f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

July 16, 2008

Cuomo tilts at pols and windmills

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 6:21 pm

With a New York State SEQR specialist and home-owner champion in the family (see prior post), I’ve heard a lot of stories over the past few years about local politicians who seemed far too amenable to the blandishments of industrial wind power companies and far too willing to ignore potential environmental effects of large wind-farms. Therefore, I was pleased to learn this morning that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has opened an investigation into possible improper dealings between two wind power companies and local government officials, and into possible anticompetitive behavior by the firms.

See “Cuomo investigating alleged ‘dirty tricks’ in local windmill projects: Two WNY companies under investigation” (Buffalo News, by Maki Becker and Tom Precious July 16, 2008); “Wind Farms Face Investigation” (Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2008); “Wind farm deals under investigation” (Business First, July 14, 2008); and “Cuomo: Celebrate but Still Investigate Alternative Energy Sources,” (Legal Line News.com, July 16, 2008)

update: See “Wind power companies, Cuomo reach agreement,” The Buffalo News (Oct. 30, 2008); and “Amid Talk of Hidden Deals, Wind Firms Agree to Code of Conduct ” (New York Times, October 30, 2008), for details of a voluntary code of ethics promulgated by the AG’s Office to make wind deals more transparent. We discuss the voluntary code in the third section of this post, dated Nov. 8, 2008.

According to its July 15, 2008 press release, Cuomo’s office has received numerous complaints from private citizens and public officials in eight counties alleging “improper relations between the companies and local officials” and other questionable practices. The allegations include accusations that the companies improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with public officials and the officials’ relatives and acquaintances; gave bribes and other improper benefits to public officials; and entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.

Subpoenas have been sent to First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental Power, LLC. In his statement, AG Cuomo stressed that “The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels.” However:

honest! “[P]ublic integrity remains a top priority of my office and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it,” he said.

By the way, as the AG states, “Wind farms are clusters of large electricity-generating turbines powered by wind and connected to the electric grid.” The Buffalo News article, “‘dirty tricks’ in local windmill projects,” has the fullest coverage so far of the investigation.

In his Frequently Asked Legal Questions About Wind Farms (orig. pub. The Daily Record, Rochester, NY, June 30, 2005), East Aurora, NY, attorney Arthur J. Giacalone [note: your editor’s brother] has this FAQ about conflicts of interest in the local decision-making process:

Q: Conflicts of Interest:. Do any of the local decision-makers have a conflict of interest requiring recusal from discussions and votes on matters relating to wind farm development?

A: In a various towns throughout upstate New York, elected and appointed officials (or members of their families) have been or will be approached by wind farm developers and offered option agreements or long-term lease or easement agreements to place wind turbine facilities on their land. The payments offered in these contracts clearly create a situation where local officials have, or could potentially have, a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in decisions the town makes, or chooses not to make, regarding wind farm development.

New York courts have stressed how critical it is that the public be assured that their officials are free to exercise their best judgment without any hint or suggestion of self-interest or partiality, especially if a matter under consideration is particularly controversial. Failure of town officials to openly address potential conflicts of interest undermines the people’s confidence in the legitimacy of the proceedings and the integrity of the municipal government. Decisions tainted by even the appearance of a conflict of interest are also vulnerable to reversal in a subsequent court challenge.

National Wind Watch — which offers a brochure brochure detailing alleged adverse effects from industrial wind power — has good coverage of wind power issues and news, and has posted the Attorney General’s Press Release announcing the New York wind farm investigation.

Finally, forget windy controversy, and enjoy over 90 haiku on the f/k/a haiku on the wind page. Here is a sampler:

wind change
the tumbleweed now chases
the kitten

. . . by George Swede – – Almost Unseen (2000)

withering wind…
the scarecrow’s jacket
fits

… by ed markwoski

the narrow place
between my neck and my collar
November wind

. . . by DeVar Dahl – A Piece of Egg Shell, Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar 2003

autumn wind –
trying to keep myself
under my hat

… by John Stevenson – Upstate Dim Sum (2005/I)

sharp wind
the metal gate bangs shut
bangs shut

.. by jim kacian – Presents of Mind (1996)

loud wind–
the bed unmade
all day

. . . by gary hotham – – breathmarks (1999)

summer stillness
the play of light and shadow
on the windchimes

.. by peggy willis lyles – To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 2002)

the pinwheel stops
grandpa catches
his breath

… by randy brooks – from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999)

farewell picnic –
wind blows the blossoms
off the dogwoods

… by dagosan – – Haiku Harvest (Spring & Summer 2006 Vol. 6 No. 1)

p.s. RuN It Up ThE FlaGpole muses over who to trust when it comes to information about the dangers of windmills.

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