By: Diane Benjamin
Byars has supported Wind turbines for a long time. He appeared before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals supporting a farm in 2018. You can listen to his under oath testimony here: https://mcleancountyil.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/5719
Byars speaks about 30 minutes into the audio and again for at least 15 minutes after.
Byars isn’t telling the truth or he has been told false information. He is talking about Ted Hartke, I guy that I know personally. Ted previously told me he has a distant cousin named Josh Hartke that did work for Invenergy. Facts matter Andy.
I sent the audio to Ted. Below is his response:
I don’t know Andy Byars, and I don’t know if I have ever met him before. His frustration with my message is revealed as he decided to attack the messenger (me) instead of attacking the information which I have presented. (home abandonment from wind turbine noise sleep deprivation) I am dismissing his comments as they are immature, incorrect, and misplaced blame. There are several false statements in Andy’s sworn testimony. Some of the most egregious statements are as follows:
1.) Andy accuses me of being fired by InvEnergy. I have never worked as an InvEnergy employee. While I was employed as a professional land surveyor at Foth Engineering, I completed the boundary and ALTA/ACSM Surveys for the entire CalRidge wind farm located around my home in Vermilion County. I was never against wind energy or InvEnergy until after all wind turbine and road construction was completed. As soon as the wind turbines became operational, my entire family (myself, my wife, both children, and even my dog) experienced adverse effects/discomfort/severe sleep deprivation from the wind turbine noise. During the Livingston County hearings, one family drove to Vermilion County to see my house and see if they had the same response which I reported. While at my house, one of my “ornery” neighbors, Leon Schluter, stopped them and asked what they were doing at my house. Leon Schluter is well-known for creating “interesting” discussions and dishing out juicy stories, some being complete fabrications, told these unsuspecting visitors that “Ted was fired from his job” or something similar. These Livingston County citizens took that as being told the truth and repeated Leon’s comments back home in Livingston County. I have no ill feelings toward my old neighbor Leon, but his made-up story certainly took on a life of its own. I have repeatedly made statements trying to explain what happened, but a few individuals like Andy Byars continue to be fed this story from InvEnergy and other pro-wind supporters, and they are too gullible or lazy to discern fact from fiction. The true timeline is as follows: Hartke worked as a surveyor at Daily and Associates (purchased by Foth) from 2000 through 2010 (for over 10 years). In 2009, the InvEnergy California Ridge project surveys began. In 2011, Hartke went out and became an independent owner of Hartke Engineering and Surveying, Inc. When leaving Foth, Hartke purchased survey equipment and three work trucks from Foth and continued to finish ongoing projects as part-time employee or as a subcontractor. In 2012, InvEnergy began construction of the wind turbines. In January, 2013, wind turbines were turned on. The Hartke family immediately began reporting (privately) to InvEnergy that the turbines were clearly audible and intolerable inside the house. On 51 nights, InvEnergy shut down wind turbines on nights when Hartke contacted them about being awake and unable to sleep. On April 15, 2013, Ted and Jessica Hartke finally spoke out publicly that this serious problem was occurring. In December, 2013, we abandoned our home on Christmas weekend. It would be totally impossible to ever be fired from a job years after already being independently self-employed with my own business. It would require a magician or a time machine to make Andy’s lie become true. Furthermore, people who are fired from jobs are not hired back to complete projects as subcontractors or part-time employees. Also, Foth continued to provide computer CAD drafting services for Hartke surveying projects which continued for a couple more years.
2.) Andy falsely accuses me of being paid to speak out against wind energy because of the distances I have traveled to attend meetings. I have been to many places to be outspoken about wind turbines, however, I have never been to Missouri. In all of my travels to help communities avoid the problems we experienced with InvEnergy, I have never asked for or received any payment. There are a handful of times I have been given small tokens such as jam/jellies, a candle, some homemade bread, cookies, an overnight stay in a spare bedroom, on two occasions I was given an overnight hotel room. Once, I received a small glass bookshelf decoration which I still have displayed in my home. When I traveled to Sanilac County, Michigan (10 hour trip), my dad accompanied me. We drove all the way to the meeting, gave my presentation, and drove all the way back home. I drove the entire distance in both directions and spent some good quality time with my dad. Gas money is the only cost I incurred, and luckily for me, fuel is a donation I am able to afford to communities facing huge expensive battles against these billion-dollar wind energy companies. Once, in Boone County, Illinois, I did not want or accept any payment. When I got home, I found two $50 “Casey’s” gas station gift cards in my computer bag as someone slipped those in there. I gave away both gas cards, and I remember one of them being taken to my church as a gas money donation for the lawn mowers. I also remember having a resident topping off my gas tank after touring his community just before another meeting I presented about an Apex wind project. Besides a few “thank you” token gifts and a partial tank of fuel, I have received nothing for my efforts to help communities. Wind energy promoters are oftentimes only “money-driven,” and they cannot fathom that anybody would volunteer or donate time to help others. (I volunteer and donate towards good causes and think nothing of it as I feel it is my duty to help others.)
3.) Andy accuses me of being an anti-wind “operative” and “carpetbagger.” The only thing I operate is my own household (with my wife and kids) and my business Hartke Engineering and Surveying, Inc. The other folks mentioned by Andy included Jana Swanson, Rebekka Fehr, and John Slagel. All of those folks are or were being faced with InvEnergy wind turbine projects in their communities. I did not seek them out to give my input, and I was contacted by them or someone in their group. Sometimes, my name is provided by attorneys who are trying to help rural homeowners faced with impending wind turbine or solar projects. I was very willing to tell them (and anyone else) exactly the circumstances of what happened to my house and I merely shared all the information I had learned with whoever was looking for ways to avoid the problems we dealt with. I think Andy includes Swanson/Fehr/Slagel in his testimony because all of those individuals have been very effective against InvEnergy/Mid-America wind companies. Andy has failed to challenge the information presented by these individuals, therefore, his only avenue is to resort to personal attacks. A “carpetbagger” is a roving opportunist. I would much rather stay home and spend time with my young children and wife, and earn more income as a land surveyor than to have to deal with uncompensated personal attacks from strangers who don’t know me. The word “carpetbagger” nearly perfectly describes a wind energy developer….an outsider (InvEnergy from Chicago) who comes into Central Illinois (where I live) in a financial opportunistic endeavor to receive millions of dollars in subsidies. I became the problem because I refused to let them ruin my home without any pushback.
In conclusion, the best way to go about making decisions is to find out the truth which may cause some people to become motivated to help others. Maybe something really bad happened to them, and they don’t want to see others in harm’s way. My question for Andy Byars: “What motivated you to make false accusations and personally attack me?” My request to Andy Byars is for him to answer the question and submit a full and complete apology for making false statements about me. My cellphone number is 217.840.1612.
7 thoughts on “More reasons to NOT vote for Andy Byars”
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Andy sounds like a real asshat.
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Very well written. Thank you for sharing.
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If there is a lawsuit there, sue the b*st*rd.
It sounds like Hartke has a defamation lawsuit claim against Andy Byars.
Andy shows his hypocrisy by immediately throwing a defamation lawsuit threat at Cat for just asking a question.
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I completely agree
Looks to me like Andy will fit right in with the current Normal Town Council. If they don’t like you and if they’re against what you stand for they’ll sue you. Using Mike Madigan’s attorney, no less. Government of the Normal Town Council, by the Normal Town Council, for the Normal Town Council.
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