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Mistrust of Maust was Heartland’s undoing

Fri, Mar 11th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Mayor Kurt Reicks & Members of the Preston City Council,We're sorry to report that the Heartland Energy & Recycling project as has been presented, is no longer under consideration. We don't like to admit failure, but we have succumbed to mob rule. We believe it's probably better that we take our project to an area where the investment and the jobs will be welcome.The location in the industrial site will be put up for sale and hopefully something of economic value will find its way to Preston.Bob & Elaine Maust(Letter dated March 7, 2005)

"Bob Maust doesn't do anything that isn't good for Bob Maust," a Preston City Council member told me over a year ago. Perhaps that explains better than anything else why many people in this area never really trusted Bob Maust to do the right thing by them. They wanted the right technology, clean air, good jobs and a company they could put their faith in. And they never believed that Bob Maust was the man to deliver on this; that he would give them all the information, the whole truth, and consider their interests with respect.And that mistrust, more than anything else, fueled the "mob" Maust refers to. Call it the mob that Bob built, who challenged his science, his motivation, and his conclusions. By his own admission Maust said he would build the plant elsewhere if people were opposed to it. But Bob never fully understood why anyone would oppose him. He also said the plant didn't need subsidies, but he fought hard to get state JOBZ subsidies for his plant nonetheless.In the end, Maust will take his plant somewhere else (rumored to be Mississippi) because the cost of putting it in Minnesota became too steep.He still had to fight Judge Wieners, SEMEP and the other groups opposed to the plant, as well as the MPCA, who originally were his biggest supporter. And the specter of a pricey environmental impact statement apparently scared off the deep pockets that supposedly supported this project in the first place.When all is said and done, it was the trust factor that did Maust in. Maust saw Preston as a familiar place that was easy pickings for the necessary permits he needed for his plant. But for the people who lived here, Bob Maust was a known character whose history of doing what was good for Bob Maust was all too familiar a story. That's why they opposed him in the first place and were willing to upset their comfortable lives to fight him.

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