Saturday, February 9, 2008

An Ill Wind Blows through Richmondville

Apparently unsatisfied with bludgeoning the discussion of wind power into non-existence, Bob Neid and Don Airey, co-founders of Schoharie Valley Watch, have been on the look-out for ways to keep the controversy and friction levels high in Richmondville. Rather than slink back into relative obscurity, the ringleaders of this increasingly laughable circus, have sought to stretch out their fifteen minutes of limelight, inasmuch as weekly coverage in Cobleskill’s Times-Journal affords such limelight of course.

The actions of Bob Neid, Don Airey and other members of Schoharie Valley Watch have exemplified all of the worst aspects of small town political conflict, running the gamet from NIMBYism to divisive name-calling to proposing outlandish conspiracy theories. The result is a bitterly divided community, with a downgraded capacity to work together to find worthwhile solutions.

At meeting after meeting, windmill opponents thuggishly bullied anyone with opposing points of view, until those wanting to contribute constructively to the process were simply overwhelmed and turned off.

Rather than work with the Town Board and Planning Board to insure an equitable implementation of a viable green energy solution, Robert Neid, an individual with a respectable environmental record, chose to take the low road, sabotaging Democratic Supervisor Betsy Bernocco in his own quixotic write-in race for Supervisor. Neid’s major accomplishment? The Town of Richmondville lost a hardworking and experienced advocate in exchange for a Republican who never even claimed to take a different position than Bernocco on the wind turbine issue.

The latest controversy concerning the firing of a part-time Richmondville clerk for supposedly political motives, is a continuation of this tradition.

Neid, Airey and SVW would have you believe that Kathleen Johnson, a part-time Richmondville Clerk was the victim of some heinous attempt to silence critics of the Town’s allegedly pro-windmill policy. This would be laughable if it were not such a travesty, and if the Times-Journal didn’t pick up on it and blow wind in the story’s sails.

I’m not going to say whether this person was fired for a good reason or not. However, if we’re going to start believing in outlandish conspiracy theories, we might as well put it out there that Kathleen Johnson may have deliberately sabotaged her own employment in order to smear the Town of Richmondville.

More likely however, is the possibility that this is one more delusion of grandeur on the part of Neid and Airey, fancying themselves the targets of some corrupt conspiratorial plot.

The most laughable element of this, is the idea that there is some “cabal” or group of insiders in Richmondville capable of performing such feats of political intimidation. Consider: there have been few more vocal critics of the wind policy change than Richmondville Village mayor Kevin Neary, a Democrat.

Why doesn’t SVW ask Neary if the firing of Kathleen Johnson has caused him to fear retribution from the evil conspirators?

Is there really a conspiracy in Richmondville? No, just a bunch of loudmouths with WAY too much time on their hands. I won’t deny them their fun and games, let them have it. I just felt like it was time for a reality check.


A Nanna Mouse said...

Well put.

Neid, Airey & Co., need to consider the fact that the world is near peak oil production, contrary to what the Bush administration claims. Demand will continue to rise when the time comes that production is declining. We'll all wish we could buy gasoline at $5 a gallon, and when you think about all the ramifications it gets pretty ugly.

Bush and other neo-cons will tell you there's plenty of oil in the planet, we just need to find and extract it. Shale, for example. Well, that's exactly the problem. Discoveries and new technologies have not been able to keep up with the oilfields that are exhausting.

Saudi Arabia is the only country that's reliably been able to increase production to meet the increasing demands of the American SUV, China and India. And the Saudis have no new fields to find.
Read Richard Heinberg "The Party's Over" or other books on Hubbert's Peak.

So, back to the topic, Neid, Airey Co., what are you do when the oil runs out? Coal? Nuclear? How about electricity? Sunpower, windpower and waterpower generating electricity are the answer. But (Listen up here, Alicia) NO PILOT -- let the suckers pay the full tax shot, or be required to provide the grid with X-many KWH daily for each resident within eyeshot of the windmill.

Anonymous said...

nanna mouse = another liberal form of rodent.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Liberal Rodents Rock!
(Sidenote to Alicia: your Mournful Skivvies are waiting.)

Anonymous said...

you said:
nanna mouse = another liberal form of rodent

you surely mean:
nanna mouse =another rodent form of liberal

A Nanna Mouse said...

Let's meet again next February and check the prices of oil and electricity and see how many gallons of tears SUV drivers are shedding.

Anonymous said...

Nanna Mouse - oil and wind turbines have only a remote connection in the long term. A better solution for oil use reduction is fuel efficiency.

"Sean" - The conspiracy is not organized but there are people in certain positions that are used to controlling things in Richmondville. Political party allegiance is only a minor concern.

Anonymous said...

"an equitable implementation of a viable green energy solution"

now THAT is laughable.

Loud Mouth said...

person with way to much time on hands = this blog author

but I do like to read it for a giggle

Sean Thomaston said...

I keep hearing that “oil and wind power” are only “remotely connected” which continues to vex me because a.) no one is proposing that wind turbines are the sole answer to our fossil fuel addiction and b.) the connection in reality is not nearly as remote as some erroneously believe or deliberately intend to make out.

In New York State, 11% of our electricity is derived from oil-burning plants, 18% from coal and 28% from natural gas. 2% comes from new renewables of which wind energy is included.

In NYS there are about 10,000 MW of potential wind energy development, half of which is on land, and the other half could be generated entirely off the southern cost of Long Island. If these potential MW of wind energy were developed to their maximum potential, it would provide up to 20% of the state’s electricity. (NYS Comptroller’s Report on Renewable Energy,, Pg. 17)

That would be more than enough to completely eliminate petroleum-generated electricity from NYS and take a considerable chunk out of coal-generated electricity. This of course say’s nothing about solar power and other biomass systems that are currently being developed. So developing wind power to the max. may not be necessary. However, the idea that there is no connection between fossil fuel use and wind energy is nonsense.

What’s more, if more of our electricity is generated from renewable sources, we might switch from oil to electric for home heating or even automobile fuel in order to lessen our carbon footprint.

As far as an “equitable implementation of this viable green energy solution” is concerned, I’m not sure why this is considered laughable.

Local communities CAN site these windfarms in such a way that minimizes their impact on residences and the environment. Obviously, these things should not be built on top of where people are living. But NY is a big state, there’s plenty of space, not to mention perfectly good brownfield locations in urban areas.

Further, a good PILOT payment is nothing to snub your nose at. Personally, I don’t think the Town should sell itself short by accepting a lower-end PILOT rather than taxing the facilities, but even still, its money in the bank.

As far as the local conspiracy theories go, I just don’t care. We’re talking about a part-time town clerk. It’s not like somebody’s political future has been ruined.

I can’t worry about whether a part-time Town clerk was inappropriately fired for opposing a wind farm when oil company execs and their minions are doing the real dirty work disinforming about global warming and keeping us strung out on oil.

Anyway, I’m glad I made SOMEONE giggle…

Anonymous said...

Sean – while I applaud your enthusiasm and agree that wind power can be a part of the solution let’s not overdo it. Call me a moderate wind supporter if facilities are sited correctly. I believe there is not an adequate site in Richmondville based on land area and residential density. Be careful about using one report from the State to make up your mind. There is not a tit for tat replacement of wind energy production and coal/oil. Getting 20% of our electricity from wind will not mean phasing out 11% from petroleum and 9% from coal. A problem with wind is intermittency and the amount of land needed to produce a small amount of electricity. Coal and oil will still be used. Not that it is impossible, but if we develop 5,000 megawatts inland – that is approximately 17 Maple Ridge sized projects in NY State utilizing about 204,000 acres of land including access roads, overhead and underground electrical lines, substations, staging areas, and operating facilities. I guess I am for wind, but this only gets us 10% of electric needs and that is a pretty ambitious achievement with some negative environmental side effects. Don’t forget about increased demand. Then add in doing about the same size in off shore projects and you really have an uphill battle! There are also electricity transporting problems to overcome and huge political barriers unless the state or Feds step in and take a lead role. The turbines are also expensive to maintain. This is a young venture in the US. Be careful where your data comes from, even if it is a government document. A lot of the sources for such documents (like the one you cite) is the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). This is a huge lobbying effort made up of private wind energy companies. So when a statement in a government document claims that wind turbines make no noise and the reference comes from the AWEA, I guess I take that with a grain of salt.

Look, I do not claim to be an expert in the field of energy production, but I do not think you are either. Let’s be rational here and not understate or overstate the possibilities from wind power. It is not as nasty as some people fear, but it is not as great as you are touting either.

Anonymous said...

:O Never mind the "waiting", actually "SHOWING"! Damn, from here to eternity, from Vichy to KFC (no, NOT the Colonel's secret recipe...but yáll will discover that soon enough.) HOF! now child, :) certainly tastier and higher-quality than the overpriced mediocre fare at some "Brew Pub". Yep, something good that will come out of it. Enjoy. A Bientot.

Anonymous said...

Merci 4 your patience for the off-topic. Aussi...Bon Appetit!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ooooooooh...some ruffled feathers. Gee, you certainly try to
project that YOU are "in the loop" about "THIS SITUATION". If this is true, then enlighten the rest of us on the appropriate thread. Why, you could have even been forthcoming with the real deal in your "CAPS RANT", but you did not, so I guess honesty is not part of your agenda. Be aware: I know what I found and what I saw; I also made hard copies. In my opinion, there are some very sneaky people around "THIS SITUATION" who think any means can justify the end ($$$$)...they are the ones who should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Actually... should read the end ($$$$) justifies "any means". (classic ending... "the means"). Lack of self-editing aside, I will stand by, yea, "BOOSTING UP" by, that "any means". And hard copies are like manure. (Merci' en advance pour yer understanding.)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yep, that "Premium Shuttle Service" certainly will bring plenty of loud noises...and plenty of bus exhaust to breathe in, too. But I bet THAT doesn't concern the likes of you.

Sean Thomaston said...

"likes of you"?

Is this necessary? We're probably neighbors for chrissakes!

I've watched the tactics of wind turbine opponents and this is a prime example: berate and insult those who disagree with you and hope that they are intimidated into not speaking up.

Oh well, I guess I've got to shout louder then.

Here are some assertions that I feel should be addressed (not all from same poster)

"if we develop 5,000 megawatts inland – that is approximately 17 Maple Ridge sized projects in NY State utilizing about 204,000 acres of land including access roads, overhead and underground electrical lines, substations, staging areas, and operating facilities."

At least I cited the numbers I used. I would like to know where these #'s come from, but I'll assume they're accurate. Why don't you look into the amount of land that is needed for coal-generated electricity from mining (and the impacts of acid mining, open pit mining, mountaintop removal) to transport and finally to the actual generating facility and its impacts. Can you actually seriously compare the environmental footprint of fossil fuels to windmills?

I appreciate the conciliatory tone of your post, but assertions like these MUST be challenged.

As far as American Wind Energy Association propaganda being used in government documents, I certainly can't rule out that possibility...

After all, look at how oil industry shills cook the books on global warming in the Bush administration.

At the same time, one must expect a certain standard of accuracy to come from the NYS comptroller's office.

Go ahead and believe the Wind Energy Association is tainting everything you read. That's a little paranoid. After all, if wind energy doesn't pan out the way we hoped, we can always pull these things out of the ground, cover up the holes and let the cows have it back.

You can't say the same thing about mountains that have been butchered by coal mining operations and brownfield sites used to burn coal and oil for electricity.


Stop tilting at windmills and let this community make a contribution to renewable energy.

Anonymous said...

"berate and insult those who disagree with you and hope that they are intimidated into not speaking up."

I'd say your original posts do a good job of berating and insulting those you do not agree with. How well do you know all the players? Maybe you should meet with them instead of promoting your own views when you obviously have nothing to lose. I and my neighbors will live in the shadow of this "contribution to renewable energy" and rely on a town to enforce noise and other standards when they do not enforce their current laws. And this was the case under Bernocco rule too. Where will you live in relation to this project?

Sean Thomaston said...

Yes, I berate and insult folks all the time in my posts. But your missing the main point. There's a big difference between insulting people on a blog that is supposed to be inflammatory and actually shouting people down at public meetings. The former is designed specifically to elicit debate, while the latter is used to squash it.

I'm not going to really name names and associate specific people with this tactic, but it is very effective in small town political conflict.

I'm sorry that you live in the "shadow" of proposed wind turbines, but we have a process right now of trying to find adequate setbacks to protect people.

Of course, as this is going on, it is necessary to keep pressure on local officials.

But let's not lose sight of the bigger picture: we desperately need alternative energy sources. Wind isn't the entire solution, but its a part of the solution.

I'm all for keeping politicians' feet to the fire in order to get the best deal for the community.

I just feel like there's a disparaging of wind power in general that needs to be challenged. There are a lot of ugly elements to wind farm resistance.

Believe me, I would like to see us develope renewable energy while minimizing the # of people negatively impacted.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the setbacks established are protective. Although I agree with you somewhat I also remember that if it was not for some of the people you have already named the town would be dealing with an adopted law that would have left us grossly unprotected.

"There are a lot of ugly elements to wind farm resistance." - - There are a lot of ugly elements to wind farm promotion too.

"Go ahead and believe the Wind Energy Association is tainting everything you read. That's a little paranoid." Call me paranoid because the AWEA board of directors is made up of people who get paid and will profit from wind development -

"At the same time, one must expect a certain standard of accuracy to come from the NYS comptroller's office." - This report was done under Hevesi. A Comptroller whose standards included favoring big lobbists and others that paid for his campaign and escorting his wife around with State funds. I think he resigned or else he faced prosecution. Would he encourage a report to help out big NY companies like GE (a member of the AWEA)? I do not know but he certainly is not someone that I hold in high regard (if that is possible in politics)

Anonymous said...

I'll concede that coal mining is a nasty business if you concede that coal mining will not be stopped by placing a few wind "farms" {That sounds so pretty}. The real environmentally friendly answer is an aggresive effort to reduce electric consumption. Instead we find ways to encourage more and more consumption and industry replys with big projects.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the report in question. The awea is the source that wind turbines make little noise. The topic of noise is a highly in depth and studied issue. The awea says there is none so NYS just agrees. Great document. Lesson: Always question who puts out information on both sides of any issue.

Anonymous said...

Bob Nied...the same fellow who, in a recent "Letters", wrote:"...just another politician who considers the residents of Warnerville Hill collateral damage in a seemingly feverish drive to accomodate a developer." Golly, he sure does know how to gracefully turn a cliche ("collateral damage"). That Gordon fellow could surely pick up a thing or two from him.

Anonymous said...

wind energy supporter = someone being paid by Reunion or someone living away from project

Anonymous said...

"Let's hope the setbacks established are protective."

There just is not enough room in rville to have adequate setbacks and allow a project. Even the industry's own safety manuals advise a setback that is far enough that would preclude a project in rville. Any effort to accomodate a project will jeopardize safety in rville because there are too many homes. A better area for a project is one with larger tracts of land.

Sean Thomaston said...

Let's not lose sight of the issue here: the biggest evil people are attributing to wind power is noise, at worst a nuisance.

I wouldn't expect anything less from giant turbine blades that spin around in the wind. Why would they not make noise?

Does this make liars of the AWEA and pawns of the NYS Comptroller's office? Not really, I think the wind industry has gone to great pains to reduce the noise associated with wind farms and that many wind farms are probably quite successful at minimizing noise.

The report in question was probably written by staffers, and is not without merit because some (rightfully) take issue with a few assertions.

Hevesi's ethical quandaries have absolutely nothing to do with it, and he, in my opinion, got a raw deal.

I can barely stomach the thought of Spitzer throwing him to the wolves to further bolster his own image when he himself would shit all over it by snooping on Bruno a year later.

If Spitzer wasn't such a talented headline-grabber we'd probably have Hevesi as our governor right now and we'd be a lot better off for it, but I digress.

On the issue of wind power displacing fossil fuels, coal and natural gas, well, excuse me for being naive, but I thought that was the whole point of investing in and implementing renewable energies.

NY's renewable portfolio standards aren't there to simply produce a surplus of energy using renewables and then sell it to other states. The whole purpose is to decrease the amount of energy from non-renewable sources.

It's not "tit for tat", and wind energy is not going to stop coal-mining. But if we can cut down on it, that's a step in the right direction.

Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Anonymous said...

I think Sean is right about the wind industry trying to make turbines and rotors quieter. The problem is the push to place these industrial units into residential areas and pass them off as benign. The industry needs to purchase land around these projects just like coal and nuclear projects purchase land (buffers) and then lease to farmers. Wind turbines are better for the env. than nuclear, coal, oil, etc... but they create a small amount of electricity and should not be located a few hundred feet from homes.

Anonymous said...

They could also be placed in industrial sites.

Anonymous said...

Good idea

1 Reunion can buy houses closest to project

2 Reunion can rent the houses to Peter Lopez, Roy Bilby, Betsy Bernocco, Sandy Gordon, Sean Thomaston, Alisha Terry and all the other supporters

3 Everybody is happy

Anonymous said...

Alisha (sic) doesn't have to rent from anyone, 'cause "she lives in Gilboa with her husband and son in her grandparent's house". Gilboa. A small, rural community, which, in the coming years, will likely come to be known as part of "the untouched corner" of Schoharie County. Hey, "demographics are destiny"...and, as the real estaters like to say: location, location, location. Lucky Licia!

Sean Thomaston said...

"Peter Lopez, Roy Bilby, Betsy Bernocco, Sandy Gordon, Sean Thomaston, Alisha Terry"

-Actually quite a diverse cross-section of people representing both Republicans and Democrats from different walks of life who support renewable energy.

Thanks for pointing this out, it's a great argument I'll start using.

Anonymous said...

Sandy Gordon...izzat the one who is the raison détre for a "kick-off" being held, right now, the Colonial Diner? Eew, just thinking about that location(?) sends "An Ill Wind" blowin' thru my bowels. No dis 2 U, tho. Really. Yer blog. Yer, yes, compelling issue. However, yer not my venue. No prob. Bonne chance, dude.

Anonymous said...

"Actually quite a diverse cross-section of people representing both Republicans and Democrats"

---who are sell outs

Anonymous said...

Sean = supporter of renewable energy for the right reasons

the rest of the apple dumpling gang support renewable energy for the $$$$$$$$

Anonymous said...

and use it for your argument. But think about how quickly your diverse group of supporters would fade if they found themselves having to live next door to the project? Everybody is a NIMBY.

Bob Nied said...


I admire your passion and enjoy your blog. (And greatly appreciate the fact that many of your readers also visit the Schoharie Valley Watch web site.)The medium however falls short of a real dialog. After 30+ years of environmental and community activism I would love the opportunity of exchanging views with you on issues ranging from industrial wind to conflicts of interest in local government in a more immediate and interactive venue. How about a panal discussion or debate in a public forum? After all, we are both interested in informing the public, right?

Don Airey said...

Hi Sean,

You certainly have a right to your opinion on ANY subject matter and you certainly invoke that right. That's what makes us whom we are, as a nation and a community.

Conversely, it's constructive comments that cut the ice for ongoing, useful dialogue.

While I respect your right and opinions, I also feel you have a very limited knowledge of the subject matter and how open government "process", should and must work for the people.

My office is in Richmodville and my door is always open for lively discussion. As such, I invite you and / or your group for open dialogue and fact-sharing.

Accusations of "thuggish" behavior and assertions that people are "shouted-down" by SVW supporters at meetings tends to tell me you have not been in attendance at the meetings.

Further, it was a Town Board Member (just prior to being appointed) that in fact, shouted out his support of wind turbines, stating "he would have them on his property if he could" and then, stormed out of the meeting.

Anyway, keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing from you regarding a meeting / panel discussion on the Wind topic and other important issues facing Schoharie County. We all live here and I'm proud to say I do too and will continue to support our quality of life.


Don Airey Co-Director, Schoharie Valley Watch

Sean Thomaston said...

To Bob and Don,

A public discussion of some sort is a great idea. What did you have in mind as far as logistics? Schopeg might be an interesting way to go.

The funny thing is, I don't entirely disagree with your approach. Any large-scale development deserves scrutiny. And I hope the efforts of your group and others leads to Richmondville getting a better deal. What I don't want to see happen is for this debate to make wind power such a volatile issue that people are afraid to go near it and we lose the ability to take advantage of a renewable resource with some very real benefits and opportunities.

If the question has to do with open government, I agree with everything you've said and more. I agreed with a lot of the things Neid campaigned for last November, especially the need for more citizen participation. I think regularly held town hall-style meetings would be a great idea.

Problem is, as someone who supports wind power, I have no particular need to see it developed in Schoharie County, whereas as opponents you have a very straightforward cause in fighting it. It's always going to be harder to get supporters to come down and invest the time and energy to speak in favor of this, especially when there are so many so committed to opposing it.

Having said that, I appreciate your effort to seek out other views for a public forum and I would gladly take part.

Bob Nied said...


First, thanks for your positive words. It sounds like we do indeed share common ground on the issue of open government. There are probably multiple options or a public forum. I like the notion of a panel discussion with several participants reflecting diverse views. I'm not opposed either to an old fashioned debate as long as we maintain civility and mutual respect. In any case, I'm sure we can agree on a venue, and sure, Schopeg coverage would be great. I'm just not sure either of us is interesting enough to garner that coverage! Let's meet for lunch and work out the details. I'm also in the book if you would like to call.



Kevin Federlein said...

Not interesting enough to be on Schoharie County public access television? That's sad man.

I'll be in touch.