Rockland council OKs diversity resolve

By Stephen Betts | Mar 13, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts Steve Young, who is pastor of the Penobscot Bay Family Church in Thomaston, spoke out vehemently Monday night against a proposed resolve support diversity.

Rockland — The city council chamber erupted with applause Monday night, March 13 after the Rockland City Council voted to approve a resolve to support diversity in the community.

The council voted 3-1 to approve the resolve. Mayor Will Clayon voted against the measure without comment at the meeting.

Sixty-five people attended the Monday night meeting with more than 20 people speaking. All but three of the speakers supported the resolve.

Jeanne Dooley, executive director of Out Maine, said there are people in the community who are subject to threats. Her organization supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths.

"People who say Rockland is fine, who say Knox County is fine, who say rural Maine is fine are under a grotesque illusion," Dooley said.

She said there have been swastikas drawn on chalkboards and white boards and in restrooms in the schools.

The resolve is non-binding and has touched a nerve in the community.

Councilor Ed Glaser said he was pleased to see so many people turn out for the council meetings, particularly younger people who have not previously attended municipal meetings. He said he hopes these young citizens would continue to be involved in civic matters.

Glaser said he submitted the resolve because he thought it would pass easily.

Councilor Valli Geiger enthusiastically voiced support for the resolve and commented on the opposition.

"This tells people whose hearts are hardened that we don't stand with them," she said.

Steve Young of Cushing, who is pastor of the Penobscot Bay Family Church in Thomaston, sharply criticized the resolve. He said its support for homosexuals was an affront to Christians. He also repeatedly referred to immigrants as "crimimmigrants."

Sandra Schramm said Rockland was a welcoming community already and she has never felt unsafe walking the streets.

Other speakers pointed out, however, that many white, heterosexual people are not aware of what others are experiencing in the community. And while the resolve is non-binding it sends a message to people about being accepted in Rockland.

Mayor Clayton said after the meeting that his opposition stems from the reference to immigration status. He also said he wanted a fuller explanation of what the resolve meant.

The full resolve states: "We as a community are resolved to welcome and celebrate difference, diversity, and individuality among residents, workers and visitors in all ways, including, but not limited to, ability, race, creed, national and cultural origin, immigration status, color, age, religious beliefs, class, neurodiversity, sexuality, gender identification, and gender expression.

"We stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized or threatened, and will work to make our community a safer place where each person’s dignity is honored. We believe that everyone has a right to clean air, clean water, shelter, safety, food and pleasure.

"We oppose any policy on the part of any government or business which scapegoats people, spreads inequality, and intentionally takes rights away from the most vulnerable among us.

"As a community, we intend to continue taking proactive action on the issues we face including, but not limited to, reducing poverty, homelessness, climate change, the criminalization of addiction, sexual assault, racism and domestic violence. We will continue the work we are doing to improve health care access, fair wages, affordable housing, addiction treatment, training for police and first responders in diversity and harm reduction, while maintaining a productive harbor and healthy working waterfront, creating safer school environments, increasing accessibility for people with disabilities and to gender-inclusive bathrooms, and bettering quality of life for all. We want this city to always be a safe place for those needing shelter and will endeavor to provide secure shelter to any who need it.

"Rockland will also continue doing its part to protect the environment and mitigate climate change through local action aimed at reducing waste and pollution, planning for rising seas, promoting energy efficiency and sustainable generation, and being good stewards of our natural resources.

"This is a community-wide effort. We urge those in need of support to reach out to the city and local groups. We encourage places of worship, homes, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals to post signs and take part in actions which demonstrate our dedication to being a welcoming place of refuge and safety. We will stand up against any crime of hate or bullying in our community and seek to address the underlying causes of scapegoating. As we look to the future, we know that in order to continue growing in a healthy direction, we need to support those who live here, those who move here, and those who visit.

"Rockland, Maine, intends to stand as a beacon of diversity and democracy, furthering the project of 'liberty and justice for all.'”

Comments (22)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Mar 16, 2017 22:23

RICH VERY RICH . . .



Alternative reality creeping into city hall.

 

Yes, Sandra Schramm should have ended at the 5:00 min mark.  But to call this disrespectful is a stretch especially when claiming that this caused a delay.



Now, consider our existing City Code [yes, the same code that I claim council uses as their personal toilet paper];

 

CHAPTER 2, ADMINISTRATION, ARTICLE I General, Sec. 2-212 Rules of Procedure,

c. Persons present at City Council meetings are cautioned to refrain from applause or other expressions of approval or
disapproval
of any statements made or actions taken at such meetings. Placards and signs shall not be permitted.


So it seems that councilor Clayton "forgot" the procedural rules . . .



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 16, 2017 17:38

Invisible cat stepped on keyboard.  Meant to say, now that statement takes the cake.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 16, 2017 17:32

What a crock.



Posted by: George Terrien | Mar 16, 2017 16:53

Sandra, though I do not want to get into a contest, but what would you call someone who in speaking from the podium had accepted the Mayor's time limit of five minutes, but continued to talk for quite a while longer, rejecting the Mayor's reminder at the end of your five minutes, and several additional requests to respect your time limit?

If every person who spoke from the podium that evening had insisted on speaking as long as you did, ignoring the rules of the meeting and the Mayor's orderly process, the Council meeting would have taken an extra hour and a half.  Adding up everyone's time, we would have used up in combined person-hours a combined three, forty-hour work weeks.  I do not know how other people reacted to your insisting on speaking on, but I for one felt bullied, and I think that the dignity of the meeting was disrespected by your ignoring the rules at the podium, and pushing aside the Mayor's repeated and courteous requests.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 16, 2017 12:27

Uh...I understood what the "thanks" were for.  How is this:  there was no difference between the meaning of the two sentences.   Unlike, "people whose hearts are hardened."  "Unwarranted" must have been too complex a word to use.  I think I heard correctly and directly from the speaker about the synagogue windows - that there was evidence of pellets hitting them - not that they were "shot out."  And I heard correctly when the fellow said he walked down Main Street and had names shouted at him from a passing vehicle. I heard and saw him, too, and not by any stretch would his sexual preference be called by any known stereotype.  And this was Main Street, the hub of variety.  If there was a threat, then authorities should have been called.  Having experienced name calling and menacing, and outright wrong perceptions, I am not immune to the effect, but one thing is certain:  one must be clear about what actually occurred.

 

I don't take any of this lightly, but I do not Then again, I don't believe anyone's sexual preferences can be called by people not close to someone.  The swastika drawings?  More than questionable, but even just after the war, idiots were drawing them on their notebooks, and that was addressed by teachers and parents.  That symbol, as you must know, is native American in origin, and a beautiful symbol with that intention.  This is not to say that in the case, there was not deliberate negative intention - was that ever determined,

 

When I moved to Rockland eleven years ago, I was in a  public professional office.  There was a person there who looked to be male, by reason of forearm anatomy, but was dressed as a woman.  My thought was, "Well, this is okay - who knew in Rockland that an individual could move about without fear - at least in that place."  I remarked about this and it was clear that there wasn't a person in the room that wouldn't have set me to rights had I shown a hint of disdain.  It was great.  I took it as a sign that Rockland was accepting.  This isn't the case, but that was my impression.  "Acceptance" in Rockland?  What kind of acceptance is there if one is not of the vulnerable cited.  But that's another story. 

 

"Uncomfortable" with the resolution.  Like something getting under your skin as opposed to basing objection on fact, historical perspective, appropriateness, ramifications, and functionality.  It is dismissive.



Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Mar 16, 2017 12:26

For three days I have pondered posting to this column.  I attended and I spoke on behalf of myself ststing that I agreed with a much of the resolve but saw no need for it. I asked what it would accomplish if passed, which is actually nothing because it cannot be enforced. I agree the resolve was nothing more than a statement but I respect the choice of those who wish to think in this manner. I had done quite a bit of homework checking for signs that the community was eroding. I also read a letter from a friend who as well stated pretty much the same. I returned to my seat and as I was turning to sit, a man sitting 2 seats over leaned over those two seats to call my a "BULLY". I replied with "excuse me" which was met with three rapid fire responses calling me a "HATER"!  I did nothing to provoke this man who is obviously not a "Gentleman". He was there to defend the resolve with great fervor. Never did I anticipate that I would have this situation occur at Rockland City Hall when the subject matter at that moment in time was for acceptance and tolerance of others.  This man denied the "HATER" comment but did own stating he called me a "BULLY".  Now I see on this page he has taken the Mayor, Will Clayton to task for his vote. To me this might just indicate that what the Woodstove Alliance Group is asking for from the residents of Rockland is not how all of their fellowship intends to treat others.  As I know many of its' supporters and did receive apologies from many, I long considered whether to post because I know that their hearts are well intended.  But I went to that Council meeting seeking only answers to questions and not to harass or chide the Woodstove Alliance Group. Respect begets respect. If you ask for it you must be willing to give it. Mr. Terrien's attempt at bullying me failed in that I have a healthy sense of self and I respect the opinion of others. I also respect the position of the Councilors and the duties of the Mayor. What Mr. Terrien did succeed in doing was creating doubt with regard to the good intentions of those participating with the Woodstove Alliance by his name calling and his words directed to the Mayor here.

 

In the same context, Councilor Geiger attempted to admonish Mayor Clayton on at least two occasions prior to the vote by urging the Mayor to vote with the other three members for a full vote of the Council passing the resolve. All members of the Council represent the community and vote with the conscience and integrity that those who voted them into office expect from them.  A foul mouth should be checked at the door in the same manner one would check a weapon. Once fired it cannot be retracted.



Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Mar 16, 2017 07:35

Maggie, I was thanking you for catching a typo. I was not saying anyone who did not support the ordinance has a hardened heart. Many good people of Rockland had reasons for being uncomfortable with this ordinance, yourself included. I was saying that the Ordinance spoke to those who shot out the Synagogue windows, or drew swastikas on the bathroom walls of the high school or shouted gay slurs to men walking down the street, that Rockland does not stand with you.

Valli Geiger



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 15, 2017 20:30

I would like to see responses from area churches regarding Mr. McKusic's statement: "Pastor Young had the courage to share many of our local churches belief(s)."  This fellow from Thomaston preaches the kind of religion that has made people turn away from it.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 15, 2017 12:17

Geiger's thanks are unwarranted. Whether her comment was: ""Councilor Valli Geiger enthusiastically voiced support for the resolve and commented on the opposition. "This tells people whose hearts are hardened that we do stand with you," she said" or "This tells people whose hearts are hardened that we don't stand with them," she said.  She used her office to draw a line of division within the community.  She has decided that anyone in opposition, (and out of the thousands of voters in Rockland, how many voiced an opinion at all), is in favor of the prejudice and discrimination, and that objections could only be due to the latter and nothing else. And that isn't the case at all.   In using "we" she has also proclaimed that no Council members, (but one), believe otherwise, and that they are in agreement about the dark nature of the hearts of Rockland residents.  This is exactly the kind of thinking for which the Resolve was proposed.  There can be no confidence in a Council that would make such assumptions.  This was an hysterical reaction that serves no one, and damages many.



Posted by: Nicole Jeanette Boutin | Mar 15, 2017 09:14

I would like to thank Mayor Clayton for being the voice of many who did not think this resolve is necessary and understanding that the citizens of Rockland are fine people. Now I hope that the other councilors will work with Mayor Clayton to make Rockland a prosperous place to live where people can find a good job and reasonable rents. I ask the council, now that they "feel" good, to move forward!

Julie Raye



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 15, 2017 04:36

The tone of the comments show the need for the resolve.  Pastor Young had the courage to share many of our local churches belief, Mayor Clayton voted his conscience, people spoke up to each of their individual views; and were listened to respectfully.

Seems to me it is the way things should work; yet don't always.



Posted by: Iris Joyce | Mar 14, 2017 21:53

I am not a fan of so called "Gender Inclucive Bathrooms". If you are a man you go to the mens room, if you are a woman, Go to the Ladies room. Plain and simple! I have daughters and I sure as hell don't want any man, boy, male in the ladies room with them. In school as well, my daughters have rights and one if those rights is to be able to use a bathroom in school, or a public restroom without a stranger of the opposite sex in there with them.

 

 



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 14, 2017 19:09

There was certainty that the swastikas alluded to were not drawn as native American symbols?  Either way, did the school administrators act quickly to use the drawings to teach.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 14, 2017 12:36

 "we don't stand" with those whose hearts are hardened" "Typo" is no excuse for a "seasoned journalist" on this hypersensitive and damaging situation.  Then, actions are discounted by the "us" in the room.  ("Us being all in favor of the Resolve no matter what).  Dissent regarding the resolution is equated to those who would perform discriminatory, or violent action to, or hold violent or disparaging thoughts toward, those represented in the resolve.  The "us," has decided who is "other."  The "us" claim the omniscient ability to identify the ethnicity, and even sexual preference, and other beliefs and assumed actions of individuals deemed "white, heterosexual people."  And, the very purpose of an organization such as "Out As I Want," is exposed, if not defiled, by adopting the very skewered omniscience which condones superficial judgments and judgments based on private matters, not on deeds.  And, asserting that Councilor-Mayor Clayton is, through his vote, declaring, and/or ensuring that Rockland is unwelcoming is absurdist, and personally damaging - at least to those who would make the very assumptions they rally against.  Mob mentality that has successfully driven a stake into the heart of this community.

 

Monty Python, "Burn the Witch"

VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch, might we burn her?

CROWD: Burn her! Burn!

BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?

VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.

BEDEVERE: Bring her forward.

WITCH: I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch.

BEDEVERE: But you are dressed as one.

WITCH: They dressed me up like this.

CROWD: No, we didn't -- no.

WITCH: And this isn't my nose, it's a false one.

BEDEVERE: Well?

VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose.

BEDEVERE: The nose?

VILLAGER #1: And the hat -- but she is a witch!

CROWD: Burn her! Witch! Witch! Burn her!

BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this?

CROWD: No, no... no... yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.

VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.

BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch?

VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.

BEDEVERE: A newt?

VILLAGER #3: I got better.

VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway!

CROWD: Burn! Burn her!

BEDEVERE: Quiet! quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.

CROWD: Are there? What are they?

VILLAGER #2: Do they hurt?

BEDEVERE: Tell me, what do you do with witches?

VILLAGER #2: Burn!

CROWD: Burn, burn them up!

BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?

VILLAGER #1: More witches!

VILLAGER #2: Wood!

BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn?

[pause]

VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood?

BEDEVERE: Good!

CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah.

BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?

VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.

BEDEVERE: Aah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.

BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?

VILLAGER #1: No, no.

VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!

VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!

CROWD: The pond!

BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?

VILLAGER #1: Bread!

VILLAGER #2: Apples!

VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!

VILLAGER #1: Cider!

VILLAGER #2: Uhhh, gravy!

VILLAGER #1: Cherries!

VILLAGER #2: Mud!

VILLAGER #3: Churches -- churches!

VILLAGER #2: Lead -- lead!

ARTHUR: A duck.

CROWD: Oooh.

BEDEVERE: Exactly! So, logically...

VILLAGER #1: If... she... weighs the same as a duck.. she's made of wood.

BEDEVERE: And therefore?

VILLAGER #1: A witch!

CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch!

BEDEVERE: We shall use my largest scales!

[yelling]

BEDEVERE: Right, remove the supports!

[whop] [creak]

CROWD: A witch! A witch!

WITCH: It's a fair cop.

CROWD: Burn her! Burn her!

[yelling]

BEDEVERE: Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?

ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.

BEDEVERE: My liege!

ARTHUR: Good Sir knight, will you come with me to Camelot, and join us at the Round Table?

BEDEVERE: My liege! I would be honored.

ARTHUR: What is your name?

BEDEVERE: Bedevere, my leige.

ARTHUR: Then I dub you Sir Bedevere, Knight of the Round Table. (

c) Monty Python



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 14, 2017 11:26

Even though not agreeing with Mayor Clayton's decision Respect his integrity to vote the way he was led. Being free to make personal decisions is why the resolve had my support in the first place. 

Image result for Right to Personal Choice



Posted by: George Terrien | Mar 14, 2017 09:15

As you likely recognize, Mayor Clayton, I feel acute disappointment that you did not want to support those who assert Rockland's intention to be a welcoming community.

If there were one or more specific points in the resolution with which you disagree, why did you not propose specific changes, one by one, which had they been accepted or voted to amend the resolve, might have made it possible for you to vote with the majority, and perhaps even improved its language?

If on the other hand you reject the entire idea of Rockland's presenting itself as a welcoming community, why do you continue as our mayor?  Why should we not stand for human charity?

On this question of basic human justice, I find your dissent far more divisive than simply a matter of personal opinion, or even just pique, or whatever reason you chose not to express last night.  If your disagreement were substantive, did you not owe us and your colleagues on the council the benefit of your perspective, intended to improve the question before you?  Was it perhaps simple churlishness that you had not thought of proposing the resolution first yourself?  Obviously, I am at a loss as to why you would want Rockland to describe itself as unwelcoming.  Do you just want Rockland to bar the door, and to prevent further erosion of the old way and long-settled citizenry?  Tell us, please!

You owe us your view, as one of our elected councilors, and as the person your peers on the council chose as its chairperson.



Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Mar 14, 2017 08:23

Thank you for catching that Maggie and thank you Steve for making the correction so quickly.

Valli



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Mar 14, 2017 04:31

Councilor Geiger said that "we don't stand" with those whose hearts are hardened. I corrected the initial version of my story. That was a typo on my part.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Mar 13, 2017 23:26

How quickly will the videotape of this meeting be available.  I could not attend.  I do not have television.  These sentences:

"Councilor Valli Geiger enthusiastically voiced support for the resolve and commented on the opposition.

"This tells people whose hearts are hardened that we do stand with you," she said"  demand context, and possibly a public apology.



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Mar 13, 2017 22:31

Now that the Rockland City Council has put this non-binding resolve behind it, can it find the time to take up two zoning matters that have been awaiting action for more than seven years?

The first action would be to adopt the Neighborhood Business Zone, and apply it to all properties abutting Maverick Square. (See:

http://www.ci.rockland.me.us/vertical/sites/%7BDE9EDD66-EFF4-4A6B-8A58-AA91254C1584%7D/uploads/%7BB7A75FEE-6724-4FFF-8717-32249F870A0D%7D.PDF)


The second would be to begin the land swaps necessary to implement the Master Plan for the Tillson Avenue area. This very well conceived plan provides the framework for new development to the east of Main Street. (See: http://www.ci.rockland.me.us/vertical/Sites/%7BDE9EDD66-EFF4-4A6B-8A58-AA91254C1584%7D/uploads/2011_Waterfront_Redevelopment_Plan.pdf)



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Mar 13, 2017 22:18

Mr. Steve Young must have missed this teaching from Jesus regarding immigrants and refugees (Matt 25:31-46):

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 



Posted by: Ron Hawkes | Mar 13, 2017 22:16

If Pastor Young is any representation of Christians I sure am glad I am not one. With people like him in the world, it's no wonder so many good people have so much to fear. I do agree that the way the resolve is written Illegal Immigrants are welcome here. Is that really what people want. I'm all for anyone coming here that thinks it will be a better life. I also am a fan of them following the same rules we have to follow and if they do not want to immigrate the legal way they do not deserve to be here. Yes, it is difficult, but we cannot just go to their country either, we have to follow their laws and rules.



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