It was reported in the Nov. 22, 2011, Batavia Daily News article, “Maziarz sees positives in Albany,” that Sen. George Maziarz says he’s “optimistic” about what’s been going on in Albany, and is on board with Gov. Cuomo’s plan of creating a “government more transparent in its dealings.” Unfortunately, Sen. Maziarz’s actions speak louder than his political rhetoric.
As the chairman of the state Senate Committee on Energy, Maziarz co-sponsored the “Energy Siting Bill” that he’s so excited about with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D). The bill is called the Power NY Act. Article X, contained within the bill, has effectively removed “Home Rule” from all New York State municipalities.
The loss of “Home Rule” means the loss of self-government in our townships. The passage of this bill is a sad continuation of citizens’ rights removal by an over-reaching, out-of-control government.
Contrary to Maziarz’s claims of a “transparent government,” the statute was shoved through basically overnight, behind closed doors, with no input at all from the public.
As a matter of fact, when the bill first came to light on the day before the vote, we (along with many other concerned citizens across New York State) called our respective elected officials to register our dismay. My district’s Senator, Patrick Gallivan’s office, told me they knew nothing about the bill, and not to worry about it. Yet, less than 18 hours later, Sen. Gallivan voted yes on the bill.
As cited in the BDN article, “Area lawmakers split over state’s ‘Power NY Act’” (June 28, 2011), at least Genesee County’s senator, Michael Razenhoffer, had the wherewithal to understand what was hidden within this bill, and vote no!
I had an opportunity to speak with Sen. Maziarz about the issue following a speech he gave against the unconstitutional Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) tax at the Somerset coal plant. When I approached Sen. Maziarz to ask if we could discuss Article X and its resulting loss of “Home Rule,” he ushered me out into the hallway to make sure no one else could hear our conversation.
I asked Sen. Maziarz how he could support a bill that removed more of our personal freedoms, and did not allow for any input by the communities that would be affected. Sen. Maziarz insisted that the newly-formed, five-person siting board would still allow local say in these decisions.
I asked Sen. Maziarz again, “How does a board comprised of five (5) distant, unelected, Albany bureaucrats – which would only “allow” two (2) local, non-voting seats from the targeted communities to visit the table – qualify as equal representation?”
Sen. Maziarz continued to insist that even though the two (2) local representatives would not have a vote, they would have input. Really George? I think not. Even if the two seats had a vote, 2 to 5 is anything but fair or democratic.
There are a number of towns and counties across New York State who have taken the bold step of speaking out against this theft of our freedoms by passing resolutions opposing the Power NY Act and the loss of “Home Rule” – as they rightly should. Kudos to all of them!
Citizens in every town and county across New York State who still believe in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” which our forefathers fought and died for us to have, should be urging their respective county legislatures/boards of supervisors to do the same.
Samples of resolutions already passed, the review of the bill itself, and other problems associated with the bill that need to rectified can be seen at the Coalition On Article X (COAX) website: http://coaxny.org.
When asked, New York State officials conducting a presentation on the Power NY Act and Article X at the Nov. 17, 2011, Local Government Workshop in Batavia, told elected and appointed officials attending the meeting that the rules and regulations of the new law would not be final until somewhere between late August 2012, and December 2012. In fact, COAX has been informed that New York State has “fast-tracked” the writing of these regulations, with the intent of having them done near the beginning of the new year – January 2012.
All New York State citizens, concerned groups, and town and county boards, can and should become engaged in this process by registering themselves as a “stakeholder.” As a “stakeholder” you can then register your comments and concerns with New York State (which preserves them in the official record), and remain informed and involved in this ongoing process.
The form to register as a stakeholder with the state Public Service Commission is at: http://www3.dps.state.ny.us/pscweb/WebsiteForms.nsf/ArticleXStakeHolder?OpenForm.
We simply can not allow this theft of our freedoms to occur without a whimper. As English philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Mary Kay Barton lives in Silver Lake.
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