CLC -CVEC - Money Money Where is the Money
Posted in the West Yarmouth Forum
#1 Feb 12, 2014
After far too long, financial information has been made available. What these documents show is shocking.
There are redactions, large black strips covering certain entries. Eight redactions appear for the trial balance of fiscal 2011 and seven appear for the current fiscal year to date. One can only wonder how many will be seen at the end of the fiscal year, on June 31.
The statements released actually show the total of redacted transactions reaching a total of $636,505. So the compact is telling us, the public, that it has spent $636,505 but will not tell us who received the funds, or why. All the money the compact receives and spends comes from the public, individual citizens.
Reading further into these incredible documents one sees that one law firm, BCK Law Firm, has been paid just under $3 million since 2006, and for that same period the compact's income from charges to every electric bill on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard has totaled $5.7 million. This law firm represents the compact and Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative Inc. jointly. Does this represent possible conflict of interest? Further, the records show that the compact has paid more than $2.8 million to the cooperative.
It appears from what information the compact has provided that the net public benefit derived from its activities is less than zero:$3.2 million less. At least someone has profited from the compact's river of public funds. The fact that the benefit has gone to one attorney and that his total fees are nearly $3 million should be troubling to those we have elected and those whom our elected officials have hired and/or appointed to do the people's business.
Also, the cooperative received a $400,000 grant — public funds — from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for its failed wind power projects in Harwich and Brewster.
The redactions conceal identities of recipients of $636,505 in compact payments. And there are several "miscellaneous" charges, as well as entries for undisclosed or unknown charges. Do we now know why the compact has been so resistant to releasing its complete financial statements and why the cooperative has also been unwilling to share the exact details of its financial relationship with the compact or its professional relation relationship with BCK Law Firm?
As we are urged toward consolidation of municipal authority in regional hands, meaning Barnstable County, we would be well-advised to consider the experiences with these two entities. The two senior county officials, the administrator and his deputy control the operations and budgets of both bodies. They personally for well over a year have blocked all efforts to obtain full financial disclosure.
Although the cooperative has one member appointed to its board of directors from each Cape Cod town and one from Dukes County, it is actually controlled by three people — Barnstable County Administrator Mark Zielinski, his deputy, compact executive director Maggie Downey, and assistant Barnstable Town Attorney Charles McLaughlin. These three seats on the cooperative's executive committee are permanent.
The cooperative's by-laws specifically direct that the authority of the full board of directors may be directed to the executive committee. These same three were the original incorporators of the cooperative. So the cooperative is actually controlled not by a majority vote of its member towns, but by the town of Barnstable and Barnstable County.
How transparent. Shame on them, but shame on us also for tolerating this.
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