Recent letters and articles regarding the Jerry Criter recall effort have omitted important information that helps explain the reason for the recall. They have tried to label it simply as a “wind energy issue,” but it is much more than that. It is an issue of trust in our elected representatives, and a betrayal of that trust. Vital to this trust is the principle that an elected representative is not to use his power to take actions that benefit him financially.
After questions had been raised regarding the ethics of him voting on wind energy issues, Mr. Criter excused himself from debate and votes regarding wind energy issues in several Calumet County Board meetings in summer of 2007. Mr. Criter is shown as a proposed host to six wind turbines in the Town of Brothertown in applications filed with the FAA. Referring to Mr. Criter excusing himself on these votes, on 10/11/07, District Attorney Kenneth Kratz wrote, “I encourage you to continue to abstain from any official action regarding any matter for which you may have any financial interest. I would caution you that any future official action taken in which you may have a financial interest may lead to a sanction under 19.59, or criminal prosecution under the misconduct in public office statutes.”
During the November County Board meeting, only one month after receiving this advice from Mr. Kratz, Mr. Criter voted against providing the Wind Energy Ad Hoc Committee funding to study other wind farms. The Ad Hoc Committee, which consists of people on all sides of the wind energy issue, is studying the issues of wind energy to provide recommendations that will make wind energy safer for all people affected by it. By voting to deny funding for this group, Mr. Criter, has indicated that his desire for financial gain from hosting these turbines is greater than his interest in the health and safety of the constituents that he represents. This action in spite of his conflict of interest has cost him the trust of many of his constituents.
If we cannot trust Mr. Criter to act ethically in the area of wind energy, can we trust him to do so in his other votes? He had the opportunity to do the right thing and abstain in November, but he chose otherwise, despite the advice of the county’s district attorney. It is for this reason that I urge the residents of Calumet County District 16 to demand honest representation from their elected officials and support this recall effort.
14 December 2007
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