Unelected Panel Attempts to Silence Elected Representatives Opposing New Lake Ontario Level Rules
By Lori Lane
More than 100 area residents who packed into a Cornell Cooperative Extension facility Sunday to go on the record against a plan by internationalist bureaucrats to cause wild fluctuations in water levels in Lake Ontario came away shocked when the Obama-appointed chairwoman of the body attempted to silence a Niagara County lawmaker.
The plan by the International Joint Commission would radically increase high-water marks and decrease low-water marks in Lake Ontario to create a more favorable environment for indigenous wildlife and vegetation - most notably the muskrat and the cattail - all while devastating Lake Ontario shoreline properties and leaving charter boats sitting on mucky bottoms.
Legislator John Syracuse, the Newfane Republican widely regarded as one of the most conservative members of the County Legislature, had just raised questions about the qualifications of the Obama-appointed members of the International Joint Commission - none of whom live adjacent to Lake Ontario's southern shoreline, which would be massively eroded under their new plan - when IJC Chairwoman Lana Pollock attempted to silence his testimony.
"I see you've got how many more pages of single-spaced text to go?" Pollock demanded of Syracuse, cutting him off after he introduced remarks by Commissioner Dereth Glance assailing the coal industry—an industry with a heavy presence in Barker, which Syracuse represents, and that would be affected by changes in lake levels.
Syracuse coolly replied that he had a minute remaining under the rules set by the IJC for testimony.
Pollock again cut the Newfane lawmaker off, saying, "You may use that [time] to insult us all you want and perhaps that will help us decide." At this point, several members of the audience began shouting for Pollock to allow Syracuse to speak.
Pollock briefly relented, but later attempted to shout Syracuse down after he criticized the IJC's lake level plan directly, telling him, "Sir, I am in charge of this meeting, and you have gone over the line!"
Syracuse then reminded her that he was "an elected official and I'm here representing the people of Niagara County and I demand respectfully that I be allowed to finish my report."
Pollock continued to attempt to talk over Syracuse, who eventually won out to loud applause from the audience.
Following Syracuse's remarks, unelected political appointee Pollock lectured elected representative Syracuse and audience members wishing to testify against the plan that "this is a democracy and there are rules" to groans from audience members.
The unelected IJC, which includes three U.S. commissioners appointed by President Obama and three Canadian commissioners appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, has regulated Lake Ontario's water levels since the 1950s. In recent years, it has sought to make lake levels follow a more "natural" ebb and flow - which has been mitigated to protect the shoreline since the Eisenhower era.
The U.S. commissioners include Pollock, who was a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., Glance, who has a bachelor's degree in political theory and constitutional democracy, and Rich Moy, who hails from Helena, Mont., and has a background in animal ecology. None have degrees in engineering, despite having responsibility for controlling the flow of water from dams on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Pollock also warned audience members - who overwhelmingly hailed from the Lake Ontario shore and, with the exception of a small handful of out-of-town environmental advocacy group spokespeople opposed the IJC's plans - that if they didn't show adequate respect to individuals making presentations in favor of the IJC "it would count against them."
Syracuse, who was joined by Sen. George D. Maziarz, Somerset Supervisor Daniel Engert, Newfane Supervisor Timothy Horanburg, County Legislator David Godfrey, and representatives of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and Rep. Chris Collins in opposing the plan, said he was "shocked, but unsurprised" by Pollock's actions.
"Two years ago, we told them we opposed a plan that would have raised the highs and lowered the lows drastically on Lake Ontario, so they came back with a plan that was even worse," Syracuse said. "They don't respect us, and they don't really care to hear from us."
Syracuse bristled when asked about Pollock's repeated attempts to silence him.
"The people of Newfane and Somerset and Lockport elected me to give them a voice, and that's what I did," Syracuse said. "No one elected Lana Pollock, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., by the way, yet here she is meddling with our lives and livelihoods."
While Syracuse was focused on the devastation that lakeshore residents and businesses may face if lake levels are allowed to swing out of control, and pointed to environmental extremists as culprits, many have pointed to two other beneficiaries of IJC policies.
The New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation both have significant power plants on the St. Lawrence Seaway that rely on the flow of water through dams spanning the St. Lawrence - flows that would be affected positively by the plan.
So important is the IJC to NYPA that, on its "history" page, the Power Authority even credits the IJC with making its St. Lawrence power project possible, calling the IJC the "solution" to difficulties encountered with "navigation interests" as it sought to move the project forward.
Could it be that the IJC is looking to again be "the solution" to NYPA's problems?
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Jul 16, 2013