Attorney responds to WSP timeline claiming citizens did nothing during negotiations

The attorneys representing over a dozen citizens in the Cass County Citizens' Coalition responds to a zinc factory's claims that the group did nothing during negotiations.

Posted: Sep 22, 2020 7:31 AM
Updated: Sep 22, 2020 10:36 AM

CASS COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)— News 18 has obtained a copy of a timeline sent by Attorney John Schwarz  who is representing more than a dozen citizens, along with Attorney Jim Brugh, in several lawsuits. The lawsuits are in response to WSP, a zinc factory, coming to Cass County that many people living in the area say raises concerns over safety.

The lawusits are also in response to claims that WSP and county leaders have been negotiating deals with no public hearing or input. Last Friday The Cass County Citizens' Coalition group asked all 5,000 of its members to pack the house for a county council meeting. Their goal was to confront county leaders on a negotiation they say was done secretly.

The group said county leaders formed a "WSP incentive Resolution Committee" the group claims this was after the county ordered the citizens to negotiate with WSP.

The coalition is also claiming the committee was created secretly to make recommendations to the redevelopment commission. Attorney John Schwarz representing the citizens said the county didn't give the group a proper amount of time to negotiate with WSP.

"I think there is this feeling that nothing has been done as far as what the coalition has done and that's not the case," said Schwarz. "We've done a lot. It's just that this is a lot. 18 days is not enough time to try and do all of this."

On that day News 18 received a timeline from WSP on the negotiations. Click here for that story. Below is the timeline Attorney John Schwarz and Attorney Jim Brugh released that they say expresses the real timeline:

8/21/20 Morning. County Council tables bonds

8/21/20 Afternoon: Schwarz reaches out to WSP attorney regarding negotiations, no response.

8/25/20 Schwarz writes letter to WSP attorney stating that CCCC wants to schedule a Millport, AL, tour.

8/26/20 WSP attorney sends a “stand down” response stating that “it is our understanding that the County plans to take the lead on the process and format for the negotiations. Accordingly, we believe it is premature for WSP and the CCCC to discuss steps or process between ourselves. Once the County provides that direction, the County, WSP, and CCCC can collectively discuss next steps. Thanks.” No direction ever was provided. .

8/26/20 Schwarz replies “where did that come from that County directing negotiations?” No response.

9/2/20 Noon: County Attorney Jeff Stanton contacts Schwarz and says there is a meeting next day (9/3) and that at 1:30 and CCCC “strongly advised to attend”

9/2/20 7pm. Stanton sends JJS a ‘gag order” on the negotiations that was provided to Stanton by WSP attorney.

9/3/20 1:30 pm. Meeting occurs and three hours spent.

9/3 Set up call with Russell Kemp (Ramboll) – sent preliminary list of questions

9/4/20 Ali sends County Officials a long correspondence discrediting those who spoke for the CCCC at the forum….all while the parties are supposed to be negotiating.

9/4 Engaged pollution control expert Arijit Pakrasi, PhD, PE with EDGE Engineering & Science

9/4 Held first call to discuss environmental matters with Russell Kemp and Patricio Madero (ZN)

9/4 Set up conference call with Russell Kemp

9/5/20 WSP attorney sends the non disclosure agreement to JJS

9/8 Second conference call with Russell Kemp and Patricio Madero and Arijit

9/9/20 NDA is finalized 9/10 – Engaged Katz Korin Cunningham environmental attorney Kathryn Watson for negotiation interface (Watson had several contacts with WSP attorney over the next few days)

9/14 Sent letter and environmental update to RDC and County Council; only Stajduhar and Redwiek acknowledged receipt.

9/14 or 15 Attorney Watson shared environmental update with Frost Brown Todd attorney Kandi Hidde.

For more information and back history of this ongoing issue search WSP on the WLFI website. 

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