Just days after it was revealed that Megan C. Amsler of East Falmouth wrote a letter to the state asking that they not provide financial assistance to the town to dismantle its two wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, selectmen threatened to remove her from her seat as chairman of the Falmouth Energy Committee for undermining the board.
Selectmen had harsh words for Ms. Amsler, who was not present, at their meeting Monday night when they chastised her for asking Richard K. Sullivan Jr., secretary for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, to not help fund the removal of the turbines in a letter sent to him on March 4.
“I am ashamed that the Town has even deigned to ask the State for aid in removing the turbines because they bother 19 people within 1/3 of a mile,” she wrote. “Please do not set a precedent by helping our community remove them. The implications for the entire global wind industry would be dire.”
The board wondered whether Ms. Amsler sent that letter with the support of the energy committee or had acted alone in doing so. In either case, Selectman Brent V.W. Putnam said it could warrant the board removing Ms. Amsler from the committee, and perhaps, her colleagues.
“The energy committee is advisory to the board,” he said. “They are obligated to bring things to the board.”
At the end of January selectmen agreed unanimously to take down the turbines after which point a town delegation led by Town Manager Julian M. Suso has worked to persuade the state to fund a portion of those costs. In light of that, Mr. Putnam said Ms. Amsler’s letter is “a flagrant disregard for this board’s decision.”
Monday’s discussion was kicked off when Chairman Kevin E. Murphy mentioned the letter during a brief update on the wind turbines in which Mr. Suso told selectmen that he was still awaiting word from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center on what, if any, financial commitment it will make to the town as part of this project. The town should have a better idea, he said, after next Tuesday, when the center’s board of directors will be meeting to discuss Falmouth’s request.
In light of that, Mr. Putnam said Ms. Amsler’s letter is “a flagrant disregard for this board’s decision.”
After his brief comments, Mr. Murphy acknowledged Ms. Amsler’s letter. “I surely hope it was signed with the energy committee’s approval,” he said, noting that otherwise she misrepresented herself and the committee.
Letter Disregards Board's Decision
Selectman David Braga also was upset that Ms. Amsler took that stand in stark contrast to what the board had decided in January.
And he was concerned that she sent and signed the letter without the energy committee’s approval. “You’ve been a little more gracious,” Mr. Braga said to Mr. Murphy. “I agree with Brent that they are an advisory committee and we make the decisions.”
Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn, who admitted she had yet to see the letter, continually asked her colleagues to exercise some caution, as this was not listed on the agenda and she feared they could be violating the open meeting law.
Mr. Murphy responded that he was not asking selectmen to take any action on the matter and that this was only a discussion.
Mr. Braga defended Mr. Murphy, saying it was a conversation the board needed to have, as residents have been questioning their leadership since becoming aware of Ms. Amsler’s letter. “If this is going to fall off course let us be the ones to do it and not somebody else,” he said.
If this is going to fall off course let us be the ones to do it and not somebody else.
When Mr. Murphy said he would reach out to theenergy committee, Selectman Douglas H. Jones noted they were meeting Tuesday at 9 AM. Mr. Jones said it was not clear from Ms. Amsler’s letter whether she was speaking on behalf of the energy committee or simply noting that she was the committee chairman.
But Mr. Murphy disagreed as it said directly under her name at the end of the letter that she was the chairman of the Falmouth Energy Committee.
“This is not an appropriate discussion,” Ms. Flynn said.
“We don’t live in a vacuum,” Mr. Murphy responded. “This is something that came forward and we want to address it. We are not violating the open meeting law by discussing it.”
“Yes, you are,” Ms. Flynn said, before suggesting they seek Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr.’s opinion on the matter.
That essentially concluded the discussion, and Mr. Murphy said his board will continue to update residents on the process as they move forward. To that end selectmen are scheduled to meet next Thursday at Falmouth Town Hall to announce how much money the state is willing to commit to take down Falmouth’s turbines.