October 7, 2011
Letters, Massachusetts

Falmouth’s version of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

Mark J. Cool, Falmouth, Massachusetts

The Town Meeting is the Town’s legislative body. It decides all issues of how to spend Town’s funds. Wind 1 and Wind 2 were granted money (floating general obligation bonds) by Town Meeting not long ago. As it was understood by Members back then, a town wind program, seemed a good idea, a good concept.

Planning, building and running the turbines, thereafter, became the responsibility of the executive branch of government (Board of Selectmen) and it’s subordinate Town Hall Administration.

The “good idea” has become problematic. The “good concept” has brought questionable wind policy implementation practices to Town Meeting.

Direct democracy equals town meeting. Art. 9 support equals Art. 30 non-support. They are are intrinsically bound to one another other. They each impact the respective intention of the other.

Town Meeting may pass Art. 9, but all for not. Art. 9, you see, is none-binding. Simply put, Town Meeting cannot involve itself in executing laws and policy, it can only adopt and provide funds for their execution.

Town Meeting Members may come to recognize that wind policy implementation has potentially violated basic citizen rights. Yet, without similar recognition, the BoS could plausibly ignore the wishes of Town Meeting’s intention.

A process less than democratic? Maybe but direct democracy still holds a certain, everlasting appeal. Town Meeting still owns the “purse” that is vital to satisfying Art. 30’s request for operational expenses for fiscal 2012.

The true intention of Art. 9 will not be satisfied if Art. 30 gives an allowance to operate the turbines. Art. 30 is a request to Town Meeting for an annual subsidy (funding) to maintain a municipal wind energy revenue stream.

The BoS isn’t so much interested in whether support is granted that suspends operation of turbines Town Meeting financed. Rather, the BoS’s interest is of the main effect of continued turbine operation of which is to cost the town money.

The true question then bears repeating. Which is of more value, private citizen welfare or town energy savings?

Town Meeting possesses every right to suspend operations until certain work is complete and studies come to light. If this is legally achieved by Town Meeting withholding Art. 30 funds until spring 2012 Town Meeting, so be it. Spring Town Meeting happens to cumulate with expected completion of all necessary benchmark data reviews, thereby affording Spring Town Meeting and BoS better information to make better informed decisions.

After all, warrant articles, health studies or mitigation strategies not withstanding, isn’t this the goal?

Mark J. Cool

Fire Tower Rd


URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/10/07/falmouths-version-of-mr-smith-goes-to-washington/