The Town Crier

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New York Assemblyman saw a number of examples where town governments were corrupted by wind development.

The following is a transcript of a discussion that occurred between an audience member and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill during a recent Article X symposium at Jefferson County Community College. I transcribed it from the Steve Weed Productions video:

Audience member:  Assemblyman, in your opening remarks you made a reference to problems that were being encountered between the expiration of the predecessor to the current Article X. Could you be more particular or specify what the problems were, that were seen where Article X would be adopted to deal with.

This sign greeted then NYS Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo when he was visiting Watertown, NY,
on a campaign trip.
Assemblymember Kevin Cahill:  Well, from the industry's perspective, it was that they felt that they had to knock on too may doors. And, that they were getting conflicting decisions from those different doors. Even within state agencies. That the public service commission would tell them that they had to do one thing and the DEC would tell them that they had to do something that was in conflict with what they were told to do by the public service commission. 

For example, that is one example of what occurred. What I started to perceive, particularly when it came to wind, was that promoters of wind development across the New York State were town shopping. They were municipality shopping. And we saw a number of examples where town governments, in my view, were corrupted by wind development. (Audience applause.) And, there was no general mechanism to allow the town that was passed over, because they either had stricter regulations or a more honest board, to get back engaged in this process.

And, in my view,  this Article X allows that community to get back into the game to the extent that it continues to affect their communities. So those are some of the problems that I was seeking to address in my advancing of the bill. And what I said, when I looked around at this for the first time back in two thousand six or seven, whenever the beginning was started in the conference committee process, I sat in our conference committee room and I said, "You know, a no bill is good enough for me. That was OK for me."  But, If we are going to have a bill, it better have an opportunity for adequate public
participation. And, I think that is what we accomplished. 

Audience member:  If the idea was to deal with corruption and it  still (?) back to the localities, doesn't it seem like there still should be greater authority to decide in the locality to make the ultimate decision as opposed to the snatching of it from Albany?

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill:  The corruption was existing at the local level. There was no assertion that anybody had given a vested interest to an agency person who was making   a  decision. There was no allegation that there was a (?) involvement in the development of the site. There was no allegation that (?). This goes back to the time that our governor was then the Attorney General and it got so bad that the governor got the wind industry to agree to a voluntary code of ethics that changed a lot of practices (Audience laughter).