Who, or what, is the Virginia Biosolids Council? 


Short answer: Synagro, Mid-Atlantic, Inc.
Long answer:  Synagro, and Charlie Hooks, and Robert Crockett, and/or their PR firms.

There has been a bit of buzz in the sludgeosphere lately regarding a new pro-sludge web site:  www.virginiabiosolids.com that is, ostensibly, the site of the Virginia Biosolids Council. But who the heck is the Virginia Biosolids Council???  The site gives a POB in Richmond.  No physical address.  No phone. And no names -- like the board of directors or the main honcho.   Weird, thought I.

So I tracked down the registrant of the domain name.  You can do this yourself a number of ways.  I find the easiest is to got to www.GoDaddy.com and type in the name as if you wanted to register it yourself.  Go Daddy will do a quick search and tell you if it's available.  If it isn't you can follow a couple of links to WhoIs, which is a site that gives out info about who owns a domain.

VirginiaBiosolids.com is owned by a PR firm in Lynchburg called Hooks Associates.  The principal of Hooks Assoc. is Charlie Hooks.  Hmmmm. . .  This is getting even more suspicious.  Let me tell you why.

I met a Charlie Hooks on July 12, 2005 -- that was the night we had a pretty good sludge blow-out here in Amherst.  (If you've never been to one of the pro-sludge donkey-shows put on by VDH, you ought to treat yourself.  They are mandated by law before a sludge permit can be issued in a county, but the law only mandates that there be a public "meeting."  It doesn't mandate that the VDH come into the community and sell the whole sludge-is-good-as-gold bucket of slop, but that's what they try to do.) 

Anyway, at the July 12th meeting I met Charlie Hooks.  He's actually a friend of a friend of mine.  Mr. Hooks was at the sludge meeting with the local representative from Synagro and Mr. Hooks told us that Synagro had hired his PR firm to help do some PR damage-control in the central Virginia area.  No ain't that a coincidence???  Synagro's PR guy is the same guy who owns the web domain for the Virginia Biosolids Council.  What a small world, and it gets smaller.

The PO Box for the "Virginia Biosolids Council" is the same PO Box of one Robert Crockett, the managing partner of Crockett + Hooks, as you can see from their web site.   Mr. Crockett used to be a company lobbyist for WestVaCo.   He was recently appointed to the Waste Management Board by Gov. Warner.   And the Hooks part of Crockett+Hooks??  You guessed it, he's the same Charlie Hooks who owns VirginiaBiosolids.com, the web site of  the spooky Virginia Biosolids Council.

Well, what is it, exactly, that Crockett + Hooks do?  I know you aren't going to believe this, but they are media, lobbying, and PR damage control guys for companies that may not be perceived by the public as, well ... environmentally friendly.  Here it is in their own words:

What We Do
Any action that could impact a community’s natural or cultural resources—land, water, air, scenic views, historic sites, or quality of life—is almost certain to provoke public and media interest. A lack of information or misinformation spread by others can result in costly delays or even rejection of a proposed project or program. We believe that fire prevention provides greater value than fire fighting. We . . .successfully manage issues communication. . .

So the obvious scenario here is that Synagro hires Hooks, or Crockett, or Hooks Assoc., or Crockett+Hooks, or the whole bunch of them to set up a phony "Virginia Biosolids Council" as a front for disseminating "facts" on sludge.  Bingo!  You got a propaganda machine just like that.  Hooks sets up the web site and Crockett answers the mail.  Now go thither and flood the Net with mis-information about how good sludge is for everyone's health and happiness.  These guys actually get paid for this.  I wonder if they figure that the wealth they pass on to their grandkids will offset the screwed-up environment their grandkids inherit.  


Copyright, 2005 - 2012, Denis O'Brien (aka The Gutter Grunt).  All rights reserved.