Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, Sept. 13

Sep 13, 2018

PETA responds to lobster editorial

Regarding your editorial [Courier-Gazette, Sept. 6] about PETA’s request to pay tribute to the lobsters who were killed in a truck crash in Brunswick, most of us would recoil at the thought of intentionally harming a cat or dog, yet we seem to have a blind spot regarding the suffering of animals who are killed for our plates.

Lobsters and other crustaceans may seem very different from us, but we are exactly the same in the ways that matter most: Like humans, lobsters value their lives and don’t want to die. They also feel pain. Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a leading authority on the subject of pain in crustaceans, says, “With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”

Research has shown that lobsters use complicated signals to explore their surroundings, establish social relationships, recognize individual lobsters, and remember past acquaintances. Yet too many people continue to think of these animals as little more than swimming entrées — if they think of them at all.

It’s time for a sea change. Kinder options — such as hearts of palm “lobster” rolls, creamy lobster mushroom bisque, and more — are easy to find and prove that no animal needs to die for dinner.

Paula Moore

PETA Foundation

Washington, D.C.

Call Democratic Socialism by its proper name

I am grateful that Reade Brower has singled out my article, Democratic Socialism [Another View, Courier-Gazette and Camden Herald, Aug. 23], for comment, as it is definitely important for issues of this nature to have input from all viewpoints. One element that I want to address is Reade’s attempt to divert attention to his renaming of Democratic Socialism to responsible capitalism. This is often done by the media or left-of-center liberal traditionalists who are uneasy with the moniker, Democratic Socialism.

However, they must recognize the efforts of not only the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, but other Democratic senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massa chusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Corey Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California now are in lockstep with Sanders. Take note of Gavin Newsom, Democratic nominee for governor of California, Andrew Gillum, Democratic nominee for governor of Florida and Cynthia Nixon, Democratic candidate for governor of New York are all in the camp of Democratic Socialists. In spite of the fears of the traditional liberals, even the chair of the Democratic Party has boldly stated that Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, New York candidate for Congress, is the new face of the Democratic party. These facts are reality and not fantasy.

Reade’s proposed solutions to both the issues of Medicare for all and free tuition are vague at best. All of these issues will need massive federal funding. The Democratic Socialists need to not let the uninformed public be unaware that the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark all have a value-added tax of 25 percent instead of our sales tax. Each time an item moves through each transaction from manufacturer to the ultimate consumer, the 25 percent value-added tax is in effect. In addition, they have a very high rate of income taxes, such as Sweden’s 49 to 64 percent rates.

Each of these freebies has an exceptionally large price tag and none can be solved easily, if at all. I ask for the thoughts of others as was expressed by Jay Foster of Lincolnville in his recent letter to the editor. Come on folks, don’t be shy, and let's hear from you.

Jan Dolcater

Rockport

The fox is in the henhouse

We are concerned about the credibility of the Ad Hoc Commission, which is charged with developing a new harbor management plan. Its mission will be tainted by the clear conflict of interest of its chairman, a conflict that he admitted to the press in May.

Not only does he have a direct financial interest in hosting more cruise ships, but it appears that he may be excluding the rest of the AHC members from deliberation on contracts with consultants, the scope of work, and even changing the mission of the commission. The mission mandated by the City Council was to assess the economic impact of cruise ships on Rockland, not to figure out how to increase their numbers.

At this point, any recommendations that the commission makes will never pass the smell test and Rockland residents deserve better. The harbor is a key asset of the city and its future should reflect the unbiased interests of all of us. The City Council should review its stance on conflict of interest and ethics as embodied in the city charter and Maine law. The AHC should be disbanded and the chore of developing a credible harbor management plan should be left to the Harbor Management Commission, part of whose mission “is to develop, adopt, and implement a harbor management plan.”

At the very least, the AHC should be cleaned up and anyone who has any self interest or who is circumventing due process removed. The commission should be totally unbiased and credible. While this may not be a politically expedient course of action, it nevertheless will credit its proponents with doing the “right thing” for Rockland and rising above any personal ambitions.

The AHC should also include Rockland residents as part of its research. Our Bill of Rights states “that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people.” The elected officials of Rockland therefore serve at the pleasure of its residents.

The businesses in Rockland do not vote. Indeed, many of their owners do not even live in the city. They contribute to the town by paying rent and taxes, which help support our schools and other town expenses. This is the economic rent they pay to operate here. This does not give them a right, however, to dictate the future of the city. They are here at the pleasure of Rockland’s citizenry.

A necessary approach for any good research would be to poll the people as well as as all businesses and interest groups in Rockland who are affected by cruise ship tourism.

After listening to the recordings of the AHC meetings, it is clear that few, if any, of its members have studied the industry, researched experiences in other harbors, or read economic impact statements from around the world. They seem to be blindly accepting numbers from earlier studies in Bar Harbor and Portland, which were done by a group partially funded by the cruise industry itself.

The fox seems to be in the henhouse!

David Wylie

Rockland

Harbor planning: An ad hoc fiasco?

Rockland's new Ad Hoc Harbor Management Planning Committee has a mandate to make critical decisions concerning the future of Rockland's harbor. It is off to a questionable start.

The recording of its last meeting regrading cruise ships makes it clear that the AHC is not following the mandate of the City Council to research the economic impact of huge cruise ships on Rockland and the harbor. It appears the the goal of this committee is to research how best to market these huge ships and in turn attract more ships. As the previous chair of the committee advises, one goal is to make these cruise ship passengers "feel welcome" in Rockland. This comment tells us more about the committee and its agenda than about the economic impact of cruise ships on Rockland.

I question the validity of the committee. The previous elected chair, now in the secretary position, has already publicly admitted to a conflict of interest, due to his work with the Pilots Association. If the AHC is supposed to represent an unbiased group of Rockland citizens, why do we have a voting member of the City Council on this committee who has a self-admitted bias for the ships? As a Pilot employee, he could benefit personally by the number of huge ships brought into the harbor. Considering his bias, and his role as a City Council member, ultimately should he be allowed to vote on the AHC recommendations which he helped to formulate?

The AHC has chosen a group from the UMaine system to conduct a survey on cruise ship passengers, land-based tourists, and retail stores. A UMaine system professor, Gabe, had previously conducted a very controversial study and survey on cruise ships. His work was partially funded by the cruise ship industry and it appears this survey will be, too. Why choose a group from UMaine which has a history of being connected to the cruise industry? This bias will undercut survey results, raising questions and more controversy. As discussed during the meeting, there is a huge rush to get the survey written. Consequently, questions have not been carefully vetted. Wouldn’t it be best to take a thoughtful and measured approach to studying this already controversial issue?

Does it make sense to exclude Rockland residents from the economic impact survey? Residents are the economic engine that drives the town year-round. They pay their taxes, invest in their homes, work and spend money in local stores and businesses. Their quality of life, real estate values, and tax dollars will be directly impacted by the thousands of passengers who come in on these huge ships. The current plan is only to poll cruise ship passengers land-based tourists, and retail business owners.

Many of the retail store owners, some the most vocal in support of the huge ships, do not even live in Rockland. Why should their opinions weigh so heavily in the survey? Why not include the marine businesses that employ many Rockland residents and rely on the harbor as a working waterfront? How about the fishermen who also use the harbor and depend on their traditional fishing grounds? Shouldn't these groups be represented? There is also no mention of the tax dollars that will have to be allocated for infrastructure or the town services needed to accommodate these huge ships and their thousands of passengers. One has to wonder if these groups are excluded because of the painfully evident bias of some members on this committee.

If this AHC group is allowed to continue as is, I feel sure that the AHC will just be providing a rubber stamp to let these huge ships into our harbor and into our lives. It is my hope that the City Council will disband or redirect this committee and, at the least, make sure that the members are well versed in the issues and given the opportunity to review the excellent independent studies available. On the other hand, why start at ground zero with a group that has not studied the harbor or the critical issues to be decided? Why not let the Harbor Commission, whose mandate already includes developing a harbor management plan, work to resolve these complex issues that many in that group have already studied? This seems like the most logical answer to me.

Sally Wylie

Rockland

Why no teeth?

Rockland City Council is about to consider an ordinance for historic preservation. At first it will have no teeth. That delights some people and scares others. This is a common reaction. Rockland has a few buildings and some sections of Rockland that are labeled historic or important, but there is no process to protect these properties from thoughtless changes. Some people like it that way. Others fear we will lose Rockland’s architectural heritage unless we adopt a strong historic preservation ordinance.

The curator of the Rockland Historical Society, with several citizens, shared ideas about how an ordinance might be written for Rockland. Lots of places have historic preservation ordinances that are very restrictive. These did not seem to fit the independent spirit of our citizens. Compiling a comprehensive list of Rockland properties deserving preservation seemed to be a good first step. That will take time and people volunteering to do that. In the ordinance, the city is asked to form a Historic Preservation Commission to begin that process of identification and to create a preservation manual specific to Rockland.

The proposed ordinance outlines a process for owners of significant properties to use when considering changes to their properties. It begins with the Rockland Code Enforcement Office. The ordinance is worth reading, because it has a lot of definitions of terms and describes what can and cannot be done to a historic property. (Yes, you will continue to be free to choose the paint colors you like.) But nothing goes into effect until a commission is formed and a Rockland-specific manual is provided to the public.

So, no teeth for now and a few teeth after the commission is formed and a manual is public. If the council in a couple of years decides more teeth are appropriate, that might merit grant applications. If Rockland eventually adopts some national and state standards, the city could apply for grants to provide money to owners of historic properties. But, in a city of independent-minded citizens, it may take time to fully agree on what are the right teeth for protection of heritage and grant qualification, and not teeth that bite too deep into individual freedoms.

Connie Hayes

Rockland

Open letter to the voters of Rockland

For the past 35-plus years that I have been a resident, small-business owner, and taxpayer. I have enjoyed my independence and opportunity to raise my family, and participate in many community activities.

This community has made great changes in that period of time. I find many changes have been challenging and rewarding, while I have taken the position of questioning where the opportunity arose.

I am running for City Council in order to provide some rationale for the next three years as to why, who, what, when and where changes are made and to make every attempt to provide adequate research and better communication so that taxpayers, citizens and residents of Rockland might understand their government better.

There is no doubt that the potential in Rockland is explosive. It appears that houses seem to sell like hotcakes. Rules and regulations come out of City Hall at lightning speed with many unanswered and confusing details by which our future will be guided.

There is no crystal ball, no magic formula, nor are all the answers going to please everyone. It is possible, however, by creating a better opportunity for open dialog, less intrusive rules and ordinances.

No matter how much time is needed, the public has every right and expectation to be heard.

Hot issues include: street repairs, infrastructure, landfill and recycling fees. Where do your tax dollars go? Who makes which decisions? The size of our town government? Are there special interest groups? Are the tax increment financing deals fair? How can City Hall help employment in the area? Do we actually get our value for being the county seat? Do our city departments actually provide honest and necessary budgets? Are you happy with local government officials, department heads and city workers? Do you think alliances have been formed to micromanage this town? Are you happy with your current representation? Are you willing to ask for more accountability and more open government?

I have experience in both Delaware and Maine as a state auditor. I have owned a small business for 14 years. I have a Class A driver’s license to operate tractor-trailer trucks. I have nine years and 600,000 miles operating a tour bus all over Canada and the eastern United States. I graduated from the Hartford Institute of Accounting and hold a bachelor's degree in management and finance from the Universtiy of Maine.

Thank you, your vote will be appreciated

Dale Hayward

Rockland

Miramant meets the challenges of governing

I have known Dave Miramant for more than three decades. We first met in the 1980s through our shared interest in aviation, when I was director of aeronautics for the state of Maine and he served on the Maine Aeronautics Advisory Commission, an early example of his commitment to public service.

During his years as an airline captain, Dave flew many international routes, giving him the opportunity to observe the social, cultural and economic structures of many countries. Over the years, Dave has used what he observed and learned to bring innovative ideas and solutions to issues facing Mainers.

As a former Maine legislator, and as the former head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, I am keenly aware of the challenge Dave faces in seeing that government provides the essential, qualitative and cost-effective service the public needs and expects. Dave has met that challenge successfully, and continues to do so to provide the best service to people of this district and the entire state. I strongly urge you to vote for Dave Miramant this coming Nov. 6.

Barry Valentine

Camden

Ed. note: Dave Miramant is running for reelection in Maine Senate District 12, which includes all of Knox County except Washington.

In their own words

Have you made a visit to Rockland’s City Council chambers lately? If not, you’ve missed something special – the words of your fellow citizens on the walls. These quotations are from the hundreds of interviews done by Rockland Heart & Soul. As we try to learn what matters most to the people of our community, Rockland Heart & Soul has heard many thought-provoking comments. Some are critical and pointed, but the vast majority simply reflect what we as a community care about – our harbor, our downtown, our compact, walkable city, our friends and neighbors, to name only a few.

Come to City Hall and see what you think about these quotations. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Can you see the many things we have in common? Would you like to add your thoughts to the wall? Rockland Heart & Soul is still interviewing and listening to the stories of our community. Email us at info@RocklandHeartandSoul.org and we’ll schedule an interview with you.

As we approach the end of our story-gathering phase, however, we need to organize all the data that we’ve collected from our interviews. Hundreds of data points – again, the words of our citizens - need to be sorted into categories. We had a “test sorting” this summer and discovered that it was fun to see what people had to say, but that trying to find those eight to 10 categories led to some rather lively conversations.

Join us for the final sorting of the data Saturday, Sept. 22, at 9 a.m. at the Lighthouse Museum. We’ll have coffee, tea, refreshments and some interesting conversation.

Callie Black

Coordinator

Rockland Heart & Soul

Appleton Library thanks Masons

Appleton Library’s 2018 “Bikes for Books” summer reading program was a great success. I would like to thank Union Masonic Lodge 31, and particularly Mac “Tim” MacArthur and Gary Roberts for this accomplishment. Masonic Lodge 31 provided new bikes and helmets as incentives to read in the summer. Our participants read a total of 109 picture books and Easy Readers, 34 graphic novels and 2,954 pages in chapter books. That is an incredible accomplishment.

Both Mac MacArthur and Gary Roberts went out of their way to ensure we had the proper sizes of bikes and helmets. Their efforts made four children very happy at our end-of-program raffle and party.

A huge thank-you goes to Union Masonic Lodge 31, Appleton Library volunteers, and especially to the children who read during their summer break!

I look forward to collaborating on future reading programs.

Julie Sells

Coordinator

Appleton Library

Yes on Question 1

My wife and I suffer from multiple illnesses. My Crohn's disease caused me to collapse recently in my own living room. So far, we've been able to take care of each other and ourselves. But it would be a great relief if we knew home care was available if we needed it.

That's why I'm voting yes this fall on Question 1, the Universal Home Care Initiative. It would guarantee home care for every elderly and disabled Mainer who requires it, whatever their income. That would relieve a lot of pressure from spouses and adult children, who now frequently exhaust themselves and their resources caring for a loved one with special needs.

The service would be paid for by a small tax exclusively on individual incomes above $128.400 in the first year of the program, with the figure rising in future years along with inflation. This seems like a reasonable funding source for such a needed service.

Like a lot of people, my wife and I have high standards for who works in our house. Question 1 would help professionalize the job of home care worker with better pay, benefits and training.

Maine already has the oldest population in the nation, and will keep getting older. Any one of us could suddently need home care, but only a small fraction know how they would pay for it. Question 1 addresses a pressing problem in a serious and fair way. This November, everyone should vote for Question 1, the Universal Home Care Initiative.

Howard Brown

Camden

Ed. note: The above letter was solicited by the Maine People's Alliance.

Fortman impresses

We recently had the pleasure of meeting Laura Fortman at a house party given for her by a good friend of ours. We were immediately impressed with her genuine warmth and sincerity – there is nothing false about Laura. She comes across as a woman who is deeply concerned about the welfare of those of us who live and work in Maine.

She has a delightful sense of humor and and a very honest, direct willingness to discuss the issues that are important to her. Unlike many politicians, Laura was not afraid to say “I don’t know” to a question posed, but promised to look into it and get back to the questioner. Laura spoke honestly about her life growing up in a working family, a sexual assault, the breakup of her marriage – subjects that are obviously very painful to discuss.

She faced her audience with courage and a palpable desire to try to correct some of the problems that she personally has encountered. She spoke about the tragedy of people who, because of their economic status, only spiral deeper and deeper into despair. She has faced the terrible truth of her own experience with sexual assault by working directly with the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Maine Women’s Policy Center as well as the U.S. Department of Labor. Laura was also director of the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle, as well as helping to build coalitions and craft programs to make sound changes for the citizens of Maine.

Laura Fortman was endorsed by former President Barak Obama, and she is a determined Clean Elections candidate. Laura Fortman is an example of what politicians should be – she is running for state Senate, representing the 13th District. She definitely has our votes.

Bruce and Julie Babb

Damariscotta

Fortman will help close gap between education, workforce needs

District 13 (all of Lincoln County with exception of Dresden, plus Windsor and Washington) now has a unique opportunity – elect an individual to the Maine Senate who has the policy experience to address the longstanding gap between education and workforce needs in Maine, in Lincoln County. My life’s work is in education, at all levels.

Throughout, I have had a strong interest in this essential, but too-often ignored, taken for granted relationship between what happens in classrooms and workforce skills, those needed now and in the future. The statistics on young women and men leaving Maine to settle in other states, either for better employment options or to acquire skills not acquired as students in Maine schools, is well documented. This situation needs to change. It can change.

As Maine’s labor commissioner for eight years and a deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Labor for three and a half years, and as someone who is knowledgeable about the needs of Lincoln County, Laura Fortman is more than ready to be in Augusta addressing education and the workforce. She knows firsthand how important it is to work on policy that will invigorate the synergies between education and the workforce.

Significant attention is needed on the role of technical education, STEM education, along with new or rising areas of employment in the health and bio-sciences, the trades, sustainability and environmental sciences, and, yes, even teaching. Her candidacy has been endorsed by Maine educators, MNEA, and workers, AFL-CIO and MSEA.

I will be voting for Laura Fortman for state senator for District 13. I hope you will as well. Currently, District 13 is not a part of the education and workforce conversation. It needs to be. It can be.

Jean Moon

Damariscotta

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