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BP’s monetary gift came at inappropriate time

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In a Dec. 14 letter, Paul and Elaine Mason claimed I was worse than Scrooge for questioning the intentions of BP for offering money to the food pantry in Cape Vincent. I thought I would explain what the Masons failed to explain.

In the Article 10 meeting with BP I never mentioned the food pantry in my questions to BP’s attorney, John Harris. I referred to service organizations in general, albeit the food pantry is one of the service organizations in Cape Vincent.

The more important point relates to BP’s Article 10 application for a 124-turbine wind project that would cover our town from corner to corner. For BP to have their proposal approved they will need to convince the state Siting Board that the town’s zoning law is too restrictive and that it should be thrown out. Our zoning law, however, was designed to protect the health, safety and general welfare of our community, and the town will fight to keep our law in place.

Part of the Article 10 process requires BP to conduct a public outreach program. In their plan, BP describes their outreach approach using phone calls, letters and meetings. Nowhere in the plan does BP indicate they will offer money to local community groups prior to consulting them.

Can you imagine a job applicant sending a $100 check to an interviewer prior to having a job interview? Can you imagine a prisoner offering money to a probation board prior to their probationary hearing? You might send a gift after a decision has been rendered as a thank you, but you would never offer gifts before a decision — that would be considered influence peddling or a bribe.

In the next few months the Article 10 Siting Board may very well decide whether to uphold Cape Vincent’s zoning law or to cast it aside to allow BP’s project to go forward. After that decision has been made would be a more appropriate time to offer donations and gifts to local service groups, but not before. BP has been in Cape Vincent seven years without making a major donating effort, surely waiting another few months would do no harm.

Those who attended BP’s meeting know that my intention was not to hurt the operation and funding sources of any service organization in Cape Vincent. These organizations provide valuable services and need community support. Currently we are facing a very difficult time. Stress and tension are high, and we do not need a company seeking to gain favor in the town using ethically dubious techniques that are completely irrelevant and unrelated to the merit or lack of merit offered by their proposed project.

Clif Schneider

Cape Vincent

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