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Local government leadership suffers lack of understanding  

Credit:  www.southcoasttoday.com 5 January 2012 ~~

“Selectmen voted to authorize the three-member health board to seek legal counsel, pending the signature of Chairman Peter DeTerra, according to Selectman Mike Silvia. The decision allows the health board to ask Town Counsel Thomas Crotty if it can legally challenge the wind turbines as a health nuisance before the turbines are even operational.” From the Standard-Times, 12/28.

The chairman of the Health Board has already received his answer. It was in the form of a memo, he said he wrote to himself. He read it at the last meeting of the Health Board on 12/19. He and the health board he chairs will do nothing on their own.

For too long, my town has been driven from a vision provided by those who are blind to their community and deaf to their constituents. It is my contention that any consultation with the town’s attorney is unnecessary; it is only meant to obfuscate the issue and a way to delay any action. I believe the elected Health Board has the power independently of the Board of Selectmen and its attorney to act and is in fact required to act on its own by law. But unfortunately we have a local government led by people who lack any understanding. They govern through ego, ignorance, and arrogance. This is not the way it should work.

The following is from a complaint recently sent to Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Massachusetts Board of Ethics, The DEP and the MA Office of General Counsel in relation to developers Gordon Deane of Palmer Capital and Jim Sweeney and the town’s wind turbine project.

In going forward with this project the Fairhaven Board of Selectmen ignored a growing body of evidence concerning their negative impact on people. While alternatives to carbon fuel energy sources are of vital importance, it is imperative that industrial turbines are placed correctly and their location is determined in an open, safe and fair way. There is now a move to develop state legislated setback regulations concerning the siting of wind turbines with the input of abutters taken into account.

This complaint is aimed primarily at the Health Board. And secondarily at the undue influence on the Health Board. I am concerned about the inability of the Health Board to act, due to ignorance of its own authority, or lack of will to execute its legal responsibility.

The Health Board in my town is an elected independent board. I believe its function in law is to act independently from all other town boards using only health and safety as determining factors in siting projects of this type. The chairman of the Health Board, Peter DeTerra, at the 12/19 meeting read from a prepared memo that his board lacked the authority to act because the turbines were not a health issue or nuisance because they had as yet not been erected.

Besides common sense, the following authoritative voices say otherwise; the town’s own attorney Tom Crotty was quoted in the New Bedford Standard-Times on 12/8, “The Board of Health has the authority to make you stop doing something if they determine it is a public nuisance, but you have the right to sue them if they’re wrong,” and this paragraph from the web site for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, http://www.mahb.org/violations.htm “Nuisances and Noisome Trades: “The local board of health is responsible for the assignment of sites for the operation of noisome trades within their community and to hold hearings prior to assignment as part of this process.”

The town attorney gives them the power and their own association says they need to exercise it before the fact.

I’m not sure if my town’s Health Board inaction is due to ignorance or lack of will. We have only one board member, Delores Caton, who is unencumbered by any conflicts of interest who has shown the ability and integrity to make an informed and independent action. I am writing to file a complaint against the Fairhaven Health Board for failure to perform what I believe is its legislative duty. And I believe an investigation of the Board of Selectmen, for undue influence on the Board of Health, is in order. The erection of the turbines is imminent. Action to slow this project or to force the Board of Health to act is imperative.

Henry Ferreira


Source:  www.southcoasttoday.com 5 January 2012

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