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No sale

“Town council for sale?” was the totally unjustified headline over a column in yesterday’s Cape Cod Times. What followed was, in effect, a press release from the Conservation Law Foundation criticizing the town for accepting donations from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound to fight the Cape Wind project in court.

On Sept. 26, a new advocacy group spearheaded by CLF, Cape Wind Now, posted a statement titled, “An Unholy Alliance: The Alliance is Bankrolling Barnstable’s Litigation.” This was little surprise to many who’ve been following the story, but creation of the group was, so recently after the folding of the similarly-named Clean Power Now.

This manufactured conspiracy in which project foe Bill Koch “bought” the town council with a donation passed through the Alliance comes apart on this simple fact: The council is comprised of 13 citizens elected to represent the rest of us. As such, we charge it to do the people’s business. Long ago, the council voted to oppose the project as wrong for its location on Horseshoe Shoal. In its most recent vote, all but one member – who recuses himself from Cape Wind legal discussions because of his support for the project – voted, in effect, to keep up the fight.

Unfortunately, the previous town administration and council left themselves open to CLF’s potshots by not identifying the Alliance as the source of the gift from the get-go.

It will be unfortunate if CLF’s latest PR ploy stampedes some councilors into deciding they’ve committed a crime by accepting funds to conduct a fight in which they believe. The town has long argued that it stands to face unknown public safety costs if incidents occur in the wind park directly off its shores, and its airport manager, a former Coast Guard helicopter pilot, continues to believe that the proposed location is a potential hazard to air traffic and rescue missions.

In this late stage of the struggle between competing visions for Nantucket Sound, Cape Wind and its allies are trying to pick off their final opponents one by one. It’s amusing that CLF objects to the town council spending donated money to fight the project and not to Cape Wind buying off former legal opponents such as the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association (Cape Wind will fund a fishing permit bank).

The town council’s opposition sticks in the craw of project supporters because it’s an action taken by an elected body accountable to the voters. This town council is not for sale, and we hope that its members, including those elected last November, won’t be scared out of this fight.