Transparency

By Frank Ayd IV

     On Monday August 21, 2017, most people wanted anything but transparency. One good look at the first total solar eclipse in ninety-nine years with transparent eye-wear, and potential permanent retina damage could have resulted. On that day opaque, dark, and shady were important attributes for eye-wear if one wanted to witness this historic event safely.

     Now with the eclipse behind us I think most folks will want their transparency back. They want transparency in their eye-wear, their relationships, from their politicians and from the big power company who, if it gets its way, will be usurping the spirit of the Constitution in order to take their private property for a capitalist venture rather than a public works project. That company is Transource. If it succeeds, it will be tearing a path 130 feet wide through Southern York County in order to tap cheap power for Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs. The resulting clear-cut right-of-way will leave its mark primarily on farms in agricultural and environmental preserve easements. But, is Transource being transparent in the process? 

     In response to questions asked of Transource representatives at their open houses, Carole Long felt her questions “remained unanswered," Steve Tracey commented that, “you couldn't really get specific answers to questions” and Delores Krick, president of the York County Farm Bureau, was told, “you have electric, other people should too.” Perhaps Rick Abbruzzese of the Baltimore PR firm KOFA Public Affairs – hired by Transource - wasn't around clear the fog?

     Project director for Transource, Todd Burns, says, “Transource's approach is to include all input from landowners and concerned residents.” Notice the recognition of two categories; those who own property who will be directly impacted, and concerned residents who may just be near the proposed route. Sadly for the concerned residents, many of whom are within several yards of the proposed routes and would likely see diminished property values, Transource neglected to send any notice at all. And why wouldn't Mr. Burns want to brag about the projected $600 million in savings over the next 15 years? Maybe because someone might get a calculator and find out that 60 cents per rate-payer, per year won't even buy you a pair of paper solar eclipse glasses for 2024.
     Let's not leave out Dear Abby - Abby Foster, community affairs representative for Transource, and master email tactician - once. My first email to Abby that detailed some environmental concerns about a very specific part of my property was answered in such a politically-safe, vague manner, it could only be called a non-answer. My second email which expressed my concern for her lack of content never prompted a reply. On a third attempt I explained another sensitive part of my property where I am working on a project to help a minority group – again no reply. Optimist that I am, I tried a fourth time to find out if communication with landowners was being severed for some reason... still waiting. Maybe I'm just a pest, but if you're going to potentially steal part of my property – you're going to have to hear what I have to say about it. You asked for it after all.
     To be fair, it's not just Transource who lacks clarity in this process. Rob Kauffman, State Representative for the 89th district, replied to a constituent's inquiry on the Transource matter, “there is no legislative process or role for legislators.” Why then did electric utilities spend 21.6 million dollars on lobbying during the 2014 election cycle? Let's ask AEP – parent company to Transource; from AEP's “Statement on Political Involvement and Lobbying Related Activities”: “The company has engaged registered lobbyists, both federal and state, to support its legislative and regulatory activities.”
    In some ways Transource is like the sun itself - a huge and all-powerful presence in the lives of those who may be burned by it. The landowners, farmers, horse boarders, vineyard proprietors, orchard growers and the agro-tourism operators who are fighting to keep their properties intact are like the moon – the little guy – who every once in a while snuffs out the powerful giant.

Comments

  1. The entire piece is fantastic...however...my favorite part is when he calls Abby Foster a master email tactition. LOL.

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