Columnist missed the mark

Reade Brower, I am quite surprised at your article entitled, "The case of the missing principal and ego." [Courier-Gazette, Nov. 30]

Let's start with the basic legal requirements of any "personnel issue" that faces just about any public organization from towns, counties, states, schools and so on. The issue here is not to create a public circus of doubt and secrecy, but to protect the rights (which is paramount to our Constitution) of those involved in a situation that is, by law, classified as a "personnel issue." Clearly defined and for eons has created so much frustration by most of us as to who, what, where and when to satisfy our curiosity and cover up all those "holes" left with the lack of details not forthcoming as we would like them to.

Situations that are of such horrific nature as to cause either bodily or mental anguish and harm to any individual is not to be tolerated. Most of us, out of curiosity, are in a rush to get the details, sometimes even before the appropriate investigation is concluded. That investigation should include the total picture and will reveal the details if done with integrity and within legal restructions. No stone unturned and all treated with respect and without bias.

However, in order to accomplish said investigation, laws are in place that we all expect to protect the innocent and place any crime where it belongs with the file complete to either dismiss or prosecute any wrongdoing.

I disagree with you that you believe the public deserves explanations and silence will not make this go away; rather, the public will speculate while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Reade, I have known you and done business with you for over 30 years. I want to have the utmost respect for you and have been overwhelmingly impressed with your drive, business acumen and all around creative and intelligent person. I insist on calling you my friend, whether that is of value, it is to me. Being my friend, and being in this position, I believe you will respect my comments. If not, I am truly sorry.

The public needs the truth when it is available and within all legal requirements. The releasing of any information less than that is only fodder for rumors, conjecture, and comments that are, at best, based on just that, certainly not based on facts. Facts are important. That brings me to: Owning a large and impressive number of newspapers comes with the clear impression that you have worked hard, and made a name for yourself. No doubt.

You are not only questioning the ability of the investigation to be honest, complete, without bias, but you are saying that Mr. Cavanaugh, if he is involved, should also spill his guts; for what purpose: to add more craziness to the rumors and place him in a compromising position to either admit or deny he is even involved in what is being investigated.

No one is at a disadvantage, my dear friend Mr. Brower, unless mistakes are made, accusations become unfounded, and the wrong people are placed in the wrong position. The fires are only started by careless people playing with "matches," not by careful and calculated investigation(s).

If you doubt, when the final story is told, and the information is available for print, then I assume you might file a complaint with the District Attorney's Office that you or your paper(s) feel that the truth did not come out.

Please, relax, insist on a fair investigation that will draw all the facts and leave no stone unturned.

Dale Hayward


Walmarts of the sea?

Rockland, currently the darling of the known universe, is glowing with praise from Down East Magazine, the Smithsonian Institution and beyond. They say, “We are the ideal place to live in Maine and in America!” This Cinderella moment of ours is under threat, though. A question lurks: Will we lose it all if we let the big cruise ships in?

Some call the big cruise ships “Walmarts of the sea.” But others say, “Pooh! Rockland stands to gain between $8 to $10 a tourist head.” In the cruise ship world, this head fee is joked about as “a bribe.” The city officials give the ships a pass, but “the bribe” is a disgrace, when you add up the community consequences.

Right now, Bar Harbor is boiling over with a fight to stop the Town Council from refurbishing a state pier. The town fathers plan to double their big cruise ship capacity. The local population is in rebellion about doubling the need for massive bus parking lots. They also are also loath to double the general chaos of tourists that “descend like a swarm of locusts.” The local merchants say there's no real gain for the local economy beyond the T-shirt and ice cream shops' take. The locals say that bigger ships, with their 2,000 to 2,500 people apiece, ultimately drive away more valuable tourists: those who stay longer and spend more in hotels and restaurants.

Bar Harbor is feeling the pain of having auctioned off her assets and killed her roots. Maybe we should pay a little more respect to the tragedy of Bar Harbor? Maybe we should not quickly condemn our Cinderella city to a destiny of rapid foot traffic, tight tourist purse-strings and acres of idling black buses ?

Mount Desert Island, Southwest Harbor and Tremont have just banned big cruise ships. Camden likewise is organizing to protect herself from the big cruise ships. We need to consider what this means.

Maybe this Rockland government conversation about cruise ships is staying too theoretical, cozy and quiet? This is our city and our life! Maybe more attention should be paid to protecting what we haven't lost? Is it good to dredge the harbor and remove the inner harbor moorings so a big-box cruise ship can dock? If our less-endowed neighbors-by-the-sea are now organizing to save their harbors, should we continue to ignore what they fear?

Debby Atwell


Rockland's future is more of the present

Presently there are two groups in the city of Rockland vying for input from Rockland taxpayers, property owners, residents and voters as to what matters most in the community, and to help them plan for the city’s future. These groups include Rockland Heart and Soul and the Comprehensive Planning Commission. The latter city committee is in the process of updating the 2002 Comprehensive Plan, as well as the most recently updated 2012 plan.

As a longtime Rockland resident of 19 years and a Knox County native, a significant Rockland residential taxpayer with more than $7,000 a year in property taxes, excise taxes, and taxes disguised as fees, such as the sewer use tax and the transfer station permit tax; serving as the city’s community development director from 1998 to 2011, which included involvement in the long preparation of the 2002 City Plan; as well as being a professional planner, I would like to take this opportunity to deliver my personal observations to these two groups.

• Rockland’s shrinking middle class, caused, in part, by the following: a middle-class flight, especially by families with children, to Camden or Rockport for the purpose of enrolling their children in the Camden-Rockport school system so as to get them out of the RSU 13 system, which they perceive as providing their kids with an underperforming education. This has often been done at a great financial sacrifice to the families involved; however, they have felt that it was worth it. For others the flight is exacerbated by Rockland’s high property taxes and other taxes disguised as fees. At times those middle class persons and families with the financial means will seek to relocate to another Knox County town with a lower tax rate.

• The city’s unaddressed litter and uncontrolled weed problems. A litter-and-weed eradication program would enhance community pride.

• A downtown/Main Street area that has become hazardous for pedestrians because of fast-moving traffic. The city has long been warned of this problem, but has only sporadically addressed it.

• Rockland’s rapidly deteriorating existing single-family housing stock, often caused by owners on fixed or nearly fixed incomes who lack the disposable income with which to make necessary improvements and repairs to their older homes. This is the most important and the highest-priority housing affordability issue for Rockland’s new community development director to assist with.

• Increasing number of seasonal or part-time residents purchasing second homes for rental purposes, or for short-term visits to Midcoast Maine. It is not uncommon to see houses in neighborhoods unoccupied for a portion of the year.

• Rockland’s stagnant, aging and financially strapped population; especially as the fixed or nearly fixed income population cohort grows.

• The increasing financial burden being placed on Rockland’s shrinking middle class for financing municipal and county services, as well as paying for an expensive school system without the broad tax base on which to support it. We now have a $31.2 million (principal plus interest) RSU-13 facilities bond to be paid off, in part, by Rockland’s middle class.

In summary, I don’t see much of these things changing in the future.

On the positive side, the construction of the new Mid-Coast School of Technology will greatly enhance the vocational opportunities for local and area-wide students. In the longer term, the facility should not only serve secondary school students, but be elevated to be a dual community college as well. MCST is a complementary addition to URock. Obviously, Rockland’s share of the $2 5million construction bond (not including interest payments) will be mostly borne by its shrinking middle class.

Rodney Lynch


A voice of reason? Not so much.

Sen. Collins, where are you?! It is with great disappointment that I draft this note. As a small businessman trying to make a go of it in Midcoast Maine, I am, of course, acutely aware of the effects of federal tax policy on my bottom line. I suppose I should be very happy that, as a small pass-through LLC, the "tax reform" bill recently passed by the Senate will allow me to take an additional 23 percent deduction in my income taxes.

The truth is, though, I am almost sick with anxiety about the real, long-term effects of this tax bill on my friends and neighbors. While large corporations and wealthy investors in the 1 percent get a huge, permanent tax break (for the record, including Republicans Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Sen. Susan Collins, and even Gov. Le Page), employees of small businesses, like mine, and most of the middle class, will soon actually be paying more in income taxes, and, unlike corporations and the 1 percent, will lose any meager benefits of this bill they might be entitled to in just a few years.

And the idea that corporations are going to create new jobs with their newfound tax windfall is simply folly: the last time Congress tried this, employment actually dropped, and virtually all the benefits went to corporate CEOs and shareholders. And, too, corporate bank accounts are already overflowing with cash, and so far, they have chosen not to invest in new jobs or higher wages (what a surprise, huh?)

If this sounds familiar, it should: trickle-down economics has never worked, and it won't work this time, either. Since the Reagan tax cuts, only the super-wealthy have benefited from massive tax cuts; the rest of us (and our grandchildren!) have had to pay the bill.

And a heck of a bill it is going to be: almost all economists have concluded that this "tax reform" bill will add about $1.4 trillion (that's trillion, with a T!) to our national debt, and that there is absolutely no way that potential "new jobs" and "higher wages" will make a dent in that budget-busting number. So much for Republicans as deficit hawks!

I am especially disappointed by our senior senator, Ms. Collins, since, when push came to shove during the effort to kill the Affordable Healthcare Act, Ms. Collins showed some commendable backbone and voted for the interests of her fellow Mainers. Unfortunately, not so much this time.

At times like this, it is important to remember the Golden Rule: Them that has the gold makes rules! So it has always been, and so it will always will be, unless we stand up and change the status quo!

Seth Hall


Hats off to youngsters who helped decorate park

On Dec. 3, a very small group of adults met to decorate the gazebo and four surrounding trees in the Woolen Mill Park in downtown Warren. Lights needed to be strung and garland draped. Lastly, wreaths would be secured on all four sides of the gazebo. Three teenage boys and a preteen young lady happened to be in this park when we began our work. They all volunteered to pitch in after I told them about the task at hand.

Well, besides decorating the gazebo, they helped to stake the trees around the gazebo and added the lights, making the park just sparkle with Christmas color! We give many thanks to Noah Bailey, Zachary Mank, Chris Weaver and Lexie Weaver for helping to make this Woolen Mill Park in Warren such a beautiful and friendly place to visit this holiday season. These young people are bright, polite and just plain good workers and we were very lucky to have met them all.

Helene Rondeau


Thanks for help with Thanksgiving dinner

Thomaston Random Acts of Kindness wishes to thank those who contributed to making our 2017 Thanksgiving dinner a success. We had wonderful corporate sponsors in Shaws Supermarket, Walmart, Beth's Farm Market, Dorman's Dairy Dream and Thomaston Grocery, as well as Nick Smith's Bull Run Farm in Cushing. All of their assistance made the dinner both more visually appealing and tastier.

We also appreciate all our individual donors of desserts, volunteer helpers and all those who performed the tasks necessary to a wonderful dinner and communion with out neighbors.

Judi Farley

Dinner Chairperson

Rockland Main Street says thanks

This letter is written to express our appreciation for the scores of volunteers and the many businesses and organizations that support Rockland Main Street’s annual Festival of Lights Celebration, as well as the countless number of families who braved the cold temperatures and availed themselves of the fun and festivities.

For those who weren’t able to attend during Thanksgiving weekend, there is still plenty of time to participate in the annual Lobster Trap Raffle, take photos of the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree, visit with Santa at his workshop in Mildred Merrill Park, and enjoy free horse drawn wagon rides in downtown Rockland through Christmas.

In addition to our all-volunteer past and current board of directors and committee chairs, there are so many other wonderful people who donate their time to the overall effort, some for an hour or two, or who work on one or two specific components of the event.

And then there is that handful of volunteers who seemingly set everything aside to work nearly full time on the Festival of Lights from beginning to end. We would be remiss if we did not give a hearty thank you to Karyn Rizzo, Deena Carafelli, and Tom Rizzo, all of whom were there at the start, and who will be there at the finish.

We would like to thank:

Island Institute, Camden National Bank, First National Bank, Bixby & Co., Hampton Inn, Shed City, J. Edward Knight, Rock City Coffee Roasters, Rock City Cafe, Dunkin Donuts, Domino’s Pizza, Rockland Café, Eclipse, Home Kitchen Café, Rotary Pizza, Journey’s End Marina, Brooks Trap Mill, Wallace Events, Lowe’s, The Free Press, Trade Winds Inn, Beth McKinney Designs, Midcoast Music Academy, F.J. O’Hara Corporation.

Also, Maritime Energy, Five County Credit Union, Courier Gazette, Village Soup, North End Composites, Park Street Cleaners, Masters-Fowlie-Engelberg, Rockland Savings Bank, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, Maine Lobster Festival, North Atlantic Blues Festival, Kiwanis Club of Rockland, Hazel’s Takeout, Sterling Elite, Safecare/Luce Transportation, 250 Main Hotel, Burpee Carpenter Hutchins Funeral Home, Prock Marine, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Schooner Bay Taxi, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Shepard Motors, James W. Brannan, Cates Real Estate, Loyal Biscuit, Rockland Heart & Soul, Toys for Tots, Clementine, Farnsworth Art Museum, KDK Screen Printing & Embroidery.

Also, Union Fair, Pen Bay Ministries, Strand Theatre, Girl Scouts of Knox County, Performance Paving, Automaster, Spruce Head Community Church, Riley School, Knight Marine Service, Penobscot Island Air, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Midcoast Federal Credit Union, Mid-Knight Auto, Shepard Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, Pen Bay Glass, Rockland Ford, Sogno Salon, Boston Financial, Sy’s Boat Transport, Mr. Tire, Hamilton Marine, BC Electric, Samoset Resort, Don Robishaw, St. George Carriage Company, Midcoast School of Technology, Brass Compass Café, Time Out Pub, Pen Bay Pilot, WABI-TV5, WCSH/WLBZ.

Special thanks goes to the Mayor and members of Rockland City Council, the City Manager, and the department heads and employees of the Rockland Public Services Department, Rockland Police Department, Rockland Fire Department, Rockland Harbor Master, as well as the crews from U.S. Coast Guard Station Rockland, and the Coast Guard cutters Thunder Bay, Abbie Burgess, and Tackle. Thanks also to the volunteers from the Bolduc Correctional Facility and the staff that manages the community programs there.

We also want to recognize the award winners for the Parade of Lights, and for the downtown window decorations, all of which were judged by members of Rockland City Council.

FLOATS: Most Lights – Journey’s End Marina; Most Creative – Habitat for Humanity; Best Commercial – Sogno Salon; Best Spirit – Strand Theatre; Honorable Mention – Maritime Energy. The People’s Choice award,[which was judged by the volume of donated food to the Salvation Army’s Food Pantry] – Girl Scouts of Knox County.

WINDOW DECORATIONS: 1st Place – Flowers by Hoboken; 2nd Place – fourTWELVE; 3rd Place – Snowdrop Confections.

On behalf of the Festival of Lights committee, the Rockland Main Street Inc. board of directors, and all downtown stakeholders, thank you for your enthusiastic participation.


Gordon Page Sr.

Executive Director

Rockland Main Street Inc.

Editor's Note: This letter was edited for length.