Hello All, Here's a revealing first-hand account of
Hillary Clinton's response to a
regional environment/public health issue. The author
of this letter, Sam Pratt, is a
well-respected Hudson Valley community organizer, whom
I know personally. Forward it if
you think others might benefit from its perspective.
Dear fellow Hudson Valley Democrats:
Having volunteered on Clinton's first senate campaign,
I get mad when
I hear Rush Limbaugh savage her as a liar and an
opportunist. I'm also
grateful to her for keeping Rudy Guiliani and Rick
Lazio out of the
But you don't have to be a sexist or a conspiracy
theorist to oppose
I don't dislike Hillary; I distrust her. And my
reasons are both
substantive, and based on direct personal experience.
When a major
issue hit the Hudson Valley, Clinton was less than
honest with her
constituents, and all to eager to take credit where
none was due.
For nearly 7 years, our communities were riven with
a vast, coal-burning facility proposed by St. Lawrence
Cement here in
the Hudson Valley.
Given the harsh health, scenic, noise, traffic,
economic and other
negative potential impacts, opponents naturally wanted
to get the ear
of Mrs. Clinton -- and we tried everything. She was
campaign whistlestops, at private dinners, and public
Printed factsheets were pressed into staffers' hands,
letters beseeched our new Senator to help end this
dangerous idea. But
she refused to take any public stand.
Finally, as the leader of the grassroots opposition, I
tried an old-
fashioned political route. A friend identified a
celebrity donor in
nearby Dutchess County who was opposed to St.
Lawrence's plans, and he
called in a big favor. Driving to the capitol in his
limo, we met with
Hillary first in a chamber outside the Armed Services
took a long walk and tram ride under the Capitol to
Hillary was both charming, and surprisingly
well-informed on our issue.
At last, here was my big chance to make a full case
for her involvement.
But when I launched into a carefully-prepared spiel,
stopped me: "You don't need to do the presentation,"
she said. "The
plant is a terrible idea. Just tell me how I can
help." Delighted, I
described the various Federal permitting processes in
which she could
intervene, and the benefits of her taking a public
She called in her chief environmental policy advisor,
detailed instructions: Get a memo on her desk right
away, listing the
necessary action steps and the policy rationales for
each, and she'd
get right to work on it. Her performance was smart and
her celebrity backer and I practically floated down
the Capitol steps
on the way out.
The rest was silence. After promptly delivering the
requested memo, I
was never able to get her staff (let alone the Senator
discuss the issue again, let alone take action to stop
About a year later, Clinton was cornered on the SLC
issue by an
interviewer from The National Trust for Historic
finally got her to say that she thought the proposal
was "not the
right direction for the Hudson Valley." These remarks
in Preservation Magazine, which Clinton apparently
thought no one
would read... because when we then alerted local media
statement, Clinton's staff denied the remarks and
claimed she still
had not taken a position.
Only after nearly 14,000 residents and 40 groups wrote
to the Republican administration of George Pataki did
project get scrapped -- without any help from either
of our Democratic
But there was one more damning chapter in our Clinton
After we won, the group I co-founded received an award
at the Waldorf-
Astoria from the Preservation League of New York.
During the award
ceremony, it was announced that there would be a video
someone who couldn't attend, but who wanted to pay her
respects. Up on
a giant screen came Hillary Clinton, talking about how
we'd all fought
such a good fight together.
Those of us who had been in the trenches for years
looked at each
other in amazement. All the awful things people say
about Hillary were
horribly validated: She didn't deliver on her
promises, and then she
took credit for a victory achieved without her help.
Now, some friends say, "Come now, Sam -- all
politicians are the same.
They tell you what you want to hear, and then do the
over it!" Others say, "Well, Hillary dropped the ball
on that one, but
I still trust her on health care, education, abortion,
the economy, et
To these excuses I say: Other politicians from five
states had the
guts to take a stand on an issue affecting hundreds of
downwind residents; why couldn't Clinton?
Why should we expect her to act differently the next
time a major
regional controversy hits? If she won't stand up for
the health of
children and the elderly, and won't expend any
political capital to
save a broad swath of her own adopted State as its
Senator, why should
we expect her to behave differently as President?
And why shouldn't I get behind another candidate who
is just as strong
on core Democratic issues, such as Barack Obama --
overtly rejects this cynical brand of politics?
The whole experience brings to mind that phrase
famously mangled by
our current President: Fool me once, shame on me; fool
me twice, shame
And that's why Senator Clinton doesn't have my vote on
She will almost certainly carry this State, but our
votes can help
ensure that at least a portion of New York's delegates
Democratic convention are awarded to a more deserving
Sam Pratt - Founder - Friends of Hudson