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Negotiating

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To The Editor:

It saddens and frustrates me to watch the more than decade long struggle and waste of resources by the host communities to be fairly compensated by the Power Authority. As a result of incompetent negotiations for the relicensing, ignoring the advice of their paid advisors, poor political support for the area, and political undermining of the entire process, the host communities agreed to a poor contract.

If you don’t know, read the book that was written about it. It’ll make you mad.

A small group of local people called The Advocacy Group tried to help the Local Government Task Force but because of pride the leadership refused to heed their warnings. The Advocacy Group had done its’ homework and immersed itself in the facts and details of the process.

The leadership instead chose to believe what they were told by so-called important people and politicians who were undermining the process instead of immersing themselves as well. It was easier.

They still think kissing the rearends of those same people will help us get money. They were easily manipulated by the Albany politicians, local influentials, and the Power Authority. Lunches were held and the euphoria of being able to sit and talk with important people and feeling important must have been indescribable.

When it was all said and done, the politicians had their picture in the paper claiming credit for the deal when, as it worked out, they should have been blamed instead.

Now everyone is upset about the 20 megawatts of St. Lawrence County power that I still haven’t seen yet. Not that I’ve ever doubted it. It’s going on five years now. Both the $16 million and the 20 megawatts of St. Lawrence County Power are going to be under control of not us. The county IDA will be able to siphon off at least $300,000 each year for handling charges, and they even were able to borrow $700,000 for a new building and offices for themselves.

The longer this process goes on the further the assets and their control get from the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River. Look at the process we’re going to have to go through just to allocate the power and who gets input.

The locally proposed monetization is even more complex. Our host communities have become insignificant for the next 40 years. Two million dollar annual payments have been more than returned by increased rates from NYPA and inflation has reduced the $2 million to about $1.5 in 2003 dollars because of inflation clause was not negotiated. I personally and publicly warned the Task Force that rates were going to be increased to cover the payments.

It’s too bad that there are virtually all new people on the Task Force now with a little knowledge about how it all happened. Hopefully they see the effects. They should not be easily led by important people holding a carrot on a stick. It’s an old trick.

The RVRDA and the IDA seem the apparent players but other greater factions are close by looking to benefit their agenda, not ours. There is money and politics in play. The two are inseparable. Do we have the courage to stand up for ourselves?

Soon the 10 year review (reopener) hand will have to be played. Expectations are too high.

We were unprepared back then. We need to go to our elementary schools and identify the third graders who will likely be involved in the negotiations in 40 years. They need to be trained in negotiating with NYPA, fact gathering, law, finance etc.

Ethics won’t be necessary; it’s politics. Each community with its own interests negotiating on its own, not as a task force, should begin funding for such an effort so each will have the money to mount an assault and won’t be dependent on the county allowing them to take control.

Let’s be ready for 2053.

Charlie McGrath

Louisville/Massena

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