You can call Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, Division of Water Resources at (615) 532-0191 and inquire what is being done to
remove this guy [Sherwin Smith] from office.
EDIT: They redirected me to Meg Lockhart (their media PR person), 615-253-1916, so if you call you might want to lead by saying that won't
Also surprise surprise, they will be sending me an email explaining this position, I can forward it to anybody who wants it. The good news is that a
lot of people seem to be calling. Here is the email:
Meg Lockhart let me know of your concern surrounding the inappropriate and inaccurate remarks made at a May 29 meeting concerning water issues in Mt.
Pleasant by Sherwin Smith. Please accept our apology for the statement. Mr. Smith regrets how he communicated in that instance, and while he did try
to clarify his intent at the meeting, it does not change the fact that the choice of words was inappropriate. We take our duty to serve the public
very seriously, and recognize how we communicate is a direct reflection of that service. The department is working to address this issue, and to
provide broader customer service training for all employees.
Safe drinking water is critical to the health of our citizens and our communities and we take the quality of the drinking water served to the public
very seriously. All of the sampling data and inspection information we have to date indicates the Mount Pleasant water supply is meeting all water
quality standards and is safe. We appreciate there is concern by the advocacy group, SOCM, and members of the community and TDEC staff has been
working over the past year to a) further investigate those concerns, and b) share the information we have, which all indicates a safe public water
Over the past year, TDEC has attended six meetings with SOCM, four of which were broader community meetings. We have openly shared information
related to sampling results from the Mt. Pleasant water treatment plant that indicate a safe drinking water supply. We have offered to test the
drinking water in private homes of anyone who wishes, and called 70 people who submitted water quality complaint forms collected by SOCM to try and
arrange sampling. To date, none have wished for us to do that sampling. That offer still stands. If anyone in Mt. Pleasant wishes to have the
drinking water from their tap sampled, TDEC will do so. This will help us identify any issue that may exist, or help ease fears for people if the
sampling is consistent with the sampling from the plant and indicates the drinking water is safe.
There are multiple mechanisms that serve as checks and balances in place should there be even a potential issue with the quality of drinking water
coming from a water treatment plant. For example, TDEC did require Mt. Pleasant to issue three precautionary boil water advisories in the past two
years in Mount Pleasant. Two were for line breaks and one due to operator error at the plant. Fortunately, all samples taken during that time met
drinking water criteria and the boil water notices were precautionary in nature. They were lifted upon receipt of sampling results indicating the
water supply was safe.
We are dedicated to the safety of the public’s water supply throughout Tennessee and will continue to work to investigate and share information. To
date, all scientific data indicates the water in Mt. Pleasant is safe, but TDEC remains committed to listening, investigating and sharing any results
with SOCM and the citizens of Mount Pleasant."
And here is my response:
"Thank you Tisha!
My real concern is that complaints about public services actually /are/ grounds for domestic terrorism charges. To this end I would like to speak with
Sherwin Smith, because I cannot substantiate that claim myself so far. I would like to see a transcript of the full meeting - surely there is some
contextual conversation which was not reported by SOCM that would help to clarify his remarks; but, I doubt a transcript exists, so his personal
account would be better than nothing. Do you know of a phone number or email address at which I could contact him?
Moreover, I do not think he is correct. Not to put too fine a point on it, is he going to keep his job? His is not an elected position so it is the
responsibility of his superiors to replace him if he is incapable of doing his job, namely, serving the public. The implication of his position is
that anybody voicing concerns will be reported to Homeland Security - but it's also illegal to give false information to the authorities, such as
claiming somebody is a terrorist when one knows full well that they are not. I would like to know whether he will be undergoing any psychological
evaluations to ensure that he is still competent, and whether his integrity is compromised by commercial interests.
- How can I contact Sherwin Smith (if not, why not)?
- Do you know of a transcript for the meeting? If not, it is all the more necessary for me to speak with Mr. Smith.
- If his claims are unsubstantiated, is anything being done within the TDEC to find a suitable replacement for Mr. Smith, or are any measures being
taken to ensure that the public can communicate with him, without being threatened?
I understand if you are unable to answer all of these questions fully, but if you cannot, perhaps you can help direct me to the proper channels.
Thank you for taking the time to respond!
I tried to distill some of the points made here. We all know how their response will read. But at least they will actually have to physically write
one out rather than sending an automated response.
EDIT - Here is the response:
"You are welcome. I am not aware of a transcript for the meeting. In discussing this with Mr. Smith, he indicated that he was thinking about the
Patriot Act when he made his incorrect and inflammatory reference concerning terrorism. While the definition of terrorism in that Act is very broad,
complaints to this department concerning drinking water quality, valid or not, clearly do not fall within it. Mr. Smith has apologized. Both he and
the department regret this occurred, and are making every effort to see that it does not happen again.
Mr. Smith’s intent was to prevent panic in the community based on repeated unfounded allegations that the Mount Pleasant drinking water supply is
unsafe. His statement, however, was wrong and should not have been made. We are working to try and regain the trust of the people we serve. Today,
we had teams out in the water system taking samples from a variety of places, both public and private, so we could reach out and help provide more
information to the community.
"Ok, I'm glad to hear it. I would still like to speak to Mr. Smith to advise him that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional, and though it is codified
at the moment, it will not be forever. He may not have actually read it. If you do not have his contact information, then that's ok, I will look for
it on the TDEC website and if I can't find it there, I will get back in touch with Alan Schwendimann (whose office directed me to Meg Lockhart
initially) to see if he can get me in touch with Smith. You indicated that you have spoken to him personally, so that is why I ask.
I do have more questions, regarding the labs in which water samples are tested. I doubt their findings. If you are able to speak about this, then let
me know, otherwise I will get the information from Mr. Schwendimann. I'm sure you're busy and I don't want to take up too much of your time. Thank you
for the genuine response."
So that's that. Now what I would like to know and will look into (and I'll bring my findings back to this thread), is who is testing the water.
"Private labs" I suppose. But which ones, and what are they testing for. I can't mention fluoride obviously because that's sanctioned by regulation,
but that is not the contaminants that I'm assuming the people of Mt. Pleasant are concerned about.
edit on 27-6-2013 by Samtzurr because: