Politics had nothing — and everything — to do with last week's cancellation of a county solid waste board meeting, Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub said Monday.
Scheub fired back at Republican critics and board members who accused Democrats last week of forcing cancellation of the Thursday Lake County Solid Waste Management District meeting to avoid a pre-election debate on the controversial trash-to-ethanol issue.
Scheub said Monday that he and some other Democrats missed the meeting because the party's Unity Dinner fundraiser was scheduled for the same time.
Scheub, a Democrat and chief political proponent of the trash-to-ethanol plan, faces re-election in two weeks, and some county Republicans noted last week that the meeting's cancellation — because of a lack of quorum — safely pushed further trash-to-ethanol discussions by the solid waste board until late November.
"I'm not going to miss an event with 500 people when we have an important fundraiser," Scheub said. "There wasn't anything really pressing to be addressed (at the solid waste board meeting)."
He said he notified board executives in advance about having to miss Thursday's meeting and asked for the meeting to be rescheduled — but never heard back.
Scheub also said he didn't expect any trash-to-ethanol discussions to be on the agenda because the board had just voted the previous month to give the process more time and to consider allowing a transfer of ownership of the project between developers.
However, a discussion of the project was listed on the agenda issued by the solid waste district early last week — before the meeting cancellation.
Debate over the project, which seeks to bring a facility to Schneider that would convert the county's carbon-based trash to ethanol fuel, has swirled since the solid waste district inked a contract with would-be developer Powers Energy of America nearly four years ago.
Since then, repeated attempts to secure financing by Powers Energy have failed and the developer has been found in breach of contract by the district board. Plans now have been announced for Powers Energy to sell the project and contract to a consortium of local contractors, leaving the plan's fate in doubt in the minds of several board members.