Public Meeting Cancelled By Range Resources Amid Concern Public Might Attend

'To say Range cancelled because they were afraid of what I was going to say is a pathetic cop-out,' state Rep. Jesse White said.

Last week I received an email informing me about a public workshop meeting in Cecil Township with Range Resources for the stated purpose of improving relations between the town and the drilling company.

Less than three hours before the meeting was slated to begin, Range Resources abruptly canceled it.

The spin which followed is a good example of how our communities are being divided over an issue on which most residents fundamentally agree with my position—we should be developing our natural resources such as Marcellus Shale, but doing so safely and responsibly.

The key is deciding who gets to define what drilling “the right way” looks like. I thought this public meeting would be a great way for people to have a direct conversation and establish some real accountability that is sorely lacking based on feedback from my constituents (many of whom are leaseholders) and my own personal experiences.

State Sen. Tim Solobay and I received the same email from Cecil Township informing us about the meeting the day before it was set to occur. I sent both the township and multiple parties at Range an email inquiring about what our expected level of participation was to be, and did not receive a follow-up response.

My intention was to sit in the back of the room and listen unless specific questions arose about legislative issues with which I was directly involved. I was extremely curious as to what my constituents had to say, and how Range would respond.

I was also somewhat concerned based on prior experiences in neighboring communities. Range held a meeting in Mt. Pleasant Township in 2010, which they packed with non-residents who clearly had marching orders to fill the room and give the appropriate pro-Range response. Many residents at the meeting confirmed this practice based on their conversations and first-hand observations.

This isn’t speculation—it happened.

Partially to avoid a similar debacle, but mainly to let interested residents know what was happening, I posted information about the meeting on my Facebook page. This is hardly unique—I use Facebook and social media on a daily basis to keep my constituents informed about what’s happening because it’s fast, direct and doesn’t cost the taxpayers any money.

So I created an event on Facebook the day before the meeting called “Range Resources/Cecil Township Workshop” and copied the exact public notice that appeared in the Observer-Reporter to let people know about the meeting. I also posted the following as a comment for clarification purposes: “I received an email informing me about this event; to be clear, I am NOT the organizer. I have inquired as to the format, agenda, etc. and have not yet received a response. It is my understanding that public comment will be permitted.”

Again, because state law requires public comment at an advertised public meeting, this seemed totally logical.

The next day, the meeting was cancelled by Range about two hours before it was to begin. According to media reports, Range said they cancelled because my presence would be a distraction—this is an absurd fabrication with no basis in fact or reality.

I had no intention of creating any sorts of problems at all, did not encourage anyone else to do anything of the sort and did not say one word that would imply trouble. Any suggestion to the contrary is just a lie by Range. I posted public information about a public meeting in a reasonable and responsible way, like I do every day. I was doing my job, and went out of my way to not stir emotions on the issue.

You want to know what I think happened?

Range never intended to let anyone from the public speak, which was confirmed in the letter to me from its lawyer. It is state law for any publicly advertised municipal meeting to allow for public comment, so after my email to Range politely inquiring about the format and agenda of the meeting went unanswered, I treated it like any other public meeting.

I think when Range realized the cat was out of the bag about no public participation; they invented some totally false theory that I was going to start trouble as an excuse to back out.

To say Range cancelled because they were afraid of what I was going to say is a pathetic cop-out. If I had gone in and acted like a fool, I would have to answer for that, but they both know I respect my constituents and have worked too hard on this issue to act that way.

Range didn't want me (or anyone) asking questions such as, "How can you say Cecil is stopping you from drilling when you haven't even applied for a permit and the ordinance is the same one you when you drilled the 10 previous wells here?" These aren't radical questions—just ones Range doesn't want the public to know the answers to because it doesn't fit into their public relations game.

Range and its high-paid team of lobbyists, lawyers and public relations spinners will no doubt go on blaming and attacking me because it's easy, but I'm just a convenient scapegoat. If you believe a word of what they're saying about me, please call me and I will be happy to sit down and explain my positions and why I hold them.

I will explain how I favor responsible, honest drilling of our energy resources, and I will bolster my positions with documented facts. Whether you necessarily agree with me or not, I will be honest about where I stand and why I believe what I believe.

I don't know how Range can say they want to start a new spirit of cooperation with any town while keeping out or shutting up anyone who may disagree with them or question anything they say.

They said all they needed to say by cancelling the meeting at the mere thought they would have to be held accountable. Do you think they would have been fine if the roles had been reversed, and only people who disagreed with Range’s approach were permitted to speak? Do you seriously believe lawyers and industry-funded spin machines wouldn’t have descended on the meeting like a plague of locusts?

It's easy to divide and conquer a community when you can say whatever you want without being held accountable to the people in the crowd. It's not how government is supposed to work; in my personal opinion it's downright un-American.

I'm not just the elected legislator for this community—I'm also a citizen here. I grew up here, and I plan on seeing my kids grow up here. And my community will not be divided by these childish games and tactics—not on my watch.

Kittypepper November 15, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Thanks David, the truth hurts, childish and desperate, agree he should move on.....
Me November 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I'm troubled Let's keep it civil . Jesse brought this on himself. Some people do not know when it is time to be quiet.When the truth comes out. We are not allowed to say anything. I'm angry. He has denied the people in Cecil Twp the right to drill. This has hurt my friends and neighbor.. So glad there will be another meeting with Range. I hope Jesse does not attend. Thank You for freedom of the press
cecil resident November 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Rep. White has brought this outrage on himself he post all of these accusations with no proof. If people posting on the patch say something with no proof people jump all over you. Every day citizens have the right to post their beliefs because that is exactly what they are beliefs if we what people to belief us we give them proof. Jesse White is an elected offical for all of the people and should fall under a different set of rules he can no longer just throw thing out their and hopes some of it sticks. People want more than just words we have seen in the last year or so what politicians do The praise someone gets on a face book account is a controlled enviroment and you pick and choose people who like you and agree with you and if a comment that you don't like comes up you have the right to delete it. So this may be giving rep White a false sense that everyone is going to accept everything he post. The Patch is a different forum and you have to take the good with the bad .Amanda thank you once again for the site where everyone can voice their opinions not just people who agree with you.
imout November 15, 2012 at 02:50 PM
- Representin' at 10:34 pm on Friday, November 9, 2012: "I showed up last night to talk to residents about drilling in Cecil Township" - Representin' at November 14, 2012: "My intention was to sit in the back of the room and listen unless specific questions arose" - Both sides of his mouth, Representin' talks much.
imout November 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Representin' is all for drilling just like Obama is all for coal fired electric plants - "You're free to build them, it's only that it will bankrupt you." Representin': I'm for drilling, but I want to impose a $20,000, no make that $50,000, annual fee per well which will give me more power and control over those I "serve", while simultaneously slowing developement and raising the cost of enrgy, thereby slowing the economy and keeping people enslaved to the gov't so they can get their "freebies." Representin' is a died-in-the-wool liberal that seeks revenge against those who are more successful than he is.
imout November 15, 2012 at 03:21 PM
http://canon-mcmillan.patch.com/articles/why-aren-t-there-more-marcellus-shale-jobs-for-pa-workers Representin' has been demagoguing the oil and gas industry for a long time. Racially charged rhetoric is his SOP. Now, finally, he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar (see published emails from him to Range), and he is seen for what he truly is. Like a cornered rabid animal he is left only to fight for his very existence. There is no place to hide. Thus his applified lashing out.
imout November 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
GAS INDUSTRY PUNCHES BACK AT BULLY would be more accurate headline.
Amanda Gillooly November 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I had to delete a few comments that contained personal attacks. If you would like to rephrase and repost, please do. I just ask again: No matter your position, please no name calling and personal attacks. And as always: If I may be of further assistance, I am available by cell at 724-510-5659. Thank you!
Amanda Gillooly November 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
And Proud - thank you, as always, for your support of Patch!
imout November 15, 2012 at 04:00 PM
People like Representin' don't apologize, they wait to weather the storm and hope for a new news cycle. I hope that he abdicates, I mean resigns, his throne, I mean position.
Me November 15, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Amanda I read the comments you deleted. . Why were they removed ?
imout November 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Jesse White slings insults again
Ben E. November 15, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Why isn't the other Trib story on here? Either you're going to be fair to the people who read this site or you're going to be Jesse's pr person. I'd like to hear his explanation for singling out Hispanics. White has demonstrated a pattern of despicable and unbecoming behavior. He has accused a company of crimes while offering no proof, insulted what Pitzarela points out is the fastest growing segment of our population, has used sleazy means to squeeze money out of a corporation and seems to think he should be mixed up in local politics while grandstanding in Harrisburg about keeping any drilling matters local instead of at the state level. Something is terribly wrong with this scenario. http://triblive.com/mobile/m/mnews/2956692-96/range-latino-company-county-drilling-comments-latinos-making-marcellus-pitzarella
imout November 15, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Because Gillooly is a crazy obese-cat lady that leans far to the left. Her words not mine.
Cecil Resident November 15, 2012 at 08:47 PM
imout November 15, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Will Jesse White allow politicians like himelf to solicit money from Drillers?
Pat Henry November 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Arrogance and hubris are what got Jesse into this situation. He thought because he wrote the laws he was above the law. Now by trodding out these fake excuses his arrogance shines again by thinking that no one will see through his lies. His emails clearly show how little he thinks of the residents of his district saying one thing when they're looking and another behind their backs. So not only does he lie repeatedly, but he is inept as a legislator to top it off. I would love to see what else he is hiding. I'm sure the sunlight would be revealing but then Jesse would probably be sharing a bunk with Bill Due Weese.
Jesse White November 15, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Here is my response: http://www.supportjesse.com/2012/11/he-has-a-right-to-criticize-who-has-a-heart-to-help-or-why-i-choose-not-to-retaliate-against-range-resources-character-attacks/
imout November 15, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Are you kidding?! "I'm here from the government and I'm here to help" are the 10 words you NEVER want to here! Nowwww, you wish to take the high road after slinging mud ad infinitum? Even within your "High Road" post you still insult and insinuate. My goodness, I'm stunned. Just stunned.
Pat Henry November 15, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Thanks again for showing your true character and insulting us yet again. You can't claim the moral high ground if you keep selling us short with your excuses.
Amanda Gillooly November 16, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Me - I delete comments that include name calling and personal attacks, as stated.
Jason Parks November 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM
You delete comments that include name calling and personal attacks? What about all the comments from Jesse attacking personally people like Matt pitzarella? Seems Jesse has an honesty problem. "I'm not going to respond. Except for this response". Can't even get that right. Know what's missing from the "poor me" diatribe? Two things. First, nowhere inthere does it state who started all this nonsense. I'm guessing he did. Second there's no actual reason given for White going from a Range cheerleader to an antidriller. What exactly did range do that was so objectionable? Seems like the tired line about divide and conquer is exactly what you've been doing for years, Jesse. Maybe you should consider stepping down. Pounding on our state senator for something when you had every wish and intent to do ythe same? That's where you'll find your hypocrisy. You have lost all credibility and I its time for you to take your lies and disrespect for the community and go away.
Cecil Resident November 16, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I have serious issues with an elected official, on my tax dollars, wasting his business hours posting everything that comes across his desk on facebook. Its not 'public' - at least not how the MPC or the PA Code define it...It hits a targeted, hand-selected group that are his only supporters.... And feed his ego... We deserve better representation
Jesse White November 16, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Here is my response: http://www.supportjesse.com/2012/11/he-has-a-right-to-criticize-who-has-a-heart-to-help-or-why-i-choose-not-to-retaliate-against-range-resources-character-attacks/
Jesse White November 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Here is my response: http://www.supportjesse.com/2012/11/he-has-a-right-to-criticize-who-has-a-heart-to-help-or-why-i-choose-not-to-retaliate-against-range-resources-character-attacks/
Cecil Resident November 16, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Quoting the above link."Throughout this process, I have sought to bring the energy industry, government and the community together as partners in building a brighter future. This has been my position, and it will continue to be my position as we all move forward together."Im not feeling the love on that statement .i don't think i'll get much opposition on that. "I made a commitment to educate myself and the public on ‘that Marcellus’, as it quickly became known throughout my district." Hmmm. 'that 'Marcellus' says a lot.Additionally, on another issue that you continue to spotlight. (to keep your name in the headlines).If you would have done any research, you should have realised that attacking the DEP on water testing issues was completely wrong.Many articles have already addressed this, but Private water systems are not regulated in PA. you think the DEP should be responsible to use public tax dollars to provide a complete water analysis, beyond investigative necessity,for a private water supply,beyond the requirements of the oil and gas act that they enforce. I have public (city) water and pay a monthly bill to ensure that my water meets EPA
Cecil Resident November 16, 2012 at 02:00 AM
standards. I have no interest in my tax dollars being used for water sampling and analysis for private water supplies that are not regulated by any government level. I have to apologize for not addressing the rest of your article. I got bored, as it appears to be very repetitive with your previous claims that you've provided no factual basis for, and decided that you aren't worth my time
Jesse White November 16, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Here is my response: http://www.supportjesse.com/2012/11/he-has-a-right-to-criticize-who-has-a-heart-to-help-or-why-i-choose-not-to-retaliate-against-range-resources-character-attacks/
cecil resident November 16, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Just another cop out Rep. White one more talking point feel free to post it again because that is all you have. You could shut everybody up by just posting your PROOF. Typical politican tactic talk talk talk but that is all it is just talk. When you have two arguments going back and forth which one should you believe the one who provides proof or the one who tries to bore you to death with the same old talking point. Let me see got to stick with PROOF. Guess I will see the same old post from you in the morning.
Amanda Gillooly November 16, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Because I had to delete earlier comments, and because I am now going to sleep and will be unable to moderate, I am shutting down comments for this thread. Anyone who wishes to write a letter to the editor on the matter to further express their opinions may reach me at amanda.gillooly@patch.com. Good night!


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