Wind energy claims to be clean. Unfortunately, we can’t say that about wind company ethics and some local town officials entangled in wind issues. There’s a deafening silence from leaders entrusted with the public welfare. Conflicts of interest between wind companies and town boards appear to be a regular occurrence in small communities hypnotized by financial gain.
In Cape Vincent, town officials appear to have conflicts of interest with wind companies, yet the town has no public record of these contracts. There is only hearsay, conveniently enabling town officials to cloud the question while remaining in office. Remember that the Jefferson County Ethics Board recommended that these officials should recuse themselves from voting on wind power issues.
Cape Vincent officials with apparent conflicts stated they will continue voting on wind issues, letting the legal chips fall where they may. If Cape Vincent gets wind power money, will town funds drain away in a cesspool of legal battles over potential corruption?
The conflict question goes higher. Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine, running against Assemblyman Will Barclay, has some explaining to do. The draft environmental document map, part of the environmental study mandated by state law on wind projects, shows Aubertine having wind turbines slated for his farm in Cape Vincent. Does Mr. Aubertine have a conflict? He sits on the state energy committee, as well as voted for the new Article 10 law that reduces local control and lets the state control new power plant placement, including wind power. Mr. Aubertine owes it to the public to break his silence and set the record straight on this issue.
With these potential conflicts, why are official watchdogs sleeping? Where is Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert? Where are Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his local representative John T. Sullivan, who have been notified of these conflicts? Why is attorney Mark Gebo tolerating these conflicts as legal adviser to Cape Vincent?
Wind power is a critical issue facing Jefferson County. Why aren’t county legislators exercising oversight of wind power? And what about New York General Municipal Law, Article 18, Section 809, that requires town officials to disclose potential conflicts with an applicant (wind companies) requesting a zoning action?
While officials sit silently, fearing controversy or hoping to get through an election, citizens fill the void spending thousands of dollars protecting themselves and seeking answers, as wind power ravages their county.
9 February 2008
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