Boosters of the ACR project in Tupper Lake have now moved from insulting the integrity of the PROTECT lawsuit against the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) over its approval of the 6,000-acre Adirondack Club & Resort project to a new phase of personal confrontation and intimidation.

Since March, ACR boosters knocked the PROTECT-Sierra Club lawsuit as “frivolous” and worse. Now, ACR boosters are calling for tactics of direct confrontation and intimidation of PROTECT and Sierra Club staff and volunteers.

The new phase was begun last week with a press release from the Tupper Lake group ARISE blaming PROTECT, et al, for the closure this winter of the Big Tupper Ski Mountain. This was followed by Mark Moeller, a local businessman in Tupper Lake and key ACR booster, who published a guest editorial in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise where he announced, “It’s time to get angry.” Here’s more from the Mr. Moeller in the Daily Enterprise:

It’s time to get angry over the extreme environmental groups who enjoy a protected status while stifling economic development in the Adirondack Park. It’s time to put a finger in the chest of those who have lost the fight but continue to stall the inevitable by abusing the legal system. It’s time to quote that movie line: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

It’s time to get angry at Protect, the Sierra Club and at the two seasonal neighbors who only submitted this appeal for selfish personal gain.

Mr. Moeller moves through the piece from direct attacks on different people involved with PROTECT to naming different PROTECT volunteer Board members and asking readers to confront them. This is a noted change in tactics for ACR boosters.

Besides the change from disparagement to intimidation from ACR boosters, there are three other things of interest here as evidenced in Mr. Moeller’s guest editorial. First, throughout Mr. Moeller’s 1500+ word piece he never once engages the merits of the lawsuit. Not once. Zero. Zippo. Nada.

PROTECT acted in good faith. Some may not agree with us, but we brought this lawsuit after a cool and level-headed analysis of the facts after the decision was made. We only brought this lawsuit because we believed it was a good lawsuit that challenged the APA’s decision, which we found to be faulty on many counts. In approving 11 permits for ACR, the APA acted to ignore its own laws and its review procedures. In addition to this there appears to have been extensive ex parte communications, which violates state laws and APA regulations. The PROTECT lawsuit includes 29 issues. If unchallenged, this project would be used as a guide for future developments across the Adirondack Park and a ruinous precedent for Resource Management lands would be established.

The ACR boosters have never dealt with the merits of this lawsuit.

The second thing is that ACR boosters have apparently not given much thought about the PROTECT side. How would ACR boosters feel if the APA rejected the ACR project by illegally supplementing the hearing record, by referring to APA law as mere guidelines or recommendations that don’t have to be followed, by allowing unprecedented ex parte communications between APA leaders, the applicant and possibly elected officials and their staff, and by failing to follow proper process in the review of the application, among many other matters?

I imagine that ACR boosters would be outraged if they had received a negative decision by improper means. But, you won’t find anything in Mr. Moeller’s article or statements from other ACR boosters that ever looks at the PROTECT side of the issue. PROTECT feels this project was approved by improper means.

Third, lawsuits are how great issues (and even routine issues) are decided in the U.S. From civil rights lawsuits like Brown vs. the Board of Education, to lawsuits that give us all our “Miranda” rights, to Roe vs. Wade or Bush vs. Gore, to many state level lawsuits that pushed the agenda on gay marriage (which will likely end up in the Supreme Court), to the recent Supreme Court cases on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or on Citizens United (which allowed billions of dollars given anonymously to new SUPER PACs to be spent on elections), lawsuits have shaped and continue to shape American life.

Lawsuits have also shaped life in the Adirondack Park, from those that challenged and lost to abolish the APA, to those around floatplane use, local government roads, ATVs, the rights of farmers, or about APA jurisdiction in shoreline areas classified as Moderate Intensity, among other issues.

The lawsuit brought by PROTECT and the Sierra Club against the APA challenging the ACR approval is about real and important issues.

No amount of mocking the lawsuit or trying to intimidate the organizations involved will change those facts.