Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Jan. 02

Jan 02, 2020

Town manager talks back

Unfortunately, I feel compelled to reply to the recent article and editorial regarding the Town of Union, sidewalks and unofficial Facebook page, I say unfortunately because if the true facts were reported this would not be necessary. A story is a story, rumors are rumors, but facts tell the truth.

Over the many years I have been in government, I have had an excellent relationship with reporters from the Courier, David Grima, Dan Dunkle, Beth Birmingham and a few others in between. Almost always they made sure their story was accurate with facts, most times asking for documentation to back up the story.

Now I realize the reporter who wrote the article is new, probably a bit naive that people would actually tell you fabricated stories and exaggerated a bit. A little more work would have corrected those errors. Here are a few from the Dec. 19 article that have an impact on the context of the story:

1: “The Petition had 70 signatures from Union Voters”- If she had checked with the town clerk the petition given to the Select board had just over 50 signatures with just over 30 being Union voters. Apparently another 20 or so were given to one Selectmen but not all sometime after the original was turned it. The numbers make a vast difference is how the story is interpreted by the reader.

2: Talking about the “Civil Discourse all had signed”. Again, fact checking would have found they did not all sign it, it was the previous Board. It is probably a moot point here but important that it is not true.

3: The most egregious and inflammatory statement was quote "Feyler, however, said there will not be a vote on the sidewalks” when my exact e-mailed words were “This usually does not go back to the voters, although the BOS can put it on the warrant if they wish” It is a very big difference and after contacting the reporter she immediately e-mailed back she would correct the online version, but did not until three days later, and of course the printed version never gets corrected.

4:” The report of the Nov. 19 meeting regarding the petition was not in the minutes”. The petition was not given out during the meeting, it was handed to the BOS (not the TM or Secretary) without any explanation. The meeting was over, and adjourned. The reporter was present and should have known that fact. We don’t and can’t put things in the minutes that happen after the meeting is closed and if we did it should be a front-page story!

There are some other inaccuracies of fact that I will not nitpick on; the bottom line is that facts are important so readers can come to their own conclusions and not have it decided for them. And yes, I did call out these inaccuracies, thus the editorial.

Now the Editorial titles “Maybe Union Town Government Should Listen”, I would say “Maybe Newspapers Should Check Their Facts”

For the record, Dan Dunkle and I have been professional friends for many years and still will be after this fiasco is over. Dan, like all good bosses, had to come to the defense of his reporter, I would all do the same.

Now I love a good debate so here we go Dan, just taking a few quotes from the editorial:

A: “Why would anyone think that a social media page named “Town of Union Maine” and run by the TM is the official town Facebook page?” Well, you answer your own question in the next paragraph when it clearly states the page is owned by Jay Feyler and is not an official page of the Town of Union. If you saw it, I am sure others could too.

B: “It is apparently very important comments do not come into the town government” I have stated many times regarding the Facebook page comment section, not only do we not have the manpower to constantly monitor a Facebook page, but the majority of our readers simply want information about what is going on and not a million, yes trolls, commenting. I answer every single e-mail and question that comes into my office, It would not be right to ignore questions on Facebook for days or weeks because I did not see them. We encourage people to share our Facebook post on their own pages and comment away. And many times, people do comment on a page that has been shared, they say some vile things and we get complaints about it because they do not understand it was not the original post.

C: “We never said it was not legal—” Now this one is a bit laughable. Dan, this is where you need to go back and read the article, because when a reporter says “the ACLU sued Lepage for a similar page and it was deemed illegal”, yes you are saying that we were illegal! There is no comparison and a simple search of Facebook pages and government case law will show that if you do not allow any comments or post, even a government page can ban all post and comments. The Lepage Facebook page did not follow those rules and allowed only what they wanted in the comment and posting sections. It was an inflammatory statement to make a not so interesting article look better, never should have passed quality journalism we expect from the Courier, it is more suited for the National Enquirer.

D: I am going to stop with one more comment, your suggestion of “Putting out a newsletter” We put out several newsletters, via electronically and hard copies. We use a list serve that puts out information of all minutes, agendas and other items of interest. Each year we hold an unprecedented Informational Meeting, where citizens can ask virtually anything and get a synopsis of what happened last year and our plans for the current year. For a small community we are probably one of the leaders in ways citizens can get information. Reporters used to attend these and the past two years we have talked about, wait, sidewalks!

It is unfortunate that on the national level we have news coming and going from both sides and you have not idea what is the truth. Reporters are writing their stories and injecting their opinions, I rarely see that in the Courier which is why it is the only newspaper I subscribe to anymore.

I simply give out the facts to reporters, citizens and the Board of Selectmen. I believe citizens can make their own decisions based on the true facts, not embellished facts, not inuendo but true facts. I hope that Village Soup and Courier will stay true to the facts in the future.

Jay Feyler

Union

A petition from Pen Bay Acres

We who live in Pen Bay Acres abutting 182 Camden Street in Rockland, wish to let the public know our thoughts about the proposed cell tower (monopole) of 120 feet, plus what the Planning Board has accepted the application for. Basically, accepting the application is like applying for a job, which means they filled out the forms correctly. Then comes the next phase of decision making.

You can see cell towers located off into the trees on Rte. 1 between Thomaston and Bath (and further south). However, none of these are right in town, unlike this one which is proposed to be on Rte. 1 next to Pizza Hut, stores, grocery shopping, apartments, homes, thrift store, car dealership, and also near Riley School and Pen Bay Christian School, plus two Chinese restaurants.

We feel that this location is wrong for Rockland and that there are sites that might be better. Perhaps you have some land for sale? One of our residents talked with Granese on the phone. He said, he “would be open to finding another location.” Vincent Granese works in Boston, his phone number, (781) 608-1002.

Please come to the public meeting of the Planning Board Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 5:15 p.m. at Rockland City Hall to make a united effort to stop this proposed cell tower next to Pizza Hut. Your attendance will help. Speak at the podium if you want to.

Signed by: Ananur Forma, Catherine and Philip O' Connor, Tanya Huntley, Jack and Ann Copp, Will Clayton and family, Vicki Remsen, Noel & Jerry Oakes, Carol & Douglass Timberlake, Carla McCorrison, Michelle Hardy, Lillian G. Young, Shawn Dulac, Wat, Mawn, Kem, Prem, Tracy Balint, Stephen Balint, Nancy Lekakis, Gayle Wendt, Brenda, Kai, Kamea Thomas, Alex Gardiner and more, whom I did not get to speak with yet would’ve signed on.

Our concerned friends who think the same way that we do are:

Pinny Beebe-Center, Abi Morrison, Yvonne Saldin, Kyle M. Swan, Fredrick Morrill, Rob Gabe, Donna Barrows, Jia Wildwyn, Bryan Dechter, Ron Huber, Nancy & Bill Nagle and Sandy Moon.

Plus: Yes, I agree with Ms. Ananur Forma that this high-frequency extremely tall cell tower should not be placed so near to schools, the working public, restaurants and homes. 5G is not a proven safe technology. Until it is, we have an obligation to keep it out of our collective backyards.

Please utilize this letter with my permission.

Eva Morris

Literary Activist

 

Ananur Forma

Rockland

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