Camden Herald Letters to the Editor, Nov. 9

Nov 09, 2017

Veterans' Day poem

The Airport

Waiting at the airport for the landing of a plane, an elderly couple

found a spot

Where the two of them could share, and watch the many landings

Of planes approaching near, bringing a loved one to them,

And so they waited there.


The lobby space was crowded, with folks milling all about,

Not only with civilians, but some troopers shipping out.

The young men were all silent, their futures insecure,

They had no way of knowing what those futures had in store.


Their earnest, somber faces reflected durty they had sworn.

So quietly they waited for their flight that early morn.


One soldier sat alone in the far corner of the room where the lobby was

all filled

With those waiting there in morning's gloom.

He did not remain alone, you see, the elderly lady had taken note,

So she left her husband watching, and to the somber solider spoke.


"Sir," she siad, "Do you see that elderly man over there? He was in the service just like you.

I watched "ship out" several times, Korea, Vietname, and World War II.

He did his duty, also, and now he's home to say, so thank you for the protection you give us all today."


The young man brightened, found a buddy, and they strode across the room,

Until they reached the elder man, and holding forth their hands, they touched,

Another generation shaking hands, with one who went before,

And proved you can, your study stand and survive the ills of war.


The valiant men who risk their lives for freedom, we could never ask for more.

Jean Edwards



Language school says thank you

Penobscot Language School in Rockland recently held a fundraiser, It’s About Time! The event featured a French meal prepared by Chef Manuel Mercier of the Youngtown Inn paired with wines from Easterly Wine of Belfast. A silent auction of wines from around the world was held during the meal, with an auction of artisan-crafted clocks following.

Along with Chef Manuel and MaryAnn Mercier, Penobscot Language School thanks Jack Scully of Easterly Wine, auctioneer Dan Bookham, and the following area artists who donated their time and skill to create beautiful clocks for auction: David Allen, Angela Anderson, Bill Burns, Katharine Cartwright, Sandra Dickson, Jonathan Frost, Lauren Gill, Margot Anne Kelley, Hugh Lane, Karen Olson, DiTa Ondek, George Pearlman, Abbie Read, Bjorn Runquist, Marianne Swittlinger, Greta Van Campen, Nanfei Wang, Sandy Weisman, Carmella Yager, and Dudley Zopp.

The school also thanks all area businesses who donated wine to the silent auction, including Breakwater Vineyards, Lily, Lupine and Fern, RAYR the wine shop, The Market Basket, The Wine Seller and TREATS of Wiscasset. Finally, the evening could not have occurred without the assistance of Lou Laquaglia, Nina Noah, Owen Page, Maria Alexia Platia, and Melissa Schneider, and Penobscot Language School board members Amanda Austin, Leslie Fillnow, president, and David Robichaud.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Penobscot Language School thanks all attendees who, through their presence at this event, demonstrated their commitment to language and cultural learning here in Midcoast Maine.

Joan LeMole

Executive Director

Penobscot Language School



The facts about cruise ships

Let's first talk about what we do agree on about the cruise industry. First, boutique ships. It appears the community agrees the smaller ships are a good fit for Rockland. Visitors enjoy a leisurely two days' stay with easy on and off from the ships.

Second, absolutely some establishments see a financial benefit from the mega-ships. Who wouldn't enjoy a delicious lobster club from a Bobby Flay throw-down winner like Lynn Archer? Or some good old home cooking from Carla at the Rockland Cafe? Owners of FIORE Nancy and Pat successfully sell their imported olive oils and vinegars. Yes, some businesses see an economic gain. But not all businesses.

Let's move on to some well-documented, concrete facts. This is not opinion. These are not anecdotal ramblings. All data are available for public scrutiny. A quick Google search will pull up thousands of nationally and internationally recognized organizations of current data.

Fact: Moratoriums

Southwest and Northeast Harbor have enacted moratoriums limiting cruise ships. Tremont is voting this week to decide if it will enact one. The document cites "considerable safety, environmental and land use concerns." The Southwest moratorium states, "Whereas, the town needs a considerable amount of time to determine the implications of such activities and to develop reasonable regulations governing their location and operation." The obvious question Rockland should be asking is, why? What are the other harbors’ concerns? What can we learn from Bar Harbor? Do we need to reinvent the wheel? Is it possible to glean from other harbors the pros and cons? What works? What doesn't?

Fact: Environmental

The environmental impacts associated with the cruise industry are real. The United States Department of Justice handed down the largest criminal penalty, a $40 million fine against Princess Cruise Line Ltd. for illegal dumping of oil-contaminated waste and falsifying records. The use of a "magic pipe" was discovered by an engineer. The ships were using the "magic pipe" to illegally discharge oily water. They had been doing this since 2005. These ships did come into Maine waters.

There are other documented environmental concerns.

According to the EPA, each day an average cruise ship at sea will emit more sulfur dioxide than 13 million cars and more soot than 1 million cars. That is something to gnaw on.

Fact: Rockland's infrastructure

Anyone who questions our lack of infrastructure needs to visit our Public Landing. It is crumbling. It is a safety concern. If the tide is low, the ADA ramp is unacceptable. These safety concerns also impact all our major festivals. There is a cost to being a service center. There is a cost of being a tourist attraction. If you have 10,000 people cross over a threshold, general repairs and upkeep are a given, as are bathrooms, trash, police, EMS, roads and traffic woes. Who should pay for the use of our facilities? How do we create revenue to offset these expenses? Increase taxes or increase fees? What are the answers?

Fact: Lobster harvesting gear

Lobster gear is dragged and destroyed by cruise ships. Harbor Management Commission member Richard Whitman, who is also a local fisherman born and raised in Rockland, offers these comments, "They (cruise ships) dropped an anchor on three of mine (lobster traps) two years ago. LOL, and it happened to my friend this year. They usually drag them off somewhere." Richard further asserts, "The denial around trap loss is huge. no one assumes any responsibility, and we have a right under the laws of Maine to fish unencumbered. We have a right." Richard states the base cost of gear lost is, 1 trap, rope, buoy = $100.

All in all, from 2010 to 2017, the cruise industry continues to grow. More and more data are available about the pros and cons. How do we guarantee that the pros work for Rockland? How do we suss out the cons and avoid them?

Cruise ships do not need to be an all-or-nothing proposition for our city. What it needs to be is right for Rockland. Consistently there is a consensus that the boutique ships are a good fit for Rockland. How do we expand on this success? The need for regulation is a no-brainer, as once Pandora's box is open, it is all but impossible to shut it. Let's think this through. It is clear that as a community we need to have discussions about the industry. This is a critical time in Rockland's development. Knee-jerk reactions are not helpful. These are historic times. Decisions will be far-reaching. Let's take our time and get this right for all of Rockland.

Louise MacLellan-Ruf



Rockland cruise ship carney

I have spoken to a number of fellow Rockland residents, and there is pretty clear agreement about what we want for our city. We want a vibrant community with a high quality of life and well-paying and secure jobs. We want the best education for our children and residents who are involved in and support the community. We should leverage the huge advantages we have, and because of the efforts of our city officials and our chamber of commerce, we have come a long way. Since many residents think that bringing in mega-cruise ships is an answer to achieving these objectives, I think it important to take a close look at the reality of the implications. Does this indeed meet our strategic objectives?

First let’s look at our strategic advantages. We have become established as a center for the arts and culture, have an eager and willing workforce and a vibrant working waterfront, are a home port for high-end cruises and schooners, and have returned Main Street to being a mecca for many upscale coastal residents and visitors.

I don’t think that the passengers themselves add to the community. They are in and out of here. Yes, some will return, but most not to stay. The remaining arguments are largely economic. Indeed, if we could place a large turnstile at Harbor Wharf and have every cruiser insert the $85 that most surveys say these folks spend in a port of call, the city would not miss their presence. So the arguments that I hear are 1) they will support our Main Street businesses, 2) this in turn will create jobs and 3) we will attract return visits where these tourists will spend even more dollars.

There is something else that appears to happen in other ports around the world. As it turns out, Royal Caribbean International, like other cruise lines, makes 27.6 percent of its income from concessions on board and on shore. It turns out that many of the new shops that crop up as cruise ship traffic increases in most ports are owned by the cruise lines themselves. Often these new shops creep into the working waterfronts. Even with our one “Jewel” of a visitor, transportation (the buses used to take people away from Rockland) was provided by a Taunton, Mass., company (What, we don’t have any buses in our area?) and Intercruise Shore Services is owned by an English conglomerate and basically provides services at many of Royal Caribbean's stops.

I was curious about this, so I asked a friend who is a former chief executive in the cruise ship industry. He said: “Of course. The jobs are all short-term and low-paying and often filled by migrant seasonal workers. We certainly never cared much about the communities. They are only about supporting an entertaining experience for the passengers and we tried to give them not what was there, but rather what they expected and wanted to find. Usually hats, trinkets, souvenirs and that sort of stuff. We did not care about the arts and culture that a community might find. Most lines actually own a lot of the shore-based concessions and services through shell companies"

I have not had time, I confess, to independently verify much of this, but the source is very reliable. I have tried to wade through piles of SEC reports, analyst reports, and financial statements, but it gets very complex. Royal Caribbean International, for example, is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (a Libyan company), which is owned by Cruise Associates (a Bahamian company), which is owned by A. Wilhelmsen AS. (a Norwegian corporation), that is indirectly owned by members of the Wilhelmsen family of Norway. Now, all along the way, each one has many subsidiaries. Royal Caribbean International alone has 73 subsidiaries! These guys are not stupid and tend not to leave much money sitting on the table.

So back to Rockland. Once the cruise lines get in, the sociological literature on cruise tourism suggests that there is often short-term euphoria in host communities, which is not long-lived as the cruise lines begin to take over. We are getting set up so that we will build out infrastructure, get excited and open the door for another mass-market adventure and opportunity for large corporate profit.

So if you want to talk about the benefits of hosting cruise ships, don’t talk to me about the people themselves, who will not add to our community, and don’t talk to me about big sales numbers. These are deceiving. Don’t say anything about return visitors, because it doesn’t add up. Don’t talk jobs, because they are low-paying temporary jobs and often gobbled up by migrants. Cruise ships don’t improve our quality of life or our schools. Cruise tourists don’t care about our culture or arts and these current strengths will be eroded by multitudes of ticky-tacky shops. Yachters and schooner patrons will avoid Rockland on the days the ships are in. The character of our town will be lost forever to the temptations of short-term gain.

We need to grow, indeed, but let’s spend some time considering the best way to do so first. I happen to believe that Rockland is better than a mass-market high-volume entertainment carney. With careful planning and by working together, we can craft a plan for growth that will not subvert the strengths we have, but leverage them. But we need to choose, because we can’t have both, and we certainly don’t want to become addicted to a path where the benefactor can pull the plug at any time.

David Wylie


[Ed. note: The above letter was edited for space.]

Comments (4)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 13, 2017 01:03

Mr. Wylie: I think you will find that for the most part the buses come from the Lincolnville, Lewiston bus company called Northeast Charter and Tour. Having said that I question much of your article. Having lived here for 35 years I recall hearing the same arguments all the time but I do not see the city council doing anything about it. It needs to start with leadership. Maybe Mr. Weinardy can help you as he has plenty of time and energy to volunteer as I understand.

Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Nov 12, 2017 19:28

Louise MacLellan-Ruf and David Wylie both make compelling statements regarding the growth of the cruise ship industry in Rockland. Rockland residents need to take this one slow and research what is best for the overall health of Rockland as well as the beautiful Penobscot Bay. I hope everyone does a bit of research and also attends any meetings within the city that might take place. Residents who have reviewed the implications may want to call on city officials to start a dialogue with the area residents and others who might be affected.  As Benjamin Franklin so eloquently stated,  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure."

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 12, 2017 17:08

David Wylie hit it right on the head! Tourists come and go in Rockland to visit by car and partake of the local offerings. With Cruise Ships it is different and I am appalled to learn of the deceit of the cruise lines offerings as local enterprises and they are not.

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Nov 09, 2017 10:39

Thank you Jean Edwards for a very touching poem.

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