I had expressed to Town Meeting the dangers of such risky ventures as the Industrial Wind Turbines that defunct Article 46 would have ushered in. I have strongly suspected, from my first read of Article 46, that it is a tacit, open invitation to gamble with taxpayer money, if not a mandate to do so.
As Mr. Michael Dockery, Mr. Jon Gillis, Mr. Joseph Palczynski, Mr. Peter Manoogian, and Mr. Darren Ring of Precinct 10 have informed Town Meeting, the passage of Article 46 would have certainly gambled with constituents’ lives and robbed the poor in a manner that outdoes the casino dealer.
You may think I’m belaboring a moot point since Article 46 has been referred to the Board of Health and the Alternative Energy Committee.
I’m writing this letter for two reasons; (1) to state my opposition to any future generations of Article 46 and similarly misplaced resource funnels; and (2) to apologize for one minor, erroneous detail in my previous remarks.
The most important accomplishment of Town Meeting’s halting Article 46 is that the public health and safety of Saugus residents has been protected. Withstanding that hitherto defeated threat, it is the cancerous philosophy behind the article that may do to the Saugonian’s wallet and livelihood what the sputtering Turbine Revolution might have done to his (or her) body. Hyped repeatedly by a small contingent of proponents as a “revenue generator” for the town, the cost effectiveness of turbine operation is questionable at least, as noted by Mr. Manoogian in his May 31 column in the Advertiser, “For those who feel there is an economic opportunity for Saugus, the recent letter from the Princeton Light Department to their electric ratepayers will illustrate the financial boondoggle that entity is now in due to falling energy prices, cost overruns, unexpected breakdowns, and poor performance. Will Saugus really borrow and invest $10 million or more in wind turbines that according to (epidemiologist) Dr. (Carl) Phillips will make at least five out of 100 nearby Saugonians very sick?”
Article 46 proponents have told me in defense that the town isn’t necessarily the chief funding source for the hypothetical Industrial Strength Wind Turbines, which they say Article 46 would have simply regulated, rather than inaugurated. But who is?
At the latest, June 4 installment of the 2012 Town Meeting, I said that Saugus Alternative Energy Committee Chairman Miss Joanne Vannah had told me about political motivations for promoting Industrial Wind Turbines in Saugus.
After a subsequent discussion with her, I feel I should apologize to Miss Vannah for my further specific implication that the political funding she mentioned had been directly tied to the passage of Article 46, because the directness of that potential tie is a gray area, and I may have taken that specific political fundraising fact out of scope. The political Wind Turbine fundraising she mentioned is not directly relevant to Article 46, she has reiterated to me.
That said, there is pressure coming from somewhere to erect not just the turbines, but countless other unstable, expensive projects. The state and federal governments have been known to coerce us with our own tax dollars, of late, to change the cars we drive and even the houses we inhabit, as well as to spend our own money on other unproven venture technology – Solyndra style – because government knows best.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the state waving our own tax dollars in our faces as a carrot justifying unproven, and even deadly state tabs, even if Article 46 was only a prologue to “Wind Turbine Syndrome” locally.
Wind Turbine Syndrome is only a downstream manifestation of a larger, bureaucratic cancer. When the state or town has the audacity to pick the winners of the energy, automotive – even ice cream truck – industries, everybody loses. The purpose of the Article 46 bylaw was not merely to regulate the turbines; it was, from the very first few lines, “to provide alternative renewable energy for residences and business owners of the Town of Saugus and to establish a district in which wind energy conversion facilities may be provided.”
If only symbolically, it would have laid the groundwork for another failed, if imaginative, investment that very probably would have been your failed investment, the debits and credits of which would have left an earnest seeker chasing the wind.
When the next bureaucrat presents the new and improved “Article 46,” or any other whimsical million-dollar or hundred-dollar proposition, even a purchase order for a ream of paper, remember how close we Town Meeting members came to gambling with your finances, your health, and your overall well being.
Saugus is not a dump, and if we are serious about making sure our tax dollars aren’t blown into a bookkeeping landfill, we won’t even entertain the notion of legislation that even nods to another cent gambled on your behalf or mine. Because we’ve proven as a town that we’re not very good at Wind Turbines of Fortune.
We can’t even win “Keep Asbestos Out Of Saugus Schools,” not to mention literal skeletons (with respect and love to families of victims found in the parking lot).
Let’s focus on what we low-level government leaders are at least semi-competent – if not quite stellar – at: keeping the roads safe, protecting Saugus against criminals and deceitful businesses, and maintaining the character and dignity of the town, among other basic functions.
We cannot conquer our deceitful inefficiency by acting like a venture capital technology startup – erecting lethal monuments to the residential wind energy machine bubble, the Industrial Wind Turbine Revolution that never was – or whatever the next bureaucratic craze may happen to be.
It’s much easier to be transparent, to avoid tripping over the voter paradox, and logrolling, and ourselves – when there aren’t hundreds of pages of bylaws to consider. If we’re honest, half of us Town Meeting members vote “yes” all the time because we don’t know the often compelling reason why we should vote “no.”
In this rare, fortuitous case, the turbines spoke for themselves louder than any of us ever could. But next time, if we have to burn anything, let it be these excessive bylaws and not the other proverbial “books,” or the giant aluminum gearboxes and rotors in the Saugus sky they might have represented.
If we stick to the mere task of our office for the sake of transparency, if not out of the most requisite respect for our constituents, God-willing, fewer bodies will turn up along the way. Sincerely,
Peter Vadala, Town Meeting member, Precinct 8