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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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2012: Dryden Hydrofracking Lesson

The NY Times article on a judge’s ruling to allow a town to declare a moratorium on hydrofracking ended with a paragraph that almost could have fit the Vine Valley concerns for the Middlesex IRA.  The last paragraph reads:

“In Dryden, a town of 14,000 people, the decision means more than validation of local government rights. Dave Makar, a former member of the Town Board who voted for the hydrofracking ban, said residents saw the technique as a threat to both their water and quality of life. “People move to the country for a way of life,” he said, “and the town respected that.”

It remains to be seen if Dryden’s decision will withstand appeal, but at least somebody has noticed that there is a reason for local government and that local residents have valid concerns.  While local government doesn’t bat .1000 anywhere, they nevertheless know the local situation better than those further removed.  And those farther removed, say all the way to the Governor’s Mansion, can more easily ignore the clamor from small communities. 

Before going further, I have to reaffirm where I am personally engaged on an issue, and it is when people in power use their power to bully others.  Whether it is on the playground, in the StateHouse, or in Washington, those who use power without proper due process or care for the weakest and most vulnerable are, well ….. BULLIES.  What I am about to say will be taken by some as a political comment, which it is not meant to be.  However, there is an increasing trend, regardless of party, to use power against the people.  People are NOT being put first, as Commissioner Burke might want to claim.  In my opinion, it is power, money and re-election, to pave the way for more power, money, and re-election.  Having shared that disclaimer, I would feel bullied if I couldn’t provide a further observation as to abuse of power, of bullying at the Federal level, which has paved the way for winking at abuse of power at the state level.  I could pick different issues, but when attorneys general of about 20 states sue on an issue, it is at least worth a comment.  When those at the end of the process suffer, it is even more worth a comment, and concern too.

Now I do realize that some people are supporters of Obamacare.  I am not, but that is not the issue.   It isn’t the concept of providing for the health needs of the neediest that I focus on.  It is the HOW of the way things get enacted by abusers of power, and how they get enforced.

When then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo came to Canandaigua a few months before his election, he made a case for saving money; most would agree with that statement, that government needs to control its expenses, but many would not necessarily agree with his now-revealed plans or strategies, on the backs of rural communities and the developmentally disabled.  There are several things in NYS’s handling of this matter that is reminiscent of criticisms at the Federal level regarding how Obamacare was implemented, not the least of which was secrecy (we had to pass the law to know what’s in it?) and forcing programs on people who didn’t want them, and putting too much authority under a side organization with no legislative oversight (HHS) or under a particular person (Sebelius) who will implement what the chain of command wants, and ramming through legislation or action programs under the guise or cover of other activities. When such use of power “works” at the Federal level, it is not surprising that it  trickles down to state governments as well, who are drawn to a strategy of power without accountability.

The analogy?  Forcing programs like mandatory Obamacare at the Federal Level isn’t so different from realigment of MDC and group homes with a unilateral decision to scatter sex offenders into the unsuspecting rural communities without notice or knowledge,vote or concern, and to break up a community of the developmentally disabled for the convenience of the DDSO.  The secrecy continues with statements like “We don’t know who’s going to be put into the Vine Valley home.”  They might say that with a straight face, and maybe they don’t know the names yet, but surely they have a plan they are intending to implement, without renovations needed by the prior population or one like it.  After it’s done, we’ll find out “what’s in it.”  That sex offenders can get out of a building fast is not particularly reassuring, is it?   Commissioner Burke’s response to Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano seems  dismissive of concerns, as raised in the passing of a national health care mandate, which now people are learning what it really means.  We too will find out what it really means that they don’t know who is coming to the Vine Valley house.  How can we also not feel stonewalled and isolated by bureaucratic secrecy? 

So if Kathleen Sebelius is analogous to Commissioner Courtney Burke, then HHS is analogous to the Dormitory Authority of NY, which Cuomo’s proposed budget provides should be more independent of legislative overview!  We need more overview, not less.     Ramming through legislation or action  programs under the guise of a budget leaves so much hidden and unexplained.  No wonder people raise concerns about death panels or restricted care for the elderly.  How are they supposed to know, one way or the other?  The denigration of the role of local government, and seemingly now of NYS Legislative review as well, simply sets the stage for more bullying and more abuse.  No wonder there were no hearings in advance;  the implementers of these changes in NYS simply don’t care, and don’t want to know  the community concerns.

The situations are NOT completely analogous, but there is a similarity in an arrogant attitude of secrecy, pressure, bullying, and misdirection.  It isn’t related to a political party; it is related to lack of a serving mindset in the elected.  When would we have learned about this, if not for Tracy Dunton’s sharing her concern?  When the sex offenders arrived on site?    Isolated anti-hydrofracking voices would be ignored too if the people working on it weren’t linking arms.  We need to do the same, among ourselves and with other affected areas in NYS under mental hygiene and related laws.  In my opinion, Cuomo shouldn’t be emulating the Federal deficiencies of power abuse and bullying, he should be finding a better way to approach the problems,  and not buy into a model fraught with such danger, expense and divisiveness.

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