Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kenneth Kendrick: the best choice for Texas Agriculture Commissioner

To tell the truth, he's the only rational choice on your ballot in November.

So you might suspect that I am a little biased.  I have been getting to know Kenneth for some time now, and as the Republican and Democratic primaries produced two of the absolute worst candidates for statewide office in recent memory, now is a good time for considerate, thinking Texans to take stock of their options.

Kendrick has undergone some of the usual -- as well as unusual -- circumstances that befall public whistleblowers.  He's the fellow who revealed the salmonella charades going on at Peanut Corporation of America's facilities in Plainview, Texas and Blakely, Georgia.  As that case finally went to trial this week, here's the latest from Lubbock's KAMC (video at link).

The trial is a relief to people like Kenneth Kendrick, who feel wronged by PCA's actions. Kendrick was a former employee turned whistleblower who tried to expose the company in 2006.

"I had worked there as production planner and assistant manager." He said. " I only stayed four months for obvious reasons. Was asked to falsify documents and do things I was not comfortable with and I blocked it."

Kendrick described the horrible conditions of the Plainview plant saying that there were "holes in the wall that let mice in" and "leaky roofs -- (they) don't want to spend the money to fix it -- bird droppings were being washed in.

Kenneth and I spoke recently about his campaign for Commissioner of Texas Agriculture.


What motivated you to run for this office?

After getting some notoriety as a whistleblower against PCA, I hit the lecture circuit of a sort; speaking to students at universities and conferences about the experience. Nine people died from salmonella poisoning across the country, and 700 were made ill.  The Texas Department of Agriculture, under Commissioner Todd Staples, had certified the Plainview plant for organic processing three separate times even though they were not registered with the Department of State Health Services.  They had no license to operate, yet were certified for safety!

Three years after my reporting it, Texas still had done nothing to investigate my claims of poor health practices by the company.   I made up my mind that no person -- no child, no adult -- should ever have to suffer or die because of corporate ineptitude or greed.

Just yesterday, it was reported that the nationwide cyclospora outbreak includes more than half of the reported cases in Texas!  We still have tremendous food safety problems in Texas and nothing has been done, nor likely will be done if the Republican or Democrat is elected.

What are your top issues and your plans for addressing them?

1) We want food safety and GMO labeling, working in conjunction with the DSHS, to make Texas the safest place in the United States to buy food and food products, increasing our economic viability. There is no harm in consumers having all the information possible when buying food. This will require the Texas Department of Agriculture to be restructured to have more inspectors on the ground, and a direct connection with other agencies as a top priority when safety issues outside the Department are noted.

2) Safe water and more aggressive conservation methods, along with the use of renewable energy.  Fracking is not the answer given our state's water shortages.  Too many rural towns already have warnings that their water does not meet minimum standards to drink.  Wichita Falls is already recycling waste water.  In West Texas there are lots of wind generators already, and room for plenty more.  Texas is becoming a leader in renewable energy, and we must continue to do more.  Less water used for fracking and electricity generation means more water for Texas farms and cities.

3) Holding corporations accountable. As I have said many times, we the people are fined and arrested when we break the law, but corporations are just told to get into compliance, as has been shown with 355 unlicensed facilities that broke the law. Instead of just a compliance warning, these companies should have at least been fined... just like people.

4) There are virtually no fines that have been handed out to pest control companies (and they fall under the Department of Agriculture) that break the law. We have regulations in place, but no enforcement.

5) And legal protection for whistleblowers who report in good faith those who break the law!

What sets you apart from your opponents?

My Democratic opponent Jim Hogan -- well, if anyone knew anything about where he stands I could respond, but I do not see much of anything out there.  I guess taking no position on anything is good enough to get you the Democratic nomination?

No website?  No Facebook page?  He refuses to give interviews for the most part and runs away from Democrats and the Texas Democratic Party like it's the plague.  What sets me apart from a blank slate?  I feel comfortable letting the voters decide that one.

My Republican opponent, Sid Miller, helped cut $64 million from Planned Parenthood and sponsored the sonogram bill.  And the Agriculture Commissioner has what to do with this?  Here's a quote from his website: "An avid rancher and hunter, Sid Miller believes in the Constitutional right to bear arms".  Does the Agriculture Commissioner get a vote on gun legislation?  I don't think so.  Let's stick to the issues relevant to the office!  I am the only candidate in the race for Agriculture Commissioner talking about the issues relevant to agriculture in Texas... that is, if you don't count my Libertarian opponent, Rocky Palmquist, taking over Kinky Friedman's advocacy for marijuana legalization.  But you won't find that on his website, since all it says is 'coming soon'.

In keeping with the tenets of the Green Party, I have taken zero donations from corporations (such as Monsanto).  My campaign is true grassroots, for the people.  I owe no one.

What's the best way for people wanting to help your campaign to get in touch?

I have FB page, web page and a direct #. 


Paypal address is kkendrick41 at gmail dot com.  Please mark it as political donation, and leave your name, address, phone, and occupation (this information is needed for the Texas Ethics Commission). They make it difficult for a 3rd party candidate without a full time treasurer to run (go figure, Texas would never do that, right?)


Make you own choice for Ag Commish, readers.  Trust me, I have.


Gadfly said...

Be sure to make sure Texpatriate sees this, please!

Noah Horwitz said...

If the election were today, I would likely vote for Kendrick. I am just naturally skeptical of just about all candidates, particularly those with low visibility.

--N.M. Horwitz

Gadfly said...

Noah, they get more visibility, in part, by We the Bloggers talking about them. I've already shared on G+ and FB. In any case, this shoes that Kendrick is running a broader campaign than you said a week ago.

Safe water, water supply levels, safe fertilizer plants and more.

Kenneth Kendrick said...

Thank you for the endorsement. Noah I may not yet have the money for TV ads(which seldom deal with the issues) but my pages if you scroll through FB page, there is a lot more than PCA Whistle Blower. Now I have brought that back up for the sake of the victims families as the trial starts today. I owe them that.(and TX Dept of AG could have stopped all of it)3rd party is difficult to get media outside of Lubbock. But if you look through, I am spending my efforts on the Issues that pertain to the position. I thank everyone for their support! Without using google I doubt those I am running against can even name all the divisions in the Dept of Ag, but I in my heart want to do what is best for the people of Texas. Would I like a millio dollar budget to get my message out, of course, but not at the cost of my integrity. Noah I am glad you are bright enough to look at all candidates, research, and think. I applaud you for trying to inform yourself! I answer questions from any group that ask, even those I know that may not like me being on the ballot, Ken for the people, not the money! People who know my heart, know I care, and honest goes a long way. IF I am not an expert in one of the many areas, I listen to others, pride will not get in my way. I welcome feedback. I do not want to be Lt Gov or a higher office and use this as a stepping stone. There is so much to be done, and this position can do so much, if the Commissioner will focus on the job at hand.