Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette
Listening to and working for the people of Rockland
Three years ago Rockland's residents elected me to City Council by the narrowest margin in City history (less than 0.01 percent difference). It is a humbling experience to come into office knowing that an equal number of residents voted for your opponent (and a reminder that every vote can count!).
Decades ago Rockland's residents wisely did away with councilors representing Wards (i.e., each councilor representing just part of the city). Today, all councilors represent all of Rockland.
Regardless of how you voted in 2010, I hope I have been visible, approachable and responsive to all of you. Working with other members of council I have tried to bring a positive, solution focused approach to the issues before council and to the challenges facing the city. Four examples:
First, this year a majority of City Councilors made key policy decisions to stabilize and potentially start to lower Rockland's high taxes.
Second, thanks to support from 63 percent of voters in 2011, the Community Recreation Center has been substantially renovated, eliminating the leaks and making it accessible and usable for kids and adults.
Third, in 2012, Rockland's 1904 Carnegie Library was transformed from a beautiful building that was drafty as a barn, to a model for energy efficiency projects in historic buildings.
Fourth, the 2013 paving and sidewalk work in the Downtown/Union Street area was carried out in a manner that demonstrates far better project design and coordination of major projects than Rockland residents had seen and experienced in prior years.
The members of the next council need to see the city's many strengths (a diverse economy that includes commercial fishing, light manufacturing, tourism, finance, local food, and the arts plus walkable vibrant neighborhoods) and work with all parts of the community to help Rockland thrive.
If you want a City Councilor that values all of Rockland's strengths and is looking for positive, long term solutions amongst the range of voices, ideas and information before Council, I promise to use all of my experience and skills to do my best to move Rockland forward.
In 2010 I knocked on 1,800 doors in my first campaign to hear your expectations for the city. In 2011 I knocked on 1,000 doors to talk with you about renovating the Rec Center. In this campaign I have already reached out to more than 800 voters. It is important to me that City Council be your Council.
I need your vote this fall to keep working for all of you and to keep Rockland moving ahead.
Larry R. Pritchett
Less cruel methods needed
As you no doubt have heard by now, a recent PETA undercover investigation at Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster slaughterhouse found that lobsters and crabs have their legs, heads, and/or shells torn off while they’re fully conscious and sensible to pain, and that they remain alive long after they’ve been dismembered. We’ve known that crustaceans can feel pain since at least 2009, when Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast, published papers on this issue in the journals Animal Behavior and Applied Animal Behavior Science.
Maine’s cruelty-to-animals statute has, for 40 years, applied to all sentient animals— including complex lobsters and crabs who absolutely feel pain and should be protected from such egregious, illegal cruelty. While PETA takes that up with officials, everyone can make a difference by leaving crustaceans off their plates and urging Bean to at least switch to less-cruel slaughter methods, as are used at Shucks Maine Lobster and Whole Foods.
Lobsters already face a growing number of threats in their ocean homes, from new predators moving into increasingly warmer waters to an increase in shell disease (the Boston Globe’s Derrick Z. Jackson has called lobsters “the new symbol of climate change”). After all this, they don’t deserve to then be dismembered alive just so we can enjoy the fleeting taste of their flesh.
Evidence Analysis Manager, Cruelty Investigations Department
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Observations on the Rockland City Council candidate debate held Oct. 17:
This was the debacle of debate moderation. Rather than approaching the debate as such, save for acting as time-keeper, the conducted proceedings as one would the public comment period of a council meeting, but without the discretion.
Most illustrative of the moderator’s miscast role was the permissiveness of direct attacks perpetrated upon incumbent Larry Pritchett, delivered during questions from the public, giving the impression of misguided desperation to discredit, rather than to acquire information, (the desired goal of any debate), but they could find so little with which to defame Mr. Pritchett that they resorted to empty accusations, including the "crime" that he ran political ads in The Free Press.
But Pritchett failed to succumb. Throughout the attacks, he responded straightforwardly and with great composure, although, quite rightfully, having cause to object and demand that the moderator do his job.
It is with a keen eye and ear that the electorate must weigh what transpires on, and off, the floor of debate. In this vein, this resident hopes that Louise MacLellan-Ruf will transcend the wrongdoings she has stated she experienced as a member of the Harbor Management Commission, and to which she referred. This shadow must be vanquished to allow for effective decision-making.
Hal Perry offered numerous facts and figures, and sang in the united chorus of responsiveness to resident concerns and respect for their engagement. But later, during informal conversational political banter, when this writer questioned certain actions taken during his prior service in council and as mayor, there was insult, rather than enlightenment. The sudden change in demeanor and response was instructive in ways unintended by the candidate.
Again recognizing Larry Pritchett’s composure while under attack, I am concerned that he urged early absentee voting as soon as ballots were available, and which he advocated during his opening statement. There is value in having a fully-informed public on Election Day. Despite the debacle, the debate was instructive, and 11th-hour information can shed important light. Early voting may be convenient, but does it serve?
Voiced by candidates was the implausible solution of addressing property taxes and city budgetary problems by eroding departments, including the Rockland Police Department. Cutting city employee positions, and/or not filling vacant positions, or proposing consolidation of department heads, who are specialists in their field, to take on the duties outside their level of expertise, is a prescription for disaster, as is eliminating resident protections, not only represents shortsightedness, but a lack of understanding about the very nature and value of those positions. Candidate Perry attributed budgetary problems to uncontrollable union control of wages and benefits. But overall, elimination of city positions seemed the consensus — a short-sighted and simplistic non-solution that cannot take the place of better planning, contract assignments and agreements, and staff accountability.
This writer has also had to consider why neither she, nor anyone in the room did not rise to protest the lack of protocol during the Pritchett attacks. The debate is one of the hallmarks of a democratic process. To remain silent, is to condone. There is a time when the right course of action is to take it.
Vote for Pritchett
Please vote for Larry Pritchett. He has brought level headed leadership to the City Council. His natural resources background has been very useful in evaluating city services. He has asked tough questions about the value of city services.
Rockland stands at a crossroads in continuing to make it attractive it to young people and their businesses. Larry understands that the city is dependent upon the success of these people and businesses.
He has been an active supporter of the Rockland small business community, including my consulting business. He understands that the city needs to be a partner with these businesses. You will find him at all community events sponsored by local businesses.
Allan A. Toubman
Missed the point totally
This letter is to Holly Morse who missed my point completely when I suggested she pull out of her driveway instead of backing out. I was only offering up a simple solution to one of your many problems you seem to have that you write about in the letters to the editor. For the record, I hardly ever use Thomaston Street and I'm not one of your speeders. Thanks for the accusation just the same.
I guess your glass is always half empty. Mine is always half full. I wasn't looking to be chastised by you, I was trying to fill your cup up! You will never be able to find the positive in what people say. I believe you will always point the finger and let ignorance linger. Hopefully you have something or someone else to gripe about by now and it won't be me. Are the UPS trucks driving by too fast? Are people cleaning up their messes in the cemetery? Is Wal-Mart too noisy for you? Have a great day!
I have always tried to write positive comments and thank everyone for their support and encouragement, to stay with it and not get discouraged. Bad habits aren't changed overnight.
This is not always easy when people are rude, non-supportive and curse at us. These people do not care or understand the issue here. It's not about ego and it's not about being in charge. It is about sanitation. Preventing illness to dogs and people and being a responsible pet owner.
Two members of our community have had their dogs become ill from picking up parasites in areas where there is dog feces. But, I guess it won't happen to yours. These people do not want it on their own property so they take their dog for a walk and leave their feces on someone else's property.
The soccer field at Snow Marine Park was covered in dog poop. The coach and Linda cleaned up two bucket fulls before the game recently. The dogs should be kept away from that area, especially when the teams are playing. There is plenty of space to let your dogs run nearby. When the ball gets kicked and it hits one of the players in the face, I guess it doesn't matter there was feces everywhere, right?
There is no need to curse at us. You may disagree but some of your vocabularies are very limited. Children do not need to hear it and neither do we. Do you realize it is the law to pick up after your pet? What is wrong? Why are you being so difficult? We must do it also. It is only a handful of people protesting the issue. You have been doing this for so long you seem to think it is OK to leave feces so others can step in it. It is not! It is not OK to leave dog feces in Rockland no matter where the dogs leave droppings except on your own property.
When the police are able they will answer our calls to assist. They are a limited task force, but we will be taking license plate numbers and turning them in. There are others being aware and reporting as well.
Many visitors who come to Rockland every year have made comments regarding the cleanliness of our city. People are offering bags to others and cleaning up after other dogs as well. Thank you, thank you. Bags are provided on the posts for your convenience. We ourselves have tried to keep them full. If this is a problem, let us know. Great way to get rid of that bunch of bags stuffed in the closet. Feel free to write your comments, pro or con, to the editor.
Thanks to the police department for their support, advice and assistance. They are a credit to this community. So much good they do goes unnoticed.
Not a hand-out, a hand-up
I started volunteering at the Midcoast Habitat for Humanity ReStore in February of this year and I must admit I'm hooked. It's difficult to find the words to express my feelings for this organization that does so much good. Their vision is simple...A world where everyone has a decent place to live. I recently, along with other members of my church, spent a beautiful October day working to finish the 25th house this local affiliate has built in Knox County. The mom, who will call this house her home along with her two children, stopped by to say hello and offer us encouragement. She has spent many hours building her home and will be responsible for paying for it just like any other homeowner. This was my first time actually working on a home site and I honestly didn't think I could be of much help, but in the end with Nancy's patient guidance, I felt like I really had contributed. Nancy is the on-site manager for Habitat. Tia, the executive director for Midcoast Habitat, insists that "no experience is necessary." Nancy is very good at finding the perfect task for all involved. A word of caution...don't let her put you in the attic! At the end of the day we all went away feeling not only that we had accomplished much, but with a feeling of joy and gratification that a family will soon be in a home built by love. What Habitat does is empower people, not with a hand-out, but with a hand-up.
Except for the day working on the home, my volunteering with Habitat has been at the ReStore located on Route 90 in Rockport, across from Tolman Pond. If you have never been there come and check it out. We are open on Thursdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We sell new and reusable building materials, appliances, furniture, lighting, and much, much more, all donated. All the proceeds from the ReStore are used to fund new homes, as well as, the building where the store and office are located. As an added bonus, by recycling reusable items we are helping to preserve our environment. My co-volunteer, Vicki, has a word for this...repurpose. You've heard of design consultants, well, she is a repurpose consultant, and her services are free. The store is always changing and never ceases to amaze me when I arrive on Friday afternoon to find it completely changed. I look forward to time spent there and with the giving people I volunteer with. Habitat has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined. I encourage anyone searching for purpose in their life to check out Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, you will find it there.