Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Polluted Politics

The CEO of a multinational conglomerate with one of the country's worst pollution records, and the perpetrator of one of the most egregiously punitive union lockouts in United States history, is now advising Senate Democrats on job creation.  Translation: he is going to tell a cadre of Senate Democrats how to make it easier for him and his corporate cohort to "stimulate" those ephemeral jobs by not raising taxes and maybe even cutting some taxes.  And the Senators might also want to ease some of those pesky environmental regulations that have resulted in the slew of fines and criminal convictions plaguing his company lately. Oh, and maybe he can whisper a few sweet nothings in their ears over dessert about that annoying union blowing the whistle on his illegal radioactive sludge storage last year, and who just can't take the hint and leave him the hell alone after being locked out of their jobs for over a year now.

David Cote, head honcho of Honeywell International, is actually being  deployed to tomorrow's lunch with the Dems by his buddy Barack Obama, just as he was deployed to the Cable TV news circuit to talk up the president's accomplishments this week, just as he was deployed to sit on the infamous Cat Food Commission to slash the social safety net, just as he was deployed to quell the rumblings from the United States Chamber of Commerce over health insurance reform, just as he was deployed to work with Health and Human Services to run a PR campaign on Medicare waste, just as he was deployed to travel with the president to India last year to help ship even more American jobs overseas. Cote has been described as one of the President's closest business advisors. 

(You can read my previous posts on the Obama-Cote connection here and here.) 

Honeywell is the number one political contributor in the country. According to labor journalist Mike Elk, it has increased its contributions by 400 percent since Obama took office in 2008.  It has received $13 billion in government contracts, mainly in defense, in the past 10 years.  Honeywell also has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of "Superfund" toxic waste sites in the country.

The company was convicted of a felony this spring for improperly storing radioactive waste at its Metropolis, IL uranium processing plant, and was ordered to pay a multimillion dollar fine.  No humans were convicted.  But if you thought this would have made them clean up their act, or have made even the slightest dent in their bottom line, you would be wrong.

Just two weeks ago, OSHA slapped the plant with still another fine  stemming from a release of dangerous gas from the plant. To add insult to injury, Honeywell further broke the law by barring federal investigators from inspecting the plant. 

Also about two weeks ago, Honeywell settled with environmental officials over its role in contaminating a large swath of Northern New Jersey with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.  Along with Occidental Chemical and PPG Industries, Honeywell also agreed to accept responsibility for 42 other "orphan" sites contaminated with the pollutant. 

The Obama White House, from all indications or lack therof, has not addressed  the criminal convictions, the flaunting of the law, the pollution. But, according to Mike Elk, it has vehemently refused all comment on the union lockout in Metropolis, which just marked its first anniversary.  The national mainstream corporate media have not covered the Honeywell abuses, neither the labor aspect nor the pollution aspect.

And you might think that Obama critic, pollution victim, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be all over this Cote Connection with the White House.  Again, you would be wrong. Honeywell contributes to the GOP coffers too, hedging its bets like any good monolithic corporate person. And let's face it, the Republicans are simply not that into the environment.  Just ask Rick Perry of Toxic Texas.  Deep in the heart of Texas is a lot like deep in the heart of Jersey, where as the old song goes "even the flies can't breathe in the skies." So what's a little more chemical crud.

But there has been plenty of happy-talk news about how phenomenally well Honeywell is doing from an investment standpoint. Wall Street cheerleader Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" today projected a big increase in profits for the company, which with all its many parts resembles a "beautiful mosaic". (my thought is a writhing mass of slimy snakes, but what do I know?), a Forbes blog, is also waxing rhapsodic about Honeywell's skyrocketing and surprising growth and earnings. Look at the Honeywell charts, compare with the unemployment charts, and then ask yourself where on earth Cote will find the chutzpah to ask the Senate for more concessions, even as his government contracts continue pouring in during this Age of Contrived Austerity.

Besides profiting mightily from the ongoing Forever Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and parts unknown, Honeywell was recently awarded a $213 million government contract to expand the energy infrastructure at the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration outside of D.C.  The irony is literally dripping like the nuclear sludge leaching from those cheap containers in Metropolis into the ground and toward the Ohio River.

Cote Calls Shots from Presidential Podium as Obama Looks On


Anonymous said...

Great piece, Karen! I continue to be amazed at what a phony Obama has turned out to be.


James F Traynor said...

The lesser of two evils? The difference is narrowing to zero. One may argue that zero is still the asymptote, but really...

Ciara said...

Really, the corruption throughout our government is simply not to be believed.

Jay - Ottawa said...

A clothespin, a clothespin! My kingdom for a clothespin!

Obama and Cote wallow in mutual corruption in plain view, month after month, and they get away with it? No complaints, no consequences? This story should have pushed little piggies Weiner and DSK off the front page forever. The winds from the pig farm in DC blow heavy in all directions. I gasp, I wheeze, I find it hard to breathe. What is to become of us?

Whether one does or does not intend to vote for LOTE in 2012, can we all agree on this: we should all start pinching our noses now. Forget the bumper sticker we were brainstorming about. Instead of lapel pins in favor of one candidate or another in 2012, how about little clothespins clipped to the blouse, the shirt, the nose? When people ask why, I’ll hand them a copy of Karen’s latest post. Then they too will run around begging for clothespins.

4Runner said...

The national mainstream corporate media, as you say, have not covered Honeywell's abuses. True but, give 'em credit, they have kept us totally well posted on the Casey Anthony trial. Meanwhile, back on topic, there's some pretty good employee/insider stuff on Honeywell a/k/a "Hon" over at >><<

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks 4Runner, will check out that site.

Karen Garcia said...

Hey 4Runner, that site seems to be company PR stuff. Same stuff you find on the official Honeywell site, about how they aim to comply, really care about people, etc and so forth.

4Runner said...

Oops, sorry Karen, I got it wrong. You go to and then click on Honeywell. I don't think he's an apologist for them.

John in Lafayette said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm sending a link to this piece to everyone I know. Our government is defined by corruption.

VLT said...

I am prepared to start wearing the clothespin! Let it be a symbol of protest!

David Cote is a very evil man and I am horrified to think that he is "advising" our "leaders."

Once again, thank you Karen for doing the excellent journalism you do through this blog. You are doing your part to save the few shreds of Democracy we have left in this country.


James F Traynor said...

To hell with the clothespin (though a nice idea). Don't vote for the bastard!

My apologies to all bastards, past and present. I've known some very fine bastards. As a matter of fact, fine bastards are in the majority.

Just don't vote for Obama. Even my wife has changed her mind in this regard - and she was so pleased with him - in the beginning.

You may disregard this post, if you like Karen. I've surpassed my quota of two gin and tonics.

VLT said...


Many of us are with you. We will work for local, state and Reps in Congress - we will give our time, our money and our vote - but we will leave the Presidential box blank in November 2012.

Buy a clothespin! Or I will send you one! I have some very tasteful smallish ones that won't wreck your clothes. I think it is a grand symbol of ordinary people who can't afford the electricity costs of running their dryers anymore.

Onward! We are not alone in our beliefs. We see the man behind the curtain for what he is - we are not imagining him.

Draft Spitzer said...

As to the legitimate. Fine word, "legitimate."
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top th' legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Lear, I.2