Attorney General Investigates Wind Farm Dealings

Note:  Cape Vincent is only a mile across the water from Wolfe Island, Ontario

by: Holly Boname   ABC News

Cape Vincent is usually a quiet town with little conflict, but that was not the case of Tuesday night’s emergency town board meeting.The meeting was called by Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey in response to the New York State Attorney Generals request of all documentation pertaining to the wind farm development project.

The town of Cape Vincent has been divided on the issue of wind turbines being developed on privately owned farm land.

The biggest issues now are the contracts that have been proposed to certain council members or their families. A heavy debate into the ethics of the town council and their agendas, are what prompted the review by the Attorney General.  Read more

11 thoughts on “Attorney General Investigates Wind Farm Dealings

  1. Would that cover the President of the Liberal Party in Canada (Onatrio) would we have a similar happening?

    HAHAHAHAHA tricked you into thinking that people pay attention to the law here — didn’t I? Admit it your heart skipped a beat for just a second — didn’t it?

  2. If our Attorney General ever dare to open this “bag of snakes” in Ontario he would be busy for the rest of his natural days on Earth!

  3. Nothing new. Industrial wind power has ALWAYS been about “big money”. Big Money attracts Big Crooks, like flies to..well, you know.

    Who knows, maybe a few politicians will be slower to spout the mindless mantra promoted by the corporate cons.

  4. Sounds just like Wolfe island! One of our council members is a optioned land owner? And there is lots of ideas on what our mayor got out of it?

  5. Don’t forget the that now defunct Minister of Environment was removed from decision-making on the Wolfe Island environment review because his own premier had to admit he was in a conflict-of-interest. He attended a private, by-invitation-only corn roast, paied for by the developer and attended by land-owners on the eve of the O.M.B. hearing into zoning, setback and environment issues. And that was when he was Minister of Municipal Affairs: demonstrates his judgement. And the local council members all around the bonfire.

    Read the letter to the editor at the time in the Whig Standard — ah, the memories.

  6. It must have been a real nuisance for Premier Dalton McGuinty to have to yank one of his ministers off an issue, as he did recently with Minister of Environment John Gerretsen in regard to Gerretsen’s troubled pet project, the Wolfe Island wind farm. McGuinty did the right thing, of course. But we should not imagine that the story ends there.

    The worst problem is not that the amount of energy to be generated is being massively overstated or that it would cost about twice as much as the power we are using today. It is not the impact on migratory birds in an internationally designated important bird area. Or the persistent unanswered questions about health, species at risk and emergency preparedness.

    The real problem has to do with accountability. The lack of it.

    The tale begins when the company started to make secret deals with landowners and pursue closed-door negotiations with the municipal council, two of whose members later declared they had “optioned” their land to the company and therefore were in its pay.

    When the final vote on the municipal bylaw was taken in November 2006, two days after municipal elections but before the new council took office, the two councillors from Wolfe Island remembered they were in a conflict of interest (as presumably they had been throughout the negotiation with the company) and decided not to vote. The motion was carried by the votes of the remaining two councillors from Howe Island, which will have none of the 86 400-foot-tall wind turbines and half of the amenities agreement. No fuss, no mess. Politics at its best.

    Fast-forward to 2007. The municipal rezoning is being considered by the Ontario Municipal Board. Who do we find at a corporate hoedown, enjoying the company of the firm that donated at least $1,500 to his re-election campaign? Why, that would be Gerretsen. Again, this could be just a coincidence.

    And as minister of municipal affairs, Gerretsen delivered the goods for the company, signing all the requisite documents and amendments to the Official Plan. But the final stroke had not yet been made, as approval lies with the minister of environment.

    No role for Gerretsen there, except that he changed his job just in time. Now he could continue to work on the company’s behalf, if not necessarily at its behest, and let the blasting begin. Except, sadly, he got caught in a “perceived” conflict of interest, which he inexplicably did not perceive himself, and the premier had to step in and bench him.

    I take no joy from Gerretsen’s comeuppance. This shouldn’t have been about him anyway. It should have been about implementing all our laws and procedures, not just those that support his pet project, and representing all the citizens, not just those who, like his reelection campaign, took money from the company.

    Gerretsen fell off the accountability ferry when he started looking at some of his citizens as opponents rather than people to whom he was responsible, and when he threw in his lot with industry at the expense of ordinary people.

    As pointed out in the Whig-Standard’s editorial “Gerretsen’s gaffe” (May 31), perhaps the saddest aspect of this affair is that it took a group of concerned citizens to give a lesson in civics to a provincial minister. It really should be the other way around, shouldn’t it?

    Leslie Kaduck

    The Kingston Whig-Standard

    10 June 2008

  7. Windmill opponents get runaround
    Leslie Kaduck, Letter to the Editor, Kingston Whig Standard December 8th, 2008

    On Halloween 2008, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo introduced legislation to clean up “the wind energy industry’s backroom dealings.” He zeroed in on inappropriate relationships between companies and elected officials.

    The new Wind Industry Ethics Code of New York requires public disclosure of the names of municipal officials and their extended family members with whom developers have financial agreements – through land lease and employment contracts – in advance of the approval process. Mr. Cuomo expressed a sincere hope that greater transparency might prevent communities being “torn apart” by wind energy development.

    What a pity, then, that Wolfe Islanders were not afforded similar safeguards, when the Township of Frontenac Islands crafted their profitable benefit packages and binding agreements with Canadian Hydro Developers Inc (CHDI).

    Would the Frontenac Township officials pass the New York ethical test?

    Many Islanders are curious why local government is slow to respond to wind project irritants. When 1,300 litres of CHDI diesel oil fouled the St. Lawrence River – the only source of drinking water for shoreline residents – wind company spokepersons went scurrying for their talking points. Yet the mayor and council hid behind the woodshed when the only public forum on the emergency, the Community Liaison Committee, pursued public disclosure.

    A 2007 Ontario Municipal Board hearing gave rise to the woefully ill-equipped Community Liaison Committee. This volunteer-run “forum for information” provides convenient cover for a local government given to camouflage and misdirection. Undisclosed blasting, unauthorized road closure, health and ferry transportation issues -all questions are deflected away from elected government to an unaccountable body.

    The Whig-Standard reported recently that a couple had abandoned their Wolfe Island home of 17 years following months of appeals to municipal officials, the regional Health Board and the Ministry of Environment. Why jump ship? Local officials refuse to “speculate.”

    The silence is more deafening than the whooshing of turbine blades.

    The Whig has noted that responsibility to mediate disputes rests with elected officials.

    Yet one cannot mediate a conflict when one is party to that conflict.

    This was made clear when MPP Gerretsen, the final arbiter of Ontario’s environmental policy, was sidelined by the premier due to a perceived conflict of interest.

    No wonder a family would abandon this morass, when frustration and powerlessness prevail. Vulnerable residents of this tiny island – a community bound by its Council to the company’s fortunes through the amenities agreement – must rely on elected officials who are themselves perceived to be compromised by private financial or employment interests.

    The Wallaces are not the first casualty of this project: the first casualty was the principle of good governance. In lieu of faithful service from their government, they have received little but spin.

    Leslie Kaduck Ottawa (former Wolfe Island resident)

  8. Simcoe surfer, in keeping with Wolfe Island, how about looking at the 2009 Ontario Auditors General ‘s report, of the bag of snakes that she opened, that no one has made issue with as of yet.

    http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en09/406en09.pdf , on page 375;

    “Status

    The Ministry informed us that habitat protection and conservation is being achieved through several activities, including management plans for parks and protected areas, input into municipal official plans, implementation of policies and legislation, and input into resource management planning. These actions are being accomplished through the Endangered Species Act, 2007, through management plans for forestry and fisheries, and through management frameworks for key wildlife species. In addition, the Ministry is developing a legislative regulation that will define the areas of habitat to be protected for nine of the top 10 endangered and threatened species. The habitat protection regulations for all nine species were expected to be in place by the end of 2009.

    Species at Risk of Extinction in Ontario

    Recommendation 3
    To more proactively manage species at risk and help sustain and increase endangered populations, the Ministry of Natural Resources should:

    • finalize and put into place its Species at Risk Strategy for Ontario; and
    • prepare and implement a recovery plan with related time frames for
    necessary actions for each of the species listed in Ontario as endangered or
    threatened.

    Status

    The Ministry informed us that its Species at Risk Strategy for Ontario has been finalized and incorporated into Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy. The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (Act) requires the development of recovery strategies for all current and future endangered and threatened species. Consequently, recovery strategies are required for 130 endangered and threatened species. Of these, one is complete, 116 are in development, and 13 have not yet been initiated. The one recovery strategy completed was done in August 2008 for forest-dwelling woodland caribou. In addition, draft recovery strategies for eight of the top 10 endangered species were posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry for public comment in the spring of 2009 and, at the time of our follow up, were targeted for completion later in the year.”

    I would guess, the Auditor forgot to come to grips with the fact, that the McGuinty government was lying to her about recovery strategies. How can the MNR develop recovery strategies for many of the birds listed on the endangered list, that he is presently slaughtering and going to continue to slaughter and of the many other birds not listed as endangered, that will soon come to be endangered with all the permits that the MNR is issuing to all these wind turbine companies under Section 17 of the Endangered Species Act.

    One really has to wonder how Premier Dad will be able to explain to his grandchildren that he was responsible for the disappearance of many species of birds that would have otherwise continued to exist.

  9. How many new Candidates are running for Council on Wolfe Island?

    My next question would be if the answer is “none”……………..is: WHY ISN”T THERE ANY?

    The most direct and effective way to open this can of worms up would be to replace every Councilor who even talked to the MPP or Wind Company!

    You’ve only got less than a month to get it done!

  10. The same scenario exists in Prince Edward County Today. At least 2 or 3 Picton Councillers are leasee’s to Big Wind.Our Council has done NOTHING in 2 years prior to the Green Energy Act to help the concerned citizens .Mercifully an election is a few months away and hopefully a complete new city council and Mayor that will listen to the Public will be elected.

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