Burton is mum on landfill questions

To the editor:

I recently sent an e-mail to Executive Councilor Ray Burton asking him to clarify his views and positions relative to the Casella landfill in Bethlehem. I did not expect him to have the same opinions as I, but as a voter in a country we call a “democracy” I thought it very appropriate and for Burton to state his views.

I asked Burton what his position was relative to Casella’s berm expansion proposal, which poses a myriad of health, environmental and legal dilemmas for residents he is elected to protect.

I also asked if he supported the proposed $20 million tax-free bond that Casella has requested for land purchase and expansion costs. I want to know why New Hampshire taxpayers should be subsidizing a Vermont-based company, with few New Hampshire employees, a company that is profiting from filling New Hampshire with out-of-state trash (49 percent imports in 2007), when landfill capacity is supposedly in great shortage.

Casella and/or its lobbyists have donated campaign funds to Burton in the past, and recently to North Country Sen. John Gallus. It troubles me greatly that politicians who are supposed to represent the people are taking money from corporations and special interests that have interests contrary to those of New Hampshire. What does that money buy?

I can only wonder because, as of yet, the only answers I have gotten from Burton are politically savvy ambiguous deflections. For instance, when asked his opinion on the 10-year expansion, berm, VOCs and bromide leaks, Burton said, “I assume NH DES Commissioner and staff will carry out their duties in a professional and appropriate manner.”

As a voter, taxpayer and citizen at risk from the proposed expansion, I am deeply disappointed Burton would simply “assume,” when he is obligated/elected to do so much more. For Burton to hide behind the decisions of others is problematic, if not cowardly.

For Burton to shirk his responsibility to safeguard New Hampshire citizens from special interests and oversee the departments is a dereliction of his duties. And for Burton to refuse to directly answer questions as a candidate running for office is an insult to our democratic process.

Again I want to reiterate that I am not criticizing Burton for having a different outlook than I may have, that is his right. However, as an elected official he has a duty to express his views on important matters of the day and fulfill his duties as executive councilor, both of which he is failing to do.

Seth Goldstein

Categories: Cook on Concord