electric competition
pollution prevention

A canvass visit with
Gordon Harnett, CEO, Brush Wellman

Mario Covic, Ohio Citizen Action Gordon Harnett, Brush Wellman
Mario Covic and Gordon Harnett

By Mario Covic, Ohio Citizen Action

As our Astro mini-van pushed towards Pepper Pike on May 2, my mind was full of all the possible scenarios at the doorstep of Gordon Harnett, as CEO of Brush Wellman and the recipient of over 1,400 letters from Ohio Citizen Action members across Northeast Ohio. I was excited about the opportunity to meet Mr. Harnett. This is what most canvassers dream about.

I found more support than I expected from his neighborhood -- and $470 in contributions for our Brush Wellman campaign. Some said they knew Mr. Harnett and were surprised that his company was responsible for all these illnesses and deaths.

When 7:45 rolled around, I found myself walking up Mr. Harnettís driveway thinking about the fact that Ohio Citizen Action has been trying to meet with Mr. Harnett since last August. Here I was, ringing the doorbell. As Mr. Harnett opened the door, his dog Molson ran out to greet me. I knelt down to pet the dog as I introduced myself, "Hi, my name is Mario. Iím with Ohio Citizen Action."

What followed was not one of the scenarios I anticipated. I asked Mr. Harnett, "When will you pay for medical testing for all the current and former Brush workers and all the current and former contract workers at the Elmore plant?" Each of the 1,400 letters had asked this same question, and Mr. Harnett had yet to answer it.

Instead of answering, he responded, "Do me a favor, turn around and keep walking. This is private property."

"Okay," I said walking away. I said, "Oh, one more thing..." intending to tell him we would return later that evening with letters that some of his neighbors were writing him regarding the illnesses and deaths of Brush Wellman employees. He cut me off with, "Turn around and keep walking!"

We returned to Harnett's house at 9:00 pm to deliver his neighbors letters. We told him we wanted to save money on postage since we were in the neighborhood. Mr. Harnett furiously refused to accept them, with another reminder that we were on private property.

The U.S. Postal Service delivered them to him two days later.