Saturday, August 4, 2007

Seth Leitman's (ex-)Conflict of Interest

(March 16, 2010 - Seth, or as he likes to be called now, the Green Living Guy, has since re-joined the rebel forces after he quit working for BGA. He's become editor of the Green Guru Guide series for McGrawHill and working hard with Rock The Reactors to see Indian Point shut down. So please read this below as a slice of ancient history. ~ Remy C.)
This is the story of a man who made a complete about face in his commitment to shut down Indian Point for a few dollars more, so as to cash in on the green consumer craze. Let me explain.

In April of 2006, Seth Leitman joined myself and model Betcee May on the shores of the Hudson river, in a little park directly across Indian Point. Back then, Seth was committed to shut down the old plant. He'd worked for the state of New York selling hybrid and electric cars for a decade. He knows first hand the dangers of nuclear power.
Seth and I shared a dream, to expand his online electric vehicle business Electric Transportation Solutions into a full service green product portal, to bring the green lifestyle to the electric vehicle community. The association promised to be a fruitful one, since I am editor-at-large and webmaster for Electrifying Times, a well established magazine dedicated to electric cars since 1994.

The idea was to blend our two campaigns together, with Betcee May as its star. Betcee and I had discussed this for a long time. Shooting Betcee in front of Indian Point, with a Honda Civic hybrid, would give Betcee instant popularity online as the new green "it" girl of the moment. Which is exactly what happened... the page quickly garnered tens of thousands of hits... Practically overnight, Betcee became the most downloaded pin-up girl in the nuclear industry!

Betcee would shoot for Seth's new online ETS Energy store... we would all share equally in the profits, doing a good thing... rock the green world together, as Betcee coined it. Sadly, and this is where it all started falling apart, Seth went and sold majority share of his company to BGA Engineering, retrenching with his old utility buddies, who had done work for both Indian Point and Millstone in Connecticut, interviewing young nuclear engineers from Cornell University in anticipation of the Nuclear Renaissance.

The merger happened after I introduced Seth to an old friend, Sam Salamay, who unbeknownst to me, worked at BGA. All Sam and I had ever talked about all these years, is solar energy... It never dawned on me Sam was now working for a nuclear industry affiliated firm. It never came up. Sam has always been well aware of my anti-nuclear activism, but it had never been an issue until Seth partnered with his employer, because that made me an active participant in the venture.

Seth selling 50% of his online business to BGA totally changed the dynamics of our marketing strategy. Both Seth and Sam cannot speak out about their anti-nuclear sentiments, it would threaten BGA's contracts, so in essence, their association with me became cumbersome, yet Seth and Sam still wanted to use my creative talent to develop the product selection and marketing campaign for ETS Energy store.

I wasn't aware of the conflict of interest... I was working with friends... I didn't realize what was going on... I was focused on the image of Betcee May as the new face of dozens of green products, creating product placement opportunities for her, for us... we all needed to make a little cash, in tune with our environmental beliefs. I had a vision, and I was sticking to it. Nobody told me I was suddenly working for the nuclear power industry!

Seth isn't that pure... When time came to shoot the new images for the website, which we were going to position in a slew of green blogs and green magazines, who would jump at the opportunity to feature the amazing Betcee May on their pages selling green products, Betcee sensed something wasn't quite right... despite a hefty dollar advance, Betcee opted not to participate in the shoot... said she had a previous booking as an excuse, wouldn't fly out for the day... which is when Summer Rayne Oakes stepped in to take her place, as a favor to us.

BGA spent a considerable amount of money of this shoot. Model/Musician Jon Mack was flown in from California, at great expense... The hiring of top fashion photographer Eric Striffler, travel expenses to his studio in the Hamptons... The dream was to produce extraordinary images both the fashion and green lifestyle media would embrace, which I could easily place, which would promote ETS Energy store, the green careers of each model, the green lifestyle, a win win situation all around.

Problem was, Seth couldn't find it in his heart to explain to BGA where the inspiration for this motley crew was coming from, neither Seth nor Sam introduced me to BGA... they didn't want BGA to know their creative arts director was a rabid anti-nuclear freak! Which is also probably why, they didn't pursue Betcee more aggressively as a feature model, because of her Indian Point shoot, and let's face it, her recent stint posing for adult websites.

So the whole thing fell apart. Seth refused to pay me after the fashion shoot... I suspect Seth gave Summer Rayne Oakes a percentage of ETS (they still refuse to answer the question) which means that now, she's under contract, stipulated in the fine print, she cannot voice anti-nuclear sentiments either. Blames me for the whole mess... but cashed the check none the less.

The little I saw of the pictures that day in the Hamptons turned out fantastic, but I was denied access to the images. They became sole property of Seth Leitman, who never put them to good use. After weeks of shouting and screaming, I got a meager check to shut me up... the dream of taking ETS Energy store to the top, with a beautiful website, beautiful ads, all courtesy of Eric Striffler's wonderful lens, Summer and Jon's persona... down the drain... as the images have languished at the bottom of a computer file... a crying shame.

This is what nuclear power does to people! It sticks a wedge in their professional and personal lives. What started out as a singular vision, Betcee May anti-nuclear activist extraordinaire, the face of green products everywhere... degenerated into an obscure little green product website somewhere on the fringes of cyberspace, all because its owners won't stand up for what's right, shout out "Shut Down Indian Point!"

Relationships, friendships, all flew apart because of this... money, feelings, twisted... because Seth sold out to the Utilities, in the hope of building a green business, tainted at the source, doomed at the roots... I also didn't know until recently that Seth had co-written a report about the Th!nk program for the Idaho National Labs, where the deal between General Motors and the nuclear power industry went down to build new nukes for the hydrogen economy.

There is one way to fix all this... for BGA to bid for Indian Point's decommissioning contract. If BGA does that... Officially states that when IP shut downs (and we will shut it down) they are interested in safely dismantling the plant, restoring the land... miracle happens, but that's up to Seth and Sam... will they put their jobs on the line to request such a statement from their bosses?

We'll see...

1 comment:

Darek Shapiro said...


The web is a fine way to catch a fly.

Let's hope your expose' will give Seth pause enough to realign his efforts with the Rebel force.