Save the Date

August 2 is the date to save, it’s to cast a recall vote for Riga Township Supervisor Jefferee Simon. Make your vote count.

For an overview as to why the recall has been enacted, I’m sharing a letter from Kevon Martis….

When I was first appointed to the Riga planning commission I supported the ethanol plant and its siting. This support was based largely on the claims of the developers, several of whom are also principals of GreatLakes Wind. I believed them when they said it would smell like “baked bread.” I believed the reports of officials that said the plant they visited was quiet. I believed the claims of the developers that they would be good neighbors. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I count the zoning language I approved for the ethanol plant, my single greatest failure on the planning commission. So when these same “developers” showed up for a second helping of Riga Township, I was determined to not be fooled by their claims again.

What does this have to do with Mr. Simon’s recall? At the public meeting On July 6th, 2011, after three years of hard work by the Riga Planning Commission, Mr. Simon cavalierly made a motion to replace the commission’s proposed turbine-to-property line setback (nearly 2000’) with that proposed by the developer, approximately 543’. The manufacturer of the proposed turbines states in their documentation that their EMPLOYEES should stay 1300’ away from the turbines for safety in the event of malfunction or fire. Mr. Simon’s motion would have permitted turbines to be more than 750’ closer to our property than the turbine manufacturer recommends for their employee’s own safety. He appears so determined to accommodate the wind developers’ needs that he is willing to ignore the safety recommendations of the turbine manufacturer to make their project viable. This is unacceptable. I feel that no amount of alleged tax revenue is worth endangering our children and the homes they live in with irresponsible siting recommendations such as those made by Mr. Simon.

Mr. Simon claims he chose to not reappoint me to the planning commission because I had “tunnel vision”. To that charge I plead “guilty”. The Michigan Zoning Enabling Act states that it is the sworn duty of all township officials to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens above all. I am proud to have “tunnel-vision” when the welfare of my friends and neighbors is at stake. It is unfortunate that Mr. Simon’s own vision seems to be limited to using his office to support the financial schemes of his close circle of township friends.

In his role as supervisor, and without any further input from the planning commission, Mr. Simon and his board still legally retain the power to modify the wind zoning ordinance language upon any whim. Mr. Simon has never been shy in his efforts to accommodate the wind developers, whether by making fear-mongering claims about the alleged costs to the township in the event a developer brought suit, to being the lone vote against a one year moratorium to protect the township while the planning commission worked to draft an ordinance to protect us. Frankly, allowing him to remain as supervisor places the township at great risk. Protect your family and vote “YES” on August 2nd to recall Jefferee Simon.

Kevon Martis, Riga Township

Regarding the Ogden recall, I’m sharing this information from Josh Van Camp…

July22, 2011

Dear Ogden Township Resident,

Once again, I feel compelled to write you as we approach a critical junction in the history of Ogden Township. Back in mid-March, I wrote you to tell about the looming threat of unregulated wind turbines being forced upon Ogden Township residents. I told you that, despite the obvious conflict of interest, our township supervisor and clerk have continued to vote on issues related to wind turbine regulation. I told you then that a group of citizens would be canvassing the township for the necessary signatures to bring the recall of Supervisor Jim Goetz and Clerk Phyllis Gentz to a vote. I am pleased to say that 215 valid signatures were gathered, which represents more then 50% of the people that voted in the last gubernatorial election. So many signatures were obtained despite the fact that time constraints prevented us from canvassing the entire township. I apologize if you were not able to sign the recall petitions.

I would also like to set the record straight regarding the letter that some of you may have received from Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz, which makes a number of false assertions. First, they attempt to minimize the importance of the recall by claiming that a “small group” is behind the recall. The 215 signatures mentioned above clearly indicate that there is a very large group supporting the recall.

Next, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz claim that they are being recalled simply because they signed lease agreements with the wind turbine companies. This is again not true. They are being recalled for constantly obstructing any meaningful attempt to place any form of regulation on the wind turbines.

Throughout last fall I was repeatedly told by Mr. Goetz, who touts his years of experience, that there was NOTHING that could be done to regulate the turbines short of instituting zoning, that we would have to just accept what the wind companies are offering… 500 ft tall turbines as close as 1320 feet from our homes and less then 600 feet from the property line. Later, Trustee Mark Vandenbusche informed the township board that he had discovered (and later confirmed by the township attorney) that we could regulate every aspect of wind turbine operation and protect the health, safety and welfare of Ogden residents via a “police powers ordinance.” Did Mr. Goetz know this all along and not tell us? Or did he just not really look that hard for answers when questioned by residents? We may never know. Either way, Mr. Goetz has failed to properly perform the functions of Township Supervisor.

Michigan Compiled Law § 15.342(5) states, “A public officer or employee shall not engage in a business transaction in which the public officer or employee may profit from his or her official position or authority or benefit financially from confidential information which the public officer or employee has obtained or may obtain by reason of that position or authority.” So, if an elected official stands to gain or lose money as a direct result of their vote on an issue, they have a conflict of interest and should recuse themselves from voting on that issue.  In Riga Township, Treasurer Dick Beagle (who has a signed wind lease) saw this and, on the advice of the township attorney, recused himself from voting on the wind ordinance there.  In Fairfield Township, a member of the zoning appeals board recused herself after noting that her inlaws had a wind lease.  Ogden Township officials MUST abide by the same standard, yet they have repeatedly refused to do so.

In a clear violation of Michigan law, and Ogden Township’s own ethics policy, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz stand to make considerable profits as a direct result of their votes on industrial wind turbine related issues. If they vote for lenient regulations, it will allow them to build more turbines on their property, and thus make more money as a direct result of their votes.  If they were to vote for stringent regulations, it would limit the number of turbines they could construct on their property, and thus lose money (or gain less) as a direct result of their votes.  How is this any different than offering them a bag of money to vote for lenient regulations?

Furthermore, voting for stringent regulations would violate the terms of the wind turbine lease agreements signed by Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz. Those lease agreements prohibit them from taking any action that would prevent or impede the construction of windturbines in Ogden Township. To comply with the terms of their windturbine lease agreements, they are not permitted to vote for any regulation that would inhibit the construction of wind turbines.  How can they possibly comply with the requirements of the lease agreement and vote in a manner that is in the best interest of the citizens of Ogden Township?  The answer is quite simple – they cannot.

Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz also falsely asserted in their letter that they have not voted on any wind turbine related issues.  However, there is video of Mr. Goetz voting against, even hiring an attorney to advise the township on wind turbine related matters on February 8, 2011.  The video can be viewed at the link below.  The motion is made about one (1) minute into the video:

On March 8, 2011, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz also voted against an eleven (11) month moratorium that would prevent the construction of turbines during that time to allow Ogden Township sufficient time to study the issues surrounding industrial wind turbines and create appropriate regulations. The video of Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz voting against an eleven (11) moratorium can be viewed at the link below. The motion is made at the beginning of the video. Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz vote “no” about three (3) minutes into the video:

Mr.Goetz and Mrs. Gentz also voted on wind related issues when they attempted to “stack” the Ogden Citizens Commission (OCC) that has been tasked with addressing the wind turbine issue in Ogden Township. The OCC had been formed earlier this year(with Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz voting then as well) comprised of citizens of the township. Once Mr. Goetz saw the that OCC was discovering reasons for concern, he attempted to add more pro-wind voices to the OCC in an attempt to rig and dilute their findings so that he would get the result he wanted. With minimal notice, Mr. Goetz called a special meeting at 5pm on a Monday in order to suppress public turnout. A preemptive motion was made to leave the committee as is and this passed 3-2, but guess who voted against it? That’s right, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz. The pertinent motion is made at the 11 minute mark of this video:

I would like to make it very clear that this recall has nothing to do with a desire to stifle private property rights. The protection of private property rights is crucial to the continued prosperity of our great nation. However, the “freedom to” has to be balanced with the “freedom from”. Since the township is not zoned, the only form of regulation that would be possible would be a “police powers ordinance” that would only regulate industrial wind turbines and NOTHING else. No need for zoning and the mess that it sometimes entails.

Despite their false claims to the contrary, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz are being recalled for one simple reason – they chose to put their own financial interests ahead of the interests of the citizens of Ogden Township. We simply cannot allow our politicians to sell their votes to the highest bidder, then lie about their actions. There is simply too much on the line here for Ogden Township. For these reasons, I urge you and your family to vote “YES” on August 2, 2011 and remove Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz from office.

Joshua D. Van Camp

Ogden Township Resident

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2 Responses to Save the Date

  1. Sandy Meeks says:

    Robin: How much money is paid to the landowner for each turbine? is it paid annually? Do they get any additional money, and if so, how much and for what. thanks

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