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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Twin Cities Daily Planet Revise of Kandiyohi Article

Ten days ago, the TC Daily Planet yanked an investigative article about a proposal for a Phillips wood burning plant promoted by Michael Krause, and relplaced it with this announcement:

CORRECTION: Green Burning or Greenwashing?

An article published on August 27, "Green burning or greenwashing?" contained several errors of fact. We regret the errors, and we have made substantial changes in our editing policy to ensure more careful review of articles written for the Daily Planet. We are in the process of reviewing the article, reverifying sources, interviewing new sources, and rewriting the article, which will appear next week as "CORRECTION: Green burning or greenwashing." The original article has been withdrawn from publication.

Posted: Thu, 08/30/2007 - 23:05

The article was yanked after receiving this comment from City Hall flak catcher, Jeremy Hanson:


submitted by Jeremy Hanson (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 12:11.

I'm disappointed and surprised that such an inaccurate article is featured on the TC Daily Planet. Are there no quality controls here? The line between news and opinion is clearly blurred in this piece and readers are left with misinformation about an important and positive project that will be a good thing for our city.


You can read the original version of Gordon's original version in this Lloydletta post (thanks Eva for posting it). It was replaced yesterday with this revised article.

The credit at the end of the revised article says "Additional reporting by Mary Turck". There is some additional material including a part about Michael Krause claiming support from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Clean Water Action and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy... support which apparently Krause and company don't have:

In an August e-mail to a community member, Michael Krause claimed wide support for the project. "Our project won the unanimous support of the East Phillips neighborhood last month," he wrote, "and also has written letters of support from David Morris at ILSR, Diana McKeown at Clean Water Action, and the Institute for Ag and Trade Policy." The Midtown Eco Energy website says, "The project has support from adjacent neighborhoods as well as leading environmental organizations."

On closer analysis, that support evaporates. The letters cited by Krause date back to 2004, and were written in support of the Green Institute-Phillips Community Energy Cooperative project.

Contacted in August, David Morris said he is not supportive of the project, and has not been in touch with Michael Krause for several years. Morris was on the advisory committee for the project in the beginning stages with the Green Institute, and he says that "a key to the project was that the Phillips Neighborhood would own the project, with equity as part of the DOE grant. Ownership is very important to ILSR. I think that after Michael took the project over to a private developer that that piece no longer exists."

Diana McKeown of Clean Water Action says her group's involvement was also in the early stages. "There were key components we supported," she says. "One that was critical for us was local ownership and trying to give back to the community." She says that Clean Water Action neither supports nor opposes the project today, and that she has asked Krause to stop listing them as supporters.

David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy says that his organization has no position on the project, neither supporting nor opposing it.

...but then Mary Turck adds this:

Kandiyohi is also in the process of negotiating “good neighbor agreements” with six local community groups. The agreements promise to create seven jobs for neighborhood residents, out of a total of 20 permanent jobs.

"Good neighbor agreements"? What the heck is that? And who is negotiating these agreements? Perhaps there is a clue in what has been removed from Dan Gordon's original article:

More questions arise about the project’s legal counsel, the Smith Partners law firm. The firm was criticized by community groups for serving as project manager for the construction of the 35W access project. Although the firm has no transportation planning experience, they represent Abbot Northwestern, Allina, and other corporations that stand to profit from the proposed freeway construction on Lake Street. Kandiyohi plans to sell steam heat energy to these same corporations.

It will be interesting to see if the TC Daily Planet will cover Kandiyohi's other project that threatens to eat up several small businesses on Eat Street.


Mary Turck said...

When Eva e-mailed me about the Greenwashing article on 9/12/07, I responded. I was not aware that the se accusations were made on the blog, or I would have given the same response:
1) The inaccuracies in the original article were primarily in names and dates. For example, a 2002 lobbying trip was described as a 2003 lobbying trip. Brad Pass was misidentified as Alan Pass. There were enough mistakes of this sort, and general criticism of the article's tone and substance, that I pulled the article for review and revision.

2) In reviewing the article, what I considered the substance of the article was verified. The rewrite made the article substantially longer. Some parts that were less central to the article were cut. The paragraph regarding the lawyers was one that I regarded as peripheral to the main points of the article.