Reprinted from the Lexington Herald-Leader with permission of the author. Matt Young will be the principal moderator of the comment thread.
I read Ken Ham’s February 28 op-ed “Don’t believe ‘agenda-driven propaganda’ film about Ark Park” with much amusement and more than a bit of disgust. Mr. Ham’s complaints about the film “We Believe in Dinosaurs” are projections of his own behavior onto the film makers. He complains of bias and propaganda, which he is a master at, and misrepresentations and errors, without being able to provide a specific example of anything factually wrong. In fact, the makers of the film were careful to let everyone speak for themselves with very little commentary. This is clear to anyone who has actually seen the film.
Ham also complains about the use of dinosaurs in the film yet has ample space in his so-called museum depicting dinosaurs and promoting the insane ideas that they lived with people and that some of them breathed fire. Amusingly, the fire-breathing part isn’t mentioned in the wooden Ark-shaped building at his amusement park. Noah must not have had access to asbestos. Moreover, Ham has been referring to dinosaurs as “missionary lizards” during his preaching and fund raising for at least three decades.
Although the rank pseudoscience, pseudohistory and absolute nonsense promoted by Ham and his fake-science organizations are what motivate me to complain, I’m astounded by the brazen hustles that have been used to milk city, county, and state government out of money. This money whether it be rebates of sales tax, or the gratis things received by the Ark and mentioned below, ultimately are taken away from taxpayers.
Ham says the documentary “focused on one small town [Williamstown] that has no major hotels or restaurants and whose struggling downtown is not convenient to interstate drivers.”
Before the Ark Park was built, Mr. Ham and his cronies received from Williamstown and Grant County $175,000 cash, nearly 100 acres of land for $2, and a 75% property tax rate reduction. Mr. Ham knew the town was “not convenient to interstate drivers.” Moreover, the City of Williamstown issued $62 million in junk bonds so the Ark Encounter could be built, and arranged for the bonds to be repaid by payroll and property taxes. All through this, Ken Ham knew the town that was doing him this fantastic favor, a favor necessary for the Ark to even be built, was “not convenient to interstate drivers.”
In August 2011, I attended a “Listening Session” by representatives of Ark Encounter, Grant County, and Williamstown. At this meeting the locals were told many spectacular things that the Ark would supposedly bring (I have a recording) and that it was a “transformational project for this community.” Many jobs for the region were promised and Mayor Skinner told the audience his sincere belief that utility rates would go down. Mr. Ham’s associate, Mr. Mike Zovath, told the audience that the Ark property had 60 to 70 acres of its 800 acres to to lease or purchase for the construction of hotels and restaurants. At this meeting Mr. Zovath actually said, “We have 1.6 million people coming to Williamstown when it opens in 2014.” The entire time that Williamstown was promised streets of gold and the moon to boot, Ken Ham and his crew knew Williamstown was “not convenient to interstate drivers.” Today, Ham, similar to a film-flam man, blames his victim.
Mr. Ham’s attitude towards Williamstown after they bent over backward and forward for him on repeated occasions is nothing less than despicable.
Dan Phelps, President, Kentucky Paleontological Society; Geology and Paleontology Instructor, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville, Kentucky; also a major participant in the film “We Believe in Dinosaurs”. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.