This is Lever Weekly, a recap of our work from the past week. If you only read one email from us all week, this should be it.
Below you will find a breakdown of our reporting, podcasts, videos, and live events — a feature open to all subscribers. Following that, we are providing paid subscribers with an original column, written by a member of The Lever, connecting the dots on our coverage to deliver important takeaways.
In this week’s column, exclusively for paid subscribers, Matthew Cunningham-Cook explores how all the transportation woes we’ve been reporting on can be traced back to one person: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Stuff The Lever Reported This Week:
• Rail Companies Blocked Safety Rules Before Ohio Derailment — Norfolk Southern helped convince government officials to repeal brake rules — and corporate lobbyists watered down hazmat safety regs.
• “There Will Be More Derailments” — Pete Buttigieg’s Transportation Department has no plans to revive an Obama-era safety rule that could help prevent future train accidents.
• Here’s Who Will Be Talking About Jesus On Super Bowl Sunday — The foundation behind a $20 million Christian Super Bowl ad campaign has funded a group fighting to limit abortion access and allow anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
• At This Jersey Factory, Pension-Backed Private Equity Takes On Union Workers — At a Refresco plant outside of New York City, KKR masters of the universe say that weekends come only six times a year.
Stuff To Watch & Listen To:
• LEVER TIME: Meet Alaska’s First Democratic Rep. In Almost 50 Years — David Sirota interviews Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska); and speaks with Getty whistleblower Marlena Sonn.
• MOVIES VS. CAPITALISM: Ghostbusters — In their inaugural episode, Rivka Rivera and Frank Cappello welcome David to the show to discuss everyone’s favorite Reagan-era ghost-busting classic.
• LEVER TIME PREMIUM: The Gettys And The Whistleblower — David explores the shady, and potentially illegal, investment practices being carried out by one of America’s most famous wealthy families.
• CATASTROPHIC Ohio Train Derailment Caused By Wall Street GREED (Breaking Points) — Julia Rock discusses The Lever’s train derailment investigation.
• How Corporate Greed Led to the Hazardous Train Derailment in Ohio (The Young Turks) — David discusses our derailment reporting.
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The Man Responsible
By Mathew Cunningham-Cook
This week, the 4,761 residents of East Palestine, Ohio were left grappling with another instance of corporate greed poisoning communities, after a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment led to mass evacuations and a fiery “controlled release” of toxic chemicals.
What will be the public health impacts of this disaster on the local community? On the frontline workers who rushed in to contain the damage? Nobody knows for sure.
This is just the latest transportation woe to befall the country. In December, millions of Americans had their holiday travel plans derailed thanks to lax oversight and aggressive industry cost cutting. The previous month, the Biden administration forced a contract down struggling rail workers’ throats, despite the fact that many of them had rejected it, barring the workers from striking for their rights.
On top of that, you have the nation’s beleaguered freight rail industry, which moves about 40 percent of the country’s long distance freight volume, contributing to the nation’s brittle supply chains and fueling aggressive inflation.
In all these matters, all roads lead back to Pete Buttigieg, President Joe Biden’s transportation secretary.