New Bedford’s former Mayor Scott Lang once said when asked about siting a wind turbine near the city’s sewer plant, he wouldn’t impose on people who lived there something out of a Mad Max movie.
Fairhaven town officials and some now running for office have no such qualms. But regardless of whether one believes it’s OK to sacrifice one citizen’s property, peace of mind and health for the illusion of lower taxes or siting two massive turbines beside a pristine marsh in your neighbor’s backyard will save the environment no one can argue about the underhanded if not illegal way Fairhaven’s Wind Turbine project was executed.
Emails revealed by the Freedom of Information Law indicate information was kept under wraps. No abutters were notified. The lot where the turbines were to be sited was changed from the lot named in the Town Meeting article.
No correction was made even after the developer notified the town that it could be a problem. Why wouldn’t Jeff Osuch tell the selectmen to call a special town meeting, since the present Town Meeting surely would have given the developer and Jeff what they wanted? The reason was the project would have become public before the contract was signed, before enough momentum had been built to steamroll over any opposition and before the vote ridding the town of the Rogers School was won.
Another email from the developer to town officials is revealing. He congratulates the town officials on their winning the vote just days before he signs the contract. He knew of the school vote while citizens voted in the dark unaware of the turbines. One has to wonder whom in the school department and school committee was aware of the turbines? The last hope was the board of health, but we were left with a board controlled and packed by an independent, elected Health Board that should have acted as a check on a Select Board doing the bidding for the developer and stroking its executive secretary’s ego. For too many years Fairhaven’s Board of Health has been nothing but a rubber stamp for Jeff Osuch and his board.
It’s long past time to restore democracy in this small town. Incompetent local officials betrayed us, our pleas to the state were ignored, the opponent’s lawyers, including the one we pay for, delayed our day in court. The turbines are up. The damage is done and will continue. It’s a Pyrrhic victory for them.
We need men and woman in office with intellect and integrity who will be guided by empathy and understanding.
It’s not enough to offer sympathy to those who are negatively impacted by these turbines as I heard one candidate for selectman do. If you can’t stand up for the autistic child whose life will be turned upside down because he lives too close, and others who will be hurt, those not able to move because their houses are unsalable, keep your sympathy. It’s not OK to sacrifice a minority to the greater good, a sacrificial minority is always on the shorter end of the economic stick.
I was going to write only in a positive manner for my friends, people who I support. But when I think of all that has happened to my hometown over the years how we’ve been misled again and see the monument erected to the foolishness of small minded, small town politicians who worked in concert to make a developer rich, and after all the years of fighting off one horrendous project after another, my upbeat nature has been wrung out of me. If anything positive will come from this it will be the restoration of this community.
Electing Bob Espindola, Barbara Acksen and Donna McKenna will begin the process. Bob and Barbara have worked long and hard to make this a better healthier, place. Donna has and continues to work for protecting every child in all of Fairhaven’s schools, including Wood School. They have all worked against siting these massive turbines next to homes and the school. They have more than sympathy to offer. They are capable of empathy and understand the importance of community. They have the intellect and integrity needed to restore Fairhaven’s democracy. Unlike some running for office they believe everything isn’t OK in Town Hall. Like Scott Lang, they wouldn’t impose something out of a dystopian movie on those they represent.
Henry Ferreira lives in Fairhaven.
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