Letters, April 17
Public hearing needed for Searsport dredging
As Ms Mitchell noted in her article on the April 8 dredging meeting in Belfast, I asked the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) how we could get a public hearing on the dredging issue.
Why is that important?
At a public hearing all comments are recorded and questions answered while at a public meeting there is no such requirement. The government is not required even to take notes (or even listen) at the public meeting, much less record comments and answer questions. It is more like, "Thank you for your input — Next." So its very important for us to get a public hearing if we are ever to get our comments heard and considered.
At the meeting on April 8, the ACOE told us the way to secure a public hearing was to write to Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) and request one. Have you ever had the experience of thinking, "Boy I wish I had said ..."? Well, I had that feeling right after they took the microphone from me. If I had been able to think a little quicker on my feet, when she said write to the DEP, I would have said: "Write to the DEP?Are you familiar with our DEP?" Maine's Commissioner of the DEP was the chief lobbyist for a gas and oil company in her past life. Now she finds herself as the person responsible for protecting our environment. She seems to be having some difficulty shifting from her old job of exploiting the environment to her new one, protecting it. There must be a wicked learning curve. Sadly she is adjusting slowly to her new role. So far she has mastered being in a new building, tormenting a new staff, taking the new paycheck, and making decisions that affect all of us. But she has yet to learn the difference between protecting and exploiting. Old habits die hard and she still sides with her old pals, the polluters, every time. Even to the point of protecting them from the laws she is supposed to enforce. Case in point, her refusal to take action against GAC and their obvious eroding waste problem.
So asking the DEP to do the right thing and set up a public hearing on the dredging issue, to listen to the fishermen, is like asking GAC to voluntarily clean up their legacy waste problem in Stockton Harbor. They will both smile warmly, nod affirmatively, walk away irresponsibly — and do nothing.
If ACOE thinks the system for environmental review and protection works in our great state, its no wonder they have a credibility problem.
Earth Day parade
By now we should all know that our planet is in danger, but some of us may not know what we can do to prevent, or at least minimize, predicted catastrophes. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change foretells floods, famines and epidemics that will affect everyone and that can only be forestalled if carbon emissions are drastically reduced. That means we must cut the burning of fossil fuels that causes global warming and clean up our act. And everybody has to help: me, you, your great-aunt Suzie, your teenage son and your next-door neighbor in Belfast.
We can all begin by celebrating Earth Day on April 22 with a Harbor Walk Parade. Concerned citizens of Belfast and surrounding towns will gather at 2:30 p.m. at the Boat House to walk along the harbor to the footbridge, paying tribute to the coming of spring and the beauty of the earth and the ocean that surround us. Walkers are invited to wear colorful costumes, bring musical instruments, or carry branches that they can decorate if they arrive at the Boat House early. Or just show up. It’s a simple way to show our gratitude for the gifts that Mother Nature offers and our willingness to do our part to protect her, our children, and ourselves. It’s a way to begin. (The rain date is April 23.)
Questionable business decisions
It was my understanding that Belfast was a community that supported small business. I have served as a small business owner in Belfast as a hair stylist for 43 years, and my mom and dad owned Robins Roost restaurant for years before that. I now believe that the spirit of supporting locally owned business by local residents isn't really what "supporting small business" means in Belfast. I believe the slogan should say, "the larger the bank account and the higher the social position you have, the more support you will get from our town." I believe people in those positions can do whatever they want — even close small businesses down that have been serving the community of Belfast for more than four decades.
In 2002 I leased 118 High St. to relocate A Cut Above beauty salon. As the inspections started to take place I was in for a big awakening! The code enforcement officer at the time stated the building was not up to code, which was confirmed by the state plumbing inspector. For me to get my business started and up to code it cost $10,000.
In 2003, the building at 118 High St. was sold to someone who just recently moved to Belfast (not a local resident). The new owner stated she wanted me to move my business to the next unit (same building) so another business could "have more space." The move cost me $8,000 for renovations, licenses, etc.
For the next eight years, I agreed to an annual lease. For the next three years I decided a month to month agreement would be safer due to a multitude of factors such as the failing economy and an increasing number of beauty salons in the area.
On September 17, 2013 I received a notice of termination of tenancy. I was shocked! When I asked the building owner why, I was told another business (Worth Realty) that already occupied space in the building "needed more space." I could not believe what I was hearing. The thoughts that ran through my mind were: How much space does a realty company need? How can either business owner (the owner of the building and the owner of the business expanding into my space) sleep at night knowing they were kicking a 62-year-old woman who only has a few more years of work left, and does not have the funds to "start over" out on the curb? I have owned a small business in Belfast for over forty-three years! Being a business owner myself I understand having to make "business decisions." Was this a "business decisions," or was it something else?
I decided to talk to the owner of Worth Realty to hopefully make more sense of what was going on. The explanation I received was "I am 65. This will be my last hurrah." I thought to myself, "Last hurrah, what does that mean?" So, no reasonable "business decision" explanation.
I was not the only small business affected by this "last hurrah." The same thing happened (another termination of tenancy) to another tenant in the building next to City Drawer so "business could expand." At least six or more people were impacted. Luckily, I was fortunate to find another space without the huge start-up costs. I am now located at 124 Waldo Ave. in the Webber Building.
Owner of A Cut Above in Belfast
Activism's mob mentality
After a two-hour exposure to the spectacle of anti-dredging rhetoric I was perplexed. This occurred during the public comment period at the Army Corps of Engineers meeting in Belfast. Now many years of wondering why have finally made me aware of the following:
Pro-activism is a social behavior. It is an opportunity to rebel against the system in place while participating in fun and games with a mob. The activity is justified by applying "voodoo" logic. Prove the negative is a common method used, as is hysteria and sophism. These tools are also used to recruit participants.
Practitioners do not stop at one issue but affiliate with many other issues in an effort to continue enjoying the proactive experience.
The proof of this hypothesis is in the local papers now and in the local past.
Wake up, voters
On November 4, the mid-term election will be held.
The Supreme Court has released corporations and the super rich to spend whatever they want on elections, causing damage to our democracy, our ability to respond to pressing needs from job to climate, consumer protection to chemical safety, and the very functioning of our government.
On April 2, the Supreme Court stripped all key restrictions on mid-term and campaign contributions. Republican Paul Ryan has a 2015 budget plan they are calling a "common-sense" approach. It may be "common sense" to Republican millionaires, politicians and their corporate cronies, but it makes no sense to me.
Cuts in Social Security and Medicare and other social programs to pay for lavish cuts and gaping loopholes for the most profitable corporations and more tax cuts and breaks to millionaires and billionaires, at my expense. It's not acceptable. It's insidious.
We didn't contribute to the deficit and it's true large numbers of retiring "Baby Boomers" will be collecting benefits over the next decade, other factors within our government control threatening our benefits.
More than 40 million senors have paid and 100 million workers are currently paying their hard earned money into Social Security and Medicare and the promise must not be broken by misguided proposal that undermine these programs.
Since 1968, Congress has raided more than 2.33 trillion from Social Security Trust Fund. During years 2001-2008, the average spent from Social Security Trust Fund per year is 170 million. These funds were spent on "pet pork barrel" projects and welfare to corporations. Yet, their pension funds were untouched.
You plunder the earth, rape her of her resources, exploit the people, and systematically disenfranchise those who don't agree with you for doing all this calling them radicals.
Jimmy Carter introduced subsidies for small-scale electricity production which jump started an industry but under pressure from big oil campaign contributors, Ronald Reagan eliminated them as his first action in office.
To Republicans and Democrats alike, Fox News and every variation in between, we the people have had enough of your lies, distortions, denials hatred, slander, greed, blame game, racism, and you fear mongers trying to frighten us into submission into surrendering our rights and our reasons into the betrayal of that for which this country has always stood: one nation under God , indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The vaunted fathers of ours have been so quoted they appear as marble statues or faces on Mount Rushmore. They were practical people and the thing they obviously feared was a government of men and not of laws.
An Abraham Lincoln quote after the Civil War reads, "As a result of the war, corporations now has been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow in high places until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed."
Regardless of how much or little oil we will have tomorrow, our political, religious leaders do not have the courage to face the new reality. Problems we will be facing tomorrow could hardly be worse problems to face than what we face today: the threat of our extinction.
Bill Clinton after Golobal Initiative speech quoted Abraham Lincoln's state of the union address of 1862. 'We must disenthrall ourselves" What he didn't quote of the rest of the sentence, "and then we shall save our country."
We are all one. Truth will prevail.
Open letter on Medicaid Expansion
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment that the Maine Senate failed to override the misguided veto of the governor on the LD1487 for Medicaid expansion.
With medical providers, businesses, advocates for the poor and health policy experts all agreeing that this is a windfall for Maine, I cannot understand how you can allow this to be defeated by the dogmatic reflexes of a few adversaries of broad health coverage. Even “managed care” concessions requested by the minority were rebuffed in this debacle. As President Obama says, it is hard to understand why some people want so badly to keep other people without health insurance.
You are supposed to be a leader in the state of Maine. Seventy thousand Mainers are worse off today than they could have been thanks to the Senate’s inaction. You and all opponents should be ashamed.