Peter Buckland’s remarks at the “No to Nestlé” forum

Concerns about Nestlé Waters, a large multi-national corporation, creating a plastic water bottling plant in Centre County along Spring Creek are heating up.

From my reading of the Forum, there appeared to be general concerns of corporatocracy and regulatory capture. Corporatocracy is defined as  “a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations.”

Regulatory capture is more complicated.  According to Emory Law, regulatory capture is not illegal acts, corruption or control over governments. Instead,

Regulatory capture is characterized by the regulator’s attitude, not the regulated entity’s actions. A regulator is “captured” when he is in a constant state of “being persuaded”: persuaded based on a persuader’s identity rather than an argument’s merits. Regulatory capture is reflected in a surplus of passivity and reactivity, and a deficit of curiosity and creativity. It is evidenced by a body of commission decisions or non-decisions—about resources, procedures, priorities, and policies, where what the regulated entity wants has more influence than what the public interest requires….

If regulatory capture is a state of being, assisted and sustained by the captive, what roles are played by others? Regulatory capture is enabled by those who ignore it, tolerate it, accept it or encourage it: … feed[ing] a forest where private interest trees grow tall, while the public’s needs stay small.


Issues of lack of governmental transparency, water extraction, costs, and many other concerns have been raised at the “No to Nestlé” forum on March 14, 2018, in letters to the editor, on Facebook, and at the public forum held by Nestle on March 12, 2018.

This speech by Peter Buckland was given at a community “No to Nestlé” forum on March 14, 2018. It presents his concerns about lack of governmental transparency that may have resulted from actions related to what could be considered as regulatory capture by a large multi-national corporation.

Peter is in the Forest

The No to Nestle forum was held on March 14th at CPI. Thank you to the individuals who brought this together, the staff at CPI who helped them set up the meeting, and the organizations who were present: the newly-formed Concerned Citizens of Pleasant Gap, Clearwater Conservancy, Food and Water Watch, Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club Moshannon, and Trout Unlimited. You can watch a video of resident Courtney Morris speaking and read coverage in the CDT. More to come. My remarks (without some ad lib elaborations) are below.


NO TO NESTLE BATHTUB Picture courtesy of Meg Weidenhof

Thanks for being here tonight. My name is Peter Buckland. I’m a lifetime Pennsylvanian. My first home was on Purdue Mountain but I’ve lived most of my years in the Centre Region where I’ve been active on community and environmental issues. I also serve in local government. Whatever I say tonight, I need to…

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Does that sound fair? I think not Nestle.

Written by Peter Buckland on his “Peter Is in the Forest” blog:

Does that sound fair? I think not Nestle.

I just did a back-of-the-envelope calculation about the proposed Nestle bottling plant in Spring Township. On plastic alone it’s not pretty.

Just so that you know, I’m interested in the systemic impacts and the ethical issues. So far, I’ve been looking into Nestle’s business practices (awful), what economic development should be for the region(regenerative), Clearwater Conservancy’s statement on the matter (not positive), and the way that businesses shape us. All this should make us realize that the environmental, economic, governmental, and social impacts of a Nestle plant are beyond bad. And if you examine it systemically, it’s not just Spring Township or the Centre County. It’s bigger than that.

It’s plastic.


If Nestle bottles 432,000 gallons a day from the Spring Township Water Authority into 16 oz bottles that’ll be about 3.5 million plastic bottles a day. In a rosy scenario, 20% will be recycled. But if we consider the balance of all things, it’s really bad. And Nestle, the extractor, has to pay for none of it. But moving on…

Where will they go?

It’ll result in 2.8 million bottles going to landfills, incinerators, into our streams, the Chesapeake Bay, and the ocean every day. Make that an annual number and your brain will melt. In a Dr. Evil moment says this: “We will put just shy of 1.3 billion total bottles and around a billion into pure waste. Mwahahahahahahah!”

Right now, every local township has to deal with a Chesapeake Pollution Reduction Program Why? Because we have to deal with runoff, nutrient loading, and so on.  But you know what…Nestle doesn’t. And none of us have to deal with plastics. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not good enough. Let’s step up.

Nestle doesn’t have to show that their products–plastics and withdrawals–are held to the same standard that farmers, sewer treatment plants, or regular landowners are. They get a free pass while they sell our water on a “free market.” Does that sound fair? I think not.

The loss of community sovereignty, the assured compromise of an exceptional value trout stream, and a handful of jobs. Say no to Nestle.


Nestle doesn’t care about communities. We do.

The Spring Creek Watershed Commission is planning on holding a public forum on Nestle’s bottling plant being considered for location in Spring and Benner Townships here in Centre County, PA. Time and place for this forum have yet to be determined. The Commission can’t take sides on this issue but they can provide a platform for the public to air their concerns/support on both sides of this issue.

I’ll add a comment re time and place of the public forum once that is set up.

Peter is in the Forest

The people of Spring and Benner Townships have a difficult decision to make. Should the Nestle Corporation be allowed to build a bottling plant that would extract over 400,000 of gallons of water from the aquifer each day and sell it in single-use plastic bottles? The importance of this decision can’t be overstated. Given the public relations blitz the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County has put out there on Nestle’s behalf, I think we need to take a look behind the curtain.

According to Forbes, Nestle was worth just shy of $230 billion last year. They are among the world’s largest food and water companies. That monetary worth, though, has come at tremendous costs to communities across the United States.

On the arid Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation in Cabazon, California, Nestle has continued to pump water during a record-setting drought. The tribe has little to no data to…

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PA Supreme Court Overturns Congressional Map

picture of the US Capital

View of the US Capital


This morning, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court overturned Pennsylvania’s Congressional District map as being unconstitutional and ordered that a new plan for the 18 Congressional districts in the state is to be redrawn.  Five of the seven Supreme Court Justices ruled that the maps were unconstitutional.  And four of the seven Justices ordered that the maps be redrawn in the next few weeks.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has until February 9 – 18 days from now to redraw the lines. Governor Tom Wolf has until February 15 to sign off on this plan.  If the legislature fails to meet its deadline and/or Governor Wolf fails to sign off on the plan submitted to him, the PA Supreme Court will create their own map based on information received by the lower, Commonwealth Court.

The state is then expected to publish the new districts by February 19 and, if necessary, readjust the election petitioning process to ensure that the May 15, 2018, primary takes place as scheduled.

This decision is based on Pennsylvania’s Constitution.  In its order, the state Supreme Court used words directly from our state constitution describing why creating districts based on partisan association is unconstitutional.

I located the order from the Supreme Court.  The case is known as League of Women Voters et al. v The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.  Here’s the statement that says the current map is unconstitutional.

First, the Court finds as a matter of law that the Congressional Redistricting Act
of 2011 clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.
Accordingly, its further use in elections for Pennsylvania seats in the United States
House of Representatives, commencing with the upcoming May 15, 2018 primary, is
hereby enjoined.

And using text from the state Constitution, the Court mandates that the new map be redrawn to the following specifications:

Fourth, to comply with this Order, any congressional districting plan shall consist
of: congressional districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly
equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city,
incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure
equality of population.

If the PA Senate GOP appeal to the US Supreme Court to stay this decision is turned down, all 18 districts will be redrawn. This includes the highly gerrymandered PA’s 7th Congressional District (aka “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck”) in the southeast and the 12th Congressional District (aka “The Hammer”) in the southwest.

Here’s what the current Congressional District map looks like with 13 Republicans and 5 Democratic US House Representatives.  There are many possibilities as to what the new, non-partisan districts might look like.  Stephen Wolf has presented one possible non-partisan alternative that could result in as many as 11 or as few as 6 Democratic Congressional seats.  The revised map will almost certainly differ from this initial idea designed by a single, non-elected person. But it does show that it is possible to create a non-partisan district map.


Pennsylvania_Comparison_2018 potential non-partisan districts

Current Gerrymandered and Hypothetical Nonpartisan Pennsylvania Congressional Districts. Attribution: Stephen Wolf

Thank you to the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania for taking the lead in this case.


Religion Is No Excuse For Bigotry. | National Organization for Women

“Allowing a doctor, nurse or other healthcare workers to deny medical care that goes against their so-called moral or religious beliefs would do tremendous harm, not only to individuals suffering from a medical emergency but to the fabric of society itself.

We must not tolerate a two-tier system for health care, one for “good Christians” and one for everyone else. Women have made their personal health care decisions based on their own moral and in some cases religious convictions.”

Source: Religion Is No Excuse For Bigotry. | National Organization for Women

Bellefonte’s Civil Rights Legacy

My town. Bellefonte. I’m proud of its legacy on civil rights. We were a significant part of the Underground Railroad in the 19th Century.

Serge Bielanko posted an article about Martin Luther King and Bellefonte’s history associated with civil rights on our local website.  There are a couple of paragraphs from this article that I’d like to share:

In the early 19th Century, Bellefonte rose up from nothing on the hardworking backs of the iron workers who sweated away in the forges that dotted the landscape. Many of those workers were African-American. And later, before the Civil War- when slavery was becoming a hotly contested issue- Bellefonte was a vital stop along the infamous Underground Railroad. The name Bellefonte was whispered in hushed tones among men, women, and children who were fleeing a life of servitude in search of true freedom.

Think about that for a moment.

Bellefonte once literally meant ‘one step closer to freedom’ to human beings in a way that none of us will ever truly understand or fathom. That’s something for each and every one of us to be proud of in this town. I’m not blowing smoke. It’s a heavy notion, but one which I suspect Dr. King would have tipped his own cap to if given half a chance.

Around the time Civil War broke out, Bellefonte’s very own, Andrew Curtin, became Governor of Pennsylvania. This native son was a fierce champion for equality and a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln’s throughout the war. Governor Curtin was in staunch opposition to slavery and fought fiercely to wipe it off of the American map. He was an important man in United States history, and one that represented a side of Bellefonte that so many current residents still stand strong for.

Among the several stops on the Railroad were the Saint Paul AME Church, the Linn House (which now houses the Bellefonte Art Museum), the Samuel Harris House (home to Candace and Bob Dannaker; she’s a former mayor of Bellefonte), and the William Harris House (aka, “The Wren’s Nest,” home to Ted and Carla Conklin ). Here are some pictures of these stops on the Underground Railroad.

IMG_9809 St. Paul AME Church-001

St. Paul AME Church

IMG_9812 Wren's Nest-001

William Harris House: aka The Wren’s Nest

IMG_9815 Samuel Harris House

Samuel Harris House

IMG_9813 Linn House-001

Linn House

Standing up for equality on Martin Luther King Day and every day, as was done here in the 1800’s, is the legacy we need to perpetuate here and across the country.

I’ll do my part. Will you?


Swearing-In of Public Officials for Centre County and Bellefonte Borough Council

Every two years, Bellefonte Borough elects about half of members of the nine-member council and every four years, we elect our Mayor.  This year, five people were elected to four-year terms on council and one person was elected to a two-year term to fill a position that was vacated by a former council person. In addition, this was the year we elected our Mayor.

Their terms start on Monday, January 1, 2018.  But since January 1st is a national holiday, the county decided to hold the swearing-in ceremonies for the county-wide offices and for Bellefonte Borough on Friday, December 29, 2017.  We hold his joint swearing-in ceremony at the same time because the county seat is located in our borough of Bellefonte.  All of the other municipalities hold their own ceremony.

I was sworn into office two years ago but decided to attend today’s ceremony in honor of my fellow colleagues. I was able to snag a front-row seat and was, therefore, able to record each of their oaths of office.

The program started at 9 am.  As people entered the courtroom, we were each handed this program listing all of the participants and the oath of office.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were six people sworn into county-level offices by the four currently seated judges on the Court of Common Pleas.

Retiring Judge Thomas Kistler administered the oath of office to President Judge Pamela Ruest who retained her position for another ten years. She is the first female to have served as a Centre County Judge and is now the first women to hold the position of President Judge. Once she took her oath of office, President Judge Ruest administered the oath to everyone else.

The county-level officials sworn into office include two Court of Common Pleas judges – one new (Brian Marshall) and President Judge Pamela Ruest as well our new District Justice Casey McClain (D), our new District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D), and one new (Jason Moser (D)) and one re-elected (Hope Miller (R)) Jury Commissioner.

Most of the new public officials brought their immediate family to stand with them when they were sworn in. One person—Bernie Cantona—invited his entire extended family to stand with him.  I don’t know how many people that was, but it looked like at least 1/3 of the people in the courtroom joined him up front when he was sworn in as the new District Attorney:

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna 20171229_091439

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D) and his extended family at the swearing-in ceremony.

Once the County-level officers were sworn in, the judges then swore in Mayor Tom Wilson and five of the six Bellefonte Borough Council Members.  Evan Duffy, the individual elected to the two-year term was not present and will be sworn in at a later date.

Newly sworn-in council members and mayor 20171229_092854

Newly Sworn-in Members of the Bellefonte Borough Administration. Left to Right: Council Member Jon Eaton, Council Member Michael Prendergast, Mayor Tom Wilson, Council Member Randy Brachbill, Council Member Melissa Hombosky, and Council Member Anne Walker.

Meanwhile, here are videos of the Bellefonte members being sworn into office.

Mayor Wilson (R) was sworn into his second term as Mayor.  Prior to being Mayor, he had served as a member of the Council.

The first member of Council to be sworn in was G. Michael Prendergast(D). He will join me in representing Bellefonte’s West Ward.  This is his first term in public office.

Following Mike, Anne Walker (D) was sworn in. She too is a first-time member of the Council and will also be joining me in representing the West Ward.

Melissa Hombosky (D) was next to be sworn in. She represents the North Ward and this will be her first full four-year term; she was appointed to a vacated seat by the previous Council in the spring of 2016 and will now serve a full four-year term.

Randy Brachbill (R), representing the South Ward, was next to be sworn in. He has served several terms on Council and most recently has served as Vice-President of Council. New officers will be elected out our first meeting on January 2, 2018.

Following Randy, Jon Eaton (D) was sworn in. Jon is representing the North Ward with Melissa Hombosky. He is another first-time member of Council.

Evan Duffy (R) will be sworn in on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, for a two-year term. He will be representing the South Ward and will be up for reelection in 2020.

The remaining three members of Council who were not sworn in today will stand for re-election in 2020. They are myself (D) representing the West Ward, Doug Johnson (D) representing the North Ward, and Renee Brown (R) representing the South Ward.

With this new makeup, Bellefonte Borough maintains gender parity with four women and five men serving as council members. With this gender parity, civility now reigns on our council. I agree with Renee Brown; we are now held more accountable to the public. I believe that’s the way it should be. (You can read this article  on gender parity in the Centre County Gazette to see why the women on Council generally feel this way.)

I’m looking forward to working with all of the members of Council—both male and female. Congratulations everyone!

Women’s Law Project Statement: Why We Strongly Oppose Senate Bill 3

A 20-week abortion ban is moving through the PA House of Representatives. This bill, known as SB 3, also criminalizes the D&E form of abortion. It passed the Senate last winter and on December 4, 2017, it passed out of the House Health Committee. It is currently listed on the House Calendar for a vote by the full PA House of Representatives on Monday, December 11, 2017.

If you live in Pennsylvania, take a moment and call your state Representative. Tell her/him that you oppose SB3 and that it is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and health. Then say, “Please vote no this bill, and instead support laws that put women’s health first.”

Here’s a link to an easy-to-use call-in action page. It will link you to your Representative and provide a short message calling for a NO vote on SB 3.  This link is provided to you courtesy of Keystone Progress.

Thanks for your activism.

WLP Blog

PENNSYLVANIA–The Women’s Law Project strongly opposes Senate Bill 3, which passed the state House Health Committee last night by a vote of 16-10, along partisan lines.

“Pennsylvania politicians just advanced an unconstitutional bill that seeks to throw doctors in jail for providing standard medical care for their patients,” says WLP Senior Staff Attorney Susan J. Frietsche. “They are using discredited junk science to justify it, and repeatedly refusing testimony from real doctors, or their constituents. Anyone not seriously alarmed at both the goal and the process here is not paying attention.”

By criminalizing D&E, a common and safe medical procedure, for no medical reason, SB3 mandates substandard care for women. By criminalizing all pregnancy termination after 19 weeks for no medical reason, SB3 would force doctors to refuse standard medical care for patients facing crisis pregnancies, forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies to term, against their will and despite…

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History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

History appears to be repeating itself. We’re heading towards another economic cliff with this Republican tax proposal. As my husband said this morning, we don’t need or want this devastating tax cut that’s being proposed. And neither does anyone else we’ve talked to.

Nel's New Day

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous…

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How To Tell If A White Person Is Racist With One Simple Question

Note To My White Self

If you want to quickly determine if a white person in the United States is comfortably racist, I’d recommend a single question. Ask them, “Should our nation pay reparations to black people for the enslavement, mistreatment and economic exploitation of them and their ancestors over the past four hundred years?” If they immediately reject this proposition, you can be fairly confident you’ve identified a comfortable racist. On the other hand, if they’re willing to give this question serious consideration, you’ve probably identified an ethically responsible and racially conscious white person.  It’s really that simple.

There is simply no compelling argument against the payment of reparations. The studies and research have been done.  The historians, economists and ethicists have spoken.  While there can and should be considerable debate over how reparations should be made, any white person who argues against reparations is either ignorant, immoral, racist or all of the above. …

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