The Justice Department report is a good start

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Sean Reed

And it all goes wrong again.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department, after months of research, released the findings of its investigation into the internal hiring policies of top aides under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — and the results were startling.

The report, prepared by the inspector general of the Justice Department, concluded that top aides to Gonzales used politics as a factor for hiring candidates for top-level positions in the department, damaging the department’s reputation and independence from the executive branch.

Of particular concern was the role of former aide Monica Goodling, who is suspected of introducing hiring policies excluding liberals, both real and suspected, from top positions within the department, regardless of their qualifications.

Now, for some positions, this kind of political strategy is perfectly acceptable and justified. Goodling, in addition to her position as top aide to Gonzales, was liaison to the White House and was, therefore, in charge of political appointments.

When interviewing candidates for these positions, politics naturally is and should be part of the discussion.

The problem is, Ms. Goodling and others used political orientation as a factor when hiring for nonpolitical positions including but not limited to immigration judges and assistant U.S. attorneys.

According to The New York Times, one candidate was even excluded by Goodling because she was suspected of having a lesbian relationship with her supervisor.

This type of behavior is unacceptable. Not only does it show a complete lack of professional ethics, but also this kind of behavior violates both federal law and, according to the report, internal Justice Department policy.

Now that the findings have been released, it is time to take action.

Unfortunately, Goodling and the several other aids named in the report, with the exception of one, have already resigned from the justice department, so no internal discipline can be issued.

The good news is that the reports of improprieties can be used to exclude them from future service in the Justice Department, as was suggested by the report.

But a closed door to the department for future work isn’t enough.

These people made a mockery of proper procedure and hurt the balance and credibility of the one agency that should be incorruptible. A strong message needs to be sent that this sort of political sleight of hand will not be tolerated, be it from either major party.

And there’s only one way to ensure it happens — Goodling et al need to be brought up on charges for the laws they broke.

Fortunately, as in any bad moment, there have been lessons learned.

Amid the controversy, both former Attorney General Gonzales and current head Michael Mukasey instituted reforms to prevent another situation like this from happening. According to the Justice Department’s report, thus far, the changes seem to be working.

Time will only tell, of course, if they are right.

In the meantime, however, this report is a good start to getting us on the right track. We can only hope that, with time, the damage Goodling and her fellows caused the department can be undone.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

A sound Iraq exit strategy

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: J. David McSwane

As the 2008 presidential election continues to gain momentum and enthusiasm across the political spectrum, one divisive issue stands out in the minds of voters and pundits. I’m talking, of course, about the Iraq War.

And voters aren’t stupid. They want an answer to one of the most complex questions of our time. What is the best course of action? Should we cut and run? If we cut and run, what do we call it so we don’t sound like a bunch of pansies? Will another troop surge eradicate anti-American sentiment in the region? Should we blow them all up?

One thing is certain: Wherever this war takes us, it should be handled quickly and quietly so as not to attract attention from other key world players (or Glenn Beck) and so we don’t prime a new generation of freedom-haters.

It’s a catch-22 that’s got international relations experts and diplomats spinning their heads. But I believe the solution is right under our trigger fingers — or better yet, someone else’s trigger finger.

We need to stop fighting the war and start controlling it. War games, if you will, minus the seemingly ever-pre-pubescent Matthew Broderick.

To win this war, this country needs to, once and for all, embrace its rich neo-colonial, imperialistic tendencies. We’ve occupied Iraq, and now it’s time to reshape it, but we need to drop that whole democracy kick the papers keep ranting about. We need to establish another totalitarian regime, one sympathetic to the U.S. and its allies — one that rules with an iron fist so we don’t have to.

Next, we must arbitrarily stratify the country by creating a system in which the U.S., very covertly and seemingly invisibly, chooses who has wealth, influence and power . and a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood.

In my opinion, it would be best to give the terrorist groups the goods and breakdown the peaceful types so as to avoid an immediate coup. In time, of course, a bloody coup is desirable because, after all, they are freakin’ terrorists!

History tells us that with every occupation, economic overhaul, redistribution of wealth and subsequent departure comes civil war. Now, the beginning and the end of the problem lie solely with the Iraqi people.

As Congress sits back and debates the proper approach to growing conflict in Iraq, the plan will take care of itself.

After months of brutal treatment of the proletariat, a few resistance leaders will inevitably emerge to fight the tyranny. In God’s name and for freedom, the U.S., the global hegemonic leader and vanguard of democracy, would be obligated to restore peace and order by empowering the resistance.

Now, it’s time to buy American. Let all our brave soldiers go to college. No stop loss, no hardball recruiting tactics needed. Through top-secret contracts with private, for-profit tactical organizations like Blackwater, the U.S. can train and supply the insurgency free of international accountability or political scandal.

But civil war doesn’t just happen overnight; some provocation is key. Whatever the catalyst, it must be gut-wrenchingly obvious and demand an immediate response — a violent and swift overtake.

I would lobby for the introduction of the band Nickelback to the region, but any number of Canadian artists could elicit the urge to immediately overthrow the establishment and stop the pain, even if it means death. It’s sound international policy, and anyone who argues with me is either a terrorist or worse — sympathetic to Canadian music.

For fun, the winners of the war will have access to hundreds of good albums sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.

In the end, the Iraqi people will have fought for the government they desired, they will have had complete control over the future of their country and they’ll remember how the Americans helped them. They will either hate their own, the remaining members of the old regime, or they’ll hate Canada, which leaves us in the clear.

While this all sounds quite brilliant, I can’t take all the credit (though I will fight for the Nickelback credit come judgment day). No, I’m afraid our current government had the meat and potatoes long ago. I just added the broth and a little honesty.

Like most spiraling disasters, a solution doesn’t come easy. But I assure you that whoever said one can’t dig himself out of a hole clearly wasn’t American. With a little moral flexibility and a good ol’ American work ethic, the man they call one can most certainly dig at a proverbial upward angle.

J. David McSwane is a senior technical journalism major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Tragedies truly devastating

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: The Rocky Mountain Collegian Editorial Board

CSU has had a hard week.

In the last week alone, there have been three tragic deaths in the CSU community. On July 22, Rebecca Allen, an employee of the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, was hit by a car and killed while riding her bicycle early Tuesday morning.

Three days later, lightning struck William John Szlemko, a CSU graduate student, on campus, killing him.

And on Friday night, Matt Quitmeyer, a former CSU student, was found dead with a gunshot wound in his upper left chest in the Summit Hall parking lot.

CSU Police Department Chief Dexter Yarbrough said the last murder on campus was in 1982.

We at the Collegian are deeply saddened by this devastating series of deaths in the campus community. We wish to extend our condolences to any family and friends of the deceased who are suffering through this hard time.

There are resources on campus to help the bereaved deal with the tragedies. University officials say the unusually high number of deaths has taken a toll on the campus community and are offering services to help the grieving acquaintances of the deceased.

The Vice President of Student Affairs office provides information and counseling for families and concerned callers at (970) 491-1000.

Our hearts are with you, CSU. Stay strong.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Quitmeyer case a possible suicide

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Aaron Montoya

The investigation into the death of Matt Quitmeyer has changed course from a suspected homicide to a possible suicide.

At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, CSU Chief of Police Dexter Yarbrough announced at a press conference that information about Quitmeyer’s medical history and a search of his apartment is leading detectives to believe the fatal injury was a “possible self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Police found Quitmeyer’s body with a gunshot wound to the upper-left chest in the parking lot of Summit Hall dormitory on the CSU campus at 11:08 p.m. Friday near the apartment complex where he lived.

“[We are] looking into other facets of his life,” Yarbrough said. Investigators found that Quitmeyer suffered from chronic headaches and on Friday “he was suffering from possibly the most severe headache he had ever experienced,” Yarbrough said.

According to Yarbrough, a .22 caliber rifle that Quitmeyer legally purchased in October of last year was used in the shooting. It was found approximately 100 feet from the body on Saturday afternoon, the day following the initial crime scene findings.

Police believe that the wound Quitmeyer suffered may not have killed him instantly, giving him time to walk a short distance before expiring.

Yarbrough noted several times throughout the press conference held in front of Green Hall, CSUPD’s headquarters, that the investigation is still ongoing.

“We cannot release many of the details at this point,” he said.

The gathering was a small one dominated by press members, but a few friends of Quitmeyer were there to hear the update. They left in tears after hearing the new information.

The Vice President of Student Affairs office provides information and counseling for families and concerned callers at (970) 491-1000.

Editor-in-Chief Aaron Montoya can be reached at editor@collegian.com

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Student still in critical condition after lightning strike

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

A student who was struck by lightning Thursday is still in critical condition at the Poudre Valley Hospital.

Just three days after two CSU employees on bicycles were hit by a motorist, lightning struck two CSU graduate students on campus, killing one of them and putting the other in intensive care at Poudre Valley Hospital.

William John Szlemko and Marc Vernon Richard were struck at approximately 7:30 p.m. in a forested area of campus known as Sherwood Forest during a thunderstorm, according to a press release from the university.

Szlemko, a 35-year-old psychology graduate student, was pronounced dead at the scene after CSU police tried to revive him and Richard. Richard is in intensive care at Poudre Valley Hospital.

The Larimer County Coroner’s office performed an autopsy on Szlemko at 10:30 a.m. Friday. The coroner’s office did not answer an after-hours call from the Collegian.

News Managing Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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CHILL OUT CSU

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Jul 292008
 
Authors:

The large white bubble of a dome is a strange sight in the stretches of farmland and county roads north of Greeley. Towering over five stories high, the dome of one of the most advanced weather research systems in the world may appear to a passersby as something akin to a giant igloo.

The system, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by CSU researchers, resides in the dome, which is big enough for the technology to maneuver 360 degrees around and flip vertically, scanning the skies above — something rare in operational radar systems.

Yet the most exceptional aspect of the CHILL Radar is its advanced dual polarization technology, which allows meteorologists and scientists to indicate where hailstones melt into water and better forecast the weather and send out warnings.

“The next generation of technologies is being introduced in the TV market,” said Chandrasekar V. Chandra, an electrical and computer engineering professor.

Chandra said in the year 2009 170 dual polarization radars will be adapted by weather stations across the nation.

The CHILL Radar Facility near Greeley can detect a hail stone 10 miles away and is so sensitive that bugs flying over Denver can interfere with the weather information that gets transmitted back to researchers at the CHILL facility.

Chandra said the research CSU students and professors are able to acquire through the CHILL Radar is crucial to the continued advancement of dual polarization systems and weather forecasting.

“This is our research platform,” Chandra said.

Chandra is primarily interested in the advancing radar technology and the CHILL facility allows for better research on how to improve weather radar technology and release new technologies to the nation and globe.

Non-CSU researchers, whose proposals are approved, can also use the radar and its sophisticated antenna for recording atmospheric activity to aid in their research.

Unlike radar systems used by the National Weather Service, the CHILL Radar serves as a research tool, meaning it is not required to run 24 hours a day.

When the tornadoes swept through Weld County on May 22, the CHILL Radar was not running because research was not taking place.

While it did get images of the storm as it passed over I-25 toward the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, it took nearly 20 minutes to boot the radar; so, scientists were unable to get images when the storms were in their first stages.

“The radar was not all the way functional that day,” said Patrick Kennedy, the CHILL facility manager and a meteorologist. “We saw the latter part of [the tornado].”

Research continues despite the missed opportunity over two months ago, and Kennedy, also the managing technician, can only hope poor timing will not be against them again.

Because the CHILL is intended for research, researchers are not obligated to act as any type of warning system.

However, Kennedy said, through their weather and radar technology research, the National Weather Service could potentially benefit from their findings, more efficiently detect inclement weather and issue warnings faster.

The original system was constructed in the 1970s by the universities of Chicago and Illinois, which when combined give the system its name. In 1990, The National Science Foundation brought the CHILL to Colorado after deeming CSU the appropriate university out of the many that competed for the equipment.

In February, a new antenna was installed to clear up fuzzy signals that plagued research and increase observational accuracy.

Now, technicians and meteorologists like Kennedy are able to research weather patterns and thunderstorms without problems.

The old antenna was structured in a way that the equipment interfered with the radar’s ability to clearly distinguish signals from the atmosphere. The new antenna has no assembly equipment in its path and can focus its scanning up to nearly 200 miles away with almost zero interference, even avoiding the dome structure.

“As far as the radar is concerned, [the dome] is transparent,” Kennedy said.

Without the dome, the CHILL would be exposed and possibly damaged by the very storms it’s trying to track.

Most radar systems do not have vertical measurement capabilities. With its unique dual axis, Kennedy said the CHILL is able to measure raindrops both vertically and horizontally and can get a better idea if movements in the sky indicate hail or flash floods.

Other potential research studies could also help in discovering how storms become electrified, how raindrops evolve and how atmospheric conditions that cause airplane icing develop.

By scanning activity in the atmosphere and the weather’s impact on the ground, Kennedy, Dr. Chandra and other researchers hope to get closer to establishing a premium system for the prediction and detection of weather patterns.

Staff writer Kaeli West can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Exploring Conference brings explosives and helicopters to CSU [AUDIO SLIDESHOW]

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Kelli Pryor

Excitement spread through the crowd as the time grew closer to detonation. Hundreds of teens lined the hills of CSU’s West Lawn waiting for the much-anticipated display of heavy explosives — TNT and dynamite — to blast off a few hundred feet in front of them.

The announcer called upon the audience to countdown to explosion time.

“Three, two, one.”

At “one,” a massive explosion went off on the lawn. The sound reverberated in the spectators’ chests as if they were standing in front of a speaker at a rock concert. Some screamed, but most simply stared in awe.

The detonation of several large explosives began Friday’s festivities celebrating the end of a weeklong conference held at CSU for members of the National Law Enforcement Exploring Program, consisting of teens interested in joining law enforcement.

Members of the program came from all over the country to CSU last Monday so they could participate in activities aimed at teaching them about law enforcement.

“[The Explorers] help out police officers,” said Nikita Tietsort, a 16-year-old from Columbia, Mo. “We are an extra pair of hands for them.”

The Explorers, ranging in age from 14 to 21, “want to get into law enforcement after school,” said Jerry Blevins, coordinator for the Explorer Program in Dearborn, Mich.

Friday’s finale to the conference showed the teens the more exiting areas of police work.

The explosives demonstration by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives detonated live commercial and military explosives. Spectators could feel the heat from some of the displays, particularly the “wall of fire.” The grand finale of the explosives exhibition sent two tires shooting into the air at least a hundred feet.

“It’s a reduced demo of what [ATF] normally do [out in the field], but it’s still pretty neat,” said Special Agent Don Yorke.

Next, the West Lawn became the stage to a canine attack demonstration. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office showed the audience how they use dogs to search for evidence as well as apprehend suspects.

At one point, the “suspect” in the demonstration began to flee from the police but was quickly taken to the ground by Justice, the team’s german shepard.

The culmination of the event came with a demonstration by the U.S. Marshall Special Operations Group.

The members of SOG surprised the audience by landing a Colorado Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter a few hundred yards in front of them and performing a simulation of a special mission complete with an armored vehicle and explosions.

It might be a long time before CSU’s West Lawn sees this amount of action again, though.

Special Agent Carrie DiPirro said the conference is held at different places every year, and CSU was the sponsor for this year.

Staff writer Kelli Pryor can be reached at news at collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Allen remembered at service, Price charged with vehicular homicide

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Shari Blackman

Nearly 300 people gathered Friday afternoon, at the CSU Oval, to honor and remember avid cyclist and CSU faculty member Rebecca Allen who died July 22 when she was hit by a car while riding her bike.

Daniel Price, the motorist who hit Allen, is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.

“The Oval was a special place to Rebecca. She spent a lot of time here,” said Allen’s brother, Jon Gumtow, who opened the memorial with a tribute to his sister.

“Rebecca meant a lot to so many people,” Gumtow said to the assembled crowd, many wearing flip-flops and arriving by bike, a pre-planned homage to Allen.

Chris Bartholomew, Allen’s friend and coworker, asked for a show of hands from those whose “lives were touched by Rebecca.” Almost everyone raised their arms into the air.

Guests were asked to wear flip-flops and bike to the Oval in honor of Allen, who wore flip-flops to her wedding and was a self-described “flip-flop kind of girl,” said Bartholomew.

Faculty, students, family and friends, portrayed Allen as a person who delighted in laughter, went out of her way to help others and was passionate about cycling and the environment.

“She was a cheerful giver,” said Bartholomew. “Rebecca thought of herself as a very lucky person.”

Greg Luft, chair of the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication met Allen in 2000, when she was earning her BA in journalism and technical communication at CSU. He said she was recruited for the position of undergraduate program administrator.

“Over the years we talked about ways to keep Rebecca around because we thought so much of her,” said Luft. “She really got a kick out of figuring out difficult student advising problems.”

On a lawn littered with bikes, friends and family shared how Allen inspired them to take up cycling and recycling.

“Rebecca inspired me to start riding a bike again,” said Bartholomew, who spoke on how Allen took her bike shopping, which included lessons in safety.

“She would not allow me to ride that bike home until I had the proper reflectors and safety equipment,” Bartholomew said. Allen was wearing her helmet when she was hit.

Luft said that Allen once took an old head of lettuce from the department’s break room so she could compost it at home. This action earned her the nickname “Granola,” Luft said.

Cyclists Mark and Joany Dotson, who had never met Allen, came to the event simply to honor a fellow cyclist.

“There’s that common bond with cyclists,” Mark Dotson said. “Cycling is not easy. It’s a choice you make. Every time you go out, there is a chance that something could happen. If something does happen it’s a sign of respect to show up.”

After tributes were delivered, Gumtow invited guests to the podium to share memories of Allen, 32, who, although largely health-conscious, was known to love marshmallow peeps, margaritas, and “beer-boiled brats.”

Allen’s father-in-law, Bruce Allen, spoke of the “synergy” Greg and Rebecca Allen shared, and the difficulties ahead for the grieving family.

“Often we don’t realize what we had until it’s gone, but with Rebecca we knew and treasured what we had all along, and that is special,” Luft read from a tribute by Garrett O’Keefe, former chair of the CSU journalism department,

In his closing remarks, Allen’s brother Gumtow spoke of the discussion he had with his little sister on the day she left Wisconsin for a new life in Fort Collins. They talked about all the friends she would make.

“Looking around here today is proof that this became a reality,” Gumtow said. “You should all know that Rebecca lived her dream.”

Following hugs and stories shared, the loved ones of Rebecca Allen biked to the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant to celebrate her life with margaritas, because “Rebecca would have wanted it that way.”

Staff writer Shari Blackman can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

No new information in campus murder

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Campus police have not released any new information on an investigation of a murder that left Matt Quitmeyer dead in the Summit Hall parking lot Friday night. Quitmeyer was a CSU alumnus. The CSUPD received a call reporting the body at 11:08 p.m. Friday, Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough told reporters at the press conference. Campus police are working with Fort Collins Police Services to conduct an investigation into the case, which Yarbrough said is suspected to involve foul play. He said the investigation was at the forefront of their to-do list.

“CSU and Fort Collins police have established a large presence in the area,” Yarbrough said. “We’re making this investigation a top priority.” The investigation sections off the Summit Hall parking lot and the parking lot of an adjacent apartment complex.He encouraged campus residents to be “extra vigilant”

and to report any suspicious activity to police immediately.

The last murder on campus was in 1982, Yarbrough said.

The suspected murder comes on the heels of two accidental deaths in the campus community, one of a CSU staff member and the other of a student.

Rebecca Allen, an adviser in the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, was hit by a car while riding her bike early Tuesday and William John Szlemko, a graduate psychology student was struck by lightning Thursday in a forested area of campus called Sherwood Forest.

University officials say an unusually high number of deaths has taken a toll on the campus community.

“The events have really deeply impacted a lot of people,” said Anne Hudgens, the vice president of Student Affairs.

She said she has been working at CSU since 1984 and has never had to deal with a student death.

“It’s been a very, very sad week for Colorado State University,” Yarbrough said. “We are determined to bring the case to justice.”

Yarbrough said anyone with more information about the murder should call CSUPD at (970) 491-6425.

The Vice President of Student Affairs office provides info and counsel for families and concerned callers at 491-1000.

News Managing Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Local recommends consumers rescind REC subscriptions

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Jul 292008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

CSU and Fort Collins officials received a press release from a self-described concerned citizen late last week letting them know of an initiative to get customers of the community’s touted renewable energy credit market to rescind their patronage.

Eric Sutherland, a community critic of the REC market — which he says is rife with opacity and confusing policy — went to a Fort Collins Electric Board meeting Wednesday to announce his initiative to board members.

The effort, which Sutherland admitted probably won’t work, will operate by distribution of a just-sign-here form addressed to Fort Collins Utilities that requests that the signer be released from the program.

But a CSU official said Monday that the effort is useless and unnecessary, citing the fact that students, who are offered the program through the Housing and Dining department, have full freedom and a wide variety of choices to be environmentally conscious.

“We’ve updated our market” and tailored advertising “to reflect that the green power program is more broad,” said Tonie Miyamoto, the director of CSU’s renewable energy programs.

Since students were first offered the program in 2004, 764 have signed up for it. Miyamoto said their patronage has made significant strides toward reducing CSU’s carbon footprint.

“The 764 CSU students who have participated in the Green Power Program have offset 1,073 tons of CO2,” she said in an e-mail message to the Collegian.

“That is equivalent to 197 cars not driving for one year, 121,793 gallons of gasoline saved, 27,513 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or 370 tons of waste being recycled instead of going to the landfill. I think this demonstrates a very positive impact on our environment.”

About 1.38 million kilowatt hours have been purchased by students so far through the program.

But Sutherland said the REC industry is not transparent enough to ensure that the numbers cited by the university are accurate. He said the nature of the market makes it unclear whether the energy received from the student transactions actually came from green energy production.

The average student uses about 1,600 kilowatt hours for the entire year and will pay $17 for the amount of energy to be offset by wind or solar power.

Sutherland said it should cost much more than that because, to expand the program, more green power facilities must be built, and the $17 is only enough to maintain the current resources.

He is skeptical that the money is sustaining the market sufficiently, saying that to actually pay for the amount of energy claimed to be produced by clean methods, students would have to pay 10-fold what they do currently.

“It’s the law of diminishing returns,” Sutherland said. “A fair price to tell [students] is $170.”

Sutherland plans to distribute his message to stop consumers from using the green power program through grass roots efforts, using word of mouth and a Web site that he said will be running soon.

News Managing Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm