Lead Balloon 

There's some heavy mettle at work in Herky

Juanita typed the wrong address.

Instead of e-mailing the agenda for the Tuesday meeting to other Doe Run Company execs, poor Juanita accidentally forwarded the memo to twenty news organizations.

An easy mistake:

It was Monday morning.

And the memo was titled "Media-Strategy Meeting."

And media folks, as we all know, do need to have meetings about strategy.

Anyway, one of Worm's trusted snitches shared a copy.

Here's the skinny:

According to the memo, Doe Run, a punching bag for far too long, is finally fighting back. It's about damn time.

Before we get to the good news, let Worm explain why he's tickled.

See, Worm always has had a special affection for Doe Run. Whenever he needs to feed his head, he slithers south for a few days of stupefied bliss in the steaming pile of slag next to Doe Run's Herculaneum smelter. No need for champagne or cocaine to fry this brain. Not when there's plenty of lead, cadmium and arsenic. Not when it's everywhere and it's free.

That's the kind of company Doe Run is: Generous. Caring. Spreading its fairy dust in Herky homes. Fortifying fish with extra minerals. Helping its poor company owner, Ira Rennert, put a roof over his head.

Instead of praise, Doe Run gets egged by journalistas, enviro-nazis and, for chrissakes, mothers. All because a few dozen kids have high-octane blood and are pooping fishing weights!

Such a distraction for Jeff Zelms, Doe Run's gentle bear of a chief exec. Don't people need car batteries? Don't they need ammunition? Don't folks know lead's the solder that holds our electronic society together?

Jean Carnahan obviously doesn't. Missouri's appointed senator -- another mother -- was busy this summer urging a government advisory panel to toughen the threshold for what's deemed lead poisoning. That was enough to get Zelms and other company execs busy writing checks to Jim Talent.

Electing Buzz Bait isn't enough. When good guys are on the ropes, they need a man in a ten-gallon hat.

Enter George W. Just this month, the president's men replaced experts on the lead-advisory committee with a bunch of industry shills. One of them argues that lead is safe for kids at seven to ten times the current standard.

The good news doesn't stop there: Insiders say that at this rate, it won't be long before lead gets a place on the government's food pyramid.

Worm couldn't be happier.

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