The Town Board of the Town of Afton, New York, Chenango County, my home town, recently spent about a month discussing a resolution proposed by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York in support of natural gas development. The board entertained the resolution at its meeting last month and decided to hold a work session on it before another meeting this past Thursday. This chain of events produced some interesting local drama, a no-show by the Great Davidski, but, in the end, Afton gave a resounding YES to natural gas development.
The anti-energy development crowd made their presence known at the town board meeting last month, but the majority of them weren’t from Afton. They were actually from a couple of towns over and that has been par for the course of the last few years as natural gas has become a focal point of discussion in our town and among our neighbors. Yet, they all complained, when we attended their town board meetings, about the fact we were from a different town and supposedly invading theirs. They have a really strong double standard.
A week later there was a special work session held in Afton to review the resolution in depth. One anti-energy development board member, Attorney and Green Party activist Mary Jo Long, begged to have David Slottje in for a presentation. The town supervisor suggested Slottje could come in and speak for twenty minutes and just to answer one question; can the town be sued for passing the natural gas resolution? He also indicated Attorney Ed Zaengle should be able to come in and present his answer to the same question.
When other board members expressed hesitation about inviting Slottje, Long, who had not bothered to bring up this possibility up with any of them, went apoplectic. Discussion ensued and several members of the audience who had heard Slottje speak previously warned the board there was no way he could do his standard presentation in less than an hour. Mary Jo Long repeatedly promised she would ensure Slottje stayed under twenty minutes. She succeeded, with this promise, in securing her fellow board members’ approval of an invitation to Slottje. She was, obviously, thrilled, after all the drama, to know the board was going to entertain her anti-natural gas ally.
The town board met again last Thursday and awaited the presentations from Slottje and Zaengle. Alas Slottje was a no show. His stated reason for not coming was that twenty minutes was not enough time to answer the question. Obviously, he wanted to present the town with his entire ban/moratorium slide show presentation. One would think Long would have been embarrassed, especially given her friend Kim Michaels of Coventry, New York, had called several people trying to get them to attend the meeting.
But, apparently being a member of the Green Party and the anti-energy gang means never having to say you’re embarrassed because Long proceeded to present Slottje’s material for him and didn’t mention the resolution once until the very last paragraph. It was, of course, a presentation about enacting a ban or moratorium. You can watch her presentation below.
The town supervisor pointed out to Mary Jo Long she had not really addressed the question at hand until the very end. By spending her twenty minutes discussing issues off topic, she managed to offend not only the rest of the board but the majority of the audience as well.
Following this push for a ban/moratorium, Attorney Ed Zaengle got up and answered the question on the table. He told the board they really won’t be putting themselves in any position by passing the resolution. He then was then harassed by Mary Jo Long, who clearly wasn’t going to accept anything he had to say. See for yourself, especially the end of the video, who had credibility and who didn’t.
The Afton Town Board ended the discussion by voting for the resolution with a 4-1 vote. You guessed it, Long was the only one who voted against it. The overwhelming support of the audience made it clear the town board was representing the views of its constituents and she was voting her agenda.
The best part, however, came the day after the meeting. Mike Bernhard, Mary Jo Long’s husband, sent a message over the Sustainable Otsego list-serve. He blamed the town board and “local gassers” for “hacking” his computer. Here’s his statement and, in it, he admits every email he sends to the town board he also forwards to several people in his address book as blind copied individuals. This is the anti-natural gas opposition.
“This morning my computer was invaded. They took ALL of my address book, all my Outlook Express, and all my Firefox. Gone.
But I was treated to a page of pro-gas propaganda alternating with invitations from attractive local women.
I’m not tech savvy enough to know how it works, but I believe I was targeted. Believe it was by local gassers, maybe on the town board, to whom I was sending emails blind copied to my local address books, which are now gone. I don’t know what the implications are, but I will be slow in getting back on my feet.
Afton voted in the JLCNY resolution last night, 4-1. It doesn’t matter what we say to them: its not about facts, its about fascism.”
OK, then … moving right along …