Pig Blood in the Trinity and Bullshit on the Blogs: About That Shiny, Happy Video

Update 3:37: City Hall isn't buying that Columbia Pack video any more than we are. City spokesman Frank Librio sent out the following response just now:

March 12, 2012 To: Media

From: City of Dallas PIO

Re: Columbia Packing

The City will use all legal means possible to ensure that Columbia Packing, or any company in the City, is not allowed to continue to discharge illicit waste and potentially harm the public and the environment.

Columbia Packing officials, on video, focus on a hidden pipe on their property that they claim was clogged with brick and other material. What company officials do not address is another hidden, illegal pipe discovered that was installed to bypass the City's monitoring device in the sanitary sewer line. The illegal installation of that bypass allowed the discharge of pig blood and other unsanitary waste materials without City oversight.

Columbia Packing has failed to document when and how this illegal bypass was installed. The bypass pipe appeared to be of recent vintage.

The search warrant and associated affidavit speak for themselves and clearly outline daily investigatory activities on the part of the City and other investigators from the day the situation was brought to the City's attention.

Frank J. Librio Managing Director Public Information Office City of Dallas

Original post: Oh, man. We're so embarrassed right now. Here we are, finally posting that video from the Pig Blood People that's been all over local media websites this morning. Must learn to be quicker and stop wasting time doing pointless things, like asking pesky questions that begin with the words, "Yeah, but ..."

We'll endeavor to do better in the future -- or maybe worse, depending on your point of view.

See, we knew we were beaten to the punch when we spotted The Dallas Morning News web site this morning and an item (labeled "Robert Wilonsky reports"; is he new or something?) about the Pig Blood People -- also known as Columbia Packing Co., the folks whose slaughterhouse got caught turning a creek and the Trinity River red with pig blood.

We're not sure what, exactly, the News means by "reports" in this case, as the item itself is a YouTube video and letter that, according to the account in the News, sort of appeared out of the ether this morning, portraying the owners of the Pig Blood Place in a much more favorable light than hitherto seen in most media, including this one.

Not to say the Pig Blood People don't deserve to be portrayed favorably. But here's the thing. Warm fuzzy soft-focus favorable videos about Pig Blood People do not appear out of the ether too much. Like, ever. An act of conception is required. Favorable videos do not come from the stork.

Warm fuzzy videos do tend to come from very competent public relations people, as did this one from Sarah Dodd, a real estate and zoning consultant often in the news. She offered us the same video this morning, and here it is, finally, after we putzed around a bit trying to find some kind of useful context other than, "Oh, my God! The stork just left a favorable video of the Pig Blood People on our porch!"

For example, we called Dodd and tried to ask about a few things that puzzled us in the video and letter. Like when Columbia President Joe Ondrusek says it's the city's fault that his company for at least 41 days washed enough pig blood into the creek to turn it and the downstream Trinity red. See, the city knew about the blood, but didn't tell him. Columbia dwelt in ignorant innocence about the fact his company had a blocked sewer line and that the slaughterhouse was sending enough pig blood from a clean-out to dye a river.

Bad city, he's says. Shame.

Yeah, but, we thought, wasn't it his sewer line that was blocked? And, yeah, Ondrusek says no one told him about the bloody creek, but are we supposed to believe his workers didn't see or smell the font of blood coming up from that clean-out? OK, sure, but didn't they notice their drains running kind of of slowly? And, yeah, maybe they didn't, but shouldn't Columbia, you know, kind of pay attention to where it's depositing it's gallons of pig blood?

Questions, so many questions. We called Dodd and tried to put some of them to her, but she said she just did the video and wasn't acting as a spokesperson for the company. So we called the company and asked for Ondrusek, but were referred to some nice woman, who told us to call Dodd.

So really, all we have is the video, a bunch of unanswered questions and a nagging feeling that Dodd just played the local blogosphere like a flock of pigeons. Still, we like to make sure you know where stuff's coming from, and we want for you to know, too, Dear Reader. That's all. No biggie. Forgive us if we're sort of old-school next to those wiggy-wacky zanies over at the city's only daily newspaper. They're so crazy over there! It's fun.

Oh, and one more thing: This morning, a couple of hours after Dodds' video found its way to the News site untouched, reporter Rudy Bush did do some reporting in which he reported City Council member Dwaine Caraway saying this: "You don't go in two days before the drug bust and let the drug dealers know you're coming. It's not anybody's responsibility to tell you you're breaking the law. If you've been in business 100 years, certainly you know when you've got a problem."

Nicely done, Mr. Bush.

Columbia Letter to Customers

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