In my time covering community news, several years now, I’ve seen the phenomenon of perfectly sane people getting really hyped up and borderline insane over neighborhood issues. Neighborhood zoning, new construction, trash pickup trends, lights at public parks — all things I’ve seen otherwise rational people lash out, cry, name call and or otherwise rage about.
Then, there is the rare bird who loves to get in the middle of the fray.
Case in point: I first met Peninsula neighborhood resident James Chip Northrup during the great White Rock Lake lighting debate of 2008 (a refresher: the city began implementing a plan to illuminate sections of the lake. Northrup and a few followers aggressively disputed it).
I watched him in neighborhood meetings verbally shutting down anyone whose opinion differed from his. He relentlessly shared his assertions on any forum — mostly blogs like ours and accompanying comments sections — he could access, usually under a variety of different names so he could agree with and support himself.
He popped up again when the city changed its trash pickup in his neighborhood from alley to curb. That time, in a meeting, he accused sanitation department director Mary Nix (a hardworking and trustworthy person if I’ve ever met one) of being a habitual liar.
Now, according to an article on NorthcentralPA.com, Northrup is “a celebrity on the anti-drilling speaking circuit … discussing the evils of hydraulic fracturing.”
Apparently, according to the post, Northrup “summers in Cooperstown, New York” (and “winters in Dallas”), which is why he’s raising hell up north now, I guess.
I wasn’t really surprised to see his name in the midst of a new controversy (though it was weird to see him in a Pennsylvania-based publication). It’s been two years since the trash thing, after all.
Northrup’s polarizing personality certainly has the author of this particular post’s (Jim Willis, editor of Marcellus Drilling News) ire up. Northrup’s opinions on drilling per se are not the issue. Rather, he questions Northrup’s assertion that he is a “drilling expert” and “industry insider”.
In his exploration, Willis sheds a light on Northrup’s history—nasty and expensive lawsuits, raucous neighborhood meetings requiring police presence, etc.—and even mentions the squabble over White Rock Lake lights.
If you know Northrup—as, for good or bad, many of us around here do—it’s an interesting read.
In his conclusion, Willis calls Northrup “just another rich ideologically driven individual” who is no stranger to “imposing his views on other people”.
Harsh, but “Chip” would likely have it no other way.