It's a sad state of affairs when Anita Ballek, one of the founding members of a tiny group of land preservationists doesn't object to blood money from a predator
. But that's precisely what happened when the East Haddam Republican Town Committee accepted, and spent, a $1,000 campaign contribution from billionaire Timothy Mellon
, owner of Guilford Transportation
and Goodspeed Airport LLC.
According to a statement from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal' Office Mellon violated the Environmental Protection Act when, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, 2000, he used a contractor to clear-cut about 2.5 acres of floodplain forest on land adjacent to the airport. The trees – some of them 100 years old and 72 feet high – were located on land owned by the East Haddam Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy. Mellon cleared the land without the landowners' permission, and without a legally required wetlands permit.
Blumenthal himself said that "Timothy Mellon's lawbreaking was repugnant and irreversible. His violations of law caused reckless and irrepairable destruction of a critical nature preserve. Mellon has obliterated a winter home to bald eagles - not to mention a sizable stretch of precious aged trees.
" Connecticut state court ruled on the lawsuit in August 2005. According to the state's DEP website
"This ruling soundly reinforces law enforcement against clear-cutting in wetlands, which leads to destruction of wildlife habitats, erosion and eyesores. Mellon’s damage is irreversible in our lifetime
". There's more
The court cases that defeated Mellon's arrogant land abuse include: Ventres v Goodspeed Airport LLC
and Rocque v Mellon
. Just to show that he still considers himself above the law, Mellon is appealing the decision.
What gets my dander up about this is not only that The Land Trust was victimized by Mellon's egregious behavior [okay, he hired someone else
to actually do the labor of clearcutting] but that the local Repugs knowingly lied about the valiant efforts of the town to preserve land in the years past. An effort, I might add, that while under the leadership of local Democrats, included many local Republicans working together.
This latest deceptive smear campaign brings that local party's electioneering actions [not very high to begin with] to a new low. I am both disappointed and troubled at the willingness of some people I have long respected [Anita being but one of them] to tolerate and condone the reprehensible tactics of a few of their party. The very least they could have done was to have publicized Mellon's offering, then to have resoundingly turned it down. They didn't do that. They took it and they used to to help pay for a slick National Enquirer-ish tabloid rag ["East Haddam 20/20"] full of half-truths and outright lies mass mailed to everybody in town to arrive two mailing days before the elections. They are now, to me, Judases before the cross of the environment.
Disappointing to say the least.
Fortunately, those accepting Mellon's money lost the First Selectman's race. Brad Parker remains in office with 53% of the vote [only 2,700 people voted in a town of over 8,000 people] and Republican Melissa H. Ziobron, school board member and self-described anti-development activist, lost.