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McCloud Services District Takes Up Nestle Bottling Plant Issue Again

At the last McCloud Services District meeting (MCSD), a majority of the community spoke out against immediately entering into new contract negotiations with Nestle Waters of North America.

A majority wanted some “breathing room” from the predations of the multinational, and while the MCSD board temporarily punted, it’s unclear what will happen when the subject comes up for a vote at the January 26 McCloud Services District (MCSD) meeting.

After five years of fighting and Nestle-fostered factionalism (the multinational used its cash to interfere in the last election, and employs hired “consultants” to spread the word), most every person in the tiny rural town of McCloud expressed a desire for a little “breathing room” – something Nestle simply won’t give.

The problem, of course, is one of trust; after the board negotiated the first Nestle contract behind closed doors (and delivered one of the worst-negotiated contracts the world’s ever seen), Nestle continually interfered in the town’s affairs, including funding a slate of pro-Nestle candidates in the 2006 election.

In that case, they maintained they weren’t interfering, then delivered a sizable check (equal to 2/3 of the total spent) to the slate the day before the election.

Locals were also hired to serve as “consultants” and they spread Nestle’s gospel, often without attribution (letters to the editor didn’t identify the writer as a paid consultant, just a citizen).

In addition, Nestle’s legal bullying of opponents has been seen in communities across North America, though it evidenced itself here with an attempt to subpeonea the private financial records of plant opponents.

Given the litany of abuses, legal bullying, misleading statements and lack of responsible resource stewardship (no flow studies were conducted in McCloud until Nestle was forced to), why is the MCSD still hewing to a Nestle-driven schedule for negotiations?

At the very least, the MCSD should give the town – which is finally showing signs of healing – a little breathing room.

Unfortunately, that’s not in the Nestle playbook.

What’s unclear is how the votes on the board will fall; the complexion of the board has changed, and at least one of the members has soured on Nestle after the company stepped out of its last unworkable contract without warning any of the MCSD first.

Trust is hard to come by when one of the negotiating parties treats the other the way a dog treats a bone – which Nestle has done to small rural communities in pretty much every part of the country.

I urge the McCloud Services District – at the very least – to tell Nestle to back off while the town of McCloud figures out what it really wants.