Letters to the Editor - March 1, 2014
To the Editor:
The next blood drive will be on Friday, March 7, from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Harbor Church. Please mark your calendars. And please make every effort to attend. Both the November and January drives were cancelled because boats were cancelled. Recent weather has made attendance at mainland blood drives difficult as well.
Maintaining a steady supply is urgent. This drive will be dedicated to Tim Connor. Tim is a fifth grader at the Block Island School and contracted leukemia last July. Recovery is expected to be one to two years and the outcome is good. He must spend time at Hasbro Children’s Hospital from time to time and blood transfusions are part of the process.
Remember, anyone over 18 years can donate. There is no upper age cut off. Teens ages 16-18 can donate with their parents’ permission. Please bring your blood donor card or driver’s license.
Let’s all do what we can for Tim and make up for those cancelled drives.
Peter Greenman, Coordinator
To the Editor:
In lieu of the plethora of letters against Deepwater in the last issue of The Block Island Times, with which I agree, and the White Elephant (a business venture without much use or value) — excuse me, I mean White Buffalo — fiasco, I can only use one term over and over again, boondoggle, boondoggle, boondoggle. Defined in Wikipedia as “a project that is considered a useless and waste of public money,” that sure hits the mark with these two issues. I really need to concentrate on the latter, the White Buffalo Deer Hunt that wasn’t to be. Almost sounds like something out of a Native American Indian Wild West story.
The Block Island Town Council was duped (tricked or deceived) by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) into a contract with an off-island sharpshooting company, using every illegal device and activity imaginable to cull our deer herd. Semi-automatic weapons, silencers, shooting from a truck, shooting over bait, night shooting, jacking (use of lights), then slaughtering and butchering them in our Town Hall parking lot at a mobile slaughter house. Hold on! The cost would be $129,000.00 each year for five years for a yearly 200 deer; you got it, about $640.00 a deer. At the same time, the town is charging our local hunters $12.00 a deer for a required deer tag. Any wonder our hunters are not getting the job done?
The Town Council, under guidance, a term used loosely here, from the First Warden Kim Gaffett and Town Manager Nancy Dodge, both directly responsible for this whole debacle, then duped the town, the public and all of us into believing “It will not cost the town anything. It will all be funded with private donations from the Deer Task Force.” That statement now lies in infamy with “No new taxes, read my lips,” or “I did not have sex with that woman,” or “You will be able to use your own doctor.” We have been lied to, deceived, hoodwinked and misled by Kim and Nancy for which I hate to even give them a descent title any longer.
The White Buffalo may be walking away with $15,000.00 of our money, for a hunt that never took place, for deer they never killed, but being paid for “preparations” that we are not sure were ever made. This again sounds like the government making a deal with the American Indians, one they would obviously regret. I never saw anyone from White Buffalo, was waiting for them, even asked every councilman at a council meeting if they ever saw or talked with them and the answer was “no.” Someone did put out a few bags of corn meal attracting every rat in the hollow, every crow in the tree and fostering a great springtime rat overpopulation — but no deer.
I asked at earlier council meetings of both Nancy Dodge and Kim Gaffett what will this cost us, the taxpayer and the answer, emphatically, was “Nothing.” That answer is the reason they were not badgered any longer and voted White Buffalo in, despite a room full of opposition. Now we find out we pay. The Deer Task Force, which I call The Garden Club, has reneged on the deal. This was all the Deer Task Force’s idea to begin with, the only cockamammie thing they could come up with in five years.
Fortunately, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office listened to some of us. Informed the DEM in uncertain terms that too much of what they and White Buffalo were doing was against Rhode Island state law and the whole deal began to crumble. Why didn’t the DEM know this? Sadly enough, I personally told both Nancy Dodge and Kim Gaffett at a multitude of meetings of the illegality of this affair but they didn’t have the earphones on for the hearing impaired. The Block Island Times was out Friday morning with the front page headline, “Hunt Delayed, Town may be on the hook for $12 to $14K,” yet an official vote wasn’t until hours later. A done deal? You got it. I think I smell a rat; oh, well, maybe all that corn meal.
One final assessment, no White Buffalo on Block Island this year and a note of gratitude to all that helped make this not happen. We will take one year at a time and I don’t think our local hunters need any help from the DEM or White Buffalo next year. Our hunters could use some help from the Town Council — fat chance. I will be asking some pointed questions at the next Town Council meeting such as why, after losing $12,000.00 or more, you would vote to do it again.
Beacon Hollow Farm
The following letter was written to Block Island Recycling Management and copied to The Block Island Times.
Block Island Recycling Management
Mr. Michael McGinnes
Please accept the heartfelt thanks of the Housing Board for all the assistance you have given us on the Brown/Smith property. We were at a loss on how to proceed with the remaining clean up and you really came through for us! We cannot thank you enough for the thoroughness of the clean up as well as the extremely generous donation of your labor and dumping fees. It was a huge task, and we could not have accomplished it without you.
Thanks to your efforts, we are now one major step closer to our goal of creating more affordable housing for community members. Your willingness to take on this difficult (and dirty!) task is so encouraging to us. It is another illustration of what makes Block Island so special — the way that people pitch in and work together to help others. Thanks for being part of the process!
The Block Island Housing Board
Cindy Pappas, Rosemary Tobin, Millie McGinnes, John Spier, Shane Howrigan, Patricia Murphy, Kay McManus
To the Editor:
The Block Island Wind Farm... the cable... the politics. I find it absolutely incredible that we on Block Island allowed a simple solution to our somewhat complex energy problem to become hijacked by hedge funds and short-sighted local politics. Allowing the “off the grid” ideology of the current First Warden to transmute into what should be an inconceivable relationship between Block Island residents and Block Island Wind Farm principals is beyond belief.
Past First Wardens had been diligently working the energy solution and that solution was a standalone cable, which was a viable, simple and relatively inexpensive solution. What happened? Simple!
When extreme ideology trumps practicality it then becomes a very slippery slope. Does the island really trust an energy solution that was birthed by Bob Goldberg of Great Salt Pond fame, nurtured by an impotent Republican governor and his equally ineffective chief of staff and now controlled by a board that at one time had a former British Petroleum director (recall that environmental disaster), and still has a former Enron director (remember that criminal case) on its board? And the other board members certainly won’t tickle your thigh. Look them up and be concerned.
Block Island is on the cusp of a major change. It is truly unfortunate and ironic that we changed our vision of a standalone cable along with control of our own energy future — and for what? To be subsumed by the insatiable greed of Wall Street. How dreadful! How unfortunate! How irreversible!
To the Editor:
While many of us who travel between Block Island and NYC/Providence/Boston will appreciate the convenience of Cape Air’s new schedule, I wonder how the six new commercial round-trips will negatively affect noise on the island.
As it is, those of us to the west of the runway are deafened by planes taking off, particularly during busy times of year. How will the town protect or mitigate the noise effects of these additional commercial flights? This is a discussion long overdue.
We have the right to keep flight noise at minimal levels. Our health and home values are on the line.
West Side Rd.
To the Editor:
Last week I read letters from those who rightly love Block Island and are opposed to Deepwater Wind. I also love Block Island, and I love it for the same kinds of reasons expressed. However, I have a problem, because I also love the world, and many places in it (Orkney, Greenland, Mount Kilimanjaro, Cornwall… ). In fact, as I write, I think I love the more yucky places, too, and want to care for them, cities from Providence to Shanghai, and mountaintops being mined in the Appalachians.
We have to stop using fossil fuel. We have to support all efforts to install renewable energy, no matter what it costs in money or in loss.
If we don’t, we lose far more of the world and Block Island may also be lost. What will my grandchildren’s grandchildren think when they ask “What did great-great granny do in the fossil fuel war?” and they hear “She stopped the attempt to use wind?”
Before you ask, I also care quite a lot that someone, many ones, via Wall Street and other financial centers, will benefit with lots of profit from putting up these wind turbines. I would like to see everyone with articulate and legal skills asking — no, demanding — that government curbs the profit and the greed.
There are two ‘wrongs:’ the use of fossil fuel, and, the exploitation of need for excess profit. The first is of the earth, geology, physics, climate, even thermodynamics. There is no choice here except that of blindly allowing future destruction or making every effort we can right now to lessen what will come, inevitably. (A cable can carry both fossil energy and renewable energy so, though I would like Block Island connected by cable, establishing one seems just common sense, and co-operative practice, maybe not part of either wrong, or maybe part of both, as we choose to make it.) As I said already — whatever it costs — we need to support every way offered that uses renewable energies.
The second wrong is of economy and politics and personal greed, another kind of blindness. I want to counter this too, and I hope if it is still the way the world economy is managed when my grandchildren’s grandchildren are here, that they will also struggle against it and seek co-operative collaborative ways of living instead of this endless selfish competition. But my grandchildren’s grandchildren might not be here unless we leave them a world within which they can struggle.
I love Block Island. It is indeed a jewel in a damaged world. I cannot feel right about allowing my love to preserve Block Island as it is just now. It feels short-term.
I want a living and well Block Island, a place that takes its part and plays its role in the wide wide world, knowing it is part of the whole. I want to see effort put into ensuring proper decommissioning clauses, and the best possible ways to develop and support and even subsidize all forms of renewables. Block Island has an opportunity to move forward, it cannot stand still.
Physics says we are already out of time. Let our love support the wind.
To the Editor:
A few years ago I sent a letter to The Block Island Times entitled “The King’s New Clothes.”
I was referring to the proposed windmill farm, which at the time was proposed for five to seven miles from the island. Pictures were posted in the Town Hall that represented what the proposed installation would look like when completed. You could barely see them.
Well, now the King has his new set of clothes. Five hundred foot towers just three miles from the island — with fog horns and strobe lights — are we surprised!
The greens tell us — this is like apple pie and motherhood — we have to do it to reduce our carbon footprint — we know what should be done — listen to us — the Europeans have been doing it for years! And we’ll get a free cable to the mainland! We know what’s best for you!
Well here’s a news flash — straight from the Wall Street Journal. Robert Bryce reports “for years greens have relentlessly insisted that replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy will create jobs and stimulate the economy... It was all bunk.” The European Union and Germany recently announced that they were rolling back huge subsidies for solar, wind and other renewables because of “staggering costs.” In Germany alone, renewable energy subsidies are costing consumers and industry $32 billion a year — enough to risk “dramatic de-industrialization” according to their energy minister.
And here in Rhode Island, with the highest unemployment in the nation, with 48 deaths from drug overdoses in the first six weeks of 2014, with bogus unfunded pension reform, our governor is concerned with — you guessed it — “climate change” and the Deepwater project is destined to saddle rate payers with $500 million in subsidies — so that our governors can point to his “legacy.”
The same inability to lead that has kept Block Island from seeking our own standalone cable prevents our leadership in Providence from dealing with reality. How do you like the “King’s new clothes?”
Wake up, Block Island! With 1,200 households we could float a bond issue to pay for the cable — sure we’d pay an additional $500 to $1,000 in taxes, but we’d each save $1,000 a year in electric rates, we wouldn’t be bankrupting the state’s ability to attract industry — and we wouldn’t have to see the King in his awful new set of clothes.
I have no doubt that the “greens” will have their way. We’ll despoil “the last great place” that we all love and in 10 years we’ll be floating a bond issue to remove the white elephant from our viewshed. Enjoy “the King’s new clothes.” As the saying goes,”You can pay for them now — or you can pay for them later.”
The following are remarks that were addressed to the members of the Coastal Resources Management Council and forwarded to The Block Island Times.
To the Editor:
I am a Block Island homeowner and voter and I am opposed to the proposed Block Island Wind Farm project.
I’m an environmentalist and for nearly 30 years an avid Block Island photographer.
I’m also a successful businessman and co-owner for over 30 years in the regional airline and business aircraft aviation world.
Every business has the goal of earning money and being profitable. In the aviation business there is an obviousness that lives are at stake every time an aircraft lifts off. It’s critical to know the quality of manufacture and supply is impeccable. Vetting suppliers is foremost in the minds of designers quality engineers and buyers. Who you do business with is critical.
Deepwater has placed an order in the tens of millions of dollars with a very large company that has consistently proven its unreliability, both ethically and financially. It may not be your job to choose who Deepwater does business with, but it is your job to make sure you have done sufficient due diligence and imposed enough conditions in the permitting process to have it turn out well. Alstom (the company contracted with Deepwater to manufacture the five wind turbines) has been recently fined over $40 million dollars for bribery and is under investigation in five other countries, including the United States for the same. They have been in chronically bad financial health and have been bailed out by the French government at a cost of $400 million and have within the past month taken a $2 billion write-down in their value because of a loss of orders. Their financial future and capacity to warranty their products is questionable.
Deepwater, it seems, has chosen to place an order for untested turbines in off-shore applications. While Alstom has had many years of experience in off-shore wind turbines, the new 6-megawatt turbine for Block Island waters has never been used in off-shore environments. In fact, it has only been recently installed in on-shore locations. In its own literature, Alstom refers to the Block Island wind farm as their first export of this product and that “this pilot farm in the U.S. will enable Alstom to develop its off-shore technology.” Block Island is an experiment for not only Deepwater, but for the prime manufacturer of the products being installed. Repairs and unscheduled maintenance are inevitable. Murphy’s law rules.
If in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong with the installation, we will be in the hands of a developer with an interest in selling their stake and a manufacturer with highly questionable reliability. So if you decide or choose to permit this project, I am asking you and proposing that you put a sufficiently ironclad amelioration in the permit that follows through the web of companies involved with Deepwater to the company with sufficiently deep pockets to actually fully ameliorate the costs incurred to the state, the rate payers and the Town of New Shoreham.
In the event that Deepwater might sell its interest in this wind farm after it has been permitted, that there be sufficient amelioration in place in the way of warranty from the principal owners of Deepwater Wind, D.E Shaw, or a bond of sufficient magnitude to cover the entire value of the completion of the project.
My second point and proposal is similar but shorter. Deepwater has boasted of its collaboration with all of the stakeholders of this project, the fishermen and women, the environmentalists the scientists, the birds, and etc. I am a stakeholder and I have been ignored over and over by Deepwater Wind. My thinking is that if they acknowledged the true cost and impact on my life and the lives of my neighbors on Block Island, hundreds of them, it would make this venture catastrophically too expensive. DWW has offered the SE Light a paltry $100,000. My costs and the costs of my neighbors would be in the tens of millions of dollars.
My property is a source of beauty and love and an assurance of a reliable financial future. I know there are many studies and urban legends that say there is no financial impact on real estate value, but I know I wouldn’t buy a place like this with an industrial power plant in my backyard.
Since everyone knows there will be no financial impact there doesn’t seem to be any reason to ignore the stakeholders on Block Island who may actually be impacted financially, sufficiently in some cases, like mine to disrupt their possible retirement. I propose that you include all the stakeholders with no one and nothing left out. That if you permit this, CRMC and Army Corps, you include an enforceable amelioration for loss of real estate value in your permitting.
Whale Swamp Road
To the Editor:
“One of the irreplaceable features of many outward looking seascapes is that when one looks, one sees something that predates history, one sees an expansive view to an open horizon that has looked the same for longer than man can contemplate. Only the arrogance of man allows him to choose a point in time to say, “Here and now, I have the right to permanently alter the way something has always been into something else of my choosing.” — David Lewis
Unaccustomed as I am to questioning David Lewis’s judgment, particularly when it comes to matters of conservation — and quite apart from my own take on whether the placement of Deepwater Wind’s generators should proceed — as I listened to him direct his negative peroration quoted above to the Coastal Resources Management Council subcommittee last Monday afternoon, I could not banish my mental image of the Golden Gate Bridge or, in a drier expanse, the Pyramid of Gisa.
I far better liked Ray Torrey’s succinct assessment of the generators. “I find them elegant,” he said.
Peter S. Wood
Old Mill Rd.
This letter was sent to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and copied to The Block Island Times.
To the Editor:
Thank you for coming out to Block Island and listening to all our pros and cons regarding Deepwater Wind’s incursion into the waters off Block Island. If there’s one thing we have in abundance out here, it’s limitless opinions on just about everything.
I understand that the CRMC is charged with the responsibility of the preservation and protection of the state’s coastal regions and, as such, the CRMC is unwilling to consider either political or financial factors during its decision making process.
But as you heard yesterday, almost every speaker, whether for or against, again and again made more mention of the political and financial ramifications of the Deepwater project, than they did of environmental concerns.
Truth be told, this whole project would never have come before you if it hadn’t been for the back-room machinations up on Capitol Hill, after the Public Utilities Ccommission initially denied Deepwater’s application. Nor would this whole adventure have any legs if it weren’t propped up by D.E. Shaw and the megamillions available through tax credits and God-knows-what from Washington.
So, I think it’s impossible to just consider the environmental factors and ignore the rest. It’s all connected. Implausibly, intractably connected.
As for the Block Island Wind Farm being a “demonstration project,” I wonder what it is exactly that the deep-pocketed Deepwater is actually “demonstrating?” We were assured, by Deepwater’s expert witnesses, that everything they want to do is absolutely feasible… no problem. In fact, their website trumpets the wind farm as being 15 to 18 miles offshore, out of sight of Block Island.
Deepwater should, therefore, demonstrate to all of us that they are true to their word. Demonstrate that they can (and will) build the project somewhere over the horizon. Demonstrate that they will create lots of jobs here in Rhode Island, and not over there in France. Demonstrate that Quonset is a wonderful place to set up business. Demonstrate that they don’t really need someone to come all the way from Norway to monitor the project. Demonstrate that they haven’t really signed all those contracts with foreign entities well before they have received CRMC approval to go ahead with the project. And, demonstrate that the money they will set aside for the decommissioning will be more than enough to cover the costs.
Now that would be a great “Demonstration Project!”
Cooneymus Swamp Road
To the Editor:
Consider: Five wind turbines, each one half the height of the Empire State building. Lights to warn off low flying aircraft and shine in our windows; depressed property values. But, reduced electric utility bills; some suggest enhanced tourism.
Wait a minute; let’s look to the future. How about a gambling casino, an old idea resurrected. Greatly reduced property taxes; the state gets a cut; doubled tourism; elevated property values; businesses thrive; taxi drivers get rich. The casino and a six-story hotel could be conjoined with the Southeast Lighthouse, each room with a view of beautiful rotating turbine blades. Call it “The Lighthouse Casino and Hotel of Block Island.”
Are you there, Donald Trump?
Cat Rock Road
The following is an open letter to Anne Maxwell Livingston, Chair of the Ocean Special Area Management Plan subcommittee of the Coastal Resources Management Council. The writer, Maggie Delia, spoke before the subcommittee on Monday, Feb. 24, at the Block Island School.
Dear Chairwoman Livingston,
Thank you for taking the time to come to Block Island for the public hearing on the proposed Deepwater Wind Farm.
I am writing with the intention of getting complete for myself and for others who spoke to me about the interaction you had with me during my comments.
You interacted with me inappropriately and harshly during my comments at the hearing. I had the chance to say this to you directly after the hearing and to your credit you apologized. I accepted and I accept again today as I write this.
What I realize now is that it is important that this get completed at a level beyond our personal relationship, which in fact is only borne of our involvement in this public issue. This is not a personal situation and so it is important that it be dealt with as the public matter that it was and is.
From my own experience, it gets less safe to speak and to participate in our government when interactions like this happen. One gets a little less eager to have their voice heard or become involved. We are left with a sense of resignation about the difference our participation makes. Our trust of the process and government officials gets diminished.
I know, because this happened for me back in 2010, when I watched at other hearings at the R.I. State House, when the then Attorney General Patrick Lynch and former Attorney General Jim O’Neil were interacted with in a similar manner. This happened again at a committee meeting at the R.I. State House, when citizens who came to participate with our government were turned away from a room far too small for that hearing and were then told by our state senator to leave or security would come to escort them out! My attorney, Terry Tierney and my husband, Michael, have been interacted with similarly by the CRMC in the recent past.
I was shocked in all these circumstances, but I did nothing. I complained. I took no stand for myself, my fellow citizens or my own values.
I realized today, after all those things happened, ours was not the government that I thought it was and that it did not necessarily represent me or all people. That, in fact, some who spoke had a point of view that was not quite okay or didn’t merit the same respect accorded to others. I justified it to myself and others about how it’s just “Rhode Island” politics, it’s just how it is, etc.
Today, I say that it is only less safe to speak if I say so.
It is the government’s job to represent its citizens and I, as a citizen, have a personal responsibility to hold it to account for that job.
It is all too easy to just walk away and complain to myself and others; and there we have the condition of our world.
So today I ask for an apology — not from you personally to me personally, that is complete, but to me as a citizen and you as a public official.
Whale Swamp Road