Texas Gov. Perry in Illinois to Poach Businesses While Fertilizer Tragedy Unfolds
The radio ads almost sounded like a joke. "Ecsape" to Texas Gov. Rick Perry exhorted Illinois businesses (exchanging the position of the "s" and the "c" in "escape") in preparation for his recruitment trip to Illinois, even as Texas reeled under one of the biggest industrial accidents in its history. Fourteen died and up to 200 were injured by a fire and explosion at West Chemical and Fertilizer Company in West, TX last week.
"Your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse," said print ads in Crain's Chicago business in eerie foreshadowing of the actual burning and collapsing of West Fertilizer and surrounding buildings. A buy of $42,000 radio ads and $38,000 print ads challenged businesses to leave the state of Illinois which "is designed for you to fail" and relocate in Texas where taxes are low and government won't interfere with your business.
Authorities have not yet released the cause of the explosion at West Chemical and Fertilizer Company in West, TX which annihilated entire swaths of the small town and leveled homes. But the plant is a stellar example of Perry's promise that your business won’t be hassled by government regulation if you move to Texas.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration records show that the last time West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was inspected was 28 years ago. The inspection, in 1985, revealed "serious" violations says the New York Times including improper storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia. For the safety violations, West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was fined…$30. Ouch
The plant did not comply with current state regulations because it is so--built in 1962--that it was grandfathered in, says the Times. Last year, West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was fined by the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for more anhydrous ammonia violations.
In 2006, neighbors complained to authorities about strong ammonia smells but the plant was subsequently granted two air permits, reports the Times.
West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was not rated by the E.P.A. as a major risk because it had no prior accidents. OSHA excluded it from its National Emphasis Plan which covers businesses using hexavalent chromium, combustible dust, lead, hazardous machinery and more, because it did not produce explosives, reports the Times.
Gov. Perry's move-to-Texas ads are not the first time he has put his boot in his mouth. During a live presidential debate last summer, he forgot the name of a government department he nonetheless wanted to abolish. (It was the Department of Energy.)
A speech he gave in New Hampshire during the campaign was so uneven and bizarre, many accused him of being drunk. "The Republican presidential candidate seemed to titter at his own jokes, gesticulate wildly, make odd facial expressions and go off on strange tangents," reported the New York Daily News.
In the introduction to her 2012 book, As Texas Goes…How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, Gail Collins says her fascination with Texas began when she heard Gov. Perry deliver an Alamo-like speech at a 2009 Tea Party rally. "We didn't like oppression then; we don't like oppression now," he roared. The problem was, says Collins, "this was a rally about the stimulus package."
Perry's laissez faire attitude toward Texas businesses is not limited to manufacturers. The governor voted against legislation that would have kept farm workers out of the fields while they were being sprayed with pesticides, writes Collins. The reason he rejected the legislation was because the owners said they could be relied upon to work out their own plans for protecting the workers from chemical sprays without government regulation. Let's move our businesses to Texas. END