I for one was somewhat taken aback when I saw an online blog identified as SuperfundResearch.org widely circulated in this area on January 18. The blog titled “EDA Executive Director Caught In Web Of Lies Over Avtex Redevelopment” alleges intentional fabrication by EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald about ITFederal and calls for her “immediate resignation”.
But that is just the tip of iceberg. The blog’s presumed author, SuperfundResearch.org founder Matthew Berdyck, adds attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency; Superfund remediation in general, ITFed CEO Tran’s plan for Royal Phoenix, not to mention a large swath of the population of Front Royal and several local media outlets.
And while we at Royal Examiner came out okay – Berdyck calls our coverage of ITFederal “nothing less than brave, and brilliant” – As lead Royal Examiner reporter on the ITFederal and Avtex site stories, I must take issue with the two main thrusts of what reads as a virulent, personal attack piece. Those main thrusts are Berdyck’s assessment of EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald as a liar; and the Environmental Protection Agency as an accomplice, if an inept one, in an alleged failed attempt to cleanup and remediate the 467-acre Avtex site over the past quarter century.
Now everyone who reads Royal Examiner knows this reporter has expressed concerns about the ability of ITFederal to accomplish what has been promised in the way of jobs and economic investment in this community at the Avtex/Royal Phoenix Business Park site (check our 11-story ITFederal news folder to catch up or make your own assessment on the quality of our coverage).
However I, this news site and its Managing Editor Norma Jean Shaw, who has contributed mightily to our research of ITFederal, have never let those concerns translate into personal vendettas against anyone involved on any side of the ITFederal proposal. In fact, we at Royal Examiner have bent over backwards to get the “other side of the story”. And in the ongoing absence of responses from our US Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who is credited with bringing ITFederal to this community as “an economic development opportunity”; Tran’s ongoing silence; and the refusal of ITFederal Vice President Sean Parkhurst to answer questions about the project, that “other side” has for the most part come from EDA Executive Director McDonald.
And I have found McDonald to be forthcoming, if occasionally obtuse or miss-spoken on certain details – as in her public identification of an ITFed federal contract with the Nuclear Defense Department, which she later corrected to us as the “Defense Special Weapons Agency”, a subsidiary of the US Department of Defense, which Mr. Berdyck harps on in his blog post as one of Ms. McDonald’s major offenses.
Pressed publicly for other details such as the connection between Tran companies ITFederal LLC and VDN Systems, McDonald has, correctly I believe, identified them as “totally separate LLCs” without elaborating on any contractual or operational ties they may have.
And if her information on past contracts and web presences has been occasionally incomplete, it has prompted our own research that has led to the discovery of Tran company business ties and past legal and contractual histories upon which much of our ITFederal reporting has been based. If McDonald is occasionally obtuse on details, we choose to believe that is because Mr. Tran himself may be somewhat obtuse in explaining those details to her. Tran for his part remains aloof from the debate, either forwarding our inquiries to his ITFed Vice-President Parkhurst or letting McDonald field the tough questions publicly.
As for Berdyck’s tirade against the EPA and its Superfund program, it almost seemed as if he was a right-wing, anti-government proponent hoping to contribute to the dismantling of the EPA and any federal oversight of industrial abuses of the environment in communities nationwide, while portraying himself as an environmentalist
Yes, there have been problems at Superfund sites around the nation – the level of contamination and the difficulties they present in cleanup and/or remediation are WHY they are Superfund sites in the first place. As one EPA employee told us about the blog’s attack on the agency and its Superfund program, “with all his whining about the job we do, let me ask him, since he doesn’t trust the government to clean up the mess, what corporation would he like to enlist to do the job? I’m sure that they’ll all be glad to come in and clean up the mess they made just so they could make a big profit … Willfully ignorant people shouldn’t have a platform to spread such blatant stupidity.”
And that is a main criticism of many blogs and bloggers – the TOTAL lack of editorial oversight and accountability to assure posted conclusions are based on factual assessments grounded in adequate and documented research.
Sure, some of Berdyck’s information may be based in truth. His contractual assertions about ITFederal raise questions that may bear further exploration. And the notion that the planned ITFederal computerized-virtual world “cloud” operation tied to its federal defense department contracts, real or anticipated, could make Front Royal an ISIS target is, indeed, an interesting and troublesome thought.
HOWEVER, what I would call Berdyck’s blog hit job on McDonald, the EPA and Superfund remediation in general seems totally OFF BASE, personally vindictive and counterproductive to any rational discussion of any of these topics.