Think before you vote.
Here are some facts for voters to consider before voting in the District 16 recall election.
An article in the Business Journal (Milwaukee) in the Sept. 12, 2003 issue stated:
“We are working with local (Calumet County) landowners, but have not filed a formal application to begin work on the sites, so there is no requirement yet to publicly disclose anything,” said Mike Donahue, a spokesman for Midwest Energy. “Calumet County planning department officials confirmed that the companies are scouting for suitable sites in eastern Wisconsin.”
So we know that as early as 2003 some local landowners knew about the proposed Wind Turbine developments, and so did the County Planning Department. We also know that the next year, 2004, Town Plan Committees were formed in Calumet County to work on “Smart Growth” regulations. Jerry Criter was a member of the Brothertown Plan Committee which discussed setbacks and other wind issues. The Brothertown Plan Committee sent a member to the January 2005 meeting of the Niagara Escarpment Resource Network where they saw a presentation on wind energy potential including ordinance changes needed to allow such developments.
Another known fact published in Renew Wisconsin’s Quarterly-Spring 1998 is that utilities were already closely studying Calumet County’s Escarpment for turbine sites.
It is preposterous to believe that Brothertown area’s county supervisor was unaware of these wind development plans and the income large landowners could receive from them. It is illegal and unethical for a county supervisor to “take any official action substantially affecting a matter in which the official, a member of his or her immediate family, or an organization with which the official is associated has a substantial financial interest” -WI State Statute 19.59(1)(c)1) also Statute 19.59(1)(c)2.
Of course in those days many of us thought wind energy might be a good thing that could benefit everyone. It’s OK to vote on ordinances that benefit most citizens. But soon we found out that the wind turbines would be four times taller than the 100-foot demonstration turbine in Stockbridge, and that they can have devastating effects on both human and animal health, kill wildlife, contaminate groundwater, destroy natural resources, and never do live up to their supposed capacity for generating power. At that point we realized they would not benefit the majority of citizens in Calumet County.
Research studies indicate that as many as 44 percent of residents within one-fourth mile of a large wind turbine experience health problems; 52 percent between one-fourth and one-half mile away, 32 percent one-half to a mile away, and 4 percent between one mile and two miles away. Most likely to suffer health effects are children, elderly, already ill, anxious, autistic, headache sufferers, hearing impaired, and depressed people, as well as those with heart problems. Our children and elders deserve better.
Supervisor Criter still favors wind turbines, and plans to host several. Although he did abstain from some votes on the issue-after being told it was illegal for him to vote on them-he did not abstain on all related votes. Also, most of the damage had already been done.
Many of our citizens think this is not a problem for them because they don’t live inside a wind development project. Think again. This is just the “foot in the door” project. As soon as the developers complete their projects, they sell them to larger entities; usually public utility companies who will operate the generators. Will they keep the promises made by developers? They don’t have to. But the people who leased their land have to stick by their agreements no matter what and abide by the gag orders. Then the second and third phases of development come. In each stage many more turbines are built. The state wants to allow them to build wherever they please regardless of citizens’ rights.
Including projects under construction now, only 1.5 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity could be produced by wind in 2009. But Wisconsin Utilities are mandated to get 10 percent of their energy from renewable resources seven years from now. Do some math. They will need thousands of new turbines. Nobody’s safe. Setbacks are an extremely important issue.
The Town of Brothertown Board has consistently refused to protect the health of its citizens, and so has Supervisor Criter. Think about it. Most of us grew up with a values system that taught us it was wrong to do something that would damage the health and welfare of our neighbors. Would you teach your children that it is OK to ruin the lives of their neighbors and tear the community apart to make some money? We know there are a few people in this world who would do that, but I think the good people of Calumet County would not want to do this. If you realized you had been mistaken on an issue because you did not realize it would harm your neighbors, would you change your mind and try to protect them? I hope most of us would.
Our county supervisors deal with many other issues that affect our health and welfare. If yours puts his personal income before your health on one issue, will he or she do so on others?
Think about these things when you vote on Feb. 12. You can still be friends with someone who disagrees with your values, but should you entrust that person with the future of your town and the health of your family?
Personal friendship and the health of your county’s citizens are separate issues.
7 February 2008
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