Letters, Dec. 6
Learned the hard way
Several years ago, my town of Freedom faced a “disamenity” intrusion, not unlike Searsport does today. We were asked to permit installation of three industrial wind turbines atop Beaver Hill. What did we learn?
1. That the applicant can and will sell the facility, so any assurances based on the applicant’s word or record are built on sand.
2. That the applicant’s promises are only as good as the enforcement of ordinances and that performance standards must be constantly monitored by someone other than the applicant. Freedom avoided this expense by repealing the commercial site review ordinance and the protection it would have supplied.
3. That computer models are incapable of representing the actual circumstances and are a worthless expense. Freedom residents experience noise levels and incidence of flicker beyond all computer study projections.
4. That the tax revenue boost lasts only until county and school commitments catch up.
Beaver Ridge Wind divided Freedom and generated one permanent part-time job. The applicant and subsequent owners have had to purchase properties close to the site. Our neighbors have moved. Our home lost value and, like our neighbors, we probably have only one possible buyer — the turbine company — so we will remain too close for comfort.
I now repeatedly hear state officials, representatives of the wind industry and townspeople say that Beaver Ridge Wind is a mistake, should never have gone forward, and that too many homes are too close to the turbines. This hindsight is useless to me and my neighbors, but I hope it informs the Searsport Planning Board. I urge the Planning Board to err on the side of its responsibility to guard the health, safety and welfare of the people of Searsport — and the surrounding region.
Heidi N. Brugger
School volunteer says thanks
I am writing to you because I have been volunteering for school fund-raisers for eight years now. Most years, [fund-raisers were needed] to help fund many things such as class trips, new playground equipment and various other programs that needed additional funds in order to not lose those programs.
We have hosted murder mystery dinner parties for up to 100 guests, sold raffle tickets, had winter carnivals, and in the last two years organized two haunted walks. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most dedicated people and businesses of our community. I'd just like to take a moment to thank the Lane Construction Corporation for the use of safety vests, cones, hard hats and the donation of a load of processed gravel for last year's raffle. I'd also like to recognize their employees Richard Nichols, Daniel Pelky, Kerby Oulette and Marilyn Suacier for the many years and countless hours of volunteer time.
I would like to thank the following businesses: Dirigo Glass, Fraternity Village Store, Morrill General, Hannaford Supermarket, Belfast Variety, Union Farm Equipment and Camden National Bank for the donations of food, raffle donations, supplies and equipment. Without your generosity our success wouldn't have been made possible.
I would also like to thank the following: Hannah Nichols, Benjamin Nichols, Lisa Richards, Richard LaFrance, Jake LaFrance, Parker LaFrance, Anne Ambrose, Mike Ambrose, Annette Ambrose, Emily Ambrose, Rory Ambrose, Glen Taylor, Laura Miller, David Miller, Brian Miller, Kevin Miller, Randy Place, Tina Place, Brandi Place, Blaine Place, Brad Hill, Meredith Hill, Derek Hill, Tina Hill, Tayler Nickerson, Dorothy Wilson, Frank Wilson, Dana Wilson, James Nelson, Sarah Nelson, Cody Nelson, Cooper Nelson, Kay Dodd, Ilona Dubois, Joe Dubois, Heidi Faulkingham, Chris Lavalle, Kevin Coombs, Molly Ross, Kirsten Racioppi, Susan Walker, Eric Walker, Bridgette Winslow, Aaron Winslow, Luke Chadwick. To those I may have failed to mention I apologize .
The above businesses and people are what makes our community what it is. These fundraisers would not even be possible without all of their efforts and support. It is my hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season.Thanks again for making the last eight years some of the most memorable times in my life.
Wary of Front Street Shipyard proposal
I share Councilor Mike Hurley's concern over Front Street Shipyard's proposal to take over city land and expand their facilities. This is by no means a winning situation for Belfast as a place to live or for the local economy. As Mike Hurley suggested, the special character of Belfast is worth preserving, and what makes Belfast special is its social diversity. I am a great fan of the shipyard as it now exits; however, if we allow Front Street to dominate our waterfront and and become a determining focus of our economy, diversity will be lost.
Belfast would then be another Northeast Harbor, where the local community has been all but lost to tourism and yachting interests. Belfast has a character that only those who live here can fully appreciate and meaningfully sustain. Let's not overlook that in a rush to develop the waterfront.
There are also obvious financial concerns. Harbor frontage is extremely rare in Maine these days, and relinquishing this piece of city property would be terribly shortsighted. Who knows what better opportunity might emerge? Also, no one can predict the future, and even the wealthiest would not be spared the effects of a weak global economy. If Front Street should overextend its financial commitments, we could end up again with an empty building along the waterfront and the loss of anticipated tax revenues. The city and its taxpayers would be the greater loser in this case.
Even the promise of 40 new jobs to justify the sale deserves careful scrutiny. How many of these jobs are really going to local people, thus improving our employment situation? Or are they really going to people hired in because they have the special expertise needed?
Front Street has brought many wonderful changes to Belfast, and it will continue to do so as long as it remains an integrated part of Belfast's economy and culture; it is the responsibility of the City Council to ensure that this healthy balance is preserved. I urge Council members to weigh carefully the Front Street proposal, and at the same time expand their efforts to other parts of the local economy, for instance getting some development along Route 3. The more diversified the economy, the less one interest can dominate decision-making or alter the character of the community.
Shelter grateful for support
A big thank-you to all who made the P.A.W.S. Auction for the Animals fundraiser on Nov. 29 at High Mountain Hall a big success.
Thank you to our staff, our administrator, Lisa Dresser; our shelter manager, Laura Stupca; our Board of Trustees; volunteers; auctioneer Kaja Vielleux, who donated his time; to Todd and Sarah Anderson of French and Brawn and their staff, who donated the most delicious food in abundance; to Laugh Loud Smile Big for the delectable sweets; to Foglifters Coffees, Teas & Spices for the coffee bar; to Party Fundamentals for the table donation; to High Mountain Hall for the cash bar; to Elm Street Printing for printing the auction catalog; and to the Free Press, our media sponsor.
Thank you to all the businesses and individuals who donated items to our auction, those who purchased items at the auction and those who baked cookies to sell at the auction. Thanks to volunteers Georganne Bendall, Rene Hutchinson, Charlotte Simon, Barbara Cizmazjia, Fred Reinke, Lynn Schoen, Jean Silva, Eveline Henner, Judith DeMott, Tim Dresser and to board member Lisa Sojka for her famous Prism Restaurant tomato soup.
Our four-footed friends at the shelter thank you for your ongoing support.
President, Board of Trustees
P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center
No town is an island
DCP: "This is not a regional issue." Really?
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; […] any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” These lines from the famous meditation by John Donne come to mind as I contemplate the possible effects on the surrounding communities of the proposed 22.7-million-gallon LPG tank in Searsport.
No town is an island; every town is a piece of the larger picture; any town’s decision has the potential to have a negative impact on another town, because when it comes to a development of this magnitude, we are involved with each other. We are all in this together. Town lines are meaningless.
Large trucks carrying potentially dangerous cargo on roads that can barely handle the present industrial, tourist and local traffic … how can that not negatively affect both the lives of the citizens and the economy of this stretch of the Maine coast? This “Searsport” tank would have an enormous impact on Stockton Springs (especially on Cape Jellison), which is closer to the proposed site than a good part of Searsport. And think of the negative impact of the tankers on the fabled sailing waters of Penobscot Bay.
I witnessed an LNG tanker (yes “N,” not “P,” but no matter) coming up the Mystic to Everett, Mass. Accompanying that boat were not only several tugs but at least five cutters (Coast Guard and Boston Police). There was a helicopter overhead, there were no pleasure boats in the water, there were no planes taking off from Logan, and when I looked to my left I saw an armed policeman at the end of the pier, the pier where we were trying to enjoy a summer wedding reception.
There’s a sign on Interstate 295 that says “Penobscot Narrows Bridge: Exit 113 via Belfast or Exit 182 via Ellsworth.” As I recall, this area fought to get that sign to mention the Augusta exit off 95 in addition to the Bangor exit off 95, to encourage tourists heading to Bar Harbor to come via Route 3, rather than through Bangor. Searsport, Belfast, Stockton Springs, and Bucksport are working hard to recreate a vibrant economy. They don’t need to have tourists and their dollars bypass them, should Searsport become another Wiscasset summer traffic nightmare. The entire area, from outside of Augusta to the outskirts of Ellsworth, cannot afford to have tourists choose to stay on the Interstate all the way to Bangor because Searsport is impossible and potentially dangerous to negotiate. That’s over 80 miles of Route 3 and Route 1 where travelers will not be buying gas, eating, shopping, etc. Those dollars will bypass the Midcoast and end up being spent at establishments on Route 1A between Brewer and Ellsworth.
What’s really good for the economy of the entire region? No tank.
Police action 'inexcusable'
I was sitting two feet form Ben Crimaudo last Wednesday evening during the Searsport Planning Board meeting. He was whispering to Ken Agabian so softly that I could not hear a word they exchanged. It came as a great shock when Ben was brutally set upon by Officer Nickerson, it was inexcusable. Ben was viciously manhandled, his arms twisted and his body thrown against an iron railing with great force. Mr. Crimaudo is 75 years old, and has a heart condition as well.
This is not Syria or Egypt; we live in Maine and suppression of free speech is not acceptable. Officer Nickerson should be suspended for his brutal and unprovoked behavior. Also, Chief LaHaye put on quite a show out in the hallway, interfering with the press, ordering Amy Browne of WERU to turn off her camera and leave the building.
The crowd assembled in the hall had been exceedingly well behaved all evening. No warnings had been issued by Chairman [Bruce] Probert all night. The large police presence was intimidating, provoking and unnecessary. The issue of censorship in Searsport has taen a very violent turn for the worse.
How to fix the U.S. economy
All taxes are destructive to local economic activity. Punitive taxes, such as the "sin" taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, are designed to impair the economies surrounding those commodities. But any substantial tax damages economic activity. Think jobs. And prosperity, both now and later.
Small taxes have minimal consequences on spending or investments, but even a 5- or 6-percent sales tax will encourage shoppers to avoid those taxes. that is what drives the "underground economy" and cross-border shopping excursions. Jobs and prosperity follow the money.
All Americans need to save for future retirement and health care expenses. We all need an efficient health care system, but also a vibrant economy to keep payrolls and tax revenues booming. And, as we see every year, National Guard soldiers across the nation play essential roles in helping and protecting Americans everywhere. also, our university and other higher education systems are troubled, as students find costs hindering opportunity even as post-graduation opportunities decline. Change is essential.
As long as the income tax morass is expunged and replaced by a simple and fair system, there is a way to do all this while paying for it in a way that benefits all Americans equally. A simple flat — but very small — tax on all financial transactions without any deductions or exemptions can be used to fund dedicated trust funds, most of which is distributed on strict per-capita basis to the direct benefit of all American citizens.
Five separate trusts are needed: (1) for personal retirement savings; (2) for personal health care savings; (3) for a universal health maintenance health care system run by the states; (4) for the states' National Guard units; and (5) a regionalized National University system.
Each of these trusts would be equally funded from one-half to 1 percent gross receipts tax on each and every financial transaction, including sales, taxes, feeds, important, exports, various "options" bought, sold or awarded, any financial commodities or obligations created, plus payrolls, benefits and other labor or other business expenses. Every kind of financial transaction — cash, credit, debit or otherwise, no matter what, is taxed at a tiny rate, never to exceed 1 percent, this all established by amendment to the Constitution.
Even at just 1 percent, such a tax would collect at least $1 trillion on the total economic flux in the current tax-impaired American economy, which is actually many times the net growth that the "Gross Domestic Product" (GDP) measures. That adds up to at least $200 billion for each trust fund, which, when distributed equally to American citizens, would put more than $500 into each personal savings account, or cumulatively to other accounts. Lower income taxes would certainly boost total economic activity and thus these totals would be well beyond $500 per person.
That money, when put into citizens' personal savings accounts in local banks, would then feed local economic growth. These are not phantom Social Security IOUs hidden away by Washington, but are real money collecting interest or invested in real equities, with any invested locally (such as via bank loans to local businesses and citizen investments.
Each state would also receive core funding for its universal HMO-style health care programs, plus for its National Guard units that are independent of federal authority, all based upon per-capita funding form those trusts. Regional national universities would add low-cost higher education options for America's most deserving college students in the sciences, engineering, technologies and medicine, again working on per-capita funding and enrollment.
All of this would feed America's economic engines, and slowly but surely improve the bottom line of America's economy, thereby benefiting all Americans.
Maine State Prison