The Kansas City Plant Accountability Project
On this page:
- After-election reflection: No regrets!
- Edge of Darkness
- Join July 12-13 protest of new nuclear weapons parts production plant in KC
- Responding to propaganda with TRUTH
- Minister advises, ‘vote yes’ on ballot measure
- Stoever, Potts expect state-level trial June 10; y’all come!
- Peace measure wins almost one-fourth of vote, succeeds in public education
- Open letter to all who worked to stop KC from supporting nuclear weapons production
- The Deafening Sounds of Silence
- Vote YES on Question 3 on 4/2 ballot
- Trying to get pay for sick workers from Bannister complex
- The un-stoppable nuclear genie?
- Spread the word re blocking future support for nuke-parts plant
- Stoever, Potts move nuclear weapons trial to state level
- Peace Colloquy features trip to new nuclear weapons plant site
- The world’s turning toward peace, says Hiroshima’s former mayor
- Carl Kabat protests nuclear weapons, gets ‘time served’
- Finally, we're in! Kansas City votes on April 2, 2013
- Peace petition vs. future nuke contracts takes center stage at City Hall hearing
- Testimony exposes ‘idolatrous faith' in nukes
- Priest trespasses at new nuke-parts complex
- Trifecta Resista civil resisters wend their way to court
- Petition moves toward City Council
- Activists march from current to new nuke-parts plant
- From trespass line to jail cell
- City Council unanimously passes peace initiative
- Resister: 'Not guilty by reason of sanity'
- Trespass vs. nuke-parts production in KC caps war resisters' meeting
- War tax resisters gather in KC, call attention to new nuke-parts plant
- Nuke-parts plant resisters testify in court
- City Council votes 12-1 vs. peace petition
- 53 people go to jail for resisting KC's new nuke-bomb plant
- Seriously, resistance can be a hoot
- PeaceWorks members lobby during DC Days
- The New Nuclear Weapons Plant in Kansas City
- Photo story: KC Peace Planters rally at new nuke-parts site
- "Beans, not bombs!" say KC Peace Planters at new nuke-plant site
- Charges dropped, anti-nuclear activists claim victory
By Lu Mountenay
Posted May 14, 2013
So what! if Question 3 didn’t pass. The huge success lies in that we did pass in getting it on the ballot in the first place. Thank you, Rachel MacNair, and many, many workers.
- We did pass in persuading 23 percent of Kansas City to feel the way we do.
- We did pass in further educating the public about the new plant.
- We did pass in demonstrating what a grassroots group can do to address the Military-Industrial Complex.
“Thank you, Ann (Suellentrop), for all your efforts on the ballot measure. I am sorry it did not succeed, but it was another opportunity to educate the community and raise awareness. I was able to talk with a lot of people about it. In God’s world, no effort is wasted. Thanks.” —Jude A. Huntz, Chancellor, Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
“Thanks to ALL of you for your GOOD work. Not passing is surely not failure—having the discussion (on a subject that has been twisted and spun for years) is the real success. Five years ago, most of KC didn’t even know that the KC Plant made parts for Nukes. Now they do. Thanks to all of you Peace Makers.” —Patti Nelson, who recently resigned after 20 years on the PeaceWorks Board
“Ann … A lot of hard work, I'm sure. The battle continues—it is not easily won. Thanks for all of your work.” —Jeffrey J. Patterson, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility
“Congratulations for fighting the good fight, and on SUCCESS in making nuclear weapons production controversial and in educating lots of KC residents and beyond. I would note, too, that while the Mayor disagreed with you, he did not “diss” you guys or the effort. I send my kudos and best wishes for whatever path toward abolition of nuclear weapons you choose next. We will be with you in solidarity. Peace.” —Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA.
“I wish to congratulate you and thank you for bringing this issue to the public and for the awareness which you have created ... your perseverance in this and other issues is a wonderful example and gift to all. ... Peace.” —Father Jerry Waris of KC, Mo.
“Rachel, I hope you'll find renewed encouragement in these words of Richard Rohr: ‘Remember, hope is not some vague belief that all will work out well, but the certainty that things finally have a victorious meaning ... no matter how they turn out.’” —Jim Hannah
“We can’t play power politics, because we don’t even begin to have the resources necessary. Fortunately, we’re not playing power politics, even though we made use of a technique (election) often used in that arena. We’re a social movement. It’s always been true throughout history: social movements look weaker throughout the period of their greatest activity, because they’re butting heads with the far more powerful. But being more powerful is only temporary. As has been shown over and over again throughout history, those who rely on lies are relying on a shaky foundation, and those who rely on truth do win out in the long run.” —Rachel MacNair, coordinator of ballot campaign
And a direct and poignant quote from our own PeaceWorks Board member Marc Saviano, referring to our opposition’s encouragement to vote yes-yes-no on the three ballot questions, and comparing voter tallies from Jackson County: “Q3 pulled 1100+ away from the Yes-Yes-No zombie vote.”
Indeed, peacemakers, we waged war on war, and won some of the battles. We all should feel good about that! We have learned lessons and passed with a grade of “A” to carry us on to the next step in our work for peace.
—Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board.
By Ron Faust
Posted May 6, 2013
It just keeps getting shoved to the edge
Into a shadow of darkness
Away from the light of peace
Relegated to the corners of the banks
Depositing securities like nuclear weapons
And defense systems and drones
Hovering like blackbirds
Ready to pounce on your back
When you are not looking.
A small remnant of courageous idealists
Found unacceptable the notion
That the public good was removed
From devices that could trigger their death
Since the corporate powers hid
Behind closed and deceptive doors
To shut out the sliver of light
And barricade access to their private plottings.
But the single candle of conscience still flickers
Over the edge of darkness
Which at times seems pitch black
Although still the candle burns deep within
And to look up you see more stars in the sky.
(On occasion of the 4/2/13 KC election about nuclear weapons—a consciousness-raising effort, but outspent.)
Posted April 24, 2013
The new facility for producing non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons is almost built at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road in Kansas City. Shiny new buildings, with the production building as big as 13 football fields. Come expose the horror of America’s commitment to its nuclear arsenal. Join members of PeaceWorks, Kansas City, and other groups in supporting civil resistance at the new plant this summer.
Here’s some info about the July 12-13 gathering in KC.
The weekend builds on the truth-telling activism of Father Carl Kabat, OMI, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Carl, 79, has done civil resistance against nuclear weapons since the early 1980s. He was part of the first Plowshares action (King of Prussia, in Pennsylvania) with Dan and Phil Berrigan. Carl observed the last two July Fourths by “occupying” the site for the new KC plant, staying on the acreage under cover of darkness and turning himself in to authorities in the light of day. This July, Carl’s provincial superior, with the province being the United States, will join Carl in a simpler resistance, a line-crossing near the new plant’s entry. Others are considering doing the protest alongside them.
We encourage people to join us as resisters or supporters!
We will have a preliminary gathering for participants at 3 p.m. Friday, July 12, at a place to be announced. We’ll do nonviolence training, have supper, and have a festival of hope. Lodging will be provided—bring sleeping bags. We promise air conditioning. The next morning, we’ll proceed to the new plant for the resistance. We expect line-crossers to be arrested and detained. Those who wish to post bail will most likely be released that day but will need to return to KC for court later.
All questions can come to Jane Stoever at 913-206-4088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lu Mountenay
Posted April 22, 2013
Note: This response to opponents’ comments may help PeaceWorks members reply to ongoing objections to the peace measure, Question 3, on the April 2 ballot.
Opponents of question 3* sent posters to KC residents with claims about the question. All quoted material, below, is the exact wording found on the opposing literature. My rebuttals to the claims are as follows.
The opponents call Question 3 supporters “Anti-nuclear activists” – we are anti-nuclear weapons activists (they forgot the weapons part).
Yes, we circulated the petition – They failed to mention that over 5,000 KC residents signed each of three separate petitions supporting what became Question 3!
They claim the new plant is “the new National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) facility.” In fact, the facility is for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Their claim to Safety has been disproved by the high rate of cancer and other diseases suffered by their past employees. Some of the litigation is public record.
They say the “facility does not produce anything nuclear.” In truth, the facility produces the means to deliver and detonate nuclear weapons. Google the Department of Energy’s Summary of hazardous substances released to the environment at the [old] Kansas City Plant. The summary listed Uranium, Cadmium, and Chromium in the soil. The opposition left the contamination out of their publicity, and left it behind at the old site!
They say the “proposition is opposed by every recognized business and labor organization in Kansas City.” However, many grassroots and professional groups DO support the proposition, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), American Friends Service Committee, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Vets for Peace, PeaceWorks-KC, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. According to the PSR and the Department of Labor, workers at the old plant—using equipment that is moving to the new plant—were exposed to 785 different toxic substances.
The opposition calls the (old) plant “a partner in this community for over 70 years.” Do partners poison one another, causing cancer and death? This is easy to verify for yourself. Donna Hand, a paralegal advocate from Tampa, FL, has helped Bannister Federal Complex employees seek compensation for illnesses related to working at BFC. Go online to PeaceWorksKC.org to read Hand’s interview. She said, “A lot of the KC Plant employees have pancreatic cancer. The GSA-side employees tend to have respiratory illnesses.” Thank you, partner!
In June 2012, representatives from Honeywell and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources told members of the City Council they are proud of the cleanup already done at the old site, at a cost of $65 million (and growing). But they haven’t even scratched the surface of the contamination … or should I say they haven’t even buried the contamination (and the truth) deep enough.
Why wasn’t a cleanup plan in place BEFORE production began at the old site? This is what we should demand be in place before production inevitably begins at the new site.
The opposition mailing calls ballot Question 3 an “anti-business, anti-jobs proposition.” In fact, and this is important, Question 3 will not affect a single job slated for the new plant or one business expected to deal with the new plant. Question 3 only addresses future financial support by the city for new financial arrangements for producing nuclear weapons parts.
If this same site offered green jobs (wind, solar, thermal power, etc.), there would be more jobs generated in the community, safer jobs, and longer-lasting jobs. The supporters of the initiative, Question 3, want jobs created that are good for the economy of the community, good for the health of the workers and surrounding residents, and good for the Earth. It may seem like a small step, but what else can grassroots groups do but call out the military-industrial complex one issue at a time? We encourage you to investigate for yourself, and find the truth.
— Lu Mountenay of Independence serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
*Explanation of the ballot: Question 3 on the April 2 ballot asked, in part, whether voters should prohibit Kansas City, Mo., “from entering into, facilitating or giving permission for any future contracts whereby the City is directly financially involved in facilities that produce or procure components for, assemble, or refurbish nuclear weapons … and also barring any future funding or subsidizing such facility through taxes, bonds, loans, tax credits, credit or any other financial scheme or mechanism?” The definition of such facility excludes providers of goods and services which were not produced for the purpose of nuclear weapons components production but which may be purchased by such a facility as a consumer.
Posted April 22, 2013
On Feb. 24, the Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in KC, gave the sermon “There Must Have Been a Time,” calling on church members to answer yes to Question 3 on the April 2 ballot. The sermon is online at All Souls' website.
Here are excerpts.
In Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet’s former friends are assigned to accompany him to exile in England. Their diplomatic dispatch contains instructions for Hamlet’s execution; Hamlet alters the document to name his friends instead. As the end approaches, Guildenstern insists, “There must have been a time, somewhere near the beginning, when we could have said no.”
We are nowhere near the beginning of nuclear weaponry. Yet there comes another moment in time, another turning point. Let us not say with helpless apology to our grandchildren, as we endow them with a poisoned planet, bristling with nuclear weapons, “There must have been a time, somewhere along the line, when we could have said no.”
April 2 is a time to say no to anger and fear by voting yes on ballot Question 3, to prevent City Council from leading this community deeper into league with merchants of death.
Posted April 14, 2013
Henry Stoever and Midge Potts, who stepped onto the property of KC’s new nuclear weapons parts plant April 14, 2012, have a June 10 court date and have requested a jury trial. And there’s another new twist, compared with the 2010-2012 court hearings and trials for nuclear weapon resisters. This trial is at the state level, not the municipal level.
“Our continued resistance to the new nuclear weapons parts plant promotes our three-prong effort: public education, seeking a law against KC involvement in making nuclear weapons parts, and advocating peace both at the plant site and in the court system,” says Stoever. He and Potts worked out an agreement at their municipal court trial Oct. 12 whereby they pleaded “technically not guilty,” were found guilty and sentenced to three days in jail, and immediately appealed to the state level.
The June 10 trial will be at the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court in KC, at 12th and Locust, beginning at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 10 on the eighth floor.
by Jane Stoever
Posted April 4, 2013
Kansas City, Mo., voters received a barrage of negative publicity from the “vote no” camp before the April 2 election, but 23 percent of the voters still said yes to stopping future KC financing for producing parts for nuclear weapons. The vote tally was 25,006 against and 7,559 for the measure.
“It’s a win!” said Rachel MacNair, campaign coordinator for “vote yes” proponents, after the polls closed April 2. “We’ve always said our strategy was to educate the public about the nuclear weapons parts plant, and our goal of making the plant and the nuclear weapons upgrade program more controversial has been achieved.” She said it was amazing to gain 23 percent of the vote in the face of the negative publicity from the opposition.
That publicity, focusing on jobs and national security, included three pricey mailers, robo calls from Mayor Sly James, handouts from paid workers at polls, and ads in local papers. For example, a promotional insert from Freedom Inc. in The Pitch in late March said of the ballot measure, “This is a rogue issue that was placed on the ballot by initiative petition, motivated by anti-nuclear extremists who want the United States to dispose of its nuclear weapons while other nations keep theirs.”
When, earlier, the second mailer from the “vote no” camp made the same charge, MacNair countered that peace groups are calling for multilateral, not unilateral, disarmament, and the third mailer carried revised language. However, that third mailing featured North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to turn Washington, D.C., into a sea of fire—a way to call for strengthening the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Despite the fear-based mailers, many voters talked with peace activists outside the polls, and some voters said they’d vote yes because of those contacts. One voter who, on leaving the poll, said she had voted yes, was asked why. In a quiet voice, she replied, “It’s just terrible to make those weapons.”
Before election day, PeaceWorks members informed the community about the peace measure through multiple activities. KKFI community radio interviewed various proponents on four programs and played a public service announcement. KCUR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, played and replayed a segment quoting MacNair and City Councilman Scott Taylor, who opposed the measure. Local TV programs such as “Week in Review” discussed all the election issues. Although The Kansas City Star editors recommended a no vote on the measure, news reporter Lynn Horsley quoted heavily from MacNair in her story originally titled “David vs. Goliath in Measure on Weapons Manufacturing.” PeaceWorks members circulated flyers at churches, offered informational cards to “Disney on Ice” attendees and to community groups, and leafleted on sidewalks. Perhaps the most flamboyant stint was the dropping of three banners above highways 71 and 670. The banners flew a few days.
PeaceWorks committed $4,000 to the campaign as its major contributor. The opposition amassed more than $123,000, with donors including Honeywell, which manages the current and new KC plants for the National Nuclear Security Administration; J.E. Dunn Construction Co., which heads up construction for the new plant; and the Chicago law firm Richmond Breslin, home base to Kevin Breslin, lawyer for CenterPoint, the development company that worked with KC on the plan for public/private ownership of the new plant.
Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks shared election results with national peace leaders on behalf of the KC peace community. The American Friends Service Committee disarmament coordinator, Joseph Gerson, replied, “Thank you for all that you’ve done. Born Jewish in 1946, in many ways my frames of reference are from the Second World War and the Holocaust. It would seem that … the majority of voters in KC seem to care in the short term about their well-being but, in what Hannah Arendt once termed the ‘banality of evil,’ put jobs and comfort ahead of nuclear genocide or omnicide.”
April 3, 2013
I think a huge thanks to all of you is in order for your courage of resistance to fight Goliath! I know we lost the April 2 election in worldly terms, but I also know this is the beginning of an evolution that ends in truth and love. Gandhi said, “The way of truth and love always prevails.”
I know that 20 years ago, when National Catholic Reporter was the only lonely voice speaking out against child sexual abuse, they could never know that their courage would lead to a worldwide outcry for justice for children. And when the gay rights movement was being slammed and slandered, who knew that we would reach today, when 58 percent of all Americans favor gay marriage? In the same way, those who have fought for alternatives to the death penalty are starting to see the turning of the tide. The courageous people working for an end to nuclear weapons will also say, “I have been to the mountain.”
Dr. King said, “nonviolence or non-existence.” As a citizen of planet earth, I choose to believe that we as a human people will see a day of “nonviolence” and not “non-existence.”
Having said this, I beg you to indulge me as I share a transforming experience I had yesterday at the polls at St. Mark’s church, 1101 Euclid, in Kansas City.
I arrived feeling “a stranger” because somewhere I was taught that in Wayne Minor, this is the “hood,” and I am not welcome here. Instead, I found a very hospitable woman working for Freedom, Inc., also working the polls. Although she was working the opposite side of Question 3, we were in agreement on Questions 1 and 2. She immediately found me a chair. Within a short time she began to tell me her life story of growing up in Wayne Minor and living in the “murder factory.” She shared with me atrocious stories of her own abuse, of finding a friend on the streets “who died of the cold,” and of losing countless loved ones, including her husband, to tragic deaths. We bonded. By the time I drove her to her polling place to vote, she shared with me, “You've convinced me, I'm going in to vote yes on Question 3!”
She said she had spent much of her life as a participant in Truman Behavioral Health so she could get medications to counter her suicidal ideology. I told her I had worked 5 years at Wyandotte County Mental Health, and I had started our own organization free of bureaucracy and “billing stipulations.” She shared with me that her daughter was struggling with housing problems, so I gave her the number to Companion Ministries (913-514-2399) and asked her to have her daughter call us.
When the polls closed she said, “You have made my day,” and I said, “You have made my month.” As I drove home I could not help but think about the irony of a country that wastes billions to uphold a paranoid fear, yet abandons the incredible people of Wayne Minor!!!
Anyway, Ann, Jane, Henry, Ron, Rachel, and all the others, thank you for being 20 years ahead of your time. I am so grateful that I could be at least a small part of it ... getting arrested (in 2011 for civil resistance at the new plant for making parts for nuclear weapons), spending time in solidarity with Jim Hannah and the forgotten men locked up in Jackson County Jail, and spending time on Election Day with this woman. Even to drive Wayne Knox and Helen Caldicott to the airport was an incredible honor! People tell me I am not Catholic, and maybe they are right. But I do know that I try to follow three important people: St. Francis, Pope Francis, and another unbelievable Catholic, Dorothy Day.
We will get to mountain top. Thanks again for your courage and prophecy. I am with you.
Charles Carney Kansas City, Kansas
By Jim Hannah
Posted April 14, 2013
Sometimes it’s not what you hear that most informs you, but what you don’t hear.
Listening to the applause of Congress during President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address was a case in point. More than a hundred times the senators, representatives, and others in attendance applauded in support of the wide variety of domestic and foreign affairs enunciated by the president.
The first was as the president declared, “tonight we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us.” It was as though he had said, “All rise” in the courtroom of public opinion, and seemingly all did.
The other occasion was when the president said, “we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.” For this, and his assertion, "We will maintain the best military the world has ever known," there was fervent and seemingly universal acclamation.
Oh, and yes, whenever the president highlighted American exceptionalism (U.S. as “the wealthiest nation on earth,” “the greatest nation on earth,” “a beacon to all who seek freedom”), our representatives were right there beside their chief executive and commander-in-chief, beating the centuries-old drum of Manifest Destiny.
That tells us a lot about the legislative and executive branches of our government, whose primary concern seems to be keeping the United States “#1” in military and economic power, through strong military alliances, whatever the cost. That’s a pretty clear message about our current state of the union.
What’s not as clear, unless you carefully listen to “the sounds of silence” on both sides of the aisle, is what our “representatives” universally seem NOT to support.
One initiative announced by the president, an initiative with global import far beyond nearly all others delivered in his 77-minute speech, received absolutely NO applause from EITHER party.
It was the one line I was most listening for, because just days before the address it was announced in the media that President Obama might be calling for sharp reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal--perhaps even reducing the number of deployed U.S. nukes to 1,000 or less, ahead of schedule for the New Start Treaty provisions reducing the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 by 2018. Sadly, that announcement never came.
But there was a one-liner on the topic when President Obama pledged, “we’ll engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands, because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.”
Granted, that was far short of what one might have hoped from a president who four years ago pledged “clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”--a pledge that contributed to the president’s reception of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
But still, NO one was moved to even faint applause by the president’s initiatives for nuclear weapons reduction? Not even a single Democrat? NO applause that the U.S. will take the initiative toward Russia to further reduce each of their nuclear arsenals? NO applause that the U.S. will continue to lead the global effort to secure nuclear materials? NO applause that the U.S. will finally lead the way toward honoring our part in the world’s 45-year-old treaty for nuclear disarmament?
I was amazed by the deafening silence in the chamber, so in my parent’s living room I created my own applause line. Because I’m of the opinion that the primary legacy of the Obama presidency may not be saving the U.S. middle class, but saving the world from nuclear extinction. Paradoxically, that was the very goal (and near legacy) of President Ronald Reagan, hero of the Republican Right that today is not only silent about Reagan’s urgent efforts toward a nuclear weapons-free world, but instead argues that that nuclear weapons reductions would embolden our enemies and weaken our national security.
“Silence like a cancer grows,” as Paul Simon used to sing. So let’s pay attention to “the sounds of silence” from our legislators. We, the people, must applaud the efforts of peacemakers so loudly that they cannot be ignored, even by “representatives” so often compliant with the burgeoning military-political-corporate-media complex.
--Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks, Kansas City, Board member and its secretary.
Election day, April 2, is right around the corner, and it's crucial to ask KC voters to say YES on Question 3. Why? To prevent KC from offering future incentives for making parts for nuclear weapons. See Question 3, below.
The $80,000-strong opposition to our measure is spreading much misinformation. They say our measure kills jobs. Wrong. The jobs will continue as long as the federal government pays the salaries. The point of Question 3 is to prevent KC from future contracts supporting the jobs. The city financed the building of the new, $687 million facility at Mo. Hwy. 150, but the city is not paying the salaries. The misinformation blitzing the city is the reason we need to tell friends to vote YES on 3.
To work at the polls, contact George Baldwin, email@example.com, 913-839-6996. To "leaflet" between now and April 2, contact Rachel MacNair, Rachel_MacNair@yahoo.com, 816-753-2057.
Remember, Helen Caldicott, who revived Physicians for Social Responsibility in this country, has written to us, "All power to you brave and noble people!"
Donna Hand, a paralegal advocate from Tampa, Fla., since 2010 has helped Bannister Federal Complex employees seek compensation for illnesses related to working at BFC. The payment is hard to come by. BFC houses federal agencies including the Kansas City Plant, where non-nuclear parts have been made for nuclear weapons for 63 years. In this Q&A, Hand comments on her KC advocacy.
Q. How many KC-area employees have you helped try to gain compensation for their illnesses?
A. I’m working on about 27 cases from the KC Plant side of Bannister Federal Complex, and I’m getting ready to file about 5 cases from the General Services Administration (GSA) side of the complex. On the KC Plant side, three whom I’ve helped as an advocate have been accepted for compensation, and two whom I’ve helped as an authorized representative were accepted. My colleague Tamara Severns has two other clients; she has obtained a recommended decision of approval for medical benefits for one client concerning renal failure.
Q. What other illnesses do the clients report?
A. A lot of the KC Plant employees have pancreatic cancer. The GSA-side employees tend to have respiratory illnesses.
Q. What’s caused these illnesses?
A. Some workers have been exposed to beryllium, uranium, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) particles, cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, tritium. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found uranium on the GSA side in a stairwell area, as reported in November 2010.
Q. How did contaminants move from the KC Plant side to the GSA side?
A. Several agencies, including the KC Plant and the GSA, shared one building; they had the same air system, the same heating/cooling system. Most toxins were airborne. Workers were exposed through air vents and worker cross-contamination.
Q. Do you expect beryllium, uranium, and tritium to be used at the new KC Plant facility at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road?
A. Yes. They are the main ingredients for some nuclear weapon parts. Beryllium is often used in compounds, such as beryllium copper; golf clubs use beryllium; dentistry stopped using it because of health issues. Berylliosis starts with a dry cough and sinus problems, causes nodules and fibers to grow in the lungs, and causes breathing problems; the end stage is cancer. Uranium decays down to radium 226, to radon, and eventually to lead; uranium causes kidney disease. And tritium’s target is the whole body; it causes cancer.
Q. How can people contact you if they need help obtaining compensation?
A. I’m at 608-921-9940 and CTDHKK@aol.com, and Tamara Severns is at 816-753-7642 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
—by Jane Stoever, PeaceWorks Board member
by Jim Hannah
Common sense, it seems, isn’t.
I concluded this recently after quibbling with some colleagues over what seemed to me a perfectly straightforward and evident statement:
Production of nuclear weapons creates devastatingly toxic waste, potentially poisoning air, water, land, and living creatures for generations to come even if the weapons are never launched.
For me, that’s just common sense. Making nuclear weapons produces toxic radioactive waste. Safely containing that waste for thousands of years is a daunting challenge (which the manufacturers clearly have not yet mastered). And making yet more weapons compiles that challenge for millennia to come, even if the weapons are never launched.
To my surprise, objections to the statement ranged from minimizing the threat to near-denial. The quantity of radioactive waste from nuclear weapons is relatively small, I was told, and besides, these days not much new waste is being produced. Not to worry.
But, unlike Dr. Strangelove, I do worry.
I worry when the Department of Energy’s 5-year plan ending in 2011 acknowledges, “Fifty years of nuclear weapons production and energy research generated millions of gallons of radioactive waste, thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear material, along with huge quantities of contaminated soil and water.” The DOE’s goal is to complete cleanup at 108 sites by 2025.
Wow. That’s a lot of very deadly stuff, still with us for a long time. Which for me raises a couple common-sense questions. Do we really want to produce more and ever more radioactive poisons? And is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren, and their children?
At about this point in the discussion comes the inevitable “common sense” objection: you can’t put the nuclear genie back in the bottle.
To some extent that’s true. All of us living today have already been irradiated by thousands of nuclear weapons tests from decades past, and current radioactive contamination from the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear reactor disaster has journeyed to our home shores. Truth be told, all humanity is a test case in the long-term effects of radioactive fallout.
So, yes, in a sense what has been done cannot be undone. The atomic age is not likely to be dis-invented, and some of its benefits we would be loathe to lose. But that is not to say that we must resign ourselves to an endlessly nuclear-armed world, and the growing likelihood of nuclear cataclysm.
“Nothing can doom man,” said philosopher and theologian Martin Buber, “but the belief in doom.” That quote comes from one of the most cogent and en-couraging books I’ve read for some time: Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World. Author Tad Daley turns the “common sense” arguments for nuclear weapons on their head, noting that in human history almost nothing is preordained and, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Not one of us has enough knowledge to be a pessimist.”
History is replete with events that defy common sense. I’ve witnessed in my lifetime the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the demise of the Soviet Union, men walking on the moon, the civil rights movement—truly logic-defying events.
So what is common sense, and what is nonsensical? It seems to me that in the shadow-and-mirrors world of nuclear weaponry, we need to examine carefully the myths that inform us and that shape our national policies. Is the specter of nuclear holocaust really un-stoppable? Our world has already achieved international conventions banning chemical and biological weapons; we can similarly ban nuclear weapons.
Imagine someday reading the joyous headline, Apocalypse Never! Each one of us can help make that headline a reality, working toward the 2020 deadline proposed by Mayors for Peace for a nuclear weapons-free world.
“The best lack all conviction,” said William Butler Yates, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” ... If the nuclear danger causes us to succumb to hopelessness, fear, and hate--the worst within us—then we will succumb to our desires to safeguard ourselves only with escalation and force. But if we can aspire instead to genuine security for both ourselves and our adversaries, to hope for a better day tomorrow, perhaps even to love our enemies—the best within us—then we can overcome our fears, and devote ourselves to nuclear weapons abolition, enduring world peace, and a just and sustainable future for the community of humankind. (Apocalypse Never, p. 206)
Myths abound. But unlike that ancient Persian myth about un-stoppable genies, tomorrow’s truth could be a world fee of nuclear weapons. This would prove again Mark Twain’s wise maxim:
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.
—Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks Board member and columnist.
by Jane Stoever
Fourteen private investors purchased Kansas City municipal bonds to fund the new plant at Mo. Hwy. 150 for making parts for nuclear weapons. To let citizens have a say on such financial dealings in the future, PeaceWorks members got a measure approved for placement on the April 2 ballot. We blitzed polling places Nov. 6 with yard signs and flyers asking voters, “Vote yes!” on April 2 to prevent future KC financial involvement in the plant. The yard signs are now ready to use in yards, windows, and indoors, says ballot campaign coordinator Rachel MacNair.
Call her at 816-753-2057 to request a sign. Also ask her to line up speakers for civic or social groups, to spread the word about the campaign.
The ballot measure for April 2 has teeth: “The City of Kansas City, Missouri shall not enter into, facilitate, nor give permission for any future contracts whereby it will be directly financially involved in any facilities that produce or procure components for, assemble, or refurbish nuclear weapons. … The City is also barred in the future from funding or subsidizing such a facility through taxes, bonds, loans, tax credits, credit, or any other financial scheme or mechanism.”
by Lu Mountenay & Jane Stoever
Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks-KC Board, and Midgelle "Midge" Potts of Springfield, Mo., a longtime nuclear weapons resister, may have a jury trial for the charge of trespass on April 14 at the new nuclear weapons parts plant in KC. On Oct. 12, they worked out an agreement with Municipal Court Judge Elena Franco and pleaded "technically not guilty."
Witnessed by a court full of supporters, they were found guilty and sentenced to three days in jail. They immediately appealed to the state level—to the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court in KC.
This will mark the first opportunity the peace community may have to bring its case against the plant to the state level—possibly to a jury. "This is another forum in which we are expanding our opposition to nuclear weapons," said Stoever.
Referring to his letter sent April 11 to KC's chief prosecutor and the chief of police, Stoever restated his case to Franco. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed into law and ratified by the Senate in 1970, and which 189 nations have signed, has a goal to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eliminate them, said Stoever. There's a body of law against the use of nuclear weapons, he said, and we have First Amendment rights to protest. Stoever said he felt it was important to risk arrest because of the difference between what we have signed and what we are doing.
Stoever spoke out about health hazards and deaths of workers from contaminants at the Bannister Federal Complex, where the current nuclear weapons parts plant is located.
"I don't want to be an executioner,
nor a victim."
Picking up on a post-World War II phrase of Albert Camus, Stoever said, "I don't want to be an executioner, nor a victim."
Part of Stoever's duties as an officer of the court for 31 years has been to provide legal services. As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he did two years of alternative service and has consistently been involved in peace efforts.
Potts, in her statement, began, "I have a 12-year-old daughter. Since her birth, I've seen an increase in the military-industrial complex, and it worries me that she may not see anything but global imperialism the rest of her life."
Members of Congress
vote for weapons development
"solely to keep jobs in their districts."
Potts said she feels members of Congress vote for weapons development "solely to keep jobs in their districts, after being told by generals that they didn't need that equipment. In all 435 U.S. districts, there are military-industrial complex jobs."
Potts, who served in the Navy in the Persian Gulf, said, "I became aware of the extent of the U.S. military's global empire—we have nuclear weapons on Trident submarines sitting on the floor of the Indian Ocean. Our president and secretary of state are talking about other countries' desire to obtain nuclear weapons, when (at the same time) we are getting new money to build and refurbish nuclear weapons. ... My daughter is in jeopardy of living the rest of her life in this world endangered by nuclear weapons."
Franco commented, "While this is a troubling issue, this is also one of the few places where you can protest. I didn't have that right when the Castro government removed my family from Cuba."
While these trial highlights tell the story, we celebrate that Stoever and Potts were able to state their case in court.
—Lu Mountenay and Jane Stoever are members of the PeaceWorks Board.
Sowing seeds of peace
By Lu Mountenay
About 25 people took a field trip Oct. 26 to pray at KC’s new plant for making parts for nuclear weapons. The people were attending the annual Peace Colloquy in Independence, Mo., held by the Community of Christ. This year, the theme was Engaging Nuclear Questions, and the bus wound its way from the church’s peace temple to the current nuclear weapons parts plant at Bannister Federal Complex and then to the new plant site. Jim Hannah, a PeaceWorks Board member, and his wife, Sharon, organized the bus trip to allow participants to demonstrate against nuclear weapons and for peace.
On the bus, Jane and Henry Stoever gave us a brief history of the Bannister complex and the radioactive and chemical contamination of the surrounding land and water. They detailed what grassroots groups are doing, and what we can do, to encourage transformation of weapons-making jobs into hoped-for green jobs.
At the new plant site, we held gentle signs promoting peace supplied by our companion rider, Sue Sloan, who represents PeacePathways in the Community of Christ. We sang songs of peace and justice from the church’s 2013 hymnal with Dale Jones and Lauren Hall. Jim Hannah talked with us about his weekly protests at the site and his question about building more weapons, “Is it good for the Grand-kids?” I shared a poem adapted from Chief Seattle:
I affirmed, “Chief Seattle spoke this truth in his age—and it is still truth today. In the nuclear age, what we do to our enemies, we do to ourselves … to our sons, to our daughters. I’m sure you’ve heard it asked, ‘Where are these weapons of mass destruction?’ Well, we know where they are … this is one of the sites where they are born. We stand on guilty ground. This ground, this earth did not choose to birth these weapons. It would rather grow sunflowers.”
Why sunflowers? The people of Ukraine decided to become a nuclear weapons-free state and sent their arsenal of nuclear weapons to Russia to be dismantled. To honor the occasion, defense ministers from Ukraine, Russia, and the United States planted sunflower seeds at the former missile base, symbolizing new life and hope for the contaminated earth. Today sunflowers are the worldwide symbol of a nuclear weapons-free world. They also have been planted at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daichi as a soil cleanup agent, after nuclear accidents.
I invited our group, “Kneel and touch and bless this earth, this grass, these wildflowers and tiny creatures hiding here—one last time before it is contaminated. Creator Spirit, bless this earth, with our apologies for what will happen here. We know it is not your will. Amen.”
We did all we could to stop this step in the advancement of nuclear proliferation, and we will continue our vigil. But greed has won … for now. The temple of doom is erected. It promises threats and bullying politics, at best … suffering and death, at worst.
We scattered sunflower seeds, making one small attempt toward healing. We planted sunflowers and prayers to heal the shuddering earth.
—Lu Mountenay, a PeaceWorks Board member, edits The Daily Bread for the Community of Christ.
by Jane Stoever
Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, a former mayor of Hiroshima, came to Independence, Mo., to join in the Community of Christ’s Peace Colloquy Oct. 26-28. The church honored him with its annual International Peace Award, including $20,000 that will foster peace through programs of Hiroshima University, where Akiba is a professor.
A longtime nuclear disarmament advocate, Akiba began his lecture Oct. 26 with a flashback to his high school days. He was an exchange student in a suburb of Chicago. He said that in a history class, “I was shocked to hear of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as necessary and justified.” All the students thought that, he said, and their teacher agreed. He felt his class needed to hear his views—the bombings “were inhumane because of the sufferings the people went through.” So, in broken English in the mid-1960s, he told his class about the consequences of the bombings, the evil of the bombs. No one was convinced.
Akiba said he came to feel that sharing his views was his homework. As a young man, he began a travel grant program for the Hibakusha, survivors of the 1945 nuclear attacks, allowing them to go to many countries to tell their personal stories about the bombings. Akiba eventually became a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, mayor of Hiroshima, and president of Mayors for Peace.
Akiba tacked this footnote onto his flashback: “In 2006, I gave a lecture at DePaul University (in Chicago), and many of my former classmates came to listen. I believe these friendships are the essence of peace.”
He listed three “footsteps of the Hibakusha”:
• They were able to transcend the agony—they hovered between life and death, and they had the courage to choose life.
• They prevented World War III—they showed the world that to use nuclear weapons is to doom the human race.
• They rejected the path of revenge and animosity.
“Not many people are capable of this level of sacrifice and self-control,” Akiba said of the Hibakusha. Referring to those who died from the bombings, he added, “Hundreds of thousands of souls who perished are conveying their wishes through the survivors: Never again!”
Akiba suggested this litmus test for peacefulness today: “How tolerant are our cities of gays and lesbians?”
Citing progress toward cooperation instead of alienation, Akiba reminded his listeners that in 1986, Reagan and Gorbachev almost agreed to eliminate nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Soviet Union. The passing of time is bringing the escalation of reason, Akiba said. “People regard violence as a problem to be solved rather than a contest to be won.”
In 2015, when the United Nations convenes the next five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Akiba said the centerpiece would be a nuclear weapons convention, a framework for dismantling all nuclear weapons.
Mayors for Peace, with the goal of making the world nuclear-weapon-free by 2020, includes 5,443 mayors representing about 1 billion people. “We still have enough time” to reach zero nuclear weapons by 2020, said Akiba, through multilateral agreements and monitoring.
“2020—what I call perfect vision,” Akiba said. Proclaiming a global turning toward peace, Akiba reasoned, “Since the Buddha nature resides within us, it might be called human nature, or the grace of God.”
—Jane Stoever is a PeaceWorks Board member.
by Jane Stoever
Father Carl Kabat, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), of St. Louis, in a Municipal Court trial Oct. 12 in Kansas City, Mo., got “time served” on two charges—trespassing this July 4 at the site for the new KC Plant, and breaking probation from his July 4, 2011, trespass. The city earlier dropped a property charge against Kabat, now 79, who had used a bolt-cutter to open the chain-link fence and enter the site late July 3. The time served came this July 4-5.
Judge Elena Franco and Kabat agreed she would accept his plea of “technically not guilty,” she would find him guilty and sentence him, and he would forgo appeal. This process let him speak his mind to the court, with about 30 supporters there.
Recalling that German judges (in 1987) blocked the entry to the U.S. Air Force Base in Mutlangen, West Germany, because nuclear weapons were deployed there on Pershing II missiles, Kabat told Franco, “I invite you to go out to the new plant” and block the entry. Franco listened.
Kabat gave examples in which juries refused to find law-breakers guilty. Dred and Harriet Scott were found by a jury to be people, but judges found them to be things—slaves—said Kabat. And during Prohibition, “juries found people not guilty even though their hand was found in the cookie jar,” he added. With 65 percent or 75 percent of the people saying we should get rid of nuclear weapons, Kabat asked, "Why don’t we do that?"
Mentioning Henry David Thoreau’s outcry against the silence of collusion, Kabat said of the KC Plant, “Those bombs we will make and are making, we’re responsible for.” He observed, “It’s not enough to hold an opinion. We must act!” Urging that we all go out to the plant, he said, “It’s ours! We should be able to walk in the front gate and walk around the 170-180 acres.”
It makes a person wonder when and if he’ll go walking there again.
by Rachel MacNair
On August 30, 2012, the Kansas City Missouri City Council voted to place the citizen's initiative on the ballot for April 2, 2013: "Prevention of the City's Future Financial Involvement in Nuclear Weapons Components Facilities."
They did first add an amendment to clarify that they were voting for it because they legally had to according to the Charter, even though they disapproved of it. Since this was adding a detail which was true, and which may have made them more likely to place it on the ballot, this did not strike us as a problem. This amendment will not be on the ballot, but only the ordinance wording.
The reason for the April 2 date instead of November 6 is that the deadline for November passed on August 28.
With that amendment, the vote was 10 for and 3 against; the three opposed were the two that represent the district in which the new plant is located (John Sharp and Scott Taylor), plus one attorney who made an assessment independent of the city attorney (Jim Glover). City Attorney William Geary had offered an opinion – in a letter before we gathered signatures and in a detailed memorandum afterwards when our opponents challenged his view – that the ordinance would be lawful if passed. He said there was no justification for keeping it off the ballot, so the councilmembers did understand they were legally required to do so.
While we were at first upset about the five-month delay in the election due to their decision being deliberately delayed two days past the deadline, this has several advantages:
- More time to use this as a vehicle for public education
- In an issues-oriented small-turnout election, our own motivated sympathizers are a larger portion
- In issues-only elections like this, a larger portion of people are ones who do their homework and consider both sides of an issue, as compared to presidential voters who may not have seen the issue before and vote in ignorance because they're already doing the ballot for other reasons
- People who are likely to vote because they always do have been directly leafleted several times at the polls, five times starting in February 2011, and will be again in November.
- We'll be competing with fewer other issues and with fewer other elections across the country for national publicity.
- More time to prepare – we can get some awesome videos up on the web, for example.
Because of previous wrangling, this was the third petition on the unique financing and ownership situation of that Kansas City has toward a nuclear weapons production plant. A petition for the City to make contingency conversion plans if the federal government were to abandon the facility passed unanimously, but challenges to the financial involvement were more troublesome. Therefore, this is the culmination of work that began in January, 2011.
In conversation with councilmember Scott Wagner before the session today about our hope that the matter would be straightened out at the session, Rachel MacNair mentioned that while we had always listed three goals for this campaign -- to raise public awareness, do public education, and make absolutely sure that the plant was controversial -- we had added a fourth one: to show that we were persistent. He said we had certainly succeeded at that.
For updates and details on the issue, visit foolish-investment.com.
by Jane Stoever
Kansas City peacemakers' fourth petition in two years got a rambunctious City Hall hearing Aug. 15 before the Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee. The committee decided to consult about legal issues and bring the measure back for a vote Aug. 22, with a follow-up vote by the full City Council likely on Aug. 23. At issue: Whether the measure could go on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The ordinance was developed by KC Peace Planters, a coalition created by some PeaceWorks Board members.
The opposition spoke loud and long Aug. 15. Peacemakers, including PeaceWorks members, testified with passion.
"The city attorney has no legal issues with the ballot language," Councilman Ed Ford told the committee, which he chairs. "We have a ministerial duty to put the measure on the ballot."
Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., petition coordinator, said the city attorney, Bill Geary, had given "the expected legal caveats" in his April 14 letter to her, and then had written, "It is … my opinion the legislation proposed would be lawful if enacted." MacNair asked the committee to vote yes on putting the petition on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"Our cultural creed as a nation is an idolatrous faith in nuclear weapons," said Christian Brother Louis Rodemann (see his full testimony).
PeaceWorks Board Chair Henry Stoever said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by the Senate in 1970, binds the United States to the reduction and elimination of all nuclear weapons. "It is part of the law of the land," Stoever insisted. "What type of legacy do we leave the future? Is it one of manufacturing parts for weapons of mass destruction, or one of converting those jobs into ecologically friendly, green, alternative-energy jobs?"
Ron Faust of Gladstone, Mo., addressed the jobs issue: "We need to step back and get a larger picture. What does economic development mean? What are our jobs producing? This petition has to do with the survivability of our planet."
KC Peace Planters gave a PowerPoint presentation with excerpts from "Maximizing Job Creation: An Analysis of Alternatives for the Transformation of the Kansas City Plant." This economists' report suggests nuclear weapons facilities could convert, for example, to wind energy or solar energy enterprises.
Early in the hearing, the committee discussed environmentally sustainable projects. Supporting the peace petition, Joshua Armfield of KC, Mo., said, "I was encouraged to hear about steps Kansas City is taking toward sustainability and care for the world, and I see a disconnect. I don't see how we can build nuclear weapons and be ‘a sustainable city.'"
David Quinly of KC, Mo., referred to the new plant for making nuclear weapons parts at Botts Road and Mo. Hwy. 150. "Maybe, just maybe, if we play this dead man's hand just right, we can add to our (Hwy.) 150 corridor development anchored by the shiny new nuclear death campus now under construction," said Quinly. He asked how we could with any sense of justice continue to follow our leaders into the abyss described by Martin Luther King as "the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."
Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, a doctoral student at the University of California-Berkeley, said young people would continue to demand alternative energy sources and jobs in those fields, whereas only the government is demanding nuclear weapons. Berkeley has declared itself a nuclear weapons-free zone, he said, adding, "We don't think nuclear weapons should be part of our arsenal. A city as robust as Kansas City surely could do what Berkeley has done."
Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, M.D., Emiliano's mother, spoke on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility. She held her baby grandson, Nicolas, and made a plea for consistency, for children's sake. "On one hand, you say you go to war because someone else has nuclear weapons. Then you turn around" and start a new plant in KC to make parts for nukes. "We have the opportunity to be like the student in Tiananmen Square wanting to stop the tanks, or Rosa Parks on the bus," she said, asking the committee to vote for the petition to go on the ballot.
"This measure could cost Kansas City hundreds of jobs," said City Councilman John Sharp. "It is bad public policy. It should be defeated by the voters in November."
Attorney E.E. Keenan of KC, Mo., speaking for the Greater KC AFL-CIO, said the proposed ordinance "has an extraordinary clogging effect on interstate commerce: it outright bans any municipal cooperation with the nuclear defense industry. … If every jurisdiction adopted the ordinance proposed here, there would be no nuclear production. This measure directly targets national defense. It attacks and undermines it." When New York City faced a referendum banning governmental cooperation in nuclear facilities, the state's highest court prohibited its placement on the ballot, said Keenan. He also said Oakland, Calif., passed a ballot measure creating a nuclear-free zone, only to have a federal court strike it down.
Tom Whittaker, executive vice president and chief legal officer of J.E. Dunn Construction Co., the general contractor for the new NNSA plant, said construction was almost complete, and an average of 1,000 employees per day have been helping to build the facility.
"I suggest the legislation is fatally flawed," said Attorney Kevin Breslin of Centerpoint, which coordinated the development plan for the new NNSA plant. Breslin argued that the "financial involvement" banned in the petition could keep the city from receiving earnings tax from NNSA employees. He said, "They keep trying to throw a blanket or net over the Botts Road facility—this is a back-door way of discouraging people from doing business with that facility."
Pete Fullerton, president and CEO of the city's Economic Development Corporation, said the EDC executive committee on Aug. 10 had reaffirmed EDC's support for the NNSA facility. The reaffirmation statement noted the $705 million building project and the total $1.25 billion direct project investment.
Elise Martini of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction and Trades Council, representing 16 unions, objected, "We will lose jobs with this ordinance."
Danielle Bender of the AFL-CIO said the petition could cause confusion. She told the committee, "IBM, GE, Boeing, Honeywell, they make anything from light bulbs to predators. I urge you on behalf of Kansas City labor to oppose this" petition.
The day after the hearing, MacNair sent the committee a list of Keenan's and Breslin's objections to the petition, with her preliminary response to each of their points. She said the ordinance would not undo contracts already made, and "no one is entitled to future contracts." Her bottom line: City voters have a right to instruct the council on its votes.
KC Peace Planters are consulting with constitutional law experts about the measure.
Brother Louis Rodemann presented the following testimony Aug. 15 at a City Hall hearing on the petition against KC's future financial involvement in making parts for nuclear weapons.
Our cultural creed as a nation is an idolatrous faith in nuclear weapons. We propose to be fighting terrorism by our own terrorist, aggressive postures and behaviors.
We profess to be preserving and promoting democracy by shrouding ourselves and our global neighbors in a perpetual slavery to a cloud of pervasive fear and mistrust.
We squander trillions of dollars on national defense while the reality of dehumanizing poverty oppresses millions of our own citizens, and hundreds of millions around the world.
At the end of the day, or when we take a deep breath to disengage from the frenzy of our lives, don't we really see this all as insane, unjust, immoral?
—Christian Brother Louis Rodemann taught 20 years at De LaSalle High School in KC and for about 30 years has been a staff member or community member of Holy Family Catholic Worker House in KC, which he calls "a beacon of hope" for the poor and near-poor. Before giving his testimony, he said his reflection "may seem tangent to today's issue, but I believe it is at the heart of the matter."
‘Interdependence Day' action
by Jane Stoever
Carl Kabat, 78, a priest from St. Louis who belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, continued his life's witness against nuclear weapons on "Interdependence Day," July 4. Under cover of darkness, way before dawn, he entered the well-fenced 170-acre complex in southern Kansas City, Mo., a new facility for making parts for nuclear weapons. Kabat slept several hours and, with daylight, took a long walk across the property, eventually drawing close to the front entry. "A guard saw me and drove toward me in a golf cart, asking, ‘Want a ride?' So I went with him" to the entry, Kabat later said. He was under arrest for about 32 hours.
On July 5, Kabat pleaded not guilty to charges of trespass and property destruction. His arraignment is set for Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in KC Municipal Court at 1101 Locust. He expects to request a later trial where he can explain his action to the judge.
According to a friend of Kabat, he said he wanted to open up the fencing to "allow all of the Holy One's deer and other animals that once used the former bean field for its habitat. … In place of defense, I would like to de-fence." On July 5, after his release, he said the fencing was 10 feet high and sturdy, not permitting much de-fencing.
In a formal statement developed before the action, Kabat mourned the deaths caused by the Nazis in World War II and by the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "One of our Minuteman III's could kill approximately three million of our sisters and brothers," said Kabat. "We have perfected the ‘art' of killing and burning. … Four Minuteman III's could kill twelve million of our sisters and brothers. … The opinion of the International Court in 1995 states that nuclear weapons are a Crime Against Humanity!"
Kabat's first anti-nuke, pro-peace action in Missouri was to occupy a nuclear missile silo 45 miles east of KC, close to Hwy. 70. He and three other activists used a jackhammer to damage the concrete cover over the missile—a plowshares action, in line with Isaiah's mandate to beat swords into plowshares. For that action, he served 12 years in federal prison. Reflecting on the missile site event, Kabat said July 5, "We shut down that missile silo for a month."
Four persons, with about 30 supporters cheering them on, did civil resistance against KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant during the April 13-15 Trifecta Resista, cosponsored by PeaceWorks. On May 15, two of the resisters were sentenced. Two who requested a trial received the trial date of Aug. 17.
Lu Mountenay of Independence, Mo., a member of the PeaceWorks Board, and Mark Kenney of Omaha received comparably light sentences May 15 from Judge Elena Franco—20 hours of community service (not 25 as in the past from Franco) and 6 months' probation (not the two years she gave in the past). Welcome sentences!
Midge Potts of Springfield, Mo., and Henry Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., chair of the PeaceWorks Board, will be able to speak up, speak out, at their trial with Judge Franco Aug. 17, at the KC Municipal Court, 1101 Locust, KC, MO 64106. Come & support our resisters!
Prevent future $ deals for making nuke parts
On four straight peace petitions, PeaceWorks members and others have pounded the sidewalks and obtained 5,000 or more signatures from Kansas City, Mo., voters. On June 4, Rachel MacNair, petition coordinator, submitted to the city clerk's office the petition against future financial involvement with nuclear weapons parts facilities. The petition had about 5,200 signatures.
The city currently requires 3,572 valid signatures to bring a petition to City Council. Validation of signatures may take 10 days. MacNair said she expected the petition—"Prevention of the city's future financial involvement in nuclear weapons components facilities"—to be received and filed by the City Council in mid-June. Then within 60 days, the Council is legally required to take action.
The petition would require the city not to "enter into, facilitate, nor give permission for any future contracts whereby it will be directly financially involved in any facilities that produce or procure components for, assemble, or refurbish nuclear weapons … ." Note: The City Council on February 4, 2010, approved the development plan allowing municipal bonds to be sold to private investors to finance the new nuclear weapons production plant under construction at Mo. Hwy. 150, south of Grandview. The new measure would prevent such Council actions in the future.
The Council could vote against the measure and still allow it to go on the ballot. "Every indication from our last City Council meeting was that this future-oriented petition would be acceptable" to go on the ballot, says MacNair. "We hope it will appear on the November ballot."
by Barbara Howard
A few days after the Memorial Day Walk, I'm trying not to scratch the chigger bites I got at the walk's end, at the entry to the new nuclear weapons parts plant on Mo. Hwy. 150. In some perverse way, I stay grateful for the bites. They remind me of the 35 people who carried signs, sang, and supported each other along the road. The marchers were led by the lively beat of drummer Daniel Karam and a U.S. flag-bearer, Tom Fox. This image of caring and joy contrasts with the horror of the emerging new plant.
The estimated cost of the new facility is about $675 million. In an online article for the National Catholic Reporter, publisher Fox, reporting on the walk, said President Obama last year announced an investment of $80 billion in the nation's nuclear arsenal. Yet, Fox noted, recent press reports indicate that the president may be considering a significantly smaller nuclear deterrent force of between 300 to 1,100 deployed warheads. According to treaty limits, by 2018 the U.S. can deploy only 1,550 warheads. The number deployed at present is confidential. Our nine-mile march, with some of us driving to give an occasional lift to the walkers, began at the 62-year-old facility for making non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, at Bannister Federal Complex. PeaceWorks sponsored the walk with support from Occupy KC and the coalition KC Peace Planters. For this second annual trek, participants doubled last year's group of 15 or so.
We kicked off our journey with a challenge to stand against the continuation of the nuclear weapons buildup. Maurice Copeland, a former employee and supervisor at the current nuclear weapons parts plant, reminded us that more than 150 people have died as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals at the current facility, and several hundred are still ill. The nine-mile walk to the new building site provided an opportunity to witness to those driving by. We walked as a community committed to peace.
Kept at a distance by "no trespassing" signs, we gathered near the entrance to the new facility to share reflections. We deplored the waste of resources and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Henry Stoever, chair of the board of PeaceWorks and a leader of the march, offered encouragement. He said that 20 years ago, activists protesting the Minuteman II nuclear missiles embedded in Missouri farm fields contributed to shutting down the sites. Stoever believes PeaceWorks can eventually help bring about the end of nuclear weapons production in Kansas City.
I concur, and I'm itching to be part of the group that makes this possible.
—Barbara Howard of Independence, Mo., a former editor at Herald Publishing House and former member of the Interfaith Peace Alliance, is a new member of PeaceWorks.
Photos from NCR's Tom Fox:
by Lu Mountenay
Editor's note: Lu Mountenay of Independence, Mo., a new member of the PeaceWorks Board, stepped over the line between the public right-of-way and the "campus" for the new nuclear weapons parts plant on April 14, during the Trifecta Resista, cosponsored by PeaceWorks.
Nuclear arms plant?
Not in my backyard
I started to have second thoughts—fearful thoughts. Do I really want to do this? The other Trifecta Resista protesters extended grace to me even before the imminent event. "Now if you change your mind at the last minute, Lu, no one will hold it against you … no one will think any less of you."
As I faced the line of "peace" officers, I felt my knees go weak. I said a fast and silent prayer for courage. Immediately a peaceful spirit washed over me. So I declined to step back to safety across the private property line indicated by the forbidding sign. After our third warning, I was arrested for trespass with three others: Henry Stoever, Mark Kenney, and Midge Potts.
The nuclear weapons plant being built in Kansas City is unthinkable to me. I call it the Temple of Doom. It is being built for Honeywell by J.E. Dunn, the same contractor that built the Temple of Peace in Independence. How ironic! Thirty-five people came to protest with much forethought. We were trained in nonviolent resistance by Pace e Bene (Peace and Doing Good) facilitators from the White Rose Catholic Worker in Chicago. Now we were committed.
The officers were very respectful and I feel they were somewhat sympathetic to our cause. They cuffed my wrists behind my back very loosely. I guess they didn't think of me as a flight risk. My compatriots were separated from me in the police van by steel mesh.
So many unknowns lay ahead of me. At the station, the officers were a little frustrated because they couldn't find me in their record. "Not even a parking ticket?" Sorry. Mug shots—-face front, face right, face left-—and fingerprinting followed. They emptied my pockets and removed the laces from my running shoes. They took the cross from around my neck! The officer said "follow me" and before I knew it, the steel doors closed behind me.
How did I come to make this choice? I had thought about the decision— unwise, in my opinion— to build even more nuclear weapons. I had read about how dangerous it was. I had written about it for publications, and yes, prayed about it. Now it was time to pursue peace physically. Time to act! So…into the police van we did go.
I knew this would be engraved on my brand-new police record, but if my grandchildren understood I was doing it for them, which they did, I knew others would understand as well. If I chose peace, I had to choose this action.
Was poverty their crime?
My home for the next few hours was a concrete and steel jail cell. I sat on a graffiti- covered metal bench to gather my thoughts. I noticed someone had scratched "MAMA" in the blue paint. I saw it as a lonely, regretful cry for help. "How much is your bail?" an inmate asked. "One hundred dollars," I answered. "That's nothing! Do you have someone to pay it for you?"
I had faith in my family support system and companion protesters at PeaceWorks, KC. However, I felt the other women in the cell might be alone in their troubles. As I got to know them, I found it was even worse than I imagined. When "Stacey" learned I was a minister, she immediately asked, "Will you pray for me?" We prayed together as she cried. It found that poverty was at the root of her crime.
She had broken her probation because she couldn't pay the fine for the bad checks she had written for groceries. "I was in hiding. My boyfriend found me and beat me up. The police arrested me—-not my boyfriend—-because of the warrant on me. I miss my children."
"Flo" was homeless and had been drinking. As I started to walk around the cell to stretch my legs, she followed me. I did a few arm-swinging exercises. She did likewise. Soon, everyone joined in, and we had an aerobics class going. They longed for a little direction, a break from boredom and hopelessness, even for a few hours.
One woman, locked in a separate cell, moaned and yelled continually. "She's violent," "Stephanie" said. I started to sing and she became quiet. Then Stacey, Stephanie, Flo, and Mary started singing too. Flo asked, "Do you know Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"?
"Sure do." And so we all sang. To cheer things up, I started to sing alternate words: "Swing low, sweet Cadillac … a brand-new El Dorado comin' after me …" We were all laughing, and an officer came to see what was so funny. He looked perplexed. When they came to release me, everyone started crying again, so we had another prayer. They had surely blessed me with their sincerity and authentic emotions. They taught me about gratitude and humility.
I think of my cellmates every day since then, and pray for them the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I pray they have someone to lead them in dance, song, and prayer; someone to call friend; and yes, someone to pay their bail.
Break out your comfy old shoes on Memorial Day and walk all/part of the nine miles from the current nuke-parts plant in KC to the shiny new one, 70 percent constructed. The walk starts at 8 a.m. at Bannister & Wayne (park on Lydia, south of Bannister). Then we head south on Holmes and go east on Mo. Hwy. 150, arriving at about 11:30 a.m. at Thunderbird Road.
Needed: both walkers and riders (to offer water, to give a lift to the weary). This walk/ride commemorates those who've died:
- from contaminants from the current plant,
- from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, and
- from lack of resources (health care, food, shelter) because our country prioritizes the care and feeding of war and nukes over human needs.
We'll also publicize two possibilities: converting the new plant to projects such as wind or solar energy, and keeping KC from future financial deals for nuke-parts production. For info, contact PeaceWorks Board Chair Henry Stoever, email@example.com, 913-375-0045.
by Lu Mountenay
"I would like to plead not guilty by reason of sanity," said PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, who on Nov. 6, 2011, was one of five civil resisters to KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant. This sane message is reflected in a bill introduced recently by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 34 other members of the House of Representatives: H.R. 3974, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act.
The purpose of the bill is "To reduce the number of nuclear-armed submarines operated by the Navy, to prohibit the development of a new long-range penetrating bomber aircraft, to reduce the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles operated by the Department of Defense, and for other purposes." Sounds sane, right?!
The findings in the bill include this: "… the United States continues to maintain an enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems that were devised with the Cold War in mind." The U.S. has approximately 5,000 nuclear warheads that are deployed or deployable. This obsolete Cold War-based approach to "nuclear security" comes at significant cost: hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. Does this sound sane to you?
The findings of the bill continue, "The national security interests of the (U.S.) can be well served by reducing the total number of deployed nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, as suggested by the Department of Defense" (January 2012). … The Government Accountability Office has found that there is significant waste in the construction of the nuclear facilities of the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) of the Department of Energy." Doesn't this sound sane?
After all, what is our biggest national security threat? "Our national debt," according to Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2010). This bill finds, "Economic security and national security are linked, and both will be well served by smart defense spending." How sane!
Let members of the House of Representatives know you support the SANE Act and want them to cosponsor it. For more info, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas.
—Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
The KC, Mo., City Council unanimously passed a peace initiative March 22, a petition on planning for alternative work for local employees making parts for nuclear weapons. This was one of two peace initiatives for which PeaceWorks members gathered signatures last fall. The measure provides for the city to make contingency plans for production of other products and for the retraining of workers at both the new Botts Road plant (in south KC) and the current plant on Bannister Road.
"Success!" says petition coordinator Rachel MacNair. "All the hard work of all the volunteers who collected thousands of signatures has paid off."
MacNair says this petition's passage is important for federal nuclear weapons policy because:
- The measure helps to remove one obstacle to stopping new nuclear weapons production: a fear of job loss if the federal government cuts back on refurbishment of its weapons. "We need not panic upon hearing that federal policy has changed, which would be good news in every other way. We've prepared for the possibility of change," says MacNair.
- The petition helps set up a self-fulfilling prophecy to make such a change in policy more likely, suggests MacNair.
- The measure offers a precedent and example to campaigns in other cities. "Submitting citizens' petitions is a strategy that works, rather quickly and efficiently," says MacNair.
The other initiative, "Removal of City Financial Involvement in Production of Nuclear Weapons Components," is lingering in committee due to heated debates and is scheduled to come before the Committee on Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Wednesday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m. on the 26th floor of City Hall.
PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, one of five Nov. 6 civil resisters to KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant, told a judge Jan. 17 that he would not simply plead guilty of trespass and request community service. "I would like to plead not guilty by reason of sanity," Carney told Municipal Court Judge Elena Franco at the hearing. He asked for two minutes to explain his plea. Franco said no but arranged for a trial at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21-- Carney's day in court.
Three other defendants submitted pleas of guilty and received sentences of 25 hours of community service in their local areas. They are Jim Hannah of Independence, Mo., a PeaceWorks Board member; Erica Weiland of Seattle; and Kima Garrison of Portland, Ore. A fifth trespasser, Jason Rawn of Union, Maine, spent the night of Nov. 6 in jail, and was released on time served.
After the hearing, Carney said that as a psychiatric social worker, he assists people with mental illnesses, helping them secure housing and work. "While I see drastic cuts in funding for those who struggle with mental illness, the state has no problems with funding the real insanity--that of the escalation of nuclear weapons," he said. "I personally don't feel I did anything wrong" in trespassing at the new plant site Nov. 6
PeaceWorks members and KC Peace Planters can offer Carney "court support" Feb. 21.
KC Peace Planters, a coalition including PeaceWorks, turned in petitions for two ballot initiatives on Nov. 14 to the city clerk of Kansas City, Mo. The next step in the process is for the election board to verify the signatures; once that's done and sufficient signatures are verified, hearings start with the City Council.
"We need 3,572 signatures on each petition to be verified in order for them to qualify for council hearings and the April ballot," says PeaceWorks member Rachel MacNair, coordinator of the petition drive. "We gathered around 5,000 signatures on each petition." For comparison purposes, MacNair notes that in the earlier petition drive, the single petition gained about 5,000 signatures, and once the unverifiable signatures were eliminated, the initiative still had about 800 signatures to spare.
Here's what the new initiatives provide for:
Summary, Petition 1
Remove city financial involvement in production of nuclear weapons components
- Kansas City won't make any more contracts for producing parts for nuclear weapons or finance their production in the future.
- Kansas City will divest itself of the municipal bonds for producing nuclear weapons parts, to the extent allowed by law.
- No local agency will own the plant.
- If the court knocks down any provision, that provision can be cut off and the rest remain.
Summary, Petition 2
Safeguard jobs with contingency plans for nuclear weapons facilities
- The city will make detailed contingency plans for converting the local nuclear weapons plants to other work in case the plants are no longer to be used for making parts for nuclear weapons.
- Renewable energy production is an option to be considered.
- The plans will be updated annually.
- The plans will be available for public comment.
By Susan Miller & Jane Stoever
Photos by Robyn Haas
"No tax bucks for nuclear bombs!" This was the chant of 46 protesters Nov. 6 at the country's first new, huge plant to "modernize" nuclear weapons. The five-building facility, under construction on Mo. Hwy. 150 in southern Kansas City, Mo., will replace the current, 62-year-old Kansas City Plant. Products of the current and future facilities include nuclear bombs' non-nuclear parts such as triggers and radar. The new KC Plant is the first of three new facilities for the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, with the other two in Los Alamos, N.M. (think plutonium) and Oak Ridge, Tenn. (think uranium). "We make the gun, they make the bullet," Ann Suellentrop told the war tax resisters during their Nov. 4-6 meeting in Kansas City, Kan.
At the new site for nuke-parts-making, five people crossed the line from the public right-of-way to the facility property and were arrested. The trespassers included Jim Hannah, a PeaceWorks Board member from Independence, Mo., and four current or former administrative committee members of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC): Charles Carney of Kansas City, Kan.; Kima Garrison of Portland, Ore.; Erica Weiland of Seattle; and Jason Rawn of Union, Maine.
Garrison and Weiland were released four hours after their arrest on $100 bonds; their wrists still showed handcuff marks, but they talked about the guards' respect for them. The other trespassers decided not to post bond and were held about 24 hours, with Carney and Hannah released on signature bonds. Rawn went free with "time served"-- no court date, no fine, no community service--facilitated by lawyer Henry Stoever. The court date for the others is Jan. 17.
Right after his release, Carney e-mailed supporters, "It was an ordeal, but nothing compared to what the political prisoners around the world go through." Noting Rawn's need for gluten-free food, Carney said Rawn "essentially went through a forced 24- hour fast. (Can't eat bologna sandwiches, go figure!)" Carney, local coordinator for the NWTRCC annual meeting, added, "What a gift to be able to converse with these two 'mensch' (Rawn and Hannah) for the last 24 hours."
Before the trespass, several people shared reflections on the new nuke-parts production site, a former soybean field.
"Big things are expected from this little bean field!" said Hannah. "Take a look: This project is gargantuan. The administrative office alone is larger than KC's new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. And the manufacturing plant covers 17 acres--equivalent to 13 football fields! The Kansas City Star reported a million dollars a day is being poured into this project. A billion dollars will be spent to construct the buildings, and another four billion dollars operating it for the first 20 years. Five billion dollars! It would be like writing a million-dollar check five thousand times. That's not peanuts, and certainly not soybeans! You could buy a lot of good with that money. Or a lot of death and destruction."
Weiland encouraged the protesters to begin and continue resisting war taxes, giving the results of a survey she conducted during the NWTRCC meeting. Among the 17 survey respondents, 12 have lived or are living below the taxable level and 9 have filed or do file tax forms while refusing to pay some or all of their taxes. The respondents reported 432 years total of resisting war taxes and/or refusing to pay, plus 180 years of resisting/refusing to pay the telephone tax that goes to the military. The respondents have resisted paying $359,610 in income taxes, and out of that amount, the Internal Revenue Service had collected $94,000. Weiland also named what respondents said were positive consequences of war tax resistance: having a cleaner conscience, belonging to a community of resisters, living in line with their values, and feeling empowered.
Bill Ramsey of St. Louis, a NWTRCC leader, trespassed at the new nuke- parts production site Aug. 16, 2010, when he joined about 75 trespassers and saw 14 arrested after stopping Caterpillars at work in the former soybean field. At the Nov. 6 demonstration this year, Ramsey read his poem about that 2010 action:The Mice Will Play
Soybeans have given way
to busy yellow Cats.
Beans plowed under as
Cats go round and round,
pushing and packing good earth,
clearing the way for a new generation,
for the planting of sanctioned terror,
a second round of readiness,
to threaten all generations.
The merry band of folks
like mice file into a field,
meandering toward the Cats,
sowing wildflowers as they go.
Through deep mud they trod
into the forward path of one Cat
and securely surround it.
Then one detains another Cat
and the worker Cats fall silent
across the field's expanse.
While the Cats are waylaid,
the mice will play.
And for a portion of minutes,
the only movement
across this piece of earth is
the silent sprouting of wildflowers.
Susan Miller of Hesston, Kan., is a former administrative committee member of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Jane Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., is a PeaceWorks Board member. Robyn Haas is web developer for PeaceWorks and The National Catholic Reporter.
By Susan Miller & Jane Stoever
Photos by Susan Miller
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) held its annual meeting Nov. 4-6 in Kansas City, Kan., with the theme, "Plant Peace—Resist War Taxes!" The meeting at the First Central Church of the Brethren culminated in a demonstration against the nuke-parts production facility being built in southern Kansas City, Mo.
PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, part of the NWTRCC administrative committee, coordinated the national meeting, which about 15 PeaceWorks members attended. Carney kicked off the meeting with musings on unilateral disarmament. The first time he heard that phrase, in 1982, it was not from a peace activist, a college professor, or a socialist, but from Catholic Archbishop Ray Hunthausen. "He said our faith impels us to be the ones to disarm first," said Carney. "As archbishop of the state of Washington, he said he hoped 500 or 5,000 or half a million Catholics would refuse to pay all or part of their taxes as a way of ending nuclear proliferation. He courageously stated that he himself was going to refuse to pay half his taxes in the coming years." That put Carney on the war tax resistance path.
Carney also noted that it disturbed him in 1982 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, "Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes." Carney soon was claiming the maximum number of legal allowances—nine—so taxes would not be withheld from his paycheck. He said, "What a freeing thing: to be able to lay down my sword and shield. What a freeing thing: to tell the government, to tell the military- industrial complex, to tell Wall Street, 'No. You can't have my money. All my checks will be written out to the people.'"
PeaceWorks member Beth Seberger of Kansas City, Kan., spoke at the NWTRCC meeting about her lifelong war tax resistance. She began by not paying the $18 she owed the IRS in 1970. "I had two older brothers serving in the Air Force in the war," she said, "but I had been more influenced by Martin Luther King and his example of nonviolent resistance. I was seeing many young men my age struggling with their consciences over what to do about the draft."
Seberger said she asks her employers to keep her income below taxable levels and use the rest of her salary for projects otherwise unaffordable. "I have helped in the development of the Kansas City Interfaith Peace Alliance, Episcopal Social Services, Catholic Charities Refugee Services English as a Second Language program, and Literacy Kansas City," says Seberger. "I've also been able to give shelter now and then for folks in need." A video of Seberger's talk is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-bhrTVCgWk.
Bill Ramsey of St. Louis reported that the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign Escrow Account (http://seanacc.org/escrowaccount.htm) has been moved from Seattle to St. Louis. He encouraged deposits to the account from across the country.
NWTRCC coordinator Ruth Benn of New York invited meeting participants to send photos, captions and stories about local actions to her for the NWTRCC newsletter ( http://www.nwtrcc.org).
Naomi Paz Greenberg of New York, who serves on the board of Conscience and Peace Tax, said that April 15, "Tax Freedom Day," is a good time to point out that taxpayers are in fact working for the government, doing military service, for a long part of each year. Asked why she resists war taxes, she said, "Over one hundred members of my family were killed in the Holocaust. I can't inflict that on others."
The NWTRCC group and KC-area peacemakers protested at the new nuclear weapons parts production site on Nov. 6 with signs such as "Plant beans, not bombs" and "War taxes are killing us." The demonstrators tied bright yellow cards saying "I won't pay taxes for nuclear bombs" to the fence enclosing the former soybean field. Several persons spoke, including Daniel Woodham, a North Carolina farmer. He said people should nurture what they plant if they want it to grow and should not nurture the KC nuclear plant with tax dollars.
Writer/photographer Susan Miller of Hesston, Kan., belongs to the Heartland Peace Tax Group. Jane Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., writes for PeaceWorks.
Prevent more KC funding of nuke-parts plants; require plans for alternative jobs
By Jane Stoever
Kansas City, Mo., voters can sign two new petitions to keep the city from further financial involvement in making parts for nuclear weapons and to require the city to plan for alternative jobs in case the nuke-parts jobs are discontinued.
"While we did gather a sufficient number of signatures to place a previous measure on the ballot, the City Council declined to place it on the ballot, and the judge at the Circuit Court was concerned about the involvement of federal agencies," says Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., coordinator of the petition drives. "Because our attorney advised us that the nature of federal litigation was such that we could get a measure on the ballot more quickly, cheaply, and surely by using all that we had learned in this process and running another initiative campaign, we decided that this was the better route."
The first petition is based on this premise, says MacNair: If the city's financial involvement in the new plant turns out not to be enough to give city voters a say over the new plant, it is nevertheless still true that city voters have a say over the city's financial involvement. With City Council approval, the city sold up to $815 million worth of municipal bonds to private investors last year to fund the new nuke-parts facility on Mo. Hwy. 150, near Grandview. Furthermore, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, a state-chartered agency whose members are all appointed by KC mayors, holds the title to the massive new facility.
The financial arrangement with city ties is important because the bypassing of proper U.S. Congress appropriations procedures, says MacNair, means "the city is doing more than merely participating in building weapons of mass destruction. It is enabling a set-up that might not happen with more federal attention and accountability."
The first petition is "Removal of city financial involvement in production of nuclear weapons components," and the second is "Safeguarding jobs with contingency plans for nuclear weapons facilities." A supporters' petition--for persons outside the city--enables a wide range of people opposed to KC's commitment to nuclear weapons production to voice their concern. A brochure* outlines reasons for the petitions. (*Note on printing the brochure: to create a 3-panel folded brochure use the first and second pages; for two-sided flat handouts use the first and third pages.)
If you'd like to pitch in and obtain signatures for the petitions and/or the supporters' petition by early November, contact MacNair at 816-753-2057.
by Jane Stoever
Contradictions and courage. Both rang clear in Municipal Court in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 28.
The charge: trespass on May 2 for crossing a property line at the construction site for the new nuclear-weapons-parts production facility in southern KC. The site lies between Botts Road and Prospect Avenue on Mo. Hwy. 150.
The accuser: CenterPoint Properties LLC Senior Vice President Jim Cross; CenterPoint, a Chicago financier, and KC realtor Zimmer helped plan the financing of the new plant through the sale of KC municipal bonds to private investors.
The accused: 28 of the 53 resisters who crossed a line May 2 near the site; others came to court earlier. Two of the 28 could not be identified in court, so they were acquitted, and one was ill, so his case was continued. Most of the resisters live or volunteer in Catholic Worker houses where, without pay, they feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and oppose violence.
The sentences: 25 hours' community service or a $250 fine for the nine pleading guilty; 50 hours' community service or a $500 fine for those pleading not guilty; seven days in jail for two resisters who refused to do community service or pay $500. The community service cannot occur where the resisters live and work.
After Judge Ardie Bland announced his guilty verdict to those pleading not guilty, resister Greg Boertje-Obed of Duluth, Minn., said, "I cannot in good conscience pay anything to this court. I believe this court upheld a criminal activity," the creation of a plant to modernize nuclear weapons. He also refused to do community service, knowing he would do jail time. "I'm reminded of a saying of Martin Luther King: 'We will win you over by our ability to endure suffering,'" he told the judge. Boertje-Obed was taken into custody and released three days later.
During the afternoon trial, Eric Garbison, a Presbyterian minister and member of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker community on 12th Street near Benton in KC, referred to a statement of the Presbyterian Church in the USA and said, "The building of nuclear weapons is unjust." Garbison said he has testified at City Hall since 2008 in favor of meeting social needs instead of funding the building of parts for nuclear weapons. Speaking of Cherith Brook's efforts to stem violence, Garbison explained, "We have a commitment to oppose the root causes of homelessness." Saying he would not pay or do community service, he explained, "My life is community service. I live in a place where homeless men and women knock on the door any hour of the day or night." Garbison went to jail and was freed in two days.
Before issuing sentences, Bland told the resisters, "I applaud each and every one of you" for being willing to "stand up and fight" for their beliefs. "To be honest with you, this country would not be where it is without people like you," he said, noting that he was a man of faith and "my heart takes notice of you." He asked those who worked as part of a Catholic charity organization to stand to one side before the bench, saying, "They've chosen a life of poverty." He asked those with part-time jobs, paying jobs, to stand to the other side. Then, as it seemed those with jobs might refuse to pay, he allowed them also to do community service.
Later, Defense Attorney Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, said he felt the judge feared many people would end up in jail and didn't want the attention that might create. When Bland asked Prosecuting Attorney Kendrea White for the city's recommended jail time, she said, "Fifteen days." Stoever then told Bland, "I ask you to be Solomon and come down somewhere in the middle." Bland answered, "I was thinking of 10 days; however, I'll go with seven." With the time they had been in jail after their arrest and with "good time," they were released in a few days.
Witness for the prosecution
When White questioned Cross about his work, he said, "I'm responsible for the construction and development of the new GSA (General Services Administration) facility at Hwy. 150." He identified the GSA as "my client" and said, "GSA's tenant is NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration). I have 185 acres under construction. At that point (May 2), I probably had 450 people working. Unless you've been safety-trained, and now everything's choreographed, it's a dangerous site. Safety is No. 1 in our book."
Then Defense Attorney Ruth O'Neill of Columbia, Mo., and Stoever cross-examined Cross.
O'Neill asked whether Cross owned the property, and he said CenterPoint Properties Trust owned it with the PIEA (Planned Industrial Expansion Authority--chartered by the state and with members all appointed by KC mayors). O'Neill asked whether the PIEA was an arm of a municipal, state, or federal government, and Cross replied, "I couldn't say." He added, "Honeywell (under contract with NNSA) is a name. We're building for the GSA." Later, when O'Neill asked about the purpose of the plant, Cross said, "I've been told it's a nuclear weapons parts plant."
Speaking of the protesters, O'Neill asked whether they engaged in any violent behavior. "What is violent?" Cross asked.
"Were they peaceful?" asked O'Neill. "What is peaceful?" Cross asked.
"Did they have any weapons?" asked O'Neill. "What is a weapon?" Cross asked.
"Did you read their signs?" asked O'Neill. "I did not," Cross replied.
White objected to the questioning as immaterial to the case, and the judge sustained the objection.
Stoever asked, "Are you the owner of the property?" Cross said, "Yes." Then Stoever referred to some 34 documents recorded July 14, 2010, conveying the Botts Road Development property to CenterPoint-Zimmer, and Cross acknowledged "the waterfall of documents." Stoever noted the transfer of the property to the PIEA, but White objected to the paperwork as irrelevant. Stoever insisted, "This is relevant. James Cross has signed this document. It's a conveyance to the PIEA of Kansas City, Mo., a statutory, public body of the state of Missouri. He has given testimony that he is the owner, where in fact he had conveyed this property to the PIEA."
O'Neill began, "Which goes to whether he has authority to direct," but Bland interrupted her and accepted the paperwork. Stoever explained the warranty deed to Cross and asked, "Is this your signature?" Cross replied, "It looks like it." Stoever asked about leases and subleases, and Cross replied, "I'd have to ask my attorney. I was instructed to sign."
Stoever asked Cross whether he had read the tickets given to the resisters. "I believe I'm the owner," said Cross. Stoever noted, "Every ticket says the GSA," and had Cross read, "...owned by the GSA." Stoever then asked, "Are you an employee of GSA?" Cross answered, "I'm not."
Art Laffin of Washington, D.C., a resister who represented himself at the trial instead of having a lawyer, asked Cross, "Do you know what the property was used for before you bought the property?" White insisted, "Objection! Immaterial!"
O'Neill asked Cross, "Are you aware soybeans were being grown there?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin asked Cross, "Does CenterPoint have any ethical guidelines about what you build?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin continued, "There are companies that have ethical guidelines--are you aware nuclear weapons violate international law?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin persisted, "Are you aware nuclear weapons are instruments of mass murder?" Again, "Objection!"
Eventually, O'Neill asked Cross, "When you say you are the owner, do you mean a representative of" the owner? And he agreed, "representative of; Jim Cross does not personally own the property."
O'Neill and Stoever requested acquittal on several bases: the city failed to introduce the ordinance under which the protesters were charged with trespassing, a failure that this year, in City of Joplin v. Marston, led to acquittal; Jim Cross did not have authority to sign the tickets since he did not represent the GSA; and neither a GSA representative nor the KC police captain came to court as witnesses for the prosecution.
Laffin gave the protesters' closing argument. "We ask you to find us innocent," said Laffin. "You have legal ground to stand on in finding us not guilty. We appeal to you to ... work together with other judges to issue an injunction barring further construction of the new Kansas City plant. Please join us!"
Not this time. Maybe next!
Jane Stoever serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
By Jim Hannah
It's a rapidly-unfolding, high-stakes drama.
Thursday, the Kansas City city council said "No" to a citizen's initiative to let November voters decide the fate of the city's new nuclear weapons parts plant.
Friday, Kansas City Peace Planters petitioned the court, saying "No way!" can the council ignore the 4,300 voters' signatures obtained to get the item on the ballot, by provision of the city charter.
Monday morning, Judge Edith Messina will rule on whether to make permanent her preliminary writ granting placement of the Peace Planters' initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Monday afternoon, both parties will have an opportunity for appeal.
And Tuesday is the deadline for all items appearing on the November ballot.
So it's all come down to the wire. No one knows which side will ultimately prevail in the next step of a protracted struggle about Kansas City's role in the national nuclear weapons complex. Kansas City is one of three key production sites for the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal, producing about 85 percent of its non-nuclear components.
The contested Peace Planters' initiative would allow Kansas City voters to decide whether construction will continue on the city-controlled nuclear weapons parts plant at Botts Road and Highway 150 , or whether voters prefer to transition the facility to manufacture "green energy" technologies such as wind power.
The city council's 12-to-1 vote Thursday (with councilman Ed Ford casting the only dissenting vote) came as no surprise to the Peace Planters, a coalition of some dozen peace activist groups in the Kansas City area. Their opposition to the plant has been ongoing for several years, including civil disobedience and arrests both at the 65- year-old Federal Bannister Plant, and at the new plant, where peace activists last year were arrested for blocking earthmovers on August 16 and for blocking traffic at groundbreaking ceremonies September 8.
This year, during the Catholic Workers' Faith & Resistance Retreat (April 29-May 2) still more peace activists were arrested. The growing resistance is evidenced by the number of arrests--four at the old Bannister plant, and at the new plant: 14 blocking earthmovers, 8 during groundbreaking ceremonies, and 52 at the Faith & Resistance Retreat.
Peace Planters member Rachel MacNair is plaintiff in the current law suit, represented by Phil Willoughby of Gunn, Shank, & Stover law firm. Dr. MacNair questioned the last- minute timing of the legal proceedings, noting "The Council has had two full months for the Charter's requirement of passing an ordinance directing the Election Board to place the measure on the ballot. The deadline for certification is August 30. Waiting until the last possible time allows the court only five days, two of which are a weekend, to consider the case. While the letter of the law is fulfilled in the timing, the spirit of democracy and proper deliberation is not. We believe this timing is an unfair power play."
MacNair also questioned one of the city council members' assertion that the citizen's initiative might be unconstitutional, saying instead, "If a party to a dispute can decide the dispute in its own favor while ignoring its own Charter, then the very purpose of the initiative petition process in upholding democracy is being sabotaged."
Whatever the intent or the timing, matters are coming to a head in the next few days. Whether "No" or "No way," those who care about nuclear weapons abolition have a new drama unfolding in Kansas City that is worthy of their attention and support.
Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks Kansas City board member and columnist.
By Jane Stoever
A committee of the Kansas City, Mo., City Council heard testimony Aug. 17 on a measure to bar a peace initiative from the city's Nov. 8 ballot. The Finance, Governance and Ethics Committee voted 4-0 to keep the initiative off the ballot; the full City Council will vote Aug. 25 on whether to follow suit. The peace initiative would prohibit production of nuclear weapons components at the facility under construction on Mo. Hwy. 150, near Grandview, and would recommend having green jobs there (wind or solar energy jobs) instead of nuke-parts jobs.
The Aug. 25 vote is expected to go against the peace initiative. Then a lawyer for KC Peace Planters, a coalition formed by PeaceWorks leaders, will file a lawsuit to compel the city to keep the initiative on the ballot. However the judge rules, the ruling will very likely be contested, and may go to an appellate judge and perhaps the Missouri Supreme Court in expedited fashion.
Asking the committee to block the initiative from the ballot, Sixth District Councilman John Sharp noted, "To stop this project after it is so far along is clearly bad public policy, but more important, it is on its face unconstitutional. It conflicts with the power of the federal government to provide for the national defense."
Among the 20 people speaking up for the peace initiative and against blocking it from the ballot was Beth Seberger, who collected 270 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. "You cannot divorce yourselves from the hideously immoral purpose of these (nuclear) weapons," said Seberger. "It would be as though the city agrees to finance the production of the gas to be used in the gas chambers against Jewish people and others for the sake of 'jobs.' Would you consent to that?"
She continued, "I don't believe Uncle Sam came begging for this city to get involved in this scheme (to build the new nuke-parts facility). I think a few powerful politicians thought it was a good opportunity to bring what they think will be a boon to the city's economy. I think they are mistaken, and I believe the people of the city have the right to stop this wrong-headed decision if they want to, and I hope they will."
Second District Councilman Ed Ford, the lone Council member to defend the peace initiative in earlier votes, said he would not speak on nuclear weapons issues but on City Charter guidelines. If sufficient ballot initiative signatures are obtained and validated, the Charter says, "The Council shall submit the proposed ordinance to the electors at the next available municipal or state election." Ford added his own accent: "The Council shall--not may, not should, but shall, mandatory--submit the proposed ordinance to the electors."
Ford reviewed the history of a 1995 petition initiative on Union Station: the Council voted to keep it off the ballot, the Council was sued, and the measure went to the ballot. Said Ford, "In the words of that great philosopher Yogi Berra, 'It's déjà vu all over again!'"
Ford explained that after the people vote, the Council may then rule the measure is illegal or unconstitutional, but first, it should come to the public.
Rachel MacNair, coordinator of the peace initiative campaign, said that as she listened to speakers who wanted to keep the initiative off the ballot, she was amazed that they all took the premise that if the measure were on the ballot, it would win.
Henry Stoever, chair of the board of PeaceWorks, asked, "Are we a government of laws or of people, corporations and special interests?"
Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, MD, chair of the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "The jobs you're talking about don't exist in a vacuum. These jobs and construction (jobs) are connected to an end (nuclear weapons). ... In this economy, where everybody's hurting, if we discontinue the building of nuclear weapons, we'd save $1 trillion. We could spend that $1 trillion on health care, education."
Amrita Burdick, who obtained scores of signatures for the peace initiative, asked Council members to consider the serious health and environmental issues that may arise from the new nuclear weapons facility. With international agreements to decrease the number of nuclear weapons, she said, there will likely be less demand for such weapons.
Nick Pickrell spoke of losing his grandfather to an illness he may have contracted while working at the current KC Plant, the DOE facility at Bannister Federal Complex that makes parts for nuclear weapons. Supporting the new facility, said Pickrell, would mean that "mothers will continue to lose children" from contaminants workers take home from the plant, and "children will continue to lose grandparents, as I did."
Sahj Kaya (Rhonda Gibson) labeled the City Council move to bar the peace initiative "tyranny."
David Quinly noted the dangers of contaminants from making parts for nuclear weapons, warning against a "KC Death Camp."
Eric Garbison asked, "Isn't it a court of law that should decide constitutionality?" Garbison, who testified during the last three years against the city's support for the new facility, said peace activists have followed City Council's process, talked to city attorneys, gotten votes from city citizens, "and you're telling us we can't be on the ballot."
By Jane Stoever
A hushed crowd in the Municipal Court of Kansas City, Mo., heard 20 civil resisters one by one plead guilty on July 19 to trespassing May 2 at a nuke-parts plant under construction in southern KC. The judge let a few resisters speak their minds.
"I am guilty of knowing the difference between what is legal and what is right," said repeat offender Steve Jacobs of Columbia, Mo. "Trespass laws which protect the makers of weapons of mass destruction against nonviolent resisters have no authority over my conscience and act of resistance. ... Any weapon that indiscriminately kills hundreds of thousands of innocents along with those who are targeted are immoral and have no right to exist. Creating more makes their use more imminent, so we have a duty to stop their production now. ... I am guilty of loving my planet more than I fear your jail."
Jacobs was one of 53 resisters on May 2. They crossed a boundary line near the chain-link fence sheltering a massive new shell of a building for making non-nuclear parts, such as fuses, wiring, guidance systems and triggers for nuclear weapons. Jacobs had done two other local protests, the first at the current, 61-year-old facility owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration and operated by Honeywell, and the second at the site for the new plant. Judge Elena Franco ordered Jacobs to pay a $500 fine within 90 days, the same sentence she gave repeat offender Frank Cordaro of Des Moines.
Most of the resisters, including several PeaceWorks members, were first-time trespassers or had paid their fines for earlier resistance. They received a $250 fine, to be paid within 60 days, or could choose to do 25 hours of community service at a place to be assigned. They were not to be credited for the aid many of them provide at the Catholic Worker houses where they live and offer services--food, shelter, showers, and clothes.
Local PeaceWorks members sentenced at the hearing included Sharon Hannah, Mark Bartholomew, Robyn Haas, Sister Cele Breen, Sister Theresa Maly, Brother Louis Rodemann, and Micah Waters. Besides the 20 sentenced, five resisters asked for a trial where they can voice their opposition to nuke-making in KC. About 30 of the 53 resisters, including PeaceWorks members Gina Cook, Rachael Hoffman, Joshua Armfield, and Eric Garbison, will come to trial Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.
According to the National Catholic Reporter (http://www.ncronline.org/news/peace/twenty- nuclear-weapons-activists-found-guilty), Nicholas Pickrell of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Community in KC told the judge he would neither pay a fine nor do community service because he "lives with the poor" and "practices community service every day." Sentenced to two days in jail, he was free within three hours in consideration of the 20 hours he spent in jail May 2-3 awaiting processing.
Pickrell told PeaceWorks members that the last words Franco whispered to him were, "Keep up the good work," most likely referring to his 24/7 community service, not his resistance.
The Kansas City Star ( http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/19/3024287/honeywell-plant-protesters-appear.html) noted, "The future Honeywell plant ... is a key component in the modernization of America's nuclear deterrent. Anti-nuke opponents are attempting to block the project by putting it to a public referendum on the November ballot. They argue nuclear weapons are immoral, and that the project poses environmental dangers."
City Council votes 12-1 vs. peace petition
By Jane Stoever
The first peace petition Kansas City, Mo., voters have ever brought to City Council got rejected 12-1 on June 16, and peace leaders are--as planned--asking the City Clerk to put it on the Nov. 8 ballot.
"We always knew the City Council would vote against it," said Rachel MacNair, a PeaceWorks member and coordinator of the campaign for the petition, "Production of Nuclear Weapons Components Prohibited." She added, "We're submitting our formal requirement for the initiative to appear on the ballot, and the City Charter requires the Council to put it on the ballot. Unless there is a hold-up with that or unless Honeywell or the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) or another agency tries to take it to court to stop us, the initiative should come to voters Nov. 8."
In other words, a "no" vote from City Council does not stop a measure from coming to voters in an election.
The initiative's prohibition on making parts for nuclear weapons applies to the facility under construction in southern KC, near Grandview, financed through the sale of up to $815 million in municipal bonds. The initiative recommends converting the 2,000-or-so nuke-parts jobs to jobs in green energy (such as solar or wind energy projects).
Councilman Ed Ford cast the lone vote for the initiative. Before voting, he made four points:
- "Councilman (Jim) Glover was correct when he talked about the trigger mechanisms (made at the current NNSA plant and expected to be made at the new facility) making nuclear warheads safer. But the other testimony we heard (in a June 8 Council committee meeting) was they make nuclear weapons more reliable in the sense that if we ever use them, we want them to work. A lot of us find that morally offensive."
- "You wonder how permanent the jobs are. As Councilman (John) Sharp pointed out, a change in U.S. policy might drastically reduce our nuclear stockpile--we wouldn't need this many workers."
- "Nowhere else in the world is a municipality a partner or investor in a nuclear weapons component (plant). This is a creature of the federal government. I don't know why Kansas City is involved. It just doesn't happen."
- "We don't have a fact sheet. I'd like to see how these two questions would be answered in a fact sheet by someone who thoughtfully tried to answer them: Does this contribute to a sustainable Kansas City? Is it good for the children?"
Councilman Sharp called the building of the new facility "the biggest construction project we've got going in Kansas City right now" and said more than 20 percent of the project was already complete. "It's way too late to be trying to stop this project," Sharp insisted. He took no notice that the initiative doesn't try to stop the building project, but rather calls for converting it to a more constructive use.
From $1.4 million to $1.6 million in taxes from the new plant will benefit the Grandview School District each year, Sharp noted. He contrasted the current federally owned plant--which can't be taxed--with the new plant, which can be taxed because it is not a federal property but is owned by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, a state-chartered, independent agency whose members are appointed by successive KC mayors. The tax support, said Sharp, will make a big difference in the Grandview School District; the support "will help those kids have a fair chance to compete with kids from more affluent districts."
Councilman Scott Wagner questioned the legality of the initiative, saying that on the grounds of the U.S. Constitution, the Missouri Constitution, and case law, it would not be legal to change the project because it would go against contracts that have already been signed.
Councilman Scott Taylor agreed there are serious legal issues to address and, referring to the tax benefits for the Grandview School District, said of the new nuclear weapons production plant, "I think this is good for the children." Concerning the initiative's option for converting nuke-parts jobs to other jobs, Taylor questioned whether renewable-energy companies would be interested in such a controversial location.
Expressing frustration, Ford commented, "I don't understand why, when you have a limited number of nuclear warheads and you're building components to make them safer and more reliable, at some point, haven't you completed the job? Why does this go on and on, and over and over, for 20-plus years? I've yet to have an explanation of really how sustainable these jobs are."
To see the video of the Council members' debate, open http://kansascity.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2, scroll down to "Legislative Sessions," and click on June 16, 2011. Council members made arguments PeaceWorks members may confront in asking Kansas Citians to vote "yes" for the Nov. 8 ballot initiative.
Call the PeaceWorks office at 816-561-1181 with questions about the initiative and to ask for speakers for small and large gatherings. In addition, register your support for the initiative and request yard signs or bumper stickers via the registry now, for delivery in the fall.
The Board of Election Commissioners has validated signatures on a petition that would prohibit making nuclear weapons components at the facility being built for that purpose in southern Kansas City. The initiative, which recommends jobs at the facility in "environmentally sound energy or other environmental technologies," is set for the Nov. 8 ballot unless blocked by legal questions.
"The people have spoken!" says Ann Suellentrop, a PeaceWorks Board member and leader of the KC Peace Planters coalition*, sponsor of the initiative. "Our petition can help stop the nuclear weapons build-up," she says in a news release. The petition pertains to the facility sprouting up at Mo. Hwy. 150, between Botts Road and Prospect Ave. The plant is designed to replace the current Kansas City Plant, a nuclear weapons parts facility at Bannister Federal Complex.
Never before has a KC peace group launched a city-wide ballot initiative, says Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board.
Steps in the process:
- Some 4,966 voters signed the petition between February and early May.
- The Board of Election Commissioners, by May 24, found 4,389 signatures valid. Only 3,572 were required to bring the measure to the City Council, which has 60 days to consider passing the initiative. Lacking that, petition supporters have 10 days to ask for it to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, unless the measure comes under legal challenge.
- A media blitz on the petition has spread news about it. Media hits include The Kansas City Star (here), India Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The National Catholic Reporter (here), KKFI Community Radio, local National Public Radio, and online news sources.
The petition says the city sold up to $815 million in city bonds to finance the new plant. The initiative also notes that the city's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA), with members all appointed by the city's mayor, "holds the legal title to the facility."
Speakers at a KC Peace Planters news conference May 12 announced they were submitting the signatures that day to city offices for validation.
"The previous City Council essentially made the voters of Kansas City landlords of this facility, so let us as the landlords have a say," said Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., petition drive coordinator.
"I don't want Kansas City to become known as the American Auschwitz, where the common citizens pretended not to know what was going on," said Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, M.D., chair of the Board of the KC chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Nuclear weapons are a great threat to the health of all humanity. As we have seen with Fukushima (the site of a nuclear power plant disaster in Japan that began March 11), even the peaceful use of nuclear power is extraordinarily dangerous if anything goes wrong."
City Councilman Ed Ford, who cast the sole vote last year against the plan for the new plant, keyed in on sustainability. "When we had a vote in City Council, it struck me that building a plant for making nuclear weapons would not make the world more sustainable, so it certainly can't help make Kansas City more sustainable." He complimented the KC Peace Planters for asking the city to use the facility for something truly sustainable. "You folks battle adversity, get arrested, get signatures, and ask for a level of commitment to get people out to vote," said Ford. "You're the most sustainable people I've ever met."
Jude Huntz, director of the Office of Human Rights in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph, harked back to Bishop Robert Finn's statement in September, "The accumulation of weapons of mass destruction--which this nuclear plant proposes to construct-- constitutes a grave moral danger. ... Since the use of such weapons is morally questionable, it follows that the production of such weapons is also morally questionable."
Huntz added, "This ballot initiative represents an opportunity for Kansas City to meet this moral challenge. It provides us with the opportunity to decide what we wish to see built at this new facility; to decide what we will be as a city, a nation, and as a global community."
Maurice Copeland, a 32-year employee at the current plant and whistle-blower about contaminants there, said KC citizens would choose whether to be "the only city on the face of the planet that owns a nuclear weapons parts plant" or a city that would take the lead in the business of alternative, clean-energy sources. "I would rather have a city targeted for progress, not a terrorist target because of its product," said Copeland.
What's that "terrorist target" about? In a Dec. 22 memo concerning an early version of the petition, Assistant City Attorney William Geary says in a footnote, "It might be argued that by building even non-nuclear components, the City becomes a target of foreign nuclear powers during a conflict. The decision to build these weapons and where to build these weapons is a federal matter. In other words, which United States residents to put at risk is a federal decision which cannot be changed by local laws."
A May 16 article in The Kansas City Star quotes City Attorney Galen Beaufort as saying "legal issues" should kill the initiative. Beaufort says the ballot initiative would impair contracts between the developer, CenterPoint Zimmer; the tenant, Honeywell; and the National Nuclear Security Administration. He also says the plant will not be owned by the city but the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (a fact the petition itself recognizes).
In the May 25 Star story noted earlier, Stoever says, "When the citizens sign enough petitions, the citizens say we want to speak on the issue." The article adds that, according to Stoever, if the City Council decides the ballot proposal is unlawful, the petitioners are prepared to challenge that decision in court.
The May 16 Star article reports that Suellentrop says the new facility (close to high-wind- energy Kansas) would be ideal for manufacturing wind energy equipment, such as high-voltage power lines, turbines, and windmills.
*The coalition KC Peace Planters includes PeaceWorks-KC; Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC; East Meets West of Troost; The Recipe LLC; Cherith Brook, Holy Family and St. Lawrence Catholic Worker Houses; KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network; Benedictines for Peace; Called to Purpose for Greater Works; and the Social Justice Office, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
By Jane Stoever
Fifty-three people were arrested May 2 for trespassing at the construction site for a new nuclear weapons production plant, a new Kansas City Plant. Most of the civil resisters spent the night in holding cells at the downtown KC, Mo., police station. Their arrests, part of a retreat, were sparked with hope, joy, and the support of more than 100 other activists.
The resisters and most of the supporters, uninvited visitors to the new nuke-parts plant site on Mo. Hwy. 150 near Grandview, Mo., walked across a police line into trespass territory. As they approached a gate to the construction area, J.E.Dunn Construction Co. employees blocked the gate with a truck. The protesters gathered around the truck, talked to the employees, and sang.
After being asked by police to move, supporters returned to the other side of the police line, leaving the 53 by the truck. Thirty-two of the civil resisters hail from Missouri, and 15 belong to PeaceWorks.
Why the resistance?
"The U.S. has an incredible opportunity for global leadership," says Sharon Hannah, one of the 53, a PeaceWorks member and former adjunct professor of peace studies at Park University in Parkville, Mo.
"In April 2009, in Prague, President Obama pledged a reduction in our dependence on nuclear arms. He modeled powerful leadership. Other nations responded with relief and support," says Hannah. "Then came the authorization and funding for the U.S. nuclear complex 'modernization'--three new nuclear plants in the deal, including the new KC Plant. With this decision, the U.S. loses its integrity. We cannot effectively lead unless what we do matches what we say. For me, witnessing against the new KC Plant sends a clear, consistent message: I stand for nuclear arms reduction. Arrest is a small price to pay for calling our nation to integrity in leadership."
Hannah is a Board member of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, which joined with two other KC-area Catholic Worker Houses (Holy Family and St. Lawrence) in planning the April 29-May 2 faith and resistance retreat. The houses provide companionship and services: food, shelter, clothes, showers. The protest--"Transformation, Not Annihilation: No Nukes!"-- called for peaceful products, not nuke parts, to be made at the new Kansas City Plant. It will replace the current 62-year-old KC Plant at Bannister Federal Complex.
Civil resister Mark Bartholomew of Holy Family Catholic Worker House connects his work at the house with his resistance. He says he sometimes moves in between two house guests who are arguing. "In an effort to prevent violence, I put myself between them. It's a risk to put myself in the middle. I try to set an example, to stay calm and peaceful," he says. In trespassing, he adds, "I'm willing to offer myself up because I believe what is going on here is not right."
During processing at the police station, says Bartholomew, "I had been a little afraid because people were being taken away to a cell. But when I came into the holding cell, they all cheered; they did that for each one of us. We had time there to reflect, to talk about what it means to risk one's freedom even for just one night--some there had done that for six months at a time--we talked about risking ourselves for what we believe in."
The arrest and confinement process runs inconsistent, according to Hannah. Her plastic handcuffs were loose--"I pulled a very compassionate officer," she says--but several people bore red marks from tightened handcuffs even six hours after the cuffs were removed. She adds, "At one point, we were told we would all be held overnight and appear the next day before a judge by video, and after that some of us bonded out. Later, an officer said we'd be released between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m." The nine who put up $100 bond and several others, including the older activists, were released by 9:30 p.m., but the rest were held until about 6 a.m.
Before jail came a long wait at the construction site in what Hannah called "the herding zone," marked off by yellow police tape. Supporters across the road called to those under arrest, "We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit. How 'bout you?" The chant bounced back and forth, with "We've got freedom" answered by "We've got handcuffs. How 'bout you?"
The day before the action, retreat participants wrote a media statement. Early May 2, after the "Religion of the Bomb" street theater piece and a liturgy of hope, Gina Cook of Holy Family Catholic Worker House read the statement to the 160 protesters. "The spirit of Easter has brought us together in hope," she read. "We are here to call for the conversion of this plant from an instrument of war to an instrument of life. ... We imagine a rebirth where this site would provide beneficial, peaceful and green jobs."
Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., gave the plenary address at the retreat. "The stated Pentagon policy is that we must be prepared to use whatever military means is necessary, including the use of nuclear weapons, to protect our national security interests and to make sure another rival superpower does not emerge to challenge U.S. interests," said Laffin, a veteran peace activist. "The ultimate violence in our time is the existence and intent to use nuclear weapons. ... And yet the U.S. and other nuclear powers fail to take responsibility for this sin."
Laffin advised, "Active nonviolence, most powerfully exemplified by Jesus, is the only way out of our culture of violence and death and our greatest hope to attain a disarmed world. ... Disarmament and the abolition of weapons--from handguns to Drones to nuclear warheads-- will occur when we disarm our hearts of fear and violence and refuse to fund and support in any way the making of weapons."
The 53 resisters, including Hannah, Bartholomew, Cook, and Laffin, all received the date of July 19 for a Municipal Court hearing for their trespass. Some may pay a fine of an unknown amount in advance; some may come to the July 19 hearing; some may request a later date.
See the slide show of photos by Jim Hannah, Sharon Hannah's husband, her support person for the nonviolent resistance, and a PeaceWorks Board member. The opening pictures come from the retreat; most of the images show the May 2 witness, including huge puppets, workers in hard hats, zombies worshipping the bomb, massive deaths from a nuclear explosion, hope for transformation, the trespass action, arrest, and songs, many songs!
A 14-minute video "Transformation Not Annihilation" features the street theater piece, "Religion of the Bomb": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-s329ZW97k
By Jim Hannah
Nuclear weapons are no laughing matter.
So why was there so much laughter during the recent anti-nuke faith and resistance weekend of Catholic Workers? And why did that laughter carry over even to the closing May 2 peace witness, where 53 were arrested at the new Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant?
It must have been baffling to the squadron of police dispatched to arrest, manacle, transport, and process the "offenders." By a margin of nearly two to one, the peace folk outnumbered all others taken into custody that day. And their disturbance of the peace was ongoing--laughing, singing, dancing--some even lifting manacled hands aloft, or leaping into the air!
Most baffling must have been the exchange between those taken into custody and the even larger number of supporters who had taken the high ground at the construction site. Across the gravel roadway they yelled words of encouragement, sang resistance songs, danced in solidarity, and at one point even engaged in a game of "Red Rover, send ____ on over!"
Now let's be real: There is something inherently laughable about a rag-tag non- army of peace activists going up against the gargantuan, highly organized, and heavily funded military/corporate/media/political combine.
If you've ever seen a modern-day combine in motion, you can picture the outcome for anything or anyone standing in the way. Only stubble remains. (No shocks, just awe.) Like the 9870 STS, for instance--John Deere's largest-ever combine, weighing in at 18 tons and generating 480 horsepower. It can mow down 12 rows of corn in a single swath.
What would it take to stop one of these $300,000 behemoths? Lots, it would seem. But my dad's an Iowa farmer, and when I was home last time, he told me something quite intriguing. It seems that one of the most dreaded hazards of the combine season is the ordinary deer antler. When shed each year by bucks, antlers most often light with the tines upright. And when a combine tire passes over them, the result often is a costly, time-consuming puncture and work stoppage.
A John Deere 9860, halted by a single deer antler--Deere vs. deer. Rather ironic, and with parallels to peace work. It seems to me that what the powers and principalities most fear is how easily their highly inflated claims for nuclear weapons as "deterrents" and "defense" can be punctured. Think for just a moment. How can weapons of omnicide either deter, or defend? Isn't it obvious they lead not to deterrence, but to proliferation; not to defense, but to escalated militarism?
And while you're thinking, ponder this: How large a pin is needed to burst a balloon? Granted, the trillion dollars spent for nukes since the Manhattan Project is one large balloon. But if enough folks stand (or lie down) in the way, even The Nuclear Combine will lurch to a halt.
Yes, it's "serious business" to contemplate arrest, fines, and jail in the cause of Zero Nukes. The powers that be surely want to be taken seriously, and may even think they have the last laugh. But did you hear the one about the nuclear weapons profiteer who fell from the Empire State Building and was heard to say as he passed the 35th floor, "So far, so good!"
--Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks KC columnist and Board member.
Kansas Citians joined scores of activists from across the nation for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability's annual DC Days, a learning-lobbying blitz in the nation's capital. ANA activists presented their concerns about U.S. spending policies for nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons, and cleanup projects in meetings April 4-6 with leaders of the Obama Administration and aides to members of Congress.
The six KC-area residents at DC Days--members of PeaceWorks and the KC Peace Planters coalition --were Ann Suellentrop, Alicia Dressman, Sasteh Mosley, Sahj Kaya, and Jim and Sharon Hannah. Suellentrop and Jim Hannah serve on the PeaceWorks Board of Directors. The Kansas City contingent went to a dozen meetings, including sessions with aides to senators and representatives from Kansas and Missouri.
DC Days participants met with officials of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which owns the current Kansas City Plant operated by Honeywell at Bannister Federal Complex, and met with staff or officials of other administrative offices and congressional committees.
ANA held a news briefing April 4 at the National Press Club to release a report analyzing reactor subsidies, weapons production, and cleanup projects, stressing their major environmental and safety dangers as well as their mammoth cost overruns. The report is "Nuclear Reality Check$: The U.S. Department of Energy's Most Dangerous, Budget-Busting Proposals." Michele Boyd, director of the Safe Energy Program for Physicians for Social Responsibility, discussed the multibillion- dollar federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors, an investment the private sector viewed as too risky even before the disasters at the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility in Japan. Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear Campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, spoke about the inherent risks in the proposal by the Department of Energy to use dangerous mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium reactor fuel, as confirmed by MOX contamination at the Dai-ichi 3 reactor. Susan Gordon, ANA director, spoke about the proposed construction of huge, new nuclear weapons production plants and warhead redesign projects, which are far over budget, many years behind schedule, and a threat to U.S. global nonproliferation goals. Finally, Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, contrasted the underfunding of projects for the cleanup of nuclear contamination with the escalating construction costs at high-risk facilities, such as the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, which is now 240 percent over budget and off schedule by a decade.
On April 5, ANA hosted an Awards Reception honoring leaders in the movement for more responsible nuclear policies. Awardees included U.S. Sen. John Kerry, whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom activist Carol Urner, and Chernobyl accident cleanup leader Natalia Mansurova.
Suellentrop, of ANA, said, "DC Days provides an opportunity for ANA members to network, gain strength, and meet face-to-face with decision-makers."
Sahj Kaya, a KC artist/activist with East Meets West of Troost, performed anti-nuclear spoken word April 4 at ANA's annual pizza party. She later commented, "I found it exhilarating as a U.S. citizen to have the opportunity to give feedback to our elected officials and stress an issue that is important to our community, namely, the abolition of nuclear weapons." When Kaya performed "Nuclear Weapons," Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., a nuclear physicist and director of the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research, was overheard singing the refrain: "Test, test, hah! Test, test, hah!"
On April 2, the Kansas City delegates also attended a showing of the new documentary, The Forgotten Bomb, and met the film's producers, Bud Ryan and Stuart Overbey. The film, a comprehensive overview of nuclear weapons issues, will premiere in Kansas City at 8 p.m. April 29 at De La Salle Education Center.
For more information, contact Ann Suellentrop, a member of the ANA Board, at 913-342-0587 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're in better shape than we were before
By Rachel MacNair
The March 22 election for the Kansas City, Mo., City Council and mayor brought good news to peace advocates.
Ed Ford, the only person to stand valiantly against the new Kansas City Plant when the Council voted for it Feb. 4, 2010, got re-elected by a solid margin. Now he'll be joined by at least two others who are with us in wanting sustainable-energy jobs at the new plant, instead of nuke-parts production. The first district's Scott Wagner and the third district's Jermaine Reed both won by large margins. This gives us a solid three on the Council.
More good news in the mayor's race: While Sly James hadn't given us enough support to allow us to list him as someone preferring green jobs to nuke jobs, Mike Burke had made it clear that he was against us. We have good possibilities of conversations with James, so his win is a big relief. He'll be replacing a mayor who attended the Sept. 8, 2010, groundbreaking for the plant with a sneer for those of us protesting.
Unfortunately, Council candidates Brandon Ellington and Tracy Ward lost by substantial margins. Ellington attended the PeaceWorks annual meeting and during his campaign called for cleaning up the current KC Plant and repurposing jobs at the new plant. As a young man (30 years old) running his first race, and proving to be knowledgeable and well-spoken, he should still be able to have a bright future in later attempts at office. Another ally, Ken Bacchus of the fifth district, probably lost, but since his votes were within 1 percent of his opponent's, there might be a recount.
John Sharp won, and won by a large margin. This was expected, and only keeps things the same rather than making them worse. But it does mean that the most prominent pusher of the new plant on the Council is still there to push.
The next step is to meet with the four newcomers to the Council, as well as those of the incumbents who might be willing to listen. We know that the original vote was mainly based on the fear of losing the jobs and under the pressure of the moneyed interests who knew how to bring people out for the hearings. Our own strength is with one-on-one meetings, a format where the soundness of our reasoning trumps our low resources. So we are somewhat optimistic about bringing more Council members to our understanding as time goes by – especially when they have a quarter of the Council using the reasoning, not just one lonely voice.
Meanwhile, the number of people who voted for mayor was 70,382, and 5 percent of that is 3,520. That's the number of valid signatures we need to get our petition on the November ballot. Advice is to gather double that many signatures to be sure of having that many valid, because so many get knocked out. So the goal is to get at least 7,000 signatures by April 20, in time for us to organize and make a splash in early May about our successful petition drive, right when the new Council convenes.
Everyone hustle! Even one sheet of signatures counts, because our strength is not in money for paid signature-gatherers but in the number of people who care.
Rachel MacNair coordinates the petition drive for the KC Peace Planters, a coalition including PeaceWorks. Contact her at 816-753-2057 or email@example.com.
By Jay Coghlan and John Witham
Contrary to President Obama's rhetoric about working toward a future nuclear weapons-free world, the U.S. is spending billions rebuilding the complex of facilities it would need to make new nuclear weapons. Under the rubric of "Modernizing" aging and contaminated buildings used to build up the nuclear stockpile during the Cold War, the National Nuclear Security Administration is planning to build vastly expensive new facilities in order to have capabilities for which it has yet to fully justify the need. These WMD boondoggles include a new facility for enabling ramped-up production of the nuclear weapons' plutonium pit "primaries" at Los Alamos, NM; a new facility at Oak Ridge, TN to manufacture highly enriched uranium "secondaries"; and a new Kansas City Plant in Missouri that will manufacture and/or procure the thousands of nonnuclear components that transform nuclear explosives into deliverable weapons of mass destruction.
What is KCP doing? The Kansas City Plant (KCP) is the most productive of the eight sites in the research and production complex of the Department of Energy's semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). KCP produces and/or procures 85% of all nuclear weapons components both by type and quantity. It specializes in nonnuclear components, such as radars, guidance systems, arming, firing and fusing sets and reservoirs for tritium (a radioactive gas used to boost the destructive power of nuclear weapons). The Plant makes thousands of shipments each year to other NNSA sites for final assembly of nuclear weapons. KCP boasts that the Plant's workload is the heaviest it has been in 20 years, which is expected to last until 2015. This is astonishing given that the height of the Cold War nuclear build-up was over 20 years ago.
What does it cost to rebuild the nuclear weapons complex? The two new weapons facilities for handling plutonium and uranium mentioned above are now estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers up to $5 billion each. However, the new KCP will be different. It is being built and operated a private developer CenterPoint Zimmer (CPZ) LLC. This limited liability corporation is composed of the Kansas City magnate Zimmer Real Estate Services and Chicago-based CenterPoint Property Trust.
Zimmer "happened" to own the 165 acres of farmland that the federal government chose as the site for the new Plant. Although the City's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA) declared that the site was "blighted," CPZ sold the land to the City for an estimated $26,000 an acre, when regional farmland typically sells for $2,000 to $4,000 an acre, one very tidy profit for "blighted" land!
Who is paying for the new KCP? The PIEA declared the site "blighted" so that construction of this new federal nuclear weapons production plant could be subsidized by KCMO municipal bonds. The Missouri state government created Planned Industrial Expansion Authorities to counter urban/industrial blight and spur economic development. The PIEAs' charter is to recommend to city councils whether or not tax abatements and/or bonds should be implemented to fight blight. The enabling legislation that created the PIEAs declares that Missouri municipal governments can act positively on a PIEA recommendation only when "the development of such area or areas is necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, morals or welfare of the residents of such city."
American cities are hurting financially. Some are leasing parking meters and tollways to investors in order to get cash. KCMO is closing hospitals and schools and laying off city workers, but nevertheless managed to issue nearly $700 million in municipal bonds to subsidize a new federal nuclear weapons production plant. The KCMO Council approved municipal bonds in the name of saving 2,100 jobs in the local nuclear weapons industry (with one admirable dissenting vote-of-conscience by Councilman Ed Ford). The nuclear weapons industry is arguably immoral, with for example the Vatican declaring, "Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st century. They cannot be justified. They deserve condemnation." Further, the nuclear weapons industry has adversely affected the health of hundreds of workers at the old Plant. According to recent findings by the inspector general for the General Services Administration, the federal employees responsible for environmental monitoring at the old contaminated KCP site were lax in their duties and misleading to the public about conditions there.
Another dead end? Local Kansas City citizens should ask why the KCMO municipal government is not prioritizing sustainable green jobs for these KCP and other skilled workers, instead of subsidizing a shrinking, politically vulnerable industry whose purpose is to produce weapons of mass destruction! With respect to the public health of Kansas City citizens, according to U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics, 1,993 former KCP workers or their survivors have filed health claims seeking compensation (sadly, only 211 have been paid to date).
The KCMO municipal government will own the new KCP after construction. As far as we know this is globally unprecedented: to have a city own a federal nuclear weapons production plant. The PIEA will then lease it to CenterPoint Zimmer Holding LLC, who as sub-landlord, will lease it to the private developers CenterPoint Zimmer LLC. CPZ will then sub-sublease the new Plant to the federal General Services Administration (GSA), who acts as landlord for numerous federal properties (including the old KCP in the Banister Federal Complex). GSA will then sub-sub-sublease (really!) this new federal nuclear weapons production plant to the NNSA. Got that? It's way convoluted.
Because the new KCP is being built and operated by "private developers," who stand to profit many times over, this new federal nuclear weapons components production plant is not included in the NNSA's annual budget. It is therefore outside of typical Congressional review and authorization, and perhaps would have been rejected. It is a very sweet deal for Centerpoint Zimmer, who first sold the land to the PIEA; then is subsidized by sale of municipal bonds to build the Plant; is granted a 20-year lease-to-purchase by the PIEA in which it pays the bonds back with guaranteed income from the NNSA; and after that owns the Plant outright. During this 20-year term the NNSA will pay $1.2 billion in lease costs, not a good deal for the American taxpayer!
Leaving aside the question whether the new Plant is needed to begin with, the NNSA has repeatedly justified it by claiming it will save $100 million/year in operational costs compared to the old Plant. However, $37 million of that results from lowering the security requirements at the Kansas City Plant to reflect the simple fact that it does not have large inventories of nuclear materials. A new Plant is not needed for that.
Even the developers were wary. After the first round of bidding for the project went bust, the solicitation was restructured with "specific cost-cutting advice from CenterPoint." This perhaps means that the contract was hollowed-out in order to make a second round of bidding successful. In any event, (surprise!) CPZ was awarded the contract.
Paradoxically NNSA also started asking Congress for around $100 million in "transition costs" for moving to the new Plant in each fiscal year 2009-2015, despite earlier claims that the new KCP would not cost the federal government any up front money.
Was this a good plan? Leasing is more costly over the long term than constructing and owning a facility outright. The federal Government Accountability Office found that the break-even point of construction costs vs. lease costs for the new KCP is 22 years. However, since Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons (for which the Kansas City Plant is the main supplier of components) are scheduled to last until at least 2042, the new Plant could be operational for 40-60 years. Therefore the federal government could pay another $1.2 to $2.4 billion in lease costs to the private developers.
The NNSA wrote in its recent Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan that "because the new facility will be leased, there will be no capital investment and NNSA will not be burdened by costs for legacy disposition should the mission ever be discontinued." The "legacy" of the old Plant is one of serious contamination with cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (mostly industrial solvents) and PCBs, for which NNSA has formulated no comprehensive cleanup plan. NNSA plans to be fully operating in the new Plant in a couple of years while in effect abandoning the old Plant. The Kansas City municipal government is counting on reusing the existing Plant for local economic development, which probably cannot take place without comprehensive cleanup costing more than $250 million.
Kansas City subsidies for a new nuclear weapons production plant reward the federal government even as the federal government ignores its moral responsibility to protect its citizens and their future economic prosperity through full environmental restoration of the old Plant. The federal government should be cleaning up its nuclear weapons complex, not building it up!
For more information, visit http://kcnukeswatch.wordpress.com and http://nukewatch.org/KCNukePlant.
See Nuclear Watch's interactive map on the nuclear weapons complex at http://nukewatch.org/activemap.
Please support KC Peace Planters, which includes these organizations working on Kansas City Plant (KCP) issues: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Kansas City, PeaceWorks Kansas City, Cherith Brook and Holy Family Catholic Worker Houses, The Recipe LLC, KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network, and Benedictines for Peace. Contact: Ann Suellentrop, 913-271-7925, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director
John Witham, Communications Director
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, based in Santa Fe
Join rally 3/19
Photos by Jim Hannah, text by Jane Stoever
Braving the cold and hopping over the snow, 35 peace activists and two dogs rallied Dec. 18 at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road, KC's new site for making nuclear weapons parts. "Coming soon to a bean field near you: WMDs" said one sign. The farmland will, by 2012, house a facility for producing and procuring non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons.
Rally participants called for green jobs at the new site, not nuke jobs.
KC Peace Planters* organized the rally and later set Saturday dates for other rallies: Jan. 29, Feb. 26 and March 19. The rallies may occur either at the new site or the current site, the Kansas City Plant, part of Bannister Federal Complex (at Bannister and Troost).
Among the protesters, Ron Faust held signs to inform drivers about the new facility that will be owned by Kansas City. Faust later shared a poem he wrote for the rally, reflecting:
So what can the resistance of a few peacemakers do, Not knowing that they are peacemakers, But no matter, the unseen waves of their actions May just be what saves the world from itself.
*Peace Planters, a growing coalition, includes PeaceWorks-KC, Physicians for Social Responsibility- KC, East Meets West of Troost, Cherith Brook and Holy Family Catholic Worker Houses, The Recipe LLC, KC's Loretto Network for Peace & Justice, and Benedictines for Peace.
By Jane Stoever
Twenty-four KC Peace Planters rallied Nov. 4 at Kansas City's new nuke-plant site, Mo. Hwy. 150 between Botts Road and Prospect. They passed flyers to drivers at the stop light. They danced in the cold by the side of the road, waving signs, such as, "KC Plant makes parts for nuclear weapons--shut it down!"
Within a week, the Peace Planters decided to hold their next rally at the site on Saturday, Dec. 18, from 2 to 3 p.m., so people busy during the work week could join the peace witness.
On Nov. 4, the protesters laid 122 crosses up the hill on the public right-of-way, crosses bearing names of workers whose families say they died from contaminants at Bannister Federal Complex. That complex houses the current nuke-parts factory (the Kansas City Plant) and other federal agencies.
The Peace Planters then huddled together for prayer, granola bars, Wurther's butterscotch, petition-signing, mourning and rejoicing. They sang "Honeywell"--
"We've got nukes, they've got nukes,
Enough to make this place a Chernobyl,
Except that this would be global
And these bombs are being made in KC."
The Peace Planters called their rally "Beans, Not Bombs!" They sowed seeds at the new site, a soybean field in 2009, now under excavation for a "modern" facility to replace the 61-year-old Kansas City Plant that Honeywell operates for the National Nuclear Security Administration. A new twist with the new plant: A city commission, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, holds the title to the facility, not the NNSA, which simply leases the KC- owned facility. This summer, the city sold municipal bonds to private investors for up to $815 million to finance the project.
At the festival of hope in KC the night before the rally, PeaceWorks Board member Ann Suellentrop shared with more than 40 attendees the news from Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Namely, the NNSA FY 2011 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan says in Annex D, p. 44, "Finally, because the new facility will be leased, there will be no initial capital investment and NNSA will not be burdened by costs for legacy disposition should the mission ever be discontinued" (http://www.nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/ Stockpile_Stewardship_Management_0610%20Annex_D.PDF).
Legacy. In KC nuke-speak, that word refers to the history of toxins at the current plant. Now the term is being applied to the new site, long before construction begins.
Scott Dye of Columbia, Mo., director of the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, said at the festival of hope, "The Department of Energy has called the Bannister complex 'polluted into perpetuity.' DOE estimated around $289 million in 1989 as the cost to clean it up. But it's a tough political issue. No politician wants to say, 'We've got a festering hellhole here.'"
Dye explained, "They want the new site because they know how polluted the old one is."
He mentioned an Oct. 22 document prepared by Honeywell that suggested spending $85 million to clean up the beryllium and above-ground PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination at the Bannister facilities, then selling the complex to the general public in a "fee simple sale," an absolute sale, legacy pollution included. Referring to promises of a "clean" new site even though employees are expected to keep making non-nuclear parts such as radar, guidance systems and triggers, Dye said, "You can't make triggers for nuclear weapons without using depleted uranium."
Calling on festival participants to push for green jobs, not mean jobs producing nuclear weapons, The Recipe (spoken-word artists Priest and 3*3*7) used NNSA's abbreviation for the Kansas City Plant, KCP. They led the crowd in shouting,
"Warriors dream of the mean machine.
KCP must go green!"
Two of the eight persons who did civil resistance during the protest to NNSA's groundbreaking for the new plant Sept. 8 reflected during the festival of hope on their resistance. They noted the city's decision that, although the resisters blocked buses laden with officials going to the groundbreaking, the evidence did not support the charge of disorderly conduct.
Sarah Cool of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House in KC said, "I've always been of the belief that once one knows something, such as knowing that the City of Kansas City is building a nuke-bomb plant, then one can no longer operate as if you don't know it. ... I was convicted--convicted to do something to right this wrong. ... I knelt in front of a big bus ... after being pushed back twice by the police. I knelt and prayed."
Jim Hannah of Independence, Mo., a retired minister in the Community of Christ, asked, "Shouldn't they (the police) have arrested the war profiteers in those tinted-window tour buses?!" Concerning the dismissed charges, he deplored "the dismissive powers and principalities who don't want an embarrassing trial or media coverage of their death-dealing."
Hannah said he had had time, since Sept. 8, to ponder, "Why did I speak up, and act up?" He came to one word: gratitude. He called oneness with nature, with sacred life the source of his gratitude and his restlessness, calling him to resist nuclear weapons.
Jane Stoever, member of PeaceWorks-KC and the KC Peace Planters, may be contacted at email@example.com. The KC Peace Planters, a project begun by PeaceWorks-KC, includes PeaceWorks-KC, Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, East Meets West of Troost, The Recipe LLC, Holy Family and Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Houses, KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network, and Benedictines for Peace.
The Nov. 3 presentations by Hannah and Cool are also available:
By Joshua J. McElwee
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Success, it seems, is sometimes measured by what you don't have to put up with.
In a move that could be interpreted either as an indication of the full workload for local prosecutors or as a victory for activists, seven anti-nuclear organizers here were surprised (Oct. 27) by a notification that a pending court case against them had been dropped for a lack of evidence.
The seven had been charged with disorderly conduct for a Sept 8. act of civil disobedience at the construction site...