bad law inventors, lovers of the process (sic) of law, AKA, rule (for the elite and the well-lawyered) of law.

I saw the mailer Tesoro sent out this past Saturday before the Monday meeting, calling the city council’s resolution to stop the process as “empty political gesture.” That’s how these people roll, the PR firms, the heavy hand of a felon and dirty (10th largest air polluter in US), their chamber of commerce sycophants, the legal creeps who use a zoning and environmental assessment process to the company’s advantage, against a city, the fourth largest in WA.

The mailer, err, Tesoro PR, has zero understanding of Vancouver, the community, us, the people. Their trump is the state Byzantine crap of having corporations follow this insider game, and that land rights (leasing, borrowing, owning, abusing) and the Port of Vancouver trump the city, the people. Having citizens and the city council oppose the terminal at this juncture, according to the slick lawyer for the oil company, is wrong legally, and is against the “process.”

Questions on the flier bespeak asinine thinking – Duh, the oil terminal will bring jobs! Duh, the jobs and the company will put into the tax base! Duh, oil already passes through the terminal!

These people are trained like Little Eichmanns, Marketers, Edward Bernays.

Can you imagine the power Tesoro thinks it has. There’s a huge multi-year, multi-level Vancouver waterfront development in the offing, but, these Tesoro folks think the 80 to 100 jobs an oil terminal will provide trumps real jobs, long-term community development, a place with mixed development, mixed housing, a centerpiece for Vancouver.

Not that I am a proponent of exponential growth, and the playground for the Capitalist venture. We have some serious stuff going on in education in Clark county, both K12 and public and private higher ed; in the fact that one in seven people are senior citizens in this country, but one in four will be seniors in the next 20 years. False ideas about economic development, to entertain and sell us to death. More growth in the county because we have green trees, rivers, mountains. Oh how the nice rural sleepy town syndrome will be erased by toxins of sprawl and consumption. So, a waterfront development can be bad or really bad and terribly bad. We have some real issues in the world without another dozen clam bake Margarita-ville entertainment zones. That’s not resiliancy!

All of that is worth deep discussion. Removing the Tesoro bomb and vaporizing potential from the community, that’s just ONE step. It still is not a slam dunk even though 700 people showed up last night (I am now continuing this post Tuesday AM) and the council voted 7-0 to oppose the Tesoro plant and 5 to 2 to oppose all future projects of similar immolating veracity.

It all comes down to contract law. Contracts! Business lawyers and CEOs trumping people, communities:

In a letter submitted to the council before Monday’s meeting, Port of Vancouver Commissioner Brian Wolfe said he felt “overwhelming disappointment” when he first read the proposed resolution opposing the oil terminal.

The resolution begins by stressing the value of the city’s partnership with the port, and the city’s commitment to maintain it. But the proposal itself erodes that partnership, Wolfe said.

“If you vote on this resolution, it can only hurt our relationship,” he wrote. “‘Partners don’t do this to each other. Partners work together first to build a better community, and secondly to find common resolution to troublesome problems. That’s not what this resolution does.”

The resolution urges Port of Vancouver commissioners to terminate the lease the port signed with Tesoro-Savage last year — something Wolfe has said isn’t likely to happen, regardless of what the city says. Breaking the lease would amount to a breach of contract that could lead to litigation and damage the port’s reputation, he said.

Here’s the kicker – if that dangerous oil shipping terminal is built, well, that waterfront plan will cease to exist. You see, that Hilton we were at because of the size of the overflow crowd would be vaporized if a oil train were to derail and explode. Waterfront living, dining, shopping and recreating with a Quebec about to happen? No way, ladies and gents!

Tax revenue, jobs, quality of life, that’s the waterfront proposal. Tesoro, well, who would be paying for a disaster, a leak or explosion or an explosion like the one in Quebec where a few dozen lives were lost?

So far, Quebec’s victims have piled up over $2 billion in claims – liability for he railroad and shippers. Add to that another $200 million now to clean up the mess. No insurance policies can be purchased for that. So, the taxpayers pay. Lac-Mégantic will be receiving more oil trains after 47 deaths?

Oil trains could soon be traveling through Lac Mégantic, the tiny Quebec town that was the scene of one of the deadliest train accidents in Canadian history last July.

The new owner of the railroad company responsible for the Lac Mégantic oil train disaster, a derailment which killed 47 people and destroyed much of the town’s center, said this week that within the next ten days he wants to have an agreement with Lac Mégantic officials to restart oil train shipments through the town.

John Giles, CEO of the Central Maine and Quebec railway who on Thursday purchased the U.S. assets of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, said the company plans to invest in safety improvements before restarting oil shipments 18 months from now, spending $10 million on rail improvements over the next two summers.

“In the interest of safety, and I think being sensitive toward a social contract with Lac-Mégantic, we have chosen not to handle crude oil and dangerous goods through the city until we’ve got the railroad infrastructure improved, and made more reliable,” Giles told The Associated Press.

Giles didn’t address a desire expressed by Lac Mégantic’s mayor to divert the oil trains around the city, so to try to prevent another deadly derailment.

The July disaster in Lac Mégantic occurred after an unattended, parked train carrying Bakken crude came loose and barreled downhill into the town. More than 60 cars derailed and many exploded, destroying the town’s center and spilling more than 26,400 gallons of oil into the Chaudiere River. Last week, the Quebec government released the results of a study that found that, nearly a year after the disaster, the river is still contaminated with oil. So far, the province has spent $16 million on river cleanup.

Imagine, 10 Vancouver neighborhood associations against the terminal. A clear majority polled in the daily Columbian against it.

Imagine, one person making public comments pointing out the city’s charter, vision, one that is in direct contradiction to the values (sic) a Tesoro oil port would bring to the city – pollution, risk to life and limb, noise, danger, loss of value, that is, land and community value.

Well, Tesoro’s proposed plant would seed the air with 230,000 pounds of airborne particles, aerosols, particulates, many of them multi-word and hyphenated. Cancer seeding and asthma inducing. Those are the free byproducts of a Tesoro.

One fellow who pointed out that the very hotel we were in would be vaporized if the terminal was built and a tanker or two collided going 40 MPH. He looked at the business plan, and after 400 pages, he saw no delineated good jobs. In fact, the potential benefits to the community, financially speaking, were redacted. On page 400.

I dropped off my testimony in the written comments box and left. I’ve covered quite a few of these events, as a reporter and activist who has testified and who has been yanked out of council and commissioner and regents and board meetings for saying this or that, or using this or that tone, or going over proscribed time limits. There is no way in hell I was going to stay till 2 a.m. to talk to Capitalists sleeping at the Dias. It turned out 110 spoke, until 1:25 am. A lot of senior citizens stayed late. Again, parents of young kids?Missing? College students? Missing. K12 students? Not a one.

That is the broken fabric really of Capitalism running democracy. You think maybe getting parents out and businesses out and students out WOULD be what democracy would be all about. Students out for democracy and participation in action. Ya think any of that would be possible. Not one single Clark Community College student in that crowd. Imagine, English, social problems, history, science classes, out in the community. With poster boards of how oil and death tie into their respective classes? You think that would be possible from the faculty? Oh, the schools, the silos, the misinformed, uninformed, intentionally dead from the neck down informed, and all of the other crap of democracy and consumerism.

That’s what I have seen in 57 years – more and more younger people hobbled by the systems, hobbled by celebrity culture, hip culture, i-Tunes, You Tube, the junk-junk-junk of entertainment. When it comes to REAL issues, like global warming, city block leveling oil terminal, well, screw that. Not so cool, not so interesting, not in my frontal cortex – NMFC worse than NIMBY – not in my back yard.

So, I will end this on another note, from another overpaid idiot, another Vice President, some guy with kids and a degree or two from private schools, some bow tie wearing white guy, calm, soft spoken, but, again, DOES not do his job. These overpaid VPs in the academic world are paper pushers, overpaid ledger keepers. They do not have creativity in their brains. It’s all about cutting-cut-death-by-cuts. Look at this inarticulate and deadening letter:

In fact, this is as big or bigger news than a Bakken North Dakota oil train coming to town. Think about the number of sections cut, the number of precarious faculty cut, the types of hobbling these VPs and the president of Clark College, ex-military, create. They have ZERO integrity when it comes to FIGHTING for youth and their futures.

Faculty and Instructional Staff,

I wanted to give you an update on the college budget for next year. The good news is the economy in Clark County continues to improve. Unfortunately for Clark College our enrollment has a nearly perfect correlation with unemployment rates. To put it simply, when unemployment is high so is our enrollment and when unemployment rates are low, our enrollment falls too.

[See how they work? Economic mumbo-jumbo, boiler plate, really, and zero to do with his job as administrator, over-paid, and he is the instructional dean, so, whew, no advocate of us, the worker. His idiocy cites this community college myth — if the economy is good — that means, more low wage, service sector jobs, two per person, then, lower enrollment? Do these educational leaders in this region — Portland, Clark Co., and beyond — meet with the Chambers of Commerce, Rotory Clubs, business leaders — and demand time off and connections to these low wage jobs and helping people be better people, better thinkers, culturally and technically savy? You think teaching workers how to be better citizens, how to show up at city council meetings or planning and zoning hearings or PTAs, ya think that will be one way to resiliancy?]

Currently, enrollment is 8% lower than last year and the models put forth by Planning and Effectiveness indicate it could drop even lower. Since our budget relies significantly on tuition revenue this has an impact on instruction and the college as a whole. To put this in perspective, approximately 425 class sections were cut this year over what was offered last year.

[Planning and Effectiveness? Are they getting cuts? Did the VP of instruction take a wage cut? The triple dipping president, he take a cut? No, and this relying on tuition? The state of Washington is full of tax dodgers, tax loophole loving billionaires. Make them pay. Tax these people. Tax public education is fully funded. So we do not have to accept this faux drop in unemployment. People have stopped looking, and the jobs they are getting — We, that is — are deadening and deadend. We need smart educated people to learn how to act and lobby and get communities out of the dirty gripe of Walmart thinking, the Tesoro process. This overpaid VP has not done his job in Olympia. NOPE. On the backs of the poor, community college students, while the college is planning on building another satellite campus? Diseased minds.]

Several efforts are being put forth to address the enrollment drop and put the college in a position that is less reliant on changes in unemployment. These include the Strategic Enrollment Plan, the Retention plan, Self Support programs, and the development of an Academic Master Plan. Some of these efforts will impact enrollment in the short term while others may take a year or longer.

[These Institutional Management white papers, goofy plans, all with goofy names, and, what does this mean? How can faculty get into the community and lobby businesses? How can faculty — mostly part-time — be part of the changes needed in community colleges? These plans require overpaid people, minions for the ex-Colonel, minions for the VPs, and they are not consensus or from the bottom-up driven. Again, VPs need to go away, resign. Really.]

Several of you have commented and others may be wondering why spend the money on a North County campus if we are dealing with this budget shortfall. It’s a fair question and I think there are a couple of reasonable answers. First, the money for the North campus is being provided by the Foundation and the building funds come from the state building fund which can only be used for construction. Neither of these sources would go toward reducing the budget shortfall. Secondly, all demographic information points toward North County as having the largest population growth in the next decade. This campus will help us meet the demand for higher education for many years in the future.

[This is the bullshit of our times, and I have heard this in Texas, when I was PT faculty. We wanted raises, and we kept seeing beautification projects at UT-El Paso. Huge Bhutan-like retrofits and refits and gutting of administrators’ offices, and landscaping, new turf in the Sun Bowl stadium, just all this building, and the bottom line 31 years ago is today’s rotten mealy mouthed bottom line — funds come from other places. Then this faux economic development population projection. North County? You have a central campus. Have that campus serviced with green buses. Have a link to people coming in to a campus and attending classes and EVENTS and lectures and cultural COOL things. That’s what this numb nuts needs to promote — rethinking the campus, and moving people back onto campus. So, demand for higher education? What does that mean? Is this a gas station with demands and peaks and valleys? Is this a service delivery system, college? It’s based on projections out of context. Price of homes, price of climate change, and how much is the welfare to the bankers and construction companies? What will these bonds’ interest be? This is a state initiative for our county, and, as you will read below, faculty lose jobs for this pie in the sky? This is how these admin class and deanlets and VPs roll. New bricks over faculty over students’ needs.]

Next year the college is facing a $3 million dollar revenue shortfall. All areas of the college are making cuts and I expect President Knight to release the college budget message soon. In the meantime I wanted to let you know what Instructional Council has proposed to address our share of the cuts. In addition to the approximately $589,000 cut instruction took this year we have identified approximately $1 million in additional cuts. To meet this shortfall we are proposing the following cuts.

[Ah, the stupidity of shortfalls and then building expenditures. Here are the cuts, Part One of Parts Six. No mention of the firing of VPs and Institutional management teams. Cut salaries of the double-triple dipper ex-Colonel. Oh, note the $355,000 cuts in adjunct faculty. Note the cuts to sections to the tune of 450 total. And that new campus is going to be teaching what, with which faculty? Think a distance learning hub, massive on-line courses taught by one drone pilot for a hundred sections.]

  • 60k in Goods and Services [Which ones?]
  • 40K in Equipment & Repair [can’t even repair equipment but they hire more administrators and buy more software and create more non-teaching positions?]t
  • 355k in adjunct sections [just with one flick of the limpid wrist, 355,000 dollars taken out of old and young adjuncts’ minimum wage lives. Sick. Shame on the rest of the campus for not kicking and screaming and going to the media. Sickness all around!]
  • 88k in non-contractual release time [So, some work overtime, extra, deal with the Admin class, the constant fear of cuts, and release time really is mental health time. Smart move, VP. Smart move!]
  • 103k in medical benefits due to fewer sections being offered [Oh, medical benefits? That’s why many work for a state agency — and now, without much information, 103,000 dollars cut. Yep, these bean counters are self-perpetuating Eichmanns.]
  • 146k by reducing the number of Full Time Temporary faculty [a temporary job is better than no job. How does this happen, all these gutted ideas? One the backs of people and the students — read below!]
  • 62K by reducing one new tenure position (we added three new tenure spots in the last two years).
  • 40k reduction in Office of Instruction support staff [More people cut.]
  • 17k elimination of Early Intervention funding in Child/Family studies [yep, this makes sense since our society is in need of MORE intervention, and that’s what you hear Obama and the governors of states talk about. Early Intervention. Again, Eichmanns prevail.]
  • 50k reduction in the Elearning Dedicated Fee account
  • 25k discontinue the Construction program offered at the Clark County Skills Center [Hmm, a shortfall of 250,000 trades and construction workers in the USA by 2030, and, we cut this? Bow-tie wearing private school loving VPs! Shame on them, Little Eichmanns.]
  • 53K by moving English Non Native Language ENL to self support.
  • 20k in Unit Support staff

None of these reductions are easy and we continue to discuss ways to mitigate the shortfall. I welcome your feedback and would be happy to discuss any of this information further.

[This administration speak is deafening. Welcome feedback? Bullshit. Welcome discussion? Bullshit. These Admin class and Deanlets have no intention of listening to the majority, us, part-timers and non-tenure track.l

Thank you all for your work in support of our students.

[This rhetorical lie, this PR and marketing speak, and, what does this mean, all our work and supporting students? He should be ashamed and hide under a rock.]

Best, Tim Cook

Well, I hope my readers see the correlations between deadly  Bakken oil trains coming to town and the deadly Little Eichmann syndrome in higher education, one huge mess of hot, sticky, flammable gas spewing forth from the deanlets’ and administrators’ mouths!

Roger Geiger and Donald Heller of Pennsylvania State University are quoted to say,

…that since 1990, in both public and private colleges, expenditures on instruction have risen more slowly than in any other category of spending, even as student numbers have risen. Universities are, however, spending plenty more on administration and support services.



Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.