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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Covering other big issues besides taxes

Happy International Talk Like William Shatner Day! Yes, it's his 80th birthday today and a new holiday is born. Though Tom and I are focusing on the impact of $400 million in vanished real estate equity on Charlestown taxes, we haven't forgotten the other big issues..

Like whether the Town Council took that mighty leap backwards on alternative energy. Whether Charlestown should consider either nuclear power or whale oil as alternative fuels. And whether Ruth Platner hates cats or senior citizens or both.

First, wind turbines. On March 14, as expected, the Town Council approved an ordinance from Ms. Platner and her Planning Commiserators that bans outright all wind turbines except those built for municipal or non-utility use Even those two approved uses would be subject to onerous conditions, such as proving your neighbors won't be bothered by sound or flicker. Plus, you must also have a 3-to-1 fall zone in case the turbine bounces a few times like a pogo stick. If you are applying for a small home wind turbine, the Planning Commission might cut you some slack on these standards. Right.

I wish the Council had just admitted they have caved into the anti-wind hysteria and banned all wind turbines, period, instead of passing a sham ordinance. Also, they should ban propeller beanies.

Wind power has some powerful enemies. For example, opposition to the Cape Wind Project is largely funded by the infamous right-wing oil & gas Koch brothers

Some of the anti-wind research used by Charlestown Ill Wind has a distinctly pro-nuclear slant. That's ironic since the only commercial nuclear fatality in the United States took place right here in Charlestown at the still abandoned United Nuclear Fuel Recovery site on July 24, 1964. Robert Peabody, a father of nine working a second job at the plant, died after 49 hours of agony when nuclear fuel he was handling went critical. Talk about an ill wind....

Several recent stories address Ill Wind's and Ruth Platner's concerns about saving birds. "Tweety Was Right: Cats Are a Bird’s No. 1 Enemy" ran in the NY Times, condemning free-roaming house cats for killing as many as half a billion birds each year. By contrast, the article says wind turbines would kill 1/500th as many when turbine construction peaks around 2030.  Ben Crair wrote in the Daily Beast that the biggest killer of birds is not cats or wind turbines, but buildings. One source claims up to one billion birds are killed each year by hitting buildings, especially windows.

Crair wrote that if people really want to save birds, they should tear down their houses. Now that might suit Ruth Platner just fine since she generally opposes building any, especially for older people. She said older people are more likely to have bird-killing cats. Between the buildings and the cats, it's bird Armageddon in Charlestown. So no thank you to +55 affordable housing.

Ruth's husband and failed Town Council candidate Cliff Vanover would also like the idea of tearing down houses to save the birds since it would also create more open space. During his campaign, Cliff claimed adding more open space would expand Charlestown's tax base. So if bird-loving Charlestownians tore down their houses, we could kill  two birds with one stone. Beam me up, Cliff!

Author: Will Collette