Denton’s Struggle for the Individual Voice

©2015 Julie Dermansky
©2015 Julie Dermansky

“It’s stressful and it makes it to where I can’t sleep at night,” Sergeant Scott Jenkins’ voice cracked through my phone late on a Friday night, “But for someone in their thirtieth year in law enforcement, this has been a really important assignment.” An undeniable sense of pride shone through the accumulated exhaustion of his previous week policing protests against oil and gas operators. Born and raised in the north Texas town of Denton, Scott Jenkins will tell you that he takes immense pride in his city, his state, and the constitution.

It’s that pride, displayed on a sunny Monday afternoon, which gives context to an action that has perplexed many onlookers. Minutes before arresting three anti-fracking protestors for trespassing, Sergeant Jenkins bent over and shook the hands of all three he was about to handcuff.

“I told them that they had achieved a great victory. I thanked them for their service to the community,” the Sergeant recalled.

“You can show respect to people even when making an arrest. We don’t have to denigrate those we come in contact with. These are our own citizens.”

He explained to me that regardless of his own views, beliefs, and political opinions, his deep respect for “that most venerated of American documents” guides him to balance the expression of rights by all sides in his policing: anti-fracking protestors, pro-fracking protestors, oil and gas workers, interested citizens, passersby, and media personnel. All people deserve a voice when an issue involves their homes, their families, and their livelihoods.

Denton had previously been the sight of a democratic show down involving oil and gas producers during the November 2014 elections. After the Denton City Council had initially voted down a motion that would have banned fracking within the city limits, local groups rallied and placed a referendum on the November ballot that would allow the citizens to directly speak to how oil and gas extraction in their community could occur. With almost a sixty percent majority, they voted as a community to not allow fracking in their borders. While there were those who condemned the vote in the strongest terms, the democratic process had spoken.

But the recent signing of HB 40 by Texas governor Greg Abbott stripped municipalities of the ability to explicitly or effectively ban types of oil and gas extraction. With Denton’s ban stripped away by the swishing of the gubernatorial pen, some Denton residents have taken to enforcing the ban themselves. As crews attempted to re-enter work zones, protestors sat in the roads to their work sites, blocking drillers and their trucks from getting back to work.

These competing laws, each backed by equally intense emotions and passions, set the stage for what some on both sides are calling ‘the battle to defend Denton.’

The debate that surrounds issues of petroleum extraction methods (fracking in particular) tends to see the creation of vast fields of strawmen; appearing real but ultimately being one dimensional. If the deafening debate is to be believed, those who operate fracking wells are greedy, heartless villains who twirl their mustaches while counting the money bought at the price of others’ lives. On the other side, but just as one dimensional, those who would oppose fracking are idealistic and stupid youths who would see society fall to economic ruin just to find a false sense of accomplishment.

But if you take the time to dig down into the complicated realities of the issue you quickly unearth something that is undeniably human. You may find a fourth generation, small town oilman weeping as he describes what he sees as the outlawing of his family’s business. He fears that new laws will force him from the only community he has ever known. The very next person you uncover may be a woman who bitterly describes the unjust suffering of her children caused by pollution from drilling rigs that drifts over her house. She will try to steady her voice as she describes the vulnerability and anger she feels every time she looks out her kitchen window at the drilling rig not three hundred feet from her door.

Which of these emotions can be said to be more legitimate? While legislative change will always benefit some and cost others, the ability to speak and to be heard should serve as the irrevocable core of our democracy. It’s that core which Sergeant Jenkins sees himself as upholding.

“We want to facilitate the expression of people’s opinion; the expression of their freedom of speech, their freedom to assemble, the freedom of the press, the right to redress grievances without violating the rights of anyone else.”

In fact, Sergeant Jenkins was selected specifically for the protest assignment because of his knowledge and focus on the constitution. For years he has taught fellow officers about constitutional law through continuing education courses.

“What we teach our officers at the police academy,” he told me, “is that regardless of what the issue is, when one group is opposing another group, our primary responsibility is to focus on the constitution. Especially in protest situations.”

Time after time in our discussion, he emphasized the community aspects of this issue. Everyone, on all sides, lives and works in the same space. They depend on each other every day to support and uphold the community. Each of them playing different roles and being vital to the community of Denton in their own way. So when conflict arises, it is critical they can speak or even disagree with the same cordiality that a police officer can display while arresting protesters.

“Just because you have interacted with someone in a predictable circumstance before doesn’t mean you know what the outcome will be this time.” That quip, spoken by a worn down yet resolute veteran police officer, serves as a perfect reminder of why the local debate should never be take for granted. If you erect strawmen of the other side, you rob that person of their voice. No person should ever be robbed of that ability. That is the principle that Sergeant Jenkins has instilled into the core of his policing efforts and those around him. That is the principle that everyone, from the CEO to the state senator to the green protester, should revere as an inalienable democratic imperative.

Everyone has a story.

Everyone has a voice.

It’s Not Fair!

Image Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
Image Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

The very first time a new born human opens their mouth to cry they employ the simplest of all arguments: “It’s not fair.” While the phrasing of “it’s not fair” may sound juvenile, it is none the less the foundation of nearly every argument and disagreement that our species has. Oh sure, we can employ much more complicated ways of making this protest, but objection to personal slight is still the base of many of our complications. And while the content of our arguments may change and complicate with the same rapidity as our society, this primitive form persists.

For instance, take the recent laws passed in Texas and Oklahoma that prohibit local municipalities from banning certain types of oil and natural gas extraction; fracking being the most notable. The most prominent argument for these state bills is that they protect the ability of individuals to capitalize on the mineral rights that they own. Taking that away, to quote one operator at a recent Stillwater, Oklahoma city council meeting, “is like taking food right out of [his] kid’s mouths.” This concept of taking is so prominent that it has become the name of this particular discourse: the takings argument.

Because these arguments have been constructed in response to fracking it is easy to think that they must be just a novel as that very extraction method. But at its core, the takings argument objects to personal slight. For many small oil and gas opporators who find their small businesses caught up in the protest to multibillion dollar corporations, this complaint is easy to understand. It is not complicated, nor is it new. In fact, it was the same argument that was used one hundred years ago when the Taft administration, in the name of national security, limited the ability of wildcatters to stake a claim on any oil they could reach.

As the twentieth century opened America began to emerge as a burgeoning superpower. This can be partly credited to the transition of our Navy from coal burning ships to oil. While this fuel proved to be superior to the old style coal steamers, there was concern among “oil conservationists” that unregulated drilling would lead to a premature depletion of domestic oil. As such, a legislative effort ensued to ensure the Navy’s future oil supply by establishing strategic reserves. In 1909, under executive order by President Taft, large tracks of federal land were deemed untouchable to drillers. Many drillers at the time saw this as a power grab by the federal government that violated the “first to prospect; first to profit” nature that had ruled oil discovery in the American west. Previously, if any prospector had hit oil on public lands, they had the right to develop that oil. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that many westerners employed a takings argument; saying that the over-reaching Feds were robbing them of future opportunity and prosperity.

Eleven years later, the Wilson administration instituted a permitting system under which operators had to bid on leases in order to produce petroleum on federal land. These terms were signed into law by President Wilson as a way of trying to reopen the West. But to most drillers, even this intended compromise resembled interference. Drillers saw any form of restriction as a destruction of their livelihoods that had killed the open spirit of the West.

One of the biggest scandals in US history would eventually result from this feeling that the Feds were abusing their power and stealing oil from those who would develop it. Included in the lands that Taft placed in the Naval Reserve was an oil rich spot in Wyoming known as the Teapot Dome (seen in the header image). But as Wilson won the 1912 election, the change in administrations came with the inevitable change in cabinet members. Among the new blood was a Republican senator named Albert Fall who was appointed to Secretary of the Interior. As a senator from New Mexico, he sympathized with the oilmen of the west. After convincing the Secretary of the Navy to shift management of the oil reserves to the Department of the Interior, Fall accepted bribes to allow those oilmen close to him drilling permits without going through the bidding process. Once Fall’s dealings were discovered, the resulting fallout of the Teapot Dome scandal sent Fall to prison and permanently marred the Wilson presidency.

One hundred year later, when the Texas city of Denton voted to ban fracking inside of its borders, the calls of taking broke out again. When the Oklahoma city of Stillwater looked poised to outlaw the practice as well, it was met with an overwhelming pushback from the industry fearing a new president. This resistance took the form of a takings argument. After both states prohibited their cities and towns from passing such bans, state lawmakers echoed some form of the takings argument as justification. The residents of Denton continue to fight for their ban and those in Stillwater still push for tougher restrictions on oil producers. But it is worth noting that while these methods may be new, the arguments are as old as we are. It was the first argument all of us implemented in life. It is an argument that we all understand on a primal level, even if we don’t want to admit it.

For Want of a Favorable Reality

Image Credit: Grégory Tonon
Image Credit: Grégory Tonon

The coal industry of West Virginia had found themselves in a crisis. Coal had become unimportant to the economics of West Virginia. Well, that really wasn’t the crisis; exports could take care of that. The real crisis was that the people living near their operations were starting to know just how unimportant the industry really was. While the industry was only responsible for employing around 5% of the state’s workers and generating 7% of West Verginia’s gross state product, they needed people to think their industry held colossal importance to assuage public pressure for stricter regulation. So industry leaders met with a corporate intelligence company in Shanghai, China to create the “Friends of Coal” campaign. The goal of the campaign was make their industry artificially important so as to scare away the specter of being forced to actually comply with established laws.


Last I wrote, I discussed how Otherism can be defined as the exclusion of a person based on a perceived deviation from an acceptable norm. Otherism is the engine that drives all of the hate, bigotry, and malice that humanity has ever and will ever produce.

But Otherism presents an intrinsic problem to human groups. As soon as a group of people lay down the boundaries of what thoughts and behaviors distinguish the in-group from the other, they must find a way of enforcing this boundary. This is done by way of a social hegemony; a set of written and unwritten rules held in the collective conscious that must be obeyed. Violating these rules would mean that an individual may face exile from the group and lose all of the benefits that belonging to that group entails.

This all may sound like the incessant drone of some bespectacled anthropologist surrounded by dust covered tomes in his dingy, basement office. However, we see the effect of this social enforcement every day. Take an adult visibly picking their nose in a restaurant. That individual will likely draw public ire and risks being asked to leave the restaurant for violating the social hegemony that governs that social space. A two-year-old picking their nose, on the other hand, would likely not be seen as a violation. This is the nature of the socially constructed hegemony.

While social hegemony in and of itself is not necessarily negative, its generation can have wide reaching consequences if defined by those with ulterior motives. Recently, industries have learned that they can short circuit these social processes for their own financial gain.

The targeted generation of these hegemonies is a tactic that has been used by industries all over the world to protect their economic prospects at the cost of transparency and public safety. For instance, the formation of the “Friends of Coal” campaign in West Virginia, mentioned earlier, was in response to mounting pressure on local governments from the public to actually enforce weight limits on coal trucks making their way out of the mountain top removal coal sites. Industry ignoring these limits had led to the deaths of several people as overweight, speeding coal trucks tipped over on winding mountain roads causing collisions with residents.

But following the established law is just so darn inconvenient. So the coal industry created the “Friends of Coal” campaign to convince people that without the coal industry, West Virginia would be indistinguishable from some God forsaken wasteland in the middle of a lawless hinterland. If the public felt the industry was their one and only savior, no one would dare question the industry’s practices. The trick was to appear as a grass roots campaign by put bumper stickers on the backs of West Virginian’s minivans, contracting local celebrities to sing the praises of the industry, and having “everyday people” (read: actors) hand out buttons and can cozies at high school football games. It was one of the first times that an industry had ever deliberately engineered a social movement for the sake of their own checkbooks. So unique was it that social researchers gave in the moniker of an “Astro-turf Movement”: something that looks genuine from afar, but upon closer inspection is only synthetic.

The idea that was concocted in that Shanghai conference room was to use the historic importance of the coal industry to create and enforce an artificial social hegemony to their own benefit. After all, who would question the environmental and public health catastrophes that the industry had wrought upon their state if everyone was (falsely) convinced that the industry was of the utmost importance?

This tactic was so successful that it was picked up and used in other regions of the world to enforce an artificial social consensus that was only to the benefit of a select few. The petroleum industry in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and elsewhere readily synthesizes the appearance that immense poverty and joblessness would follow any law or ordinance that might inconvenience them. Recent bills passing through both the Texas and Oklahoma governments would take power to regulate oil and gas activities away from local municipalities and place it solely in the hands of the state legislature where the industry can exert more direct control over legislation. The nuclear industry in Japan and France has continually generated this type of social importance to enable them to shrug off accidents and secure their finances in the midst of societal change.

This is the power of industry learning to pervert social processes. Often they insist that they want to work with citizens to make sure that everyone is safe and happy. Unfortunately, their definition of every one is often limited to investors and members of their board. The rest of “everyone” is left to pick up the pieces of a broken environment, broken infrastructure, and broken communities that extractive industries leave after they are done with an area.

This power to pervert the face of reality has become a tactic employed by industries across the globe as a means of distorting the true impact they have and to secure their financial security in the face of increasing criticism. The publication of inflated economic impact statements; charging protestors as terrorists; the use of local celebrities to push decidedly false narratives; convincing the FBI to pay unannounced visits to the homes of critics. These are all part of the modern tool kit for ensuring that your multi-billion dollar corporation can profit without worry for laws, regulations, public criticism, or common human decency.


It is the new age of industry. We are not in the business of selling you goods. We are in the business of selling you a particular brand of reality. One that benefits us and cares not for you. But we want you to think that we care. Because if we have that, we can do anything we want. Your willing consent is more valuable to us than any bit of oil or coal that we can scrounge out of the chunk of earth you so inconveniently call home.

When the Facts Cease to Matter

Image Credit: Progress Ohio
Image Credit: Progress Ohio

This is part two in a three part series of social factors on fracking in Oklahoma. Read part one here.

Anybody who follows national politics will know that there are many, many times in which facts do not matter. Emotions and dogma often carry the day more than evidence and reason. In other words, often does the subjective outweigh the objective. While it may be easy to dismiss out of hand this type of blind, emotional reasoning; it is worth noting that its wide pervasiveness gives it power. What must then be considered is whether a person wants to try to convert most people to a method of objective logic to achieve their goal or work through those subjective hazes to reach an accomplishment? Unsurprisingly most organizations and advocacy groups choose the later approach. But it is important to recognize that this level of compromise, the ability to recognize the power of and work in the realm of the subjective, is as relevant in all walks of life as it is in politics.

Often when speaking with community activists or studying industry communications on hydraulic fracturing, I find that there really are six factors that matter equally as much: the objective positives of fracking, the objective negatives of fracking, what the subject thinks are the positives, what they think are the negatives, what they think their antagonists see as the benefits, and what they think their antagonists see at the negatives. Whew! So much for simple right and wrong. But the fact of the matter is that so often important decisions are made with emotion at their core. And while these emotions could be ignored, recognizing why certain parties are saying certain things can lead us to better communication and a better understanding of the total dimensions of our problem.

For instance, a common rallying call for anti-fracking activists in Oklahoma is that the practice should be banned because it creates earthquakes. To break down this argument into the six factors I mentioned above, the objective truth is that, while the actual fracturing of the rock does not lead to earthquakes, the injection wells that are commonly used for the disposal of waste water have been shown in many, many studies to create induced seismicity. While the activists are very much aware of this distinction, the technical inaccuracy of “fracking causes earthquakes” is something that industry has exploited as I will note later. This is one of the central pillars, joined by others such as water contamination risk, air pollution risk, damage to local roads, water usage, and the effects of methane and CO2 on the climate. To the average activist, these aspects all pose very present and realistic fears. When they are combined with the often dismissive attitude of local, state, and industry officials, it leads to a large amount of fear, anxiety, and anger toward oil and gas companies. It is rare that activists will offer up anything positive about fracking. When considering the views of the oil and gas companies, activists often see the companies as pressing forth a litany of false positives while conveniently and consciously dismissing their wrong doings. Under the surface of all of these claims lies a feeling of deep seated injustice. Activists feel as though their government turns a blind eye while the oil and gas industry abuses the state’s land and water and then leaves broken communities in its wake.

On the flip side, the industry sees itself as a champion of the state’s economy. They frequently advertise all the money and jobs that they add into the economy. As I mentioned last week, the claim by the OERB (a government board to propose oil and gas regulations voluntarily funded by oil and gas companies) is that oil and gas is responsible for a third of Oklahoma’s Gross State Product. The industry often expresses the view that the biggest problem with fracking is that people don’t know enough about the process and would recognize how great it is if they only received good information. This, at least, seems to be what they publicly see as the positives and negatives of fracking. But what is actually said behind corporate doors is anyone’s guess. The industry says that activists are just extreme factions that make completely baseless claims and are waging a war to smear the industry and all it does for the state. They often resort to straw man tactics to make their antagonists appear baseless in their claims. Regarding the “fracking causes earthquakes” claim from earlier, industry representatives often say that there has never been a link shown between fracking and earthquakes. While this is technically correct, it assumes that activists are only talking about the physical cracking of the shale when, in fact, most activists use “fracking” to mean the entire process and all it entails. The actual objective facts here though are hard to parse out. While it is undeniable that the industry plays an important role in the state economy both directly and indirectly, all of the data comes from the industry and bodies that they fund. Economic studies have shown that the figures these groups come up with often do not account for costs of their presence with any accuracy. For instance, they often fail to account for the cost of damage to roads and the opportunity costs to the economy caused by their damage. As for the other evidence against their activities, they often find technicalities that make the evidence less absolute. Sort of like how smoking has never technically been proven to cause lung cancer.

In the end, it is harder to take stock of the subtext underlying a faceless corporation’s activities. But if I had to guess, I would say that behind closed doors they are scared and anxious of the activists they publicly dismiss. Recent examples from Denton, Texas and Longmont, Colorado show that grass-root activist organizations can mobilize entire towns in even staunchly conservative places to outlaw one of the industry’s most lucrative practices. It isn’t hard to imagine the industry in a war for the hearts and minds of the people when they need their land and mineral rights.

So by taking into account how differing parties subjectively view a situation and paring that with an understanding of the objective facts, we can start to draw a much more accurate picture of the problem that Oklahoma faces with fracking. Perhaps if this where a dry academic issue the facts would be all that mattered. But this is not academic; it has become a deeply emotional and polarizing social issue. Recognizing this is critical to understanding the deep implications of any suggestion that is made for Oklahoma. But what suggestions can be made when so much hangs in the balance of every decision? Industry wants to proceed unopposed which would not be without serious consequence. Activists want to see that activity severely crippled or outlawed which would also come with a heavy price. So what beginning steps could Oklahoma take to start it toward the goal that any observer of climate science knows it needs to get to? Paths forward into that future will be the subject of the last part in this series to be published next week.

You can read part three in this series here.

What’s so Different about Oklahoma’s Fracking?

Image Credit: CREDO
Image Credit: CREDO

This is part one in a three part series on social factors on fracking in Oklahoma

I rather distinctly remember a graduate student at Kansas State asking me about my opinion on hydraulic fracturing during my undergraduate career. He was specifically probing me for an anti-fracking stance. At the time, I was a sophomore in a state that didn’t have any fracking in it so far as I was aware and I gave him the only answer I thought was reasonable: “I don’t know enough to have an opinion.” It was an honest answer. At that time, I was only vaguely aware that it was a practice currently in use. I sort of knew that it had consequences and I sort of knew that I was supposed to hate it as someone being educated in conservation biology.

It’s humbling how an issue can precipitate out of a nebulous state into something so corporeal with a change in location. Over the summer, I moved from Manhattan, Kansas to Stillwater, Oklahoma to begin a Master’s program. Unknowingly, I had moved into a region of the country where an amalgamation of social and governmental issues had left most of the citizens in a cultural crossfire. Data and opinions on fracking were being thrust onto the stage of my academic mind at a dizzying rate. With many of my faculty advisers and fellow students paying so much attention to the social and environmental benefits and costs of fracking (many of them born in the state) the intellectual change was as drastic as breaking through a thin, distancing sheet of ice to be drenched in the mire below. Suddenly my answer from three years ago no longer felt justified but rather an inappropriate and ill-advised diversion.

But as my perspective and opinions on the problem as a relative outsider began to formulate, I found that it did not square with either of the camps in what has become a bitterly polar issue. The depth of the emotion that surrounds fracking is nigh impossible to escape on the streets and in the bars. Broaching the topic can turn a roomful of pleasant southern and mid-west types into a seething, self-consuming mob. I have seen numerous people on both sides of the issue get so heated during community meetings on fracking that they had to be escorted from the room by police. So deeply are the emotions felt that, five minutes into a pleasant conversation with a total stranger, I was all at once told that “people just need to get the fuck over fracking.” Until that point, it had been all pleasant banter. The downturn in our conversation had come when I mentioned that my work involves the effects of fracking on communities.

For much of the country, and for many other scientific editorialists, fracking has become an easy thing to demonize. It has become an issue around which environmentalists can guarantee solidarity. Two weeks ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made official a ban on fracking in his state. It was a move that was supported by roughly half of the state’s citizens and implemented over health concerns regarding the unknown (though sometimes known) toxicity of chemicals used in the process. And while this successful ban has increased the calls from environmental quarters for more bans, the view of this displaced Kansan is a little more sobering. It’s not that I disagree with the ban per se, but the troubling implications that action would have on my new home state are impossible to ignore.

Speaking about the recent New York ban, Cuomo stated that “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great.’ Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ” If this is true, than the view from Oklahoma is strikingly different than the one from New York. There are many land owners in Oklahoma who see fracking as a great thing. And unlike New York, these land owners almost never see any direct benefit from the activity. In Oklahoma, land rights and mineral rights are bifurcated. So while many people in the state have super lateral wells directly under their houses and pastures, they see no financial benefit nor are companies required to get their permission. While some people do choose to lease land and water rights to companies in exchange for financial compensation, hold-outs are frequently threatened with legal action if they do not sign. While these threats are ultimately hollow, antidotal evidence suggests that they frequently work as land owners have limited knowledge and resources to know the law or hire counsel.

And yet, despite this, the presumptive majority of the state is entirely fine with this activity. Many of the country’s top energy companies, companies that frack both the Marcellus shale formation in New York and the various shale formations in Oklahoma, are headquartered in Oklahoma City. As with other states, the taxable revenue and jobs that these companies bring in is often the source of support for their presence and activities. It is estimated by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board that over a third of the Oklahoma’s Gross State Product is generated by oil and gas activities. They also estimate that the industry has created of tens of thousands of jobs. The OERB also estimates that oil and gas activities accounted for nearly one billion dollars for public funds in 2010. But these numbers are of questionable accuracy. In a move borrowed from coal companies in Appalachia, the OERB is a governmental board voluntarily funded by energy companies. It generates economic data in conjunction with a local college primarily underwritten by those same companies and then uses that data to make governing recommendations to the state legislature on how to best manage themselves. But, unfortunately, many citizens see the activities of these companies as vital, and this holds true even if the OERB’s numbers are incredibly inflated. It is impossible to acknowledge that our state and many of its public services would not be in existence if not for fracking activities.

The final factor that changes the view from that of New York is the social forces that are present in Oklahoma that seem to be lacking in New York. Bluntly put, Oklahoma is an oil state. It is an identity deeply baked into the native citizenry. The halls of the state capital building are lined with paintings and photographs that document this heritage. A large painting outside the governor’s office, depicting three Native American men gathering oil from a spring, is entitled (and I swear this is true) “The Magic of Petroleum.” To many, oil and now natural gas are a huge part of what gives Oklahoma its place in the world. Energy companies know this and run advertisements to reassure Oklahomans of their fossil fuel heritage (another tactic borrowed from coal). While there is a present and growing number of citizens and lawmakers beginning to demand more oversight and accountability, talk of an all-out ban is uncommon. If Andrew Cuomo was truthful in his statement that no one has told his that “fracking is great”, I can change that within five minutes on an Oklahoma City street.

While there are definitely people in the state who would support a New York style fracking ban, more people would say that fracking is their only good option. The majority, though, would hail it as a great thing for the state. Reasons for this opinion aside, it lends a social aspect to the puzzle of fracking in Oklahoma that complicates it beyond the relatively simple action taken in New York. This social puzzle then, is something that I want to explore in two more parts to come in the next couple of weeks because, in a state like Oklahoma, demonization of fracking is nearly impossible. The tactics that have even the slightest chance of ending fracking, then, take serious consideration, study, and discussion. We have to change the culture of our state before we will change its central economic tenets. It’s not something that I feel comfortable saying will never happen, but it is something that will not come about as simply or as cleanly as New York has proven can happen.

You can read part two in this series here and part three here.