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Letter: Comments by corporate officials should state their identity

This is in regards to Bob Schoneberger’s July 12, 2014 letter-to-the-editor titled “Enbridge Is Not the Enemy.” The author does not identify himself except listing his residence as Gordon, Wisconsin. He begins his letter by stating “there are no guarantees in life.”

Well, Mr. Schoneberger, you are certainly right about that. There is certainly no guarantee that your letter is in any way, shape, or form “objective.” Indeed, you might have started by telling us who you are.

Are you not “R. J. (Bob) Schoneberger” of Gordon, Wis., CEO of United Piping, Inc.? And is not your firm, United Piping, Inc., a mechanical and general contractor that specializes in facility construction within the oil and gas pipeline industry? Hmm.

So Mr. Schoneberger, are you not a significant player in the pipeline industry!? Double hmmmm. Are citizens not entitled to know who you represent when you write a letter to the editor?

While this letter is not really about the contents of Mr. Schoneberger’s letter (industry officials are entitled to make their case), I do find many of his comments pejorative and vaguely insulting. He talks about recent Park Rapids Enterprise letters being “rants,” implies that writers who oppose the pipeline are lacking “factual knowledge,” and finishes by saying the “problem with all the brilliant ideas out there is that they ‘go nowhere.’”

Of course, he is snidely referring to all of the public’s alternative ideas out there, not those of his own industry.

The motivation for my letter is really Mr. Schoneberger’s failure to identify himself as being an industry official with a vested interest in the building, maintenance and promotion of pipelines. Without knowing of his identity, the reader was left to assume it was simply a letter from a citizen who supports pipelines.

The end of his letter should have read: “Bob Schoneberger, CEO, United Pipelines, Inc.” Had he done that, there would probably have been no responding letter from me. But, of course, since he didn’t identify himself, how were readers supposed to know that Mr. Schoneberger was an industry official?

I am new to Park Rapids. Does everyone else in Park Rapids know who Mr. Schoneberger is?

Mr. Schoneberger concludes his letter saying—“Pipeline spills do not scare me, they concern me.” What he - and other industry officials - fail to understand is that pipeline spills terrify many of us common folk, and rightfully so.

Whether it is fracking in Pennsylvania, oil platform construction in the Gulf, or pipelines across northern Minnesota, there are real reasons that John Q. Public is concerned about the oil industry, and many of us are knowledgable in just what problems can arise despite industry officials’ assurances that “(the pipelines) are getting safer every day.”

Mr. Schoneberger does not aid his cause by his failure to identify himself. He makes his positions even more suspect. Indeed, letters to the Park Rapids Enterprise by corporate or government officials of any sort should state their identity. “Think about it…”

Larry Hlavsa

Park Rapids