The Town Crier

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Town of Macomb resident discusses Article X siting board with Assemblymember Kevin Cahill.

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

Town of Macomb resident, David
Duff attempts to clear up
misunderstandings about the
structure of New York State's
Article X siting boards.
David Duff:  Thank you for being here. I think the atmosphere in this room would be far different if Article X was proposed and you were here asking us how did we feel about giving up our home rule of rights as we understood them having to with protecting the health and safety of our communities. Given that, the people who if Article X was passed and you were asking for our input, would not be from here and you wouldn't live with the burden. Much like the day when you were testing the issues where you came from. You've had home rule on your side. You had the ability to make a decision, do we want this project or not? You've taken that our of our hands.

I have a question. I think that your discussion about the ad hoc members that are being on this board is incorrect. I believe there are two ad hock members that will come from the local community that are not elected. They are vetted by the local legislature, they are vetted, essentially, by the assembly so there is a vetting process that goes on by the town on those two local ad hoc members who get to be on this board. They are going to have little input. Thank you.

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill:  In terms of how the process was rushed. One of the things we see on an annual basis are the editorial wrap ups of legislative sessions every single year. And, since this law has expired, virtually every major newspaper in New York State, including many newspapers in this general area have written that the state legislature has failed to include action on Article X. As I pointed out that they also mentioned,  five years ago a public conference committee was held between the senate and the assembly on that first attempt. 

I will acknowledge that a public hearing process was not carried out on this specific version of the law. I will also acknowledge that there were last minute changes to this law that I believe for the most part were positive. And, not only did it take my colleagues by surprise, that it was going through as fast as it did, it took me by surprise that it went through as fast as it did because I had been part of the process for the past five years of gathering information for people who took the time to write or come to Albany or however they chose to express themselves. And, no action had been taken. It happened as quickly as it did because Governor Cuomo, in his first couple of months in office, was able to get a lot of things through the state legislature that had been languishing for many years. 

In terms of your point of representation on the board. The local governments, if there are multiple local governments, each of the local governments get to appoint to the board. The board will expand based upon the number of local government entities that there are. The local governments get to appoint those representatives. You are absolutely correct in that they are not elected by the people. They are appointed by the local governing board. The very same people who would have been making the home rule decision had there not been an Article X process. In addition to that, legislative leaders upon the recommendation of, from a pool recommended, would also be making decisions. So, it's very (?) board. It's not a very small board. And, I failed to mention in my presentation that it includes representatives of many of the very same state agencies who a power plant sponsor would have to have appeared  before. They now have to appear before the same group. 

David Duff:  Well, the difficulty, I said that some of us have been on as stakeholders and we find in a conversation with the PSC that the PSC is not describing...they are talking about a seven person board. Two ad hoc members.

Assemblyperson Kevin Cahill:  Yes, but that's not the definition....

Audience member:  It's in the law.

David Duff:  We communicate with you because there's a real conflict here of who's going to be involved..So, because...

At this point, the discussion was cut off by the moderator. I then asked Assemblyperson Kevin Cahill if ad hoc members from the communities would be voting members. His reply was "Yes".

JLL will continue to transcribe the question and answer period of the JCC symposium and will post more during the following week.