Letters to the Editor, Oct. 6
Would you take your pickup truck to a novice or to a certified mechanic? Would you ask someone on the street or a skilled jeweler to repair your wedding ring? Wouldn’t you call a trained technician to repair your home’s oil burner?
Experience matters. It is usually based on training, education, working with skilled mentors and time on the job. Along the way, we usually make some mistakes, but we learn from them and get better. Two months from now, we will be voting to elect the next president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world; someone who literally has their hands on the nuclear launch codes.
I believe we need to elect the candidate who has good, deep, meaningful experience in and detailed plans for fighting terrorism at home and abroad, improving the economy, fighting for equal rights, and who knows how to get things done in the wacky world of U.S. politics.
I believe that Hillary Clinton is that person and hope that when we vote Nov. 8, we will put aside partisan politics and vote for the candidate with the right experience to lead this country and the free world.
Voters can protect nation from 'peril'
As an unaffiliated voter, I have avoidably and unavoidably sampled multiple sources of information relative to the pending election -- inclusive of pundit opinions, endless interviews, fact checks, editorials, debates, the already never-ending advertisements, and on and on and on. At this point I would simply like to urge that voters of all affiliations approach this fall’s election with the central intent to vote in a manner that will ensure that:
Tolerance, inclusiveness, and human kindness will trump hateful bigotry.
Graciously respectful discourse and debate will trump the profane.
An ethic of personal sacrifice, service, and a demonstrated authentic care for others will trump selfish narcissism.
Experience, informed perspective, and conscientious professionalism will trump unintelligent and dangerous bluster.
To accomplish any less in election outcomes will expose our state and our nation to disastrous peril.
Streetlights are glaring error
"Blinded by the Light" was the song going through my head during a field trip to look at Rockland's new streetlights Saturday night. The glare was so intense I couldn't see the actual fixtures, just burning white light that looked like revved up arc lamps or miniature blast furnaces. It was very hard to see pedestrians on the sidewalk about to step into the street. The streetlight at the crosswalk was blazing, yet the pedestrians standing underneath it were hidden in a pool of shadow.
The glare during a stroll along the sidewalk had me in a permanent squint, wishing for sunglasses and a hat with a visor on it. Not only were second-story windows lit up, so were third-story windows and the peaks of the roofs above Candy Harbor and the Flower Goddess. Above Side Country Sports, there was so much light shining into their second-floor stockroom window, I could see the labels of boxes sitting on the shelves.
Ground-floor restaurants were hit by the light, as were the patrons sitting at tables by the windows. The foreheads of diners at Sammy's Deluxe gleamed. Patrons at FOG were enjoying the restaurant's beautiful low light ambience. The new streetlight outside FOG was turned off. Another light was turned off across the street from the high-end apartments above the Rheal Day Spa. Residents must not have appreciated having their interiors lit up all night.
As I drove north out of Rockland, the streetlight glare increased. A row of double fixtures ended with the grand finale of a triple fixture outside the Rankin Center. The apartment windows not hit by the lights had a nice, homey glow coming from inside. The windows facing the streetlights had their shades and blinds pulled down tight to the sills. No cooling breeze for them on summer nights, or twinkling views of the harbor.
Arriving in Camden, I was blinded again by the glare of the old glass acorn fixtures installed on Main Street 18 years ago. The scene changed dramatically when I arrived at the five new LED streetlights installed near the Camden Library to test their appeal and solicit feedback. The Washington Postlite Full Cutoff fixtures are beautiful, gaslight-era reproductions that recess LEDs into the metal cap.
There was no glare, even when I looked directly at them. There was no light shining up into second- and third-story windows. All the light was focused down. The sky was dark. Standing on the library lawn, I looked up and saw the stars. The word that came to mind was "magical." It was as if I were standing in an art gallery looking at a streetscape perfectly lit by invisible spots.
Driving back into Rockland, I was hit by the blinding glare of that triple fixture from three blocks away. Why is Rockland removing the old GranVille halide fixtures CMP installed on Main Street 15 years ago and installing more light-spewing GranVille fixtures, jerry-rigged for LEDs? Why did Rockland buy the same type of obselete glass acorns that Camden and other cities are removing and replacing with efficient, focused lighting?
The irony here is that both fixtures, GranVille and Washington, are manufactured by the same company, Holophane. And that research by lighting engineers about LED streetlights and fixture performance is available for free on the internet. Why, then, did Rockland buy faulty fixtures that impair vision, irritate diners, flood apartments, and waste energy and money spilling unfocused light everywhere?
People need more information on city bonds
While City Council is presenting “forums” in trying to convince the people to approve $14,600,000 in bonds, my worries are that City Council is not providing all the necessary figures and technical justifications that would allow the people to make an informed decision.
Rockland’s Charter Article V Financial Procedures is not being respected in many instances. Case in point: "Section 505 Capital Program (a) Submission to Council. The manager shall prepare and submit to the council a five year capital program ..." [When a person is about to buy a home or a vehicle, that person must know the full amount to be borrowed and the complete re-payment schedule, not just what happens during the first year.]
The closest one can find is the information provided on page 189 of FY 2017 Rockland Annual Budget [approved by council 6 July, 2016]. The amount needed for Infrastructure Projects is not $14.6 million, but $24,727,800. The people are being told not to worry because, “Bonds which will not add to the property tax rate because they equal the amount of debt the city is paying off this year ...” The budget tells a different story. If one looks at Rockland’s past debt repayment schedules, one will find out that it took Rockland about 14 years to repay $14 million. Looking at pages 191-192 of FY 2017 Rockland Annual Budget, one finds that for 2017 the debt service will be $1.1 million, sliding down to $370,000 in 2027, $208,000 in 2037 to $0 in 2043.
The same worksheet shows what happens when $24,000,000 is borrowed [remember that the total funding needed infrastructure projects is $24.7 and not $14.6 million]. The annual debt service for 2017 jumps to $1,763,062 and it remains at a $1.8 to $1.2 million until 2041. Moreover, in order to preserve what council calls “a level debt,” the monies are not borrowed all at once, but under the following schedule: $10 million in 2019, $4 million in 2024, $4 million in 2033 and $6 million in 2039.
One also finds on page 159 of FY 2017 Rockland Annual Budget the assertion that according to Rockland’s State Valuation, Rockland could borrow almost $100,000,000. Rockland must be extremely conservative in regard to the monies it borrows because the problem is not the borrowing capacity, but the repayment capacity of the people of Rockland [Remember Greece? Or just remember the years when credit card companies were offering plastic to everybody at rates as low as 1 percent. America went on a credit binge, and we all know what happened in 2008].
Case in point: Page 68 of FY 2017 Rockland Annual Budget shows that Rockland’s [Reserve Account] Unassigned Fund Balance is $1,105,723 [6.6 percent of total annual budget] which is lower than Rockland’s own city policy of not less than 8 percent. Moreover, following the Government Finance Officers Association recommendation, Rockland should have $3,200,000 in reserves. Rockland’s reserves for a rainy day are all too low and we all know that the people of Rockland will always be served “surprises” [i.e. the sewer system].
The people of Rockland are already paying taxes up to their eyeballs [highest mill rate in Knox County] and now City Council is telling us that tons of monies are needed for repairs. How is it that Rockland services are in such disrepair? Is this all an Act of God, or bad administration [i.e., neglect]?
The people of Rockland should take into consideration that today; Rockland has no city manager, no finance director nor a city attorney. The first action from council must be to hire responsible and experienced people and have the house of Rockland in order. Once Rockland’s City Hall has professional people at its helm, then, and only then, can we start talking about voting bonds.
I urge my fellow Rocklanders on Nov. 8 to vote down all the bonds proposed by the present City Council. First, City Council must show to the people that it can be trusted. Once this happens, council can present new bonds that have been vetted by experienced and responsible professionals.
David E. Myslabodski
Support Pritchett for council
We are writing in support of Larry Pritchett for Rockland City Council. In the four years we’ve lived in Rockland, we’ve gotten to know exactly one city councilor, Larry. This is entirely through Larry’s quiet determination to get to know the people of Rockland and their concerns.
Larry makes it a point to extend a welcome to newcomers, explaining, when asked, with impressive tact and fairness, what's going on in Rockland. Larry, we gradually discovered, is vital to getting important projects accomplished, as witness the recent bizarre episode of the Power Plant Proposal that Wasn’t, which, through his guidance, was finally resolved with no harm to Rockland.
We moved here because living in Rockland has been a goal since Lisa's childhood summers on Spruce Head Island. As in every other town in America, the struggles are ongoing for educational funding, for jobs and a livable wage, and for caring for the infrastructure in a period of growing change. We’re convinced Rockland is the best possible place to live for people like our grandchildren, our young adult children, and retirees like us.
Larry is an important factor in making sure Rockland is heading in the right direction. He’s able to do this because he really listens to everyone, and he’s incredibly focused, hardworking, and dedicated to the welfare of Rockland as a whole. Larry also, as far as we can tell, never loses his temper, which may be less entertaining to watch in City Council meetings, but gets a lot more done. Please vote for Larry Pritchett for City Council.
Lisa and Chris Lyons
Keep Miramant working for us
I urge you to vote for Sen. Dave Miramant for Senate District 12 Nov. 8. This is a critical time for our environmental and societal values in Maine, which have been the targets of negative actions by certain other Maine politicians during the last legislative session.
And why are these values important for Knox County and our Midcoast? It bears repeating that we are all directly dependent on the land, air, and water where we live and work. Here in Maine, these natural resources provide the very underpinning for our traditional economic bases: fishing, tourism, and food production. Yet the Gulf of Maine and subsequently all of our most vital industries are demonstrably threatened by things like climate change and ocean acidification.
Miramant understands this and has been working both to address the effects of decreased fish populations and lobster migration due to warming waters, and to reduce the pollution that causes these impacts. He's also working to secure a more sustainable job market by leading the way for Maine to invest in renewable energy, which will help us protect the environment while attracting new business and creating good-paying, long-term jobs for Mainers.
Recently, Dave and his colleagues in the House and Senate unveiled their vision for "A Better State of Maine," which (among other things) directs public investment to improve transportation infrastructure, expands access to reliable high-speed broadband internet, and diversifies our energy portfolio with clean job-creating renewable energy sources, such as solar power. Working for renewable energy helps safeguard the ocean and all of Maine's natural resources, and therefore also protects the livelihoods that depend upon those resources to thrive.
Let us keep Dave Miramant in the Senate so the goals outlined in "A Better State of Maine" can serve as guideposts for us all.
Trask-Eaton understand struggles of working people
Emily Trask-Eaton is not a one-issue candidate. She grew up in the small fishing village of Bernard in Bass Harbor, the daughter of a lobsterman and a school teacher. As a child, she would go down to the dock that was almost in her front yard and eat scallops as they were being shucked. Her youth was spent on and around the water. Idyllic, until her father died when she was 13 years old. Her mother was left with five children to raise on her own, which she did with panache. Emily and her siblings all grew up to be productive citizens.
Emily went to college on scholarship and excelled in her classes. One time she needed money and asked her mother for some and all her mother could spare was five dollars. This was a sacrifice. She did not come from a privileged background. She understands how hard it is for so many working people.
Emily continued as a businesswoman in Waldoboro, where she had two different businesses. She volunteered in many capacities and finally went to medical school and practiced here in Waldoboro. She understands fishing, business and the medical profession. She can take these skills to Augusta as our legislator and work for all of us.
We urge you to vote for Emily Trask-Eaton on election day.
Betsy and Ted Wooster
At a time in politics when major participants refuse to release important documents such as tax returns and emails, it’s refreshing that our governor has chosen to release his three-ring binder/scrapbook containing the newspaper clippings of drug busts that he used to draw his important statistical conclusions. I also commend him for not drawing villainous handlebar mustaches on the mug shots, even though it probably took all of his self-restraint and better judgment not to do so.
Take note, national political world, we know how to do “transparency” here in Maine.
Now that the governor has released his scrapbook, I think he should also release his coloring book, and a list of which of his childhood cartoon characters, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam, most influenced his formative years to be the person he is today.
P.S. To the above cartoon characters: “No offense intended.”
Library friends say thank you
On Friday, Sept. 23, an evening of fun was enjoyed by all attendees of “Two Old Cops and an Angel” hosted by the Friends of Rockland Public Library as a fundraiser for the library. This event was held in the auditorium of Oceanside High School.
The audience was treated to a talk by Kate Braestrup (the "angel"), first taking us through some of her experiences of being a chaplain with the Maine Game Wardens in a realistic manner with humor intertwined. Then the "two old cops," John Ford, retired Maine game warden, along with Mark Nickerson, retired Maine state trooper, took the stage with their humorous stories of their work experiences. Part of their humor was a bantering back and forth as to the difference in training – academy versus field training. Much laughter was enjoyed by all.
Following the presentation, we all enjoyed the reception put on by the Friends in the cafeteria where conversation with refreshments were enjoyed while the three speakers signed books. The refreshments were donated by the The Landing, Main Street Market, Maine State Cheese and Snowdrop Confections along with many Friends of Rockland Public Library members. Winners of the two raffles held were: Barbara Klapptodt – three of the latest books each author has written; and Patty McMahon – John Ford’s book, and his original artwork in the form of wildlife note cards and a wildlife print.
Due to the generous donation of the use of the Oceanside’s auditorium, cafeteria along with setup help, monetary donations from our sponsors Fiore Oils, George C Hall, Walmart, Mace’s, Hannaford, Midcoast Blinds, Huston Tuttle, Eclipse, PDQ, Shaw’s, flower arrangements by The Flower Goddess, ads by the Free Press, and poster printing by Camden Printing, all proceeds will go to the Rockland Public Library!
The Friends help to purchase books, computers, library cards for students in RSU 13 who live outside of Rockland, provide programs, among other library activities.
We, the Friends of Rockland Public Library, thank all of you in the community who helped to make our second annual speaker event such a success for the library!
Linda Gundel for
Friends of the Rockland Public Library