Taken to the Cleaners

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Alsco appealed Rhoades' decision on a legal technicality.
At a January 1997 hearing, assistant attorney general Roger Strassburg said Alsco's appeal was a ploy to buy time for SB 1448--Bowers' new bill exempting Alsco--to wind its way through the Legislature. If passed, Strassburg reminded the hearing officer, the bill would force the state to settle with Alsco for $250,000.

Alsco won its appeal, and the hearing officer remanded the whole matter to Rhoades, who has once again opened settlement negotiations with Alsco. Those negotiations are expected to conclude in two weeks.

And Strassburg was right. Vieregg did buy more time. The Bowers bill awaits a committee hearing in the Senate. And even though Bowers insists he will not push for the bill's passage, the legislation is still not dead and could be resurrected if the settlement negotiations between DEQ and Alsco break down again.

Even today, Charlotte Walton is reluctant to criticize Russell Bowers. Rather than carp about SB 1448, which could drive Maroney's out of business if it were passed, she remembers how relieved she was in 1995 when Bowers began trying to amend the state Superfund law. In those days, Walton saw Bowers as a hero.

After all, she believed she was the quintessential small-business owner who faced financial ruin under the old law. It seemed at the time that Bowers was the only politician who "understood" the fix she was in.

She was so gratified that Maroney's donated $100 to Bowers' campaign.

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Terry Greene Sterling