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Claims from an alternative universe

September 20, 2012

The letter to Governor Cuomo signed by superintendent Ed Sykes and town councilman Harold Roeder of the Town of Delaware, as well as supervisor George Conklin of the Town of Fremont, makes some claims that may exist in an alternative universe, but not in the one I live in.

First, “We have studied the facts and data.” When was that done? It certainly wasn’t done in public.

Second, “All of us have had extensive interaction with our constituents.” Perhaps, if you count the few of us who attend the board meetings. No attempt by the board to take the town’s pulse was made. No surveys, no special meetings to encourage discussion. Only a promise to create a commission to study the issue, which was subverted by the letter sent with no warning to the town.

Third, a claim that those who “live far outside our communities” have “made us a target” and “simply do not care about our economic situation.” Wow, that’s a reference to the second homeowners who comprise the second largest industry in our town. They only support real estate, contractors, restaurants, nurseries and CSAs (i.e., farmers). In short, a sustainable industry that promises to grow if it isn’t killed off by the boom-and-bust gas industry.

Fourth, “on behalf of our constituents… ” True, they were elected. They defeated the “newcomer upstarts.” Not on the gas drilling issue, but on the old boy, us against them, network, e.g., a woman I canvassed who said she didn’t agree with a certain candidate on drilling but couldn’t vote against a relative.

Which raises a question about the reason for the town officials’ letter. It was Governor Cuomo stating that fracking would only take place in towns where it was wanted that prompted the board to pass the Roeder resolution. The legal shortcut may be the board’s will. But that non-binding resolution represents a majority of the board—the decision was not unanimous—not of the townspeople. If the governor is sincere in wanting the towns to decide their fracking fate, then morally the taxpayers, residents—all the stakeholders—of the town should be surveyed by the boards before issuing resolutions. The way the Roeder resolution was slipped in during public comment, not even on the agenda, and the promise of an investigative commission followed by this fait accompli letter, indicates that the board is afraid of how the town really feels, or doesn’t care. And the governor better take note of that, too.

[Roy Tedoff is a resident of Hortonville, NY, in the Town of Delaware.]