BARBARA WILLIAMS SPOKE to the GOP convention on Aug. 13 as a victim of overzealous regulators. Trouble is, Williams' real gripe should be with the GOP Congress, which has had two years to fix her problem and hasn't.
Williams' SunnyRay diner in Gettysburg, Pa., is ensnared in litigation involving the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program. Williams says she sent food scraps to a private landfill that also took hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency sued several large companies to pay for a multimillion-dollar cleanup. To spread around the cost, those companies sued hundreds of smaller fry that used the landfill, who in turn sued SunnyRay and others. Although she says she has obeyed the law, her share of the cleanup could come to $76,000.
In Congress, Democrats have pushed to exempt small businesses, such as SunnyRay, from cleanup costs. The GOP wanted to release all businesses from liability for pre-1987 dumping, but couldn't agree on how to pay for such broad relief. Still, Republican Williams won't bash her party: "At least they invited me to speak."