On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, The Justice Department indicted fracking developer Aubrey McClendon for bid-rigging over land deals. Less than 24 hours later, Aubrey McClendon drove his SUV at a high rate of speed into a wall and died instantly. Condolences to the family of Aubrey McClendon. Up North Progressive chose to not publish this article until after a few days passed.
Aubrey McClendon is infamously known for wanting to develop lake shore property near Saugatuck. As bad as that may be, McClendon was also involved in Michigan in a much more sinister way, and most people in Michigan are likely unaware of McClendon’s business in Northern Michigan. This is not an accident. Aubrey McClendon deliberately wanted to conceal his identity to the residents living in this region of the state. In the summer of 2010, hundreds of people representing Western Land Services of Ludington and a company called Northern Michigan Land Exploration flooded communities all over northern Michigan offering hundreds and even thousands of dollars per acre to lease the mineral rights from land owners. Many may remember receiving a phone call before a person from Western Land Services came to their home.
Many Northern Michigan residents will also remember when the money for those leases never materialized, because according to Aubrey McClendon, “drilling a dry hole changes things.” Meaning most of those leases Michigan landowners signed expecting a big bonus were never paid. Northern Michigan Land Exploration was a shell company set up by another shell company to conceal who was behind the bogus leases – Audrey McClendon’s Chesapeake Oil. In fact, Western Land Services in Ludington was required to keep the real lessee a secret as they called on almost a thousand households in Northern Michigan peddling Chesapeake’s offer.
John Wilson’s company was part of that scam. They knew who they were working for, but never revealed that to the people they tried to lease land from. Right now Wilson wants people to buy into this new for-profit charter school, Gateway To Success Academy. A school he claims was not his idea, but would annoy Jamie Bandstra every time he walked into the doomed Journey Alternative Ed program and ask out loud, “How is my school coming?”
Something to think about as we hear more about this miracle charter school that’s going to save education in Northern Michigan. Another dry hole that will change nothing but divert funding away from our real public schools.