Turning the Tables In Vestal
All last week, the EID team followed the anti-Marcellus Magical Mystery Tour as it traveled around by magic carpet all over our region, spewing lots of hot air just about everywhere it went. But until the tour bus made a stop in Vestal, NY on Wednesday evening, the group really hadn’t been forced to answer any tough questions — or even lay eyes on folks whose position on this issue is different from them.
If you saw our earlier posts, Wes Wilson’s Magical Mystery Tour Hits Elmira and A Carnival of Self-Proclaimed Experts Continues Magical Mystery Tour, you know how well choreographed these opposition events were and how outlandish some of the thing said at them turned out to be, all with an eye on giving reporters something to write. Rick Roles rolled out new stories that contradicted his old ones — at each stop, embellishing things just a little bit more so as to keep it fresh and interesting. If not for the crowd, I guess, then for himself.
But as the anti-Marcellus folks found out on Wednesday, Vestal turned out to be just a little bit different. What made it different is that about 50 supporters of responsible natural gas development, hailing from both New York and Pennsylvania, showed up at the event determined the get the facts out and willing to stay around all night to make sure that they did. We’re talking about folks who showed up an hour early with pro-gas signs and banners proudly displayed on cars, trucks, and tanks. Yes, you read that correctly – a tank.
Perhaps you can imagine how surprised the local news crews were showing up at what they thought would be an anti-gas pep-rally only to see more pro-Marcellus folks there than anti-Marcellus ones (and by a 2 to 1 margin to boot). Our turnout forced the news crews to spend a good amount of time interviewing our supporters — annoying the event’s organizers to no end. Here is some video of the event for Fox 40 WICZ covering the event; you’ll note all the pro-gas signs in the shot.
Also, check out these three pro-gas supporters:
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As for the event itself, the first thing to note is that it had to be delayed about 30 minutes — providing the opposition folks a bit more time to call up their friends and get additional activists to turn up (this proved fairly fruitless, though). The other interesting thing realted to the speakers themselves. Plainly put: You can tell that they had no idea what they had gotten themselves into in Vestal. None of them — not even Wes, who’s been doing this sort of thing for years — was quite prepared to field difficult questions. And certainly none were prepared to see 50 pro-gas folks show up to an event on a Wednesday night to which they weren’t even invited!
In the videos below, we capture some of the responses from these speakers — as you’ll see, they range from ignoring the questions entirely, to attempting to answer them with stream-of-consciousness responses, to even storming off stage in a huff … which is what ol’ Wes Wilson himself did when faced with a particularly nettlesome question. Quite a departure from how Wes started out the evening, we might add. His opening joke about the preacher, the hat, and the adulterer was pretty darn funny. Unfortunately, his presentation just got more comical from there.
Tara Meixsell took a different approach to her speech, this time focusing on her experiences in the parking lot and getting emotional about them (video 1) below. Of course, what really happened turned out to be far different from her initial account, as you will see in the second video here capturing some constructive dialogue from outside the event.
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Rick Roles probably learned the biggest lesson of the night: make sure you know your audience before you try to spin them. With the pro-gas attendees greatly outnumbering the antis and many of them being farmers by trade, Rick’s stories about how natural gas development caused his horses and goats to be born without genitals were challenged by those who knew better. Check out the video playlist below to see how that back-and-forth went down.
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Jeff and Jodi Andrysick were clearly out of their element during this event as well. During the first two legs of the tour, the couple got lots of applause — but not so much in Vestal. At one point, they were asked to comment on the ongoing development of regulations governing future Marcellus development by New York’s DEC. Jeff’s response suggests to us that he may need to spend a bit more time doing some basic research on that, and a bit less time on his amateur film career:
The final video of the night defines the divide between natural gas supporters and anti-gas special interests.