Friday, April 27, 2012

I launched a new blog the other day: Todd Hawkins Landscaping.

Houseboat for sale

Thursday, December 21, 2006

TIME Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year

I don't very often write letters to the editor, but I felt so grateful to be chosen their person of the year that I just had to write and convey my thanks. Instead of picking a famous person, TIME put a little mirror on the cover and you guessed it, it turns out I am person of the year. The sub-title reads: "You., Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world." Here is the letter I sent to the editors of TIME:

Thank you for choosing me Person of the Year. Yes, I control the Information Age. As the first woman professor of a small religious school, I was, without warning, given a terminal appointment. After my terminal appointment ended August 31, 2006, I published a blog ( that tells my story--a story of injustice that has been picked up by many other blogs and newspapers and local television. That's a spunky lady on your cover. Best choice ever.

Ruth Tucker, Ph.D.
Grand Rapids, Michigan


I am one of the new breed of "whistle bloggers." Indeed, soon the term whistle-blowing may be replaced by "whistle-blogging." This is the term TIME uses in describing Lane Hudson who blew the whistle on former Florida Congressman Mark Foley. Hudson's method of getting the word out was through his blog Stop Sex Predators. He was not the first to know about Foley's abusive behavior with young pages. Indeed, Hudson says: "Mark Foley's sleazy behavior was the worst-kept secret in Washington."

But through his blog, Foley was exposed, and the Republican botched cover-up was a factor in bringing down the Republicans in the mid-term elections. See TIME article.

I don't expect to get national media attention and bring down a Republican Congress with my whistle-blogging. My hope would be to bring down an administration in a little seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But isn't this vengeance, some would ask. Just get over it and move ahead, others counsel.

The charges I have made are very serious. If they are true, the three-man administration should be removed. If my charges are not true--if I have made them up--I should be exposed not only as a liar but as a mentally deranged woman who should be denied her blogging privileges. (Are there blogging police out there somewhere!)


Whistle-blogging is not for everyone. There are many cases of people getting fired for reporting on employers in their blogs. In my case, the administrators of Calvin Seminary had already made life so difficult for me that I knew I could not continue teaching even if I had been reinstated (after having been given a terminal appointment. I began whistle-blogging only after I left the school.


Here is a quote from Up in Ontario:

Jacob Hunter alleges that he had been performing work for a company contracted to clean up a spill for a major oil company operating in Northern BC when he was "let go for refusing unsafe work". He had been serving as the site medic, and claims that the sizable spill contains unsafe levels of benzene - strong enough to give him a pounding head ache and make him vomit after 45 minute exposure.

What really bugged him though is that nobody knows this has happened, because nobody has reported it. That is until now. Despite risk of blacklisting and/or lawsuit he went ahead and blogged about the situation, complete with photos.

Kill the messenger: whistleblowers and cover-ups

From SourceWatch

Whistleblowers are usually ordinary people, often longstanding employees and experts in their field, who take huge professional and personal risks to blow the whistle on corporate and governmental wrongdoing. They are often a lesser-known but vitally important part of government and industry regulatory and advisory systems. They are generally harassed, vilified, and fired or forced to resign.

Here are a few whistleblowers that didn't succumb and some cover-ups that didn't succeed.


* Bruce Boler: Boler, an EPA biologist, resigned in 2003 to protest the acceptance by the EPA of a developer-financed study that concluded that wetlands give off more pollutants than they absorb. The study suggested that golf courses and other developments would be better for the environment.

* Teresa Chambers: Chambers, former US Park Police Chief, was fired on Friday, July 9, 2004 after criticising the lack of funding for the US Park Police divison from the Bush administration in interviews with the media.

* Richard A. Clarke: Richard Clarke was the counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council at time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Serving in the White House under three presidents, he resigned in January 2003 and went on to publish the book highly critical of the Bush administration, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror--What Really Happened.

* Cynthia Cooper: In June 2002 Cynthia Cooper, of the WorldCom internal-auditing division, informed its board that the company had covered up $3.8 billion in losses through phony accounting practices, exposing the fraud that led to its downfall.

* Sibel Edmonds: Edmonds is a former FBI translator who was hired shortly after 9/11 to translate intelligence related to the attack. According to her, the FBI had information that an attack using airplanes was being planned prior to Sept. 11, 2001. She said that one of her fellow FBI agents contacted FBI headquarters before Sept. 11 and told them Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker caught before the attacks, was the "type that might try to fly a plane into the World Trade Center."

* Daniel Ellsberg: When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing government deceptions on the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon responded with the break-in into the office of Ellsberg's psychoanalyst and the subsequent cover-up that became known as Watergate.

* Richard S. Foster: Foster, a longtime chief analyst of Medicare costs said that Bush administration officials threatened to fire him if he disclosed to Congress that the prescription drug legislation proposed by the White House was significantly more costly than Congress had been told.

* David J. Graham: A medical doctor and 20-year veteran of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Graham is Associate Director of the FDA Office of Drug Safety. Following Merck & Co.'s withdrawal of their pain medication Vioxx in September 2004 for causing an estimated 27,000 strokes, heart attacks and deaths, Graham told a U.S. Senate hearing that FDA conflicts of interest left the nation "virtually defenseless" against similar drug problems.

* David Kay

* David Lappa: A nuclear engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who resigned in 1998 after 20 years of service, Lappa filed a lawsuit saying the lab retaliated against him for reporting plutonium-handling violations. He settled a whistle-blower lawsuit against the lab for $250,000.

* David Lewis: Lewis was a microbiologist at the EPA for 31 years. In a peer-reviewed article in Environmental Science and Technology he showed that pathogens could easily remain undetected in untreated sewage sludge. Since the government is pushing the use of this sludge for agricultural fertilizer, Lewis was harassed and finally fired in May of 2003. At a hearing on the role of science in shaping public policy he charged the EPA with "corrupt[ing] the scientific peer review process in order to support certain political agendas and further the agency's self-interest."

* John Oliveira: Lt. John Oliveira, a former navy public affairs officer who oversaw embedded journalists on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt criticized Bush administration policies in Iraq. Oliveira said. "I had to get on television every day to talk to the American people and the international public and continue to sell them on the administration's policies, which I did not believe in…I'm [now] doing what I can to support our troops. Up until two months ago, I was one of those troops. I was unable to voice my opinion regarding the administration policies on how they were using our military. And one of the key things I say to Mr. Bush, 'support our troops and join us.' Because the way he's doing it is not supporting our troops, it's using them."

* Paul H. O'Neill

* Douglas Parker: An employee of the U.S. Forest Service for nearly four decades, fired in late 2005 after filing a whistleblower complaint "that pointed to what he called a 'systemic problem' when it comes to proper pesticide use across several forests in New Mexico and Arizona," reported the Associated Press. Parker told AP, "The whole reason behind this is I reported some significant pesticide misuse problems to the regional forester and they don't want to have controls over this process. ... They want to be pesticide cowboys and go out there and do what they want to do without consideration of compliance with their own policies, regulations and environmental laws." His Forest Service supervisor contended that Parker was fired for violations of office protocols.

* Coleen Rowley: In a 2002 memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller, FBI staff attorney Coleen Rowley accused FBI headquarters of ignoring pleas from her Minneapolis, Minn., field office to investigate alleged 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui, who is now indicted as a September 11 co-conspirator.

* Eric Shinseki: Army General Eric Shinseki, prior to the invasion of Iraq, warned Congress that the Bush administration grossly underestimated the military manpower required to pacify Iraq.

* Donald Sweeney: Dr. Donald Sweeney, a senior Army Corps of Engineers economist, blew the whistle on "serious violations of rules, laws, and regulations at the highest levels of Corps management that could have resulted in gross fraud, waste, and abuse of federal resources." When, after five years of working on a proposed billion-dollar construction project on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, he reported his concerns about cost to his superiors, Sweeney was taken off the project. "Sweeney took his complaint to the Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency charged with protecting government whistle-blowers and investigating their allegations. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) presented the evidence to the Army which, in essence, acknowledged and confirmed Sweeney's allegations."

* Sherron Watkins: Sherron Watkins is the Enron vice president who wrote a letter to chairman Kenneth Lay in the summer of 2001 on "suspicions of accounting improprieties," that later became public during a congressional investigation of Enron.

* Frederic Whitehurst: Frederic Whitehurst, a chemist and lab supervisor who was the FBI's top bomb residue expert, claimed he was singled out for retaliation when he refused to recant or to doctor his reports to support the FBI's urea nitrate bomb theory as the cause for the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His complaint triggered an overhaul of the FBI's world-renowned crime lab and he settled a lawsuit against the FBI for more than $1.16 million.

* Jeffrey Wigand: Wigand, a tobacco industry executive, exposed the tobacco industry's chemical alteration of nicotine to make it stronger. The exposé formed the basis for the movie The Insider.
* Joseph Wilson