A boo for a boo-boo by wind farm boo-hoos
It’s fourth and long. Just a few seconds are left in the game. You’re down by more than two touchdowns. What do you do?
If you’re Marion County’s ardent wind farm opponents, you call time out by filing yet another lawsuit.
Most people appreciate an underdog who won’t give up. But if you do this, you have to expect a chorus of boos from the restless crowd in the stadium that county government has been transformed into.
The latest, last-gasp lawsuit by foes of Expedition Energy’s southern wind farm isn’t so much a legitimate legal challenge as it is a vain attempt to delay the project, presumably until new county commissioners can be elected.
Most of the allegations involve trivialities not serious enough to overturn the results of what overall has been a carefully followed due process.
The idea that opponents haven’t been allowed appropriate opportunities to comment is as absurd as saying President Donald Trump hasn’t been allowed to speak his mind. We’ve had whole days, weeks, months, and even years of the same tired wind farm arguments being trotted out over and over again like the breeze in an oscillating fan.
Some new allegations, especially a hint that commissioner Randy Dallke somehow managed to derive personal benefit from a conditional use permit, are cruel and defamatory attempts to delay the project by slinging mud on it and everyone associated with it.
Others are based on weird science — fake news from social media, as easily disproved as the notion that immunizations cause autism.
The only thing the latest lawsuit will accomplish is the enrichment of a legion of out-of-county lawyers hired by both the county and wind farm opponents to argue over repeated attempts to take a political matter out of the hands of voters’ elected representatives and throw it into the courts.
Most wind farm opponents hated it when such issues as marriage, abortion, and reproductive rights became court cases instead of issues voters and their representative could resolve. Why they now love this option is as confusing as how a person can be both pro-life and pro-death penalty. Both are valid positions, just not at the same time.
If the whole point is to delay until after this fall’s elections, the strategy is fatally flawed. A conditional use permit cannot be rescinded unless its terms are not met.
It’s one thing to consider canceling a permit because the permit holder hasn’t followed the rules and another thing altogether to change the rules before they have had a chance to be followed.
Even voting to reconsider the permit would require, under Robert’s Rules, that someone who voted for the permit make the motion to reconsider it.
Stacking an enlarged county commission with wind farm opponents would accomplish nothing. Worse yet, it would leave us with a commission filled with zealots about one particular past issue, not a commission looking to the future and new issues yet to arrive.
At the center of much of this turmoil is commissioner Dianne Novak, frequently seen after commission meetings huddling in hushed tones with wind farm opponents. Many of the points made in the latest suit are points she already has brought before the commission without success.
This is supposed to be a “green” project — “green” in that it will provide a renewable energy source and “green” in that it will put some needed money into the pockets of a large number of area farmers as well as public coffers.
Continued lawsuits are draining whatever windfall public coffers might stand to gain and are demonstrating the worst of another sort of “green” — the “green with envy” that appears to be motivating opponents concerned that they will have to look at windmills without getting any of the profit from them.
Money that would have gone to the county and other taxing units could have been their reward, but because of their lawsuits it will end up finding its way instead into the already overstuffed pockets of high-priced, out-of-county lawyers.
It isn’t bad sportsmanship to boo the latest suit. It’s actually good citizenship. The decision has been made. Now it’s time to make the best of it, not to be conned by nigh-on shysters into turning this all into a meaningless and costly endgame.
Equally as disconcerting, anti-wind sentiment now seems to be spreading to the existing Diamond Vista northern wind farm, which the county now wants to be responsible for weather damage to roads the wind farm already had repaired.
Is it any wonder businesses don’t want to locate in Marion County?
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified Aug. 21, 2019