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by Keith Barber

CAROLINA JOURNAL ARTICLE ON UWHARRIE RESOURCES COMMISSION COMES UNDER FIRE

Jason Walser, executive director of the Land Trust for Central North Carolina, is claiming that a reporter for the Carolina Journal, the monthly publication of the John Locke Foundation, informed him that a number of statements attributed to him in a Jan. 20 article about the Uwharrie Resources Commission actually came from Alcoa lawyer Hugh Stevens and Alcoa’s public relations firm. In the article, Burrows writes that Walser, a commission member, suggested that the true purpose of the commission might be different than its mandated goal of encouraging economic development in the Uwharrie region of North Carolina — specifically, “greasing the skids for the Perdue administration’s campaign to operate four hydroelectric dams along the Yadkin River owned by Alcoa Power Generating Inc.”

In a Jan. 24 letter sent to John Hood, director of the John Locke Foundation, Walser wrote: “When I called Sara to express my extreme displeasure with what I perceive as absolutely bottom of the barrel journalism, I asked about a few of the particular attributions (again, cleverly not made as ‘quotes’) and was told that some of the phrases came from Hugh Stevens (Alcoa’s attorney) and from Alcoa’s public relations firm. I have no idea what this means, but it is very troubling to me that you would allow Alcoa’s hired hands to help craft an article that effectively used me as a ‘dummy’ to publish their own talking points.”

Walser characterized Burrows’ article as “sensational” and “dangerous,” serving only to fan the flames of the public’s mistrust of government.

In its response, Carolina Journal Managing Editor Rick Henderson denied Walser’s claim that Burrows told him that Stevens and Alcoa’s public relations firm were the source of statements attributed to him.

“It’s not a secret that Mr. Stevens is working with Alcoa,” Henderson wrote. “If we wanted to use phrases from him or the PR firm, we would have done so, with full attribution.”

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