The briefest of persecutions

That didn’t take long.

After an investigation that lasted a couple of weeks or so (and probably involved nothing more than reviewing documents and law books), the Attorney General’s office has declined to pursue any charges against anti-renewables scold Annette Smith for practicing law without a license.

Being an obstacle to progress and a spreader of misinformation, well, those aren’t illegal. So Public Enemy Number One of Vermont’s renewable energy goals will carry on, tilting at windmills and fomenting baseless fears amongst the populace.

Too bad the investigation was so brief. Too bad for her sake, that is; she was relishing her self-proclaimed role of Free Speech Martyr. Her organization, Vermonters for Exporting Our Ecological Damage a Clean Environment, was raising money on her alleged persecution.

Those days are over.

Not really; I’m sure she will proudly brandish this incident as “proof” of the Blittersdorf/Iberdrola/Gaz Metro/Peter Shumlin/Illuminati plot to bring her down.

Because that’s what she does: like an expert quilter, she takes a bagful of miscellaneous scraps, and expertly combines them into a heretofore unseen pattern of connivance on the part of the great and powerful. Indeed, she’s already claiming a black-helicopter-style plot by unnamed and unseen forces:

She said unspecified people have told her that her emails and phone are likely to be tapped.

Yeah, right.

People like Annette Smith love to see themselves as heroes fighting against overwhelming odds. In order to do so, they fabricate invisible and ultra-powerful enemies to inflate their own sense of importance.

Obviously, I am no fan of Ms. Smith. She is a conspiratorialist of the highest order. She ignores the vast body of scientific evidence that wind and solar power have little to no lasting impact on the environment, instead citing a small cadre of cranks and junk scientists — some in the pay of fossil fuel interests — to “prove” her case. She operates in the same way as climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, creationists and Flat Earthers.

However, the investigation was a dumb idea from start to finish. VTDigger reports that the complaint was filed by Ritchie Berger, an attorney with the law firm of Dinse, Knapp and McAndrews, whose clients include wind developer David Blittersdorf.

If Berger’s complaint was meant to help Blittersdorf and discredit Smith, it was strategically an awful move: its foundation was wafer-thin, the penalties uncertain, and it stood a very good chance of backfiring, which indeed it did. The complaint raised a howl of protest from those who see Smith as a champion of the Little People, and made her a sympathetic figure.

But the investigation itself was brief and non-invasive. When it was launched, Smith proclaimed it as an attempt to “shut down my organization.”  In fact, it never posed a real threat to her or VCE. (I wonder if she was even interviewed by the AG’s office.) If anything, it gives her more credibility with her audience. Now she can tout her bona fides as a dangerous enemy of the establishment. She can claim that she came face-to-face with The Man, and The Main blinked.

Absurd. But it’s just the way she thinks.

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30 thoughts on “The briefest of persecutions

  1. NanuqFC

    More fodder for conspiracy: Dinse Knapp, source of the complaint, is where House Speaker Shap Smith (presumably no relation to Annette) holds down an office.

    It used to be an axiom of activism (of any kind, but particularly anti-war) that when ‘they’ (the powers that be) come after you, you’ve done something big enough to annoy them. And there is a long history of tax audits and other harassing official and semi-official actions against activists of whatever stripe.

    Love her or hate her (and I’m in the don’t much care camp), she’s using the tools of democracy to make her case, however wrong, and help others make theirs.

    Reply
  2. walter moses

    Would you call this a Nothing Richie Berger? For the Eternal General, would you pass him the envelope please? That’s right, the one with the ten grand in it.
    I knew you wouldn’t touch this John, until you could say snarky crap about VCE and anti Huge Wind crowd.
    Go Annette!

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      If this was an insider deal, it was the worst one in history. The AG brought no charges. And as I wrote in my post, the whole thing was dumb from the gitgo. Annette Smith may be many things, but an undercover lawyer is not one of them.

      Reply
  3. peaceandquietplease

    Rather mean spirited rant you concocted here.

    Maker of quilts you say? It takes one to know one it appears….

    I know first hand the impact of “renewables” (what does that word even mean as apparently that term is accepted and bandied about without question much like all the assurances from wind developers of no harm to come to either people, their animals or the environment).

    The impacts have been documented to violate state laws (Air Pollution and Nuisance Law) – how is that for science?

    Your a wordsmith that refuses to acknowledge the hero that is Annette Smith – who by the way never said she was anti renewable and in fact you might want to listen to her press conference as it proved to me she is an honest and reasonable protector of the state of Vermont and its citizens. Something to be proud of – not denigrated as you do.

    At the basic level in Vermont there appears to be a devious twisting of the notion “Public Good” – what on earth is good about destroying lives and property

    Again I ask, what is the definition of “Renewable” – seems in need of some consideration.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Ms. Smith and her allies say far more mean-spirited things every damn day.

      I know that she denies being anti-renewable. But in practice, she opposes renewables wherever they are proposed. So I will go on calling her “anti-renewable.”

      Reply
      1. walter moses

        John, OK, let’s have a few examples of “mean -spirited things every day”. Lets go for February
        6,8, and 9, 2016. Back up your BS if you can. Looking forward to it.

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        How about the tenor of this entire exchange, as an example? Smith and her allies allege a grand conspiracy featuring Bill Sorrell, Shap Smith, Peter Shumlin, Green Mountain Power, David Blittersdorf, and other unnamed “moneyed interests.” She is accusing the AG, the Governor, and the Speaker (just for starters) of selling their influence and abusing their power. Those are impeachable offenses. That’s about the worst thing you can say about an elected official.

        More generally, just about anyone who advocates for renewable power can expect an avalanche of abuse from Smith and her allies, including you. We’re all in the tank, bought and paid for, or at the very least willfully ignorant. If she and her friends can say that about he, then I can call her a demagogue. And I will.

      3. peaceandquietplease

        point 1
        Two wrongs in a civil world do not make a right. you continue to slur Annette therefore I am left to consider a reaction formation – which entails accusing others of that which you are actually engaged in. In this case mean-spirited comments.

        point 2
        Opposing negligently sited renewables does not make one anti renewable – I imagine you should re-frame your description as “anti arrogant renewables” or another thought , since Annette clearly wants the state to be responsible in their siting of renewables, how about:

        Annette Smith is “pro-responsible-renewables”.

        If they harm people or the environment of Vermont then there should clearly be “STOP ZONES” – Annette has the right idea, permitting renewables should fall under the zoning laws which are intended to protect the people and their property as well as critical areas of concern,

        Instead of fighting Annette perhaps you’d be much more effective if you were open to seeing the sense of her arguments.

        By the way – you did not answer the question – What is the definition of “renewable”?

      4. John S. Walters Post author

        Point 1: I’m rubber, you’re glue.

        Point 2: I’ll keep calling her anti-renewable, based on this from a very friendly Seven Days profile of Smith:

        [VPIRG’s Paul] Burns said Smith consistently opposes projects without supporting alternatives. Citing a 2014 Vermont Public Radio interview, he noted Smith was unable to point to a single renewable energy project that she deemed worthy of her endorsement.

        Her opposition is so across-the-board that, if we were to follow her guidance, we would effectively have little to no renewable buildout in Vermont.

        As for my definition of “renewable,” Wikipedia’s is pretty good: “…energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.”

      5. walter moses

        John, I have noticed that you have few words of praise for the Eternal General and what seems to be the reign of the Eternal Governor, will they ever go away? God, I’ve even begun to use your terminology.
        That $10,000 in the envelope really sticks in my craw, and leads me to believe where there is a little stink there is probably a lot more.

    2. newzjunqie

      Mirror mirror on the wall…

      Ms. Smith: Once a hired gun always a hired gun. Anyone who will accept money for carrying out a protracted public proxy war, as a supposed ‘citizen’ environmental activist, obviously would have no problem continuing the ride. Letter-to-editor public war between two competing energy sources much like you are doing now… Plainly & simply the behavior of a charlatan ma’am.

      There are few ppl who have the dedication, finances, time or energy to do what is in actuality a full-time job *for free* with no funding even in spare time.

      Taking ‘donations’ for your “nonprofit’–essentially you–funded by your former ‘sponsor’, while giving false hope to those who don’t know where to turn as, sadly & unfortunately, there is next to nothing which can be done. But allows you to continue career as serial contrarian & professional obstructionist. You need your fan club and ‘clients’ far more than they need you.

      Following claims of being bullied, buoyed by the legal decision, before dust even settles, off with your brigade of thugs to continue favorite hobby–bullying! More continual beleaguering of all who dare disagree with your strident assault on renewables with hate-filled vitriolic rants. You and crew actually defended another anonymous bully–threatening Jewish employee of a renewable with hate-filled rant. Therby proving yourselves the bullies you claim to be victims of, while feeding off of one another like a fungus. What an accomplishment! May I suggest you find a better hobby.

      As star in own reality show, cast members are gang-of-thugs, that feed off of one another like a fungus. Anyone who has had to face injustice meted at the hands of the powerful, know it is frightening & stressful. Those going through this become prey as it’s easy to feel alone and powerless.

      Actually feel sorry for the victimized under your exploitation–you are doing them no favor. Because law is weak, charge is difficult to prove, but does not mean you are not representing, iow even a paralegal with legal training is barred from doing what you are doing–whatever you wish to call it.

      Could work for an anti-renewable lawyer if helping ppl is the real goal. Public is not well served by blind leading the blind, and unaccountable as there is no recourse or any way to know if advice is valid–they’re in the dark. Appears quite clear–simply unable or unwilling to play by the rules and be held to account as responsible ppl are.

      Reply
  4. Paul S Denton

    I’m a liberal and I don’t agree with you at all. Industrial wind and solar are expensive, environmentally harmful and essentially ineffective solutions to our energy needs. We could have cheaper, more reliable power from Canadian hydro sources.

    All the current nonsense you espouse does nothing except enrich the wind robber barons, Shap and Shumlin’s buddies and contributors. It gives us expensive, inefficient, intermittent and environmentally destructive power that is ultimately insufficient for our needs without enormous ridge line and land development.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Yes, we can have power from Hydro Quebec. That comes under the category of “exporting our ecological damage.” I remember a time when liberals were staunchly opposed to HQ’s despoliation of native lands in the far North.

      Reply
      1. Faith King

        Bingo. These so-called anti-renewable liberals are deranged. “Environmentally destructive power?” Wind-mills and solar panels in a field? Or on top of a building? But, oh, transforming terrestrial environments into aquatic environments is just fine, with the multitude of biological changes that involves…..in Quebec….. I’ve recently traveled through Coal Country in Pennsylvania. Spare me this “environmental opposition” to wind and solar. Stop. Just stop. If you can’t be part of the solution…(fill in the blank). Americans and the rest of the world are impatient, tired and frightened for the future of this planet, our own children and people around the world who are being flattened – literally and figuratively – by our dumb-ass ways. Just stop.

      2. Paul Denton

        We already have power from HQ. Why not more? As to the natives; the sovereign nation of Canada, far more of a liberal democracy than the US, has come to agreements with most (not all) of the indigenous peoples. The belief is that hydro development is in the interest of the greater good for their country as a whole. It is also in our best interests, so why not help them along? After all, GMP/GazMetro is also a big buyer of HQ.

    1. Dave Katz

      Hey, Paul, it’s the Libertarian Challenge Round for you!
      a) Do you have a refrigerator plugged in?
      b) Are you reading this on an electronic device? By lamplight?
      c) When last you visited a doctor, or today, while you were at work, did you conduct your business inside, instead of outside, as it’s cold and often dark this time of year?
      If yes, then you’re the beneficiary of someone somewhere else putting up with something. You have a problem with shouldering your share? So you’d rather import the benefit and export the impact? F*kin white man speak with forked tongue!

      Reply
  5. Annette Smith

    I saw this post earlier today and wasn’t going to weigh in, but I do think it is important to understand what the AG’s investigation meant. I got the target letter Thursday, and filed the public records request. Got a call Friday and was informed it was a criminal investigation. I talked to reporters Thursday and Friday. The news came out and I was bombarded by phone calls and emails from criminal defense attorneys and other attorneys telling me to “shut up”. The message was strong, universal, and serious. “Anything you say can be used against you. They may have had nothing, but every word you speak adds to the file, every comment you make, everything you do can become part of the record. In 90+% of the cases where these kinds of things are successfully prosecuted, it is the person under investigation who sinks themselves by talking.”

    I lost count of all the attorneys I talked to. I only called one, David Sleigh, who took my case. Everyone else reached out to me, including from a DC non-profit with expertise in UPL (Unlicensed Practice of Law) because of their concern that I understand the seriousness of what it means to get a target letter and be under criminal investigation by the Attorney General. I did not go looking for this advice. I was informed that because of the vagueness of the law, it would be very easy to get a search warrant to seize my computers, tap my phones and emails. I was also informed that the investigation could hang out for a long time, unresolved, until the statute of limitations expires.

    I was faced overnight with being told not to talk, to be aware the sheriff could show up with a warrant, to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. I lived with this situation for 19 days.

    Mr. Walters, you disappointed me. You have railed against our AG. You sat back and watched this unroll, and then used your pulpit to further throw mud at me, while acknowledging it was dumb.

    No, it was more than dumb. It was a violation of my first amendment rights, I had to take the fifth, and it was also in violation of the fourteenth amendment. How about removing the dark glasses through which you view me, and look at the bigger issues which are alarming average Vermonters. This was a serious over-reach of the long arm of government. Please do not make light of it.

    Reply
  6. Marie Jane

    Marie Jane says: John Walters you turn a phrase artfully, but your research sucks…….do you live on planet earth? The industrial wind turbine agenda is a known destructive force internationally. Your lopsided and deficient view is obviously from a peep hole behind a desk….John Walters, leave your desk and see the destruction and interview the victims from around the world and come back and write the real industrial wind turbine agenda story, an incredible deception which you, obviously, have bought.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      There’s that assumption again. Large-scale wind is NOT a “known destructive force.” Your assertion is contrary to the bulk of reputable scientific research. In the words of Hillary Clinton, I’m sorry the facts don’t fit your narrative.

      Reply
  7. peaceandquietplease

    Your response to the question of a definition for “renewable”
    “As for my definition of “renewable,” “…energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.”

    Consideration:
    It appears we both agree that “wind” is renewable – naturally replenished…

    We disagree, it seems, in our view that industrial scale wind energy conversion systems are sustainable for our communities – and herein lies the rationale basis for opposition to industrial scale wind power in our communities and adjacent to areas of human and wildlife habitation.

    Consider this definition: “sustainable communities” describe places “where use of resources and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants are going down, not up; where the air and waterways are accessible and clean; where industry and economic opportunity emphasize healthy, environmentally sound practices.”

    Industrial wind energy conversion systems do not pass the SUSTAINABILITY test…they degrade our communities by way of acoustic transformation that harms human and animal health and well-being. The air is not clean, the airways are transformed and not for the better as has been testified to for the last many years by neighbors who have asked local and state officials for relief.

    The use of the term “renewable” omits the need for questioning the “sustainability” of wind generators as currently engineered…they require inherently unsound environmental practices such as razing perfectly health old growth forests and ridgelines (which are not renewable when blasted to kingdom come>

    So perhaps, some thoughtful analysis of the use of words might be in order – the problem is not the wind….the problem is with wind energy conversion systems (power plant operations).

    We can and must do better to create “sustainable” communities and that is not the case for the neighbors of industrial wind.

    Reply
      1. peaceandquietplease

        Mr. Walters,

        Listen and learn from the learned Dr Hallstein, Falmouth, Ma
        side note: the research you likely rely on is funded by the wind industry to spin folks like you into claiming that “there is no research” which is pure bunk…
        ___________________________________________________
        To: Zoning Board of Appeals, Falmouth, MA 14 January 2016
        From: William Hallstein, MD
        Subject: Wind turbine permitting
        Dear members of the Zoning Board of Appeals,
        I am submitting this letter for your consideration as you contemplate the matter of
        whether or not to issue a permit for the wind turbines. In way of introduction I am a
        psychiatric physician and Falmouth resident since 1970. This year I will have been
        practicing medical psychiatry for 49(forty nine) years. Consultation/liaison psychiatry
        has been my focus. This means sorting out diagnostic questions about intertwined
        medical/psychiatric illnesses, the most difficult diagnostic questions in medicine,
        whether in a general hospital, locked psychiatric unit or maximum security prison. I
        will be brief and to the point as I explain why I urge you to deny a permit for the
        Falmouth wind turbines.
        1. The human nervous system is the most sensitive instrument available to date for
        evaluating the impact of the Falmouth wind turbines on residents who live close to
        them. The ONLY experts in the discussion are the people who are sensing the sound,
        vibrations, pressure waves, etc emitted by the turbines. There is no one more “expert”
        than these people. No so called expert has either equipment nor information more
        accurate and sensitive than the affected residents’ nervous systems. NO instruments
        more sensitive than people have been invented! Others who claim to be experts are
        peddling smoke and mirrors in an effort to invalidate and discredit the affected
        residents. Also, other turbines in other places are not the issue, since local topography
        must be considered. The impact of the Falmouth wind turbines on Falmouth residents
        who live nearby is all that is relevant. I believe they are definitely hurting people
        living near them and encourage you to NOT permit the turbines, now, long after they
        were constructed illegally.
        Over the past few years I have spent significant amounts of time in the vicinity of the
        turbines in an effort to understand what the affected residents are describing. My
        findings were unanticipated and surprised me. I was not prepared for the intensity
        and intrusiveness of both sound and vibration felt consistently and repeatedly
        throughout the years of my studying the phenomena on location. I recall my
        introduction to the sound of “low flying jet airplanes” overhead loud enough to
        interrupt conversation; and, of course, the “planes” kept coming one after another in
        endless sequence with each rotation of a turbine blade!!! I was searching the sky
        looking for the aircraft when my eye caught the turbine blades , and then it all made
        sense, of course; no aircraft in sight, only Wind I blades. Later on, as I leaned against
        one of the houses in the neighborhood, I felt an unusual sensation best described as
        compression, coupled with a rhythmic vibration felt through my feet. Anyone who
        discredits, demeans and calls the affected turbine neighbors “crazy” hasn’t done his or
        her homework, in addition to being mean spirited. The homework is not difficult:
        stand in the turbine neighborhood for as long as I have and feel what happens to you.
        The sensations are real and disturbing. It is totally clear to me that I could not live
        within the radius of influence of the turbines, and I have no idea how the neighbors
        who are in the turbine area can sustain a healthy quality of life. Against the backdrop
        of what I have learned from personal experience with the effect of the turbines I see
        the Town of Falmouth trying to crush the residents impacted by the turbines.
        2. Let’s move on to sleep disturbance and sleep deprivation which is the bedrock of
        the area of medicine in which I have worked for 49 years! Sleep disturbance is not a
        trivial matter, even though it has been trivialized by the Falmouth Board of Health.
        Children with inadequate sleep perform poorly academically, emotionally and
        physically(they present a higher than normal incidence of physical illnesses). For
        ANYONE (athletes, truck drivers, ship operators, aircraft pilots, lawyers and physicians,
        et al) sleep deprived and fatigued, errors in judgement increase, accident rates increase,
        in addition to physical and emotional symptoms and cognitive impairment. In the
        world of medical observation all varieties of illnesses are destabilized secondary to
        inadequate sleep: diabetic blood sugars become labile and erratic, cardiac rhythms
        become irregular, migraines erupt and increase in intensity, tissue healing is retarded,
        to list a few across the entire range of physical illnesses. Psychiatric problems intensify
        as the sleep deprived brain decompensates; mood disorders become more extreme
        and psychotic signs and symptoms more severe.
        People with no previously identified psychiatric illness are destabilized by sleep
        deprivation. Sleep deprivation experiments have repeatedly been terminated because
        test subjects become psychotic; they begin to hallucinate auditory and visual
        phenomena. They develop paranoid delusions. This all happens in the “normal” brain.
        Sleep deprivation has been used as an effective means of torture and a technique for
        extracting confessions.
        I could work my way through 49 years of observing sleep disturbances and
        deprivation, but that is more than the scope of this letter. I am writing because I have
        witnessed Town of Falmouth officials and members of other boards trivialize symptom
        reports from people who are stalwart residents of the Town of Falmouth. I have
        witnessed attempts by town officials and other board members to discredit people
        whom I believe the wind turbines are hurting. Furthermore, all the Wind I neighbors I
        have examined are passionate about the need for sustainable energy in an effort to
        reduce fossil fuel dependence.
        I see no honest way for the ZBA to issue a permit for the Falmouth wind turbines.
        Basically, as I see it, the town installed commercial wind generating power plants in a
        residential neighborhood. Inappropriately permitting the illegally sited turbines will
        continue to impair the development of well designed and properly sited wind turbines
        which are vitally needed.
        Sincerely,
        William Hallstein, MD
        36 South Road
        Falmouth, MA 02540

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        Okay, so I’m supposed to believe a psychiatrist with no expertise in audiology or acoustics or neurology or any kind of engineering. There’s a psychiatrist in my family, and I would take his word for a lot of things, but not the effect of wind turbines on people. Thanks but no thanks.

        I’ll fall back on, just for instance, the Sierra Club of Canada, which put out a comprehensive report on wind turbines and health in 2011.

        I suppose you’re going to say the Sierra Club is in the pocket of Big Wind, just as your fellows have accused Bill McKibben of being corrupt. Which is, sorry, bullshit. I’m with them.

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