On RFK, Jr.

I think RFK, Jr. would be a poor choice for the EPA or Department of the Interior (posts he is rumored to be under consideration for), but I’m not nearly as worked up as many of my fellow bloggers are.

In his favor, Kennedy has a reputation as a staunch defender of wild places, and an opponent of reckless development and of industrial pollution. Coupled with his unquestionable media savvy and name recognition, he would seem like a perfect choice.

The problem is, he got suckered by the anti-vaccination activists pushing the bogus and utterly discredited autism-thimerosal link. There’s no doubt that environmental mercury is a dangerous pollutant, and Kennedy has been great in taking on polluters, and educating consumers about the risks they face from contaminated fish, water, and air. But he uncritically accepted the claim that the mercury in thimerosal is as risky as the mercury released from smokestacks, and it simply isn’t. He didn’t do his job as a consumer of information, and utterly failed the public in repeating and pressing these claims.

I do think that this uncritical approach to that issue should disqualify him from such a cabinet-level position, especially coupled with his lack of experience administering a government agency. He would be better suited for something like Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources. He’s worked as a prosecutor before, and that would give him a position to pursue the sorts of environmental crimes he’s worked to clean up as a private citizen, and to enforce laws and consent decrees his work helped create. It would also keep him far away from scientific decision-making, while giving him a clear platform from which to develop his plans for an eventual Senate run in New York.

Then, when Hillary Clinton is appointed to the Supreme Court, he can take her seat. Other Supreme Court nominees I’d like to see: Cass Sunstein, Lawrence Lessig, and all the names floated by the ABA. And yes, I endorse Brad Delong’s court-packing plan, which would leave room for all of those names in the course of an Obama presidency. Is it punitive? Yes. But that’s what you get when you win a genuine mandate. It would be over-reach if the proposal were for a permanent increase in the size of the court, though the Court’s increasing workload makes that idea attractive on non-partisan grounds. Perhaps some sort of deal could be reached whereby the size of the court would increase in five years (allowing the possibility of Republican nominees should things go sour by the next election), then again in another 5 years. Or raise the size of the Court to 15, and let Senate Republicans present President Obama with a slate of several dozen nominees from whom to select one or two of the six new justices (elections have consequences).

Comments

  1. #1 george.wiman
    November 6, 2008

    We heard RFKjr speak here at Illinois State University. Aside from his speech impediment he is a very good communicator and he made a great case for forcing companies to internalize costs they have heretofore been externalizing to the commons. Didn’t mention vaccination and believe me, I was listening for that.

    And that really is, from an economic view, what’s wrong about pollution: externalized costs, not borne by the polluter, can be all out of proportion to the profits earned and the polluter has no reason to care. From deformed kids in Minemata to a global climate catastrophe, neither one shows up on the annual report and that’s all the stockholders care about.

  2. #2 SLC
    November 7, 2008

    The problems with Mr. Kennedy go way beyond the issue of thimerosal in vaccines. He has also joined the anti-vaxers in their totally irresponsible campaign. He should not be allowed within 10 miles of a government agency with scientific responsibilities.

  3. #3 Maggy
    November 7, 2008

    The most recent thimerosal study, “Weight of Evidence Against Thimerosal Causing Neuropsychological Deficits” was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Below is some information on the studie’s authors. Is this what you mean by independent studies?

    * Dr. Thompson – the lead investigator – is a former employee of Merck.

    * Dr. Marcy has received consulting fees from Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune.

    * Dr. Jackson received grant money from Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis. He received lecture fees from Sanofi Pasteur and consulting fees from Wyeth and Abbott. Currently, he is a consultant to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

    * Dr. Lieu is a consultant to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunication Practices.

    * Dr. Black receives consulting fees from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Merck, and grant support from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Merck, and Novartis.

    * Dr. Davis receives consulting fees from Merck and grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

    The article then states, “No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.” One must wonder if it might have been easier to identify researchers who don’t have a conflict of interest! The study goes on to report that any child with a preexisting neurological condition, like autism, was eliminated from the study. However, is it not possible – in fact, probable – that these children are the most at risk from exposure to thimerosal? Any child who developed certain neurological conditions was excluded. These conditions included encephalitis and meningitis. The possibility that thimerosal might cause these conditions was eliminated from consideration. Children were eliminated for many reasons from the study. One group excluded was children whose birth weight was under 2,500 grams, about 5.5 pounds. How many babies were eliminated for being underweight is not stated. Babies of this weight are hardly rare and they are not excluded from vaccinations. What legitimate reason could be given for this exclusion? This is just one of the independent statistical studies carried out by the accused. I could pick apart everyone of the studies in similar fashion. They take a page right out of the tobacco industrie’s playbook. The facts are simple, multi-dose vaccine vials contain 50,000 ug/l Hg, a level 250 times higher than what the EPA classifies as hazardous waste. The type of mercury in vaccines, ethylmercury, deposits more toxic Hg++ mercury in the brain than equal amounts of methylmercury. We can all agree that infants are more susceptable to mercury damage than adults. Injected Hg goes right into the bloodstream making it much more toxic than ingested Hg.

  4. #4 Josh Rosenau
    November 7, 2008

    Maggy: I’m inclined to regard your post as spam, since it’s obvious you just cut-n-pasted it from elsewhere. I didn’t bring up the paper you are discussing, and I don’t know why you think my comment section is the right place to air your grievances with it.

    What I do know is that numerous studies in multiple countries all found no link between autism and thimerosal. Removing thimerosal from vaccines doesn’t alter the rate at which autism is diagnosed. There’s no evidence of a link, and it is dishonest and inaccurate to suggest otherwise.

  5. #5 Maggy
    November 7, 2008

    What are comment sections for Josh? Claiming that ethylmercury, a short-chain alkyl mercury compound is not toxic like smokestack mercury shows you know absolutley nothing about mercury.

    “What I do know is that numerous studies in multiple countries all found no link between autism and thimerosal.”

    All statistical studies. All done by the perpetrators.

    “Removing thimerosal from vaccines doesn’t alter the rate at which autism is diagnosed.”

    The lead author of that study is the “Immunization Director of the state of California”. How nice to investigate yourself. What I don’t understand Josh is that they appear to be speaking out of both side of their mouths. One day they say rates of autism have not gone up at all and then the next day they say thimerosal has been removed from vaccines (which it hasn’t) and rates of autism are sky-rocketing. Which one is it Josh!

  6. #6 nhokkanen
    November 7, 2008

    Boyd Haley, PhD. Former chair, University of Kentucky chemistry department.

    Mercury Biochemistry and its Relationship to Neurological Diseases (2007)
    http://www.autismone.org/uploads/2007/Boyd%20Haley%20AO%202007%20presentation.ppt

    Video on mercury toxicity and autism
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4115912987954370615

  7. #7 Josh Rosenau
    November 7, 2008

    Maggy: The goal of comment sections is not to rail against something happening on another blog, but to further the conversation under way at this blog, in this post. The topic here being: should RFK, Jr. be the head of the EPA? I say “no.”

    Who said “rates of autism are skyrocketing”? My statement was that removing thimerosal doesn’t alter the rate of diagnosis. It’s clear that expanding the diagnostic criteria for autism, and raising awareness of it, increase the rate of diagnosis even if the underlying rate of occurrence were unchanged. The evidence for an actual increase in autism rates is iffy at best, and there is no evidence that removing thimerosal reduces autism rates. This falsifies the prediction of the anti-vaccinationists.

    There was indeed a study of autism diagnosis rates in CA before and after thimerosal, as well as studies in Canada and Europe. This is a fairly large circle of conspirators, er “perpetrators.” I fail to see the conflict of interest when someone is involved in regulating immunizations examines the safety of immunization. That strikes me as such a person’s job. Can you point to actual malfeasance, or is this all handwaving?

    Finally, there is strong evidence that ethylmercury doesn’t bioaccumulate, and is excreted relatively quickly. It therefore makes sense that it makes no difference to autism diagnosis rates whether thimerosal is included in vaccines or not.

    nhokkanen: What, if anything, is your point? Powerpoints and videos aren’t evidence, and neither has anything to do with RFK, Jr.’s qualifications to be the head of the EPA.

  8. #8 Maggy
    November 8, 2008

    The study most frequently cited is from Denmark. Denmark banned thimerosal in 1992 after their health authorities realized how much mercury kids were being exposed to. For starters, kids from Denmark received only a third of the number of thimerosal containing vaccines as kids in the U.S. In the years prior to the banning of thimerosal the researchers only counted autistic inpatients. In 1995 the researchers started counting autistic outpatients in addition to inpatients. Since outpatients outnumber inpatients by a factor of 13:1 in Denmark, one would expect a minimum increase in cases of autism of at least 13 fold. This was not the case. Rates of autism in Denmark appear to be about 1:10 of the rates in the USA.

    “Finally, there is strong evidence that ethylmercury doesn’t bioaccumulate, and is excreted relatively quickly.”

    Work done by the University of Washington on infant primates shows that Hg++, following the de-alkylization of ethylmercury, does indeed bioaccumulate in the brain. It accumulated at levels twice as high as what was found in methylmercury dosed primates. Hg++, following de-methylization, has been identified as the main toxic agent in the brain and has an indefinite half-life there.

    See:

    Charleston J, Body R, Bolender R, Mottet N, Vahter M, Burbacher T. Changes in the number of astrocytes and microglia in the thalamus of the monkey Macaca fascicularis following long-term subclinical methylmercury exposure. Neurotoxicology 17:127-138

    Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021

  9. #9 Oldfart
    November 8, 2008

    From the Burbacher “Comparison…..” paper:

    Although the initial distribution volume of total Hg is similar for the two groups, a biphasic exponential decline in total blood Hg is observed only after im injections of thimerosal. This suggests continual distribution into and localization in tissue sites over time. It is relevant to note that the kidney-to-blood concentration gradient of total Hg is much higher in the thimerosal monkeys than in the MeHg monkeys (mean � SE, 95.1 � 10 vs. 5.8 � 0.6). The second slower phase of washout could also represent the gradual biotransformation of ethylmercury (the presumed principal organic form of Hg after thimerosal administration) to Hg-containing metabolites that have a different tissue distribution or are more slowly eliminated. Further investigations of the disposition fate of thimerosal-derived Hg should address these issues.

    Total Hg derived from im thimerosal is cleared from the infant M. fascicularis much more quickly than MeHg. The washout T1/2 of total blood Hg after im injections of thimerosal in vaccines is much shorter than the T1/2 of MeHg (6.9 vs. 19.1 days). These results support the earlier conclusion of Magos (2003) that Hg is cleared from the body faster after the administration of ethylmercury than after the administration of MeHg. More interestingly, the washout blood Hg T1/2 in the thimerosal-exposed infant macaques (7 days) is remarkably similar to the blood Hg T1/2 reported for human infants injected with thimerosal-containing vaccines reported by Pichichero et al. (2002).

    You forgot to mention those paragraphs, Maggy.
    Also the other paper you cited reports only on the effects of MeHg, not ethylmercury – another fact you failed to mention. T. Burbacher, an author of both papers, worked for the EPA. Does that make his conclusions suspect? I am unable to trace all the other authors easily but I’m sure some, if not all, of them are connected to government, university or corporate research in one way or another. Does that not make the papers you cite suspect by your own standards?

  10. #10 Maggy
    November 8, 2008

    Oldfart no, not at all. I agree that the ethylmercury cannot be detected in the blood for more than 48 hours. This is because it is rapidily converted to Hg++. That is my point. It’s not cleared from the body, it’s cleared from the blood because it can no longer be detected. It “suggests continual distribution into and localization in tissue sites”. This is from you OF. I agree 100%. The other paper I cited is about methylmercury. But it also is about the conversion of methylmercury to Hg++. This paper states that the real toxic agent is Hg++. The ethyl and methyl only serve as a carrier of mercury into the brain and other organs. Like dissolves like! The EPA at one time hired great scientists. The last 8 years they only hired people who would say what they told them to say.

  11. #11 Josh Rosenau
    November 9, 2008

    Maggy, there are numerous independent studies which have found the same non-change pre- and post-thimerosal documented in California and in Denmark (and in Canada, etc., etc., etc.). To be clear, the only meaning I’m ascribing to “independent” here is that the studies were conducted independently of one another, with different datasets and by different researchers.

    As for the Burbacher study, I add to Oldfart’s excellent observations this:

    A much lower brain concentration of total Hg was observed in the thimerosal monkeys compared with the MeHg monkeys, that is, a 3-to 4-fold difference for an equivalent exposure of Hg. Moreover, total Hg is cleared much more rapidly from the brain after thimerosal than after MeHg exposure (24 vs. 60days).

    Furthermore, the Burbacher paper’s major conclusion is that:

    The key findings of the present study are the differences in the disposition kinetics and demethylation rates of thimerosal and MeHg. Consequently, MeHg is not a suitable reference for risk assessment from exposure to thimerosal-derived Hg.

    By your own chosen gold standard, it is inappropriate to cite the second paper in this context, and by your own chosen gold standard, thimerosal does not bioaccumulate in the brain.

    Finally, I find your obsession with people’s employers or granting agencies to be pretty silly. Yes, the Bush administration are a bunch of bastards, but that criticism only applies to their political appointees. The civil service are good and honorable folks, and I can’t let you smear them. The fact that someone gets a grant from someone else does not constitute a binding contract for the grantee’s soul. If there are methodological problems, the appropriate forum for those criticisms is the peer review process. Write up relevant methodological critiques, and submit them as a letter to the journal. Replicate experiments.

    With thimerosal, replication of early experiments cited to back the link to autism have been repeated, and the suggestive results have not been replicated. The entire attempt to tie autism to thimerosal was built on quicksand, and it collapsed long ago. There is no evidence of a link, no reason to continue seeking a link, and most importantly, no evidence that using thimerosal or not using it has any effect on autism diagnosis rates.

    RFK Jr. got suckered, and should not be in a position to make scientific judgments for the United States government.

  12. #12 Maggy
    November 9, 2008

    Josh, your are right! Mercury preserved vaccines do not cause autism. Autism is simply a term from the psychiatric DSM-IV manual. It’s nothing but a smokescreen. It provides an alibi for the drug companies who added mercury to vaccines at levels 250 times higher than hazardous waste levels (based on toxicity characteristics). It provides an alibi for the CDC, FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the other drug company cronies who are responsible for the safety of our children. It provides an alibi for the people who administered this poison. It provides an alibi for health insurance companies so they don’t have to pay for treatment for these sick kids. It provides an alibi for psychiatrists so they can force powerfull anti-psychotic drugs on these kids who are already terribly confused.

    There will never be an identifiable cause for autism. There are though 11 published papers which identify the underlying medical condition of autism as neuroinflammatory disease. My favorite is ‘ Neuroglial activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Autism’. This was published by John Hopkins University. Now, do you want to debate whether mercury, a known neurotoxin, added to childhood vaccines at levels 250 times higher than what the EPA identifies as hazardous waste, causes neuroinflammatory disease? Do you want to debate whether brain damaged kids behave in a way so that some psychiatrist can label them as somewhere on the ‘spectrum’?

  13. #13 Josh Rosenau
    November 9, 2008

    Maggy, you continue to dishonestly conflate different forms of mercury, despite evidence that the form derived from thimerosal behaves very differently in the body than methylmercury (just as wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, and grain alcohol, ethyl alcohol, behave quite differently).

    Then we get a bizarre and utterly baseless allegation of grand conspiracies involving the entire medical community, for reasons that are unexplained and have no reason to exist.

    Earlier, you attacked your critics by saying “One day they say rates of autism have not gone up at all and then the next day they say thimerosal has been removed from vaccines (which it hasn’t) and rates of autism are sky-rocketing,” and now you say that autism doesn’t even exist. It’s classic crankery, shifting goalposts every time someone shows that your earlier claims were false.

    *plonk*

  14. #14 Susan
    November 10, 2008

    What do you have to say about the study of the non-vaccinated Amish and the complete lack of autism in those unvaccinated, though, statistically there should be many cases?

  15. #15 Maggy
    November 10, 2008

    Josh, Go into one of your University’s laboratories. Find a Merck Index amd look up thimerosal. Report back to us what you find. This from the American Journal Of Public Health: http://www.ajph.org/cgi/eletters/98/2/244#6301

    “The author cites the inventors of thimerosal and writes, “extensive in vitro testing shows that thimerosal was 40 to 50 times as effective as phenol against Staphylococcus aureus.” He then claims “concerns over neurotoxicity in infants receiving thimerosal from vaccines were never raised by medical or government authorities before the late 1990s.” This is false. In 1982, an independent panel was convened by the FDA (2). The panel called for the removal of mercury, including thimerosal, from all over-the-counter products. It declared thimerosal as being both unsafe and ineffective. It was singled out as being “no better than water in protecting mice from fatal streptococcal infection.” It was shown to be 35.5 times more toxic to embryonic chicken heart tissue than the aforementioned Staphylococcus aureus.

    He goes on to declare that the “comparatively miniscule exposures [of thimerosal] involved in vaccines were well within all published guidelines for mercury exposure.” Unfortunately, he never took the time to analyze a vaccine vial for mercury concentration. The Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth for over ten years, contained 25,000 parts per billion (ppb) of mercury in the multi-dose vaccine vial. The multi-dose DTP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 4 times each in the 1990s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age, contained 50,000 ppb mercury. According to the EPA, any liquid that contains more than 200 ppb mercury is to be classified as hazardous waste based on toxicity (3). It’s hard to believe that a level of mercury 250 times higher than hazardous waste levels would be referred to as “miniscule.” The fact is, on any given day of receiving even a single thimerosal containing vaccine in the 1990s, all published guidelines for mercury exposure were exceeded.

    Several pages of the paper examine the toxicity of methylmercury and its past use as a fungicide. We are led to believe that this form of mercury is much different than ethylmercury, the type found in vaccines. This is in spite of the fact that ethylmercury was used for the same purpose. In fact, Ethylmercurric Chloride, the material used as a fungicide (which was banned long ago) is what is used to make thimerosal. This can be easily confirmed by looking in a Merck Index. We now know that this type of mercury deposits twice as much inorganic mercury in the brains of primates as compared to equal doses of methylmercury. Inorganic mercury, following the de-methylation of organic mercury, has been identified as the primary neurotoxic agent in primate studies.”

    (2) U.S. Food and Drug Administration, proposed rules, Federal Register 47/436-01, January 5, 1982.

    (3)http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/mercury/regs.htm#hazwaste

  16. #16 Josh Rosenau
    November 10, 2008

    Susan, thanks for asking. The Amish do vaccinate, and they do get autism. The rate of autism diagnosis is lower, but there are many possible explanations for that. Founder effects could play a role, since the Amish have a small starting gene pool and autism is clearly driven in part by genetics. Reduced screening probably plays an important role, also.

    If you look through the comment thread at the site I just linked, you’ll find lots of evidence that autism exists in the Amish community, but that it isn’t treated medically. People recognize it and deal with it inside the family and the community, perhaps without labeling it as “autism.” Given that much if not all of the recent rise in autism diagnosis rates is attributable to broader screening and expanded diagnostic criteria, it isn’t surprising that a community which holds modernity at arm’s length would be behind that particular curve.

  17. #17 Josh Rosenau
    November 10, 2008

    Maggy: Nothing you are citing responds to my points. Argument by repeated assertion will gain you nothing.

  18. #18 Maggy
    November 10, 2008

    “Maggy, you continue to dishonestly conflate different forms of mercury, despite evidence that the form derived from thimerosal behaves very differently in the body than methylmercury (just as wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, and grain alcohol, ethyl alcohol, behave quite differently).”

    “Nothing you are citing responds to my points. Argument by repeated assertion will gain you nothing.”

    Sorry Josh. Wasn’t your point above be that thimerosal is some form of safe organic mercury?

  19. #19 Josh Rosenau
    November 10, 2008

    My point was that thimerosal does not cause autism, and that it is dishonest to present research about methylmercury as if it informed us about the action of ethylmercury. You’ve been presented with evidence of that, evidence drawn from the papers you yourself cited, yet you continue in the same dishonest vein.

  20. #20 Maggy
    November 10, 2008

    Sorry to upset you Josh. I’m a very honest person. Unlike youself, I’ve cited peer-reveiwed references for everything I’ve said.

  21. #21 Josh Rosenau
    November 11, 2008

    You’ve also ignored it when other people point out that your own citations refute your claims. That is the height of dishonesty.

    It is also dishonest to dismiss contrary research out of some vague and unjustified accusation of bias. At least 8 peer reviewed studies have looked at the rates of autism before and after thimerosal was in childhood vaccines, and none found a statistically significant effect. Instead of responding to the data, you engaged in ad hominem attacks on the authors of some of the studies, and persist in ignoring those studies you can’t dismiss on that dishonest basis.

    These are not the actions of an honest person.

  22. #22 Maggy
    November 11, 2008

    Bye Josh. It was nice meeting you.

  23. #23 Anthony Henry Smith
    November 11, 2008

    Keep RFK out of EPA

    The job at the EPA calls for someone with a keen sense of both ethics and science. Kennedy is not that person.

    The following letter was written in support of Robert H. Boyle (founder of Riverkeeper and author of “The Hudson River, A natural and unnatural history”) and others who resigned from Riverkeeper rather than support R. F. Kennedy, Jr.’s compromise of the principle that ethics must never be separate from science.

    This letter was first published in the Putnam County News and Recorder, Cold Spring, New York, on August 30, 2000 and they have carried it on their website ever since for which they have my thanks. (AHS, 2008)

    Letters:

    Supports Former Riverkeeper Board Members’ Action
    Editor,

    The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers, Inc. supports Robert H. Boyle, former president of the Riverkeeper, Inc. and former Riverkeeper, Inc. board members John Fry, treasurer, Nancy Abraham, Kathryn Belous Boyle, Pat Crow, Theresa Hanczor, Robert Hodes, Ann Tonetti and Alexander Zagoreas in the action they have taken in resigning from Riverkeeper in opposition to the hiring of a convicted environmental felon to serve in the position of staff scientist on the staff of Riverkeeper.

    In issuing this statement of support, The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers wishes to emphasize that ethics cannot be separated from science and that the environmental movement will prosper best in an atmosphere of demonstrated personal responsibility and earned mutual respect.

    We encourage individuals as well as environmental organizations to join us in similar expressions of support for the principled stand taken by Boyle and fellow board members in their defense of the ethical integrity of the environmental movement here in the Hudson River Valley.

    Boyle and 8 of the 22 Riverkeeper board members resigned from Riverkeeper, Inc. in protest of the hiring of William Wegner. For eight years Wegner operated a ring of smugglers who stole bird eggs directly from the nests of protected cockatoo species in Australia. Wegner and his ring then smuggled the eggs by air to the United States. Birds that hatched and survived were then sold for as much as $12,500.00 each. A federal judge accepted Wegner’s plea of guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax fraud and sentenced him to five years in prison. The judge also found that Wegner had attempted to obstruct justice by committing perjury at the trial of a co-defendant Wegner paid a $10,000.00 fine.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has stated that everyone deserves a second chance and notes that he himself had been given a second chance in that he had once been convicted of a drug offense.

    We note, however, that Kennedy’s offense was essentially a victimless crime while Wegner’s offense was a crime against the environment, the people of Australia, the people of the United States and against the birds. In order to avoid detection during the flight, smugglers flushed newly hatched chicks down the plane’s toilet

    Although Wegner has been convicted and served his sentence, nothing he or anyone else can do will correct the damage he has done or make his victims whole again.

    Wegner’s prison sentence seems to have done little to improve his ethical sense. The resume Wegner submitted to Riverkeeper accounts for his period of incarceration without referring to the fact of the incarceration itself Wegner describes work he performed and omits the significant information that he performed this work while he was serving time as a prison inmate.

    Kennedy overstepped his position as attorney for Riverkeeper when, in November of 1999, he hired Wegner. Boyle terminated Wegner after learning of the hiring and upon review of Wegner’s resume, court records and media accounts. The matter came to a climax at a board meeting on June 20th when Kennedy insisted that Wegner be rehired over Boyle’s objection.

    While we hope Riverkeeper continues to work to produce changed human beings who think and act differently in regard to the Hudson River and all that pertains to it, we also recognize the primary mission of Riverkeeper is not the rehabilitation of Wegner or of those like him.

    Sincerely,

    Anthony Henry Smith
    Fishkill

    (for The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers)
    (Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage, a separate organization, has also supported this letter from their beginning.)

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