April 25, 2012
I walked up to the podium at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting in Erie, public comment in hand, and my heart hurt terribly. I looked out at the 7 faces I know all too well, having been to just about every Board meeting since January, and decided I wanted to speak from the heart. They were used to my “attacks” as some like to call them, a call to accountability and action is what I call them. Last night though, I only wanted them to hear me as a resident of Erie and a mother, not the spokeswoman for Erie Rising.
Those in Erie who have gotten to know me over these last few months likely view me as strong willed, outspoken, over-zealous, and determined. Some even like to label me “extreme”. Last night I was none of those. I was simply Jen Palazzolo, mom of two young children who’s health, safety and well being I fear for every day that I remain a resident of Erie. A mother who’s raw emotion had to come out.
When I opened my mouth to say I was going to set my speech aside and speak off the cuff, the flood gates opened and the pain my heart has felt for the last 4 months came out at once. Every word I spoke last night was through tears, tears not only for my family but the families I have grown to know and love in this fight. I am a mother, not even close to perfect even on my best day, who wants nothing but the best for my children and all of that has now come into question living in a town with over 300 gas wells and air that has pollution that exceeds urban environments. Pollution that has been attributed to oil and gas operations. Pollution that will only be expanded one once further testing is done.
Our town chose to focus on propane because that appeared to be the easiest one to play down and do damage control to the publicity nightmare it claims Erie Rising has caused . The choice to spend time and money for Dollis Wright, a clear conflict of interest, to speak to this was like a knife to my heart. I had put a great deal of faith in members of our board and town staff believing that collectively we were working towards doing the right thing and getting answers to questions that industry seems unwilling to provide answers to.
I can’t promise to always be strong but I can promise that I will fight to the bitter end for what is right and what is just. We are currently the victims of grave injustice and we must continue to band together and support each other through our victories and times of adversity. Please remember there are no lines of politics, religion or wealth drawn around the issue of human safety and well being. A community divided is a community defeated. Thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do. My gratitude is immeasurable.