Management must take responsibility

Friday, September 27, 2002

"The issue is that Connor knew of the illegal dumping and did nothing to halt the practice."

The manager of a Cargill facility in Audrain County was sentenced last month to five months in prison and five months in-house arrest for knowingly allowing the dumping of hog waste into the Loutre River. In my opinion, the sentence was far too lenient.

Duane Connor received the sentence following his guilty plea in May. The waste dumping occurred in July 2000 and eventually resulted in a 50,000 fish kill. As a result, Cargill has been fined nearly $1.3 million as well as other sanctions.

The issue here, in my opinion, is not the amount of wildlife damage or the damage to the river and the resulting pollution. The issue is that Connor knew of the illegal dumping and did nothing to halt the practice. That crime is inexcusable and Connor, as manager, should pay the price.

This story isn't about corporate responsibility or greed or all of the other rhetoric that jams the news daily. This story is about the irresponsible actions of one manager who allowed a crime to occur. Whether he initiated the crime or simply condoned the crime doesn't matter. What matters is that he had knowledge that a crime was occurring and took no action.

The tragedy could have been about virtually any company. It just happened to concern Cargill and their hog raising operation in Missouri. But when management ignores issues that are wrong, then management should pay the price. In this case it's a prison sentence and a fine. It still seems like light punishment to me.

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