Letters, June 28
Any fool can condemn, and Waldo County voters deserve better.
Before wishing all a great Maine summer, I would like to respond to last week’s attack on me with this listing of experience -- well-rounded experience, I believe, that helps explain why Waldo County voters have elected and re-elected me to serve them for 16 years:
· 8 years as Waldo County’s judge of probate;
· 2 years as president of the Maine Probate Judge Assembly;
· 4 years on the state of Maine’s Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission;
· 8 years as Waldo County’s state senator, where I not only sponsored landmark family law legislation, receiving national attention in publications like the Wall Street Journal, but also served as Senate chair of the state Legislature’s Judiciary Committee and also the Health and Human Service Committee - the committees writing and overseeing Maine’s probate and family law;
· 24 years as a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state of Maine;
· 12 years as a teacher of law enforcement at Unity College.
Come the fall election season, I look forward to explaining how Waldo citizens -- including the majority who cannot afford a lawyer -- benefit by having a family law judge with a range of skills and experiences.
Last week’s partisan attack by a lawyer who lost is now old news. Until the campaign season resumes in full vigor come fall, I thank the Republican Journal for this chance to respond and close simply with my wish that all enjoy a great Maine summer.
Supports offshore wind
Why? - we chase the wind.
There are very exciting possibilities for the future of offshore wind energy development for the benefit of the Midcoast, and indeed for the entire state of Maine.
There is a huge potential here for Maine to better utilize its existing resources:
We have the volume of the wind itself. The Bush Administration study found Maine to be about the best in the nation. We have the capacity to develop the next generation of composite materials to build windmill component pieces.
We also have the capacity to develop deep water offshore wind technology. (Think 20 miles out -- out of sight). The Advanced Engineering Wood Composite facility at the University of Maine at Orono and a consortium of more than 30 corporate partners from around the world are working on this today. The university is leading America’s effort in this research. Mainers can manufacture the new windmill components just like the “Bridge in a backpack.” It was created and designed at the university and is presently manufactured in Augusta. We can ship windmill components out of Maine worldwide. Searsport’s Mack Point is today the tenth-largest port handling wind component pieces in the world. If we can ship them in, we can ship them out. Mainers can construct cutting-edge ocean windmill platforms shore-side and then tow them anywhere, just like Cianbro does in Brewer. Mainers can service these floating windmill platforms on boats custom -designed and built right here. Maine can benefit from a long-term renewable energy source close to Maine and the high-volume markets that feed off the Northeast Power grid.
The development of offshore wind technology is an international race -- very much like the space race once was. I have been to the conferences where industries and top engineers and investors from all over the world gather and salivate at the incredible economic opportunity that deep water offshore wind technology represents. Those who can create the technology and those who live in regions that can most benefit from it will have a huge competitive advantage. Maine, fortunately, is one of those places.
Statoil’s recent proposal off Boothbay is uniquely exciting, because they have been operating the only functioning deep water wind turbine facility in the world. At this time they are the world champions in this technology.
I saw on the news a fisherman indicate his concern about ground cables and how he sees that as a threat to his shrimp harvest. I hope he learns that Cianbro Corp. has buried 60-plus miles of power cable from New Jersey to Long Island.
I have heard people say that they don’t like to look out their window and see a wind turbine. Aesthetics are important, but what if one day they are so far out you can’t see them at all?
I have heard people express their concerns about bird strikes. Let’s find out -- not guess -- what the risk is. Is it any different than airports or tall buildings?
I have heard people concerned about navigational interference. Let’s find out how far apart these units really are.
I have heard people express a preference for, natural beauty over manufacturing job creation. If the visual is small but the economic benefit is huge isn’t there a trade-off there?
Scrutiny is good; that is why we are all here. But fear is wasted if we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to test something to find out what there is that is real to be afraid of and what is not real and not worthy of our fears. Let’s do the tests and learn from them.
I applaud the hard uphill climb of these tests. Let’s give Maine this once-in-a-century chance to match the beauty of its natural resources to the skills and work ethic of its people.
Joseph J. Slocum
Opposed to Searsport tank project
I own residential property at Bayside-Northport in plain view of Searsport. I understand from many sources that Searsport intends to build a 14-story-high LPG tank on the shore, about at Mack Point, in plain view of my house. I further understand that Searsport zoning law permits, even requires, surrounding towns standing at Searsport zoning meetings which can or will impact their neighbors.
There is a regional movement, led by Islesboro, to have Searsport acknowledge its own law and allow its neighbors standing in the meetings, but Searsport has denied all such standing to date. I have asked Northport selectpeople to contact Searsport and request, even demand, that Northport be permitted standing in the LPG tank planning and zoning meetings, but to date my request has been unanswered. Apparently, Northport has said it would not seek standing.
I write to alert Northport residents and property owners like me of Northport's rights, and the rights of all of Searsport's neighbors, under Searsport law, to attend and participate in Searsport zoning meetings and processes impacting this proposed 14-story-high gas tank, that from Northport-Bayside will be plainly visible and brightly lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at Searsport.
I write further to urge Northport voters and property owners to contact Northport selectpeople to have them contact Searsport, as Camden, Islesboro, Belfast and Stockton Springs have, to request (demand) standing in Searsport's tank zoning meetings, permitted under Searsport's own zoning laws, and to oppose the tank. Anyone raised on the Bay, as I was, understands why this tank makes no sense at Searsport, and is better suited to an industrial area, perhaps at Bangor.
The tank will be a plainly visible industrial eyesore for many miles from Searsport, especially at Bayside-Northport, compromising the aesthetic quality and real value of land and homes there, and that of many other lands and homes on or near the shore, thus reducing the local tax base and lands saleability. Certainly I will make such an appeal to Northport tax assessors if the tank is built.
Increased sea traffic, mostly tanker ships, in the Bay will similarly affect regional aesthetics, including at Bayside and Northport. Substantial new risks to small craft navigation and safety from increased tanker shipping will result, plus new, extreme risks of sea- and land-based accidents, leading to pollution of water, air (including noise), sea life, ground, and seabed, damage to boats, and even loss of life. An explosion of any kind would be catastrophic, with the power of many tons of TNT. Some studies of such tanks, especially by the Department of Homeland Security, conclude that the risk of a terrorist attack on a tank cannot and should not be ruled out.
These tanks are typically opposed by state attorneys general, the Department of Homeland Security, the EPA, and other federal agencies, for all of these reasons. These agencies always have standing in state and federal licensing procedures, and often rule against tanks. The most compelling analogous recent case I recall occurred in 2006-09 at Long Island, N.Y., where EPA rejected licensure of a floating natural gas barge-depot, to have served Long Island and Connecticut, citing primarily aesthetic and environmental degradation reasons, even where the Coast Guard said it could manage the safety issues.
I thank Searsport, Camden, Islesboro, Belfast, and Stockton Springs residents who have led citizen opposition to the tank, plus local groups that maintain a very good opposition network signs that democracy has healthy support in the affected region. I cannot vote in Northport. I am a mere taxpayer who must primarily depend on my neighbors to help Northport have its say in local affairs.
I urge all landowners in Northport and environs to do what they can to see that all facts and views on this subject are heard at every level of local, state and federal government, especially at Searsport, to prevent the unnecessary and undesired industrialization of one of the as-yet most pristine bodies of water left on earth. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.
Protesting the protesters
I am writing to express my concern about the numerous and irrelevant demands for standing by other towns into the local application by DCP Midstream. Our town held a vote, which convincingly said let’s move on within our process. At the previous Planning Board meeting, I was disgusted by the behavior of the league of rich lawyers representing Thanks But No Tank (TBNT) and Islesboro. It does not appear that any of these towns or communities of interest even bothered to contact DCP directly for information; instead they were misled by the fearmongering and misrepresentation of TBNT. The Planning Board needs to follow the right process, which it did not. There was to be no public testimony during the completeness phase, and yet it was allowed, and from what I saw, DCP representatives were denied the opportunity to respond and were dismissed. This is a breach. There are rich wallets at work which will do anything to prevent a fair process and to derail this project. I ask that the Planning Board be above this. How they treat DCP Midstream is a reflection of how they will treat any new business. Our website says we are open for business. Anyone watching would say we haven’t been very welcoming, and we don’t appear very receptive. I ask for rational thinking, and I ask that Planning Board members who have an axe to grind dismiss themselves for conflict of interest. There appear to be some who are influenced by TBNT directly or indirectly and may be subverting the process. I urge that the Planning Board continue to accept the advice of our lawyer, who seems to be the only rational and expert opinion capable of leading us through this process.
I have decided to pack up warm clothing and emergency rations just in case it becomes necessary to flee the "Teavangelicals," a holy alliance of the Tea Party and Evangelical Christians who seek to take over America (using the ballot box). Their platform is "government has become too big and God too small, all in violation of numerous biblical mandates of the Judeo-Christian ethos." Yes, folks, you heard it first from me. We are about to imitate the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and become a theocracy, albeit governed by the Christian Bible rather than the Quran. The motto on our coinage, ‘In God we trust,’ will become the new governing principle. Our Constitution will be replaced by the Ten Commandments and Leviticus, as explained in the Sermon on the Mount. Of course, the unpleasant parts, such as not eating pigs and shellfish, will be ignored in deference to the pulled pork of the South and the lobster fishermen of Maine.
The godless Supreme Court will be replaced by a Board of Deacons, selected by the president with the advice and consent of the new Synod. Weird science such as "The Origin of Species" will be banned, and henceforth only Creationalism will be taught in the few public schools that continue after the government’s control of education is restored to the "Bible Schools." Kind of like the Madrasas of the Middle East. The Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, miscellaneous false prophets, democrats, and non-believers will be tolerated in restricted areas, but their places of worship or non-worship will lose their tax-exempt status. The Christian majority will pray for their souls and seek to convert them -- to save them from an eternity of hell or continuation of life in the new theocracy, whichever the non-believers deem to be more desirable.
Since the power base of the Teavangelicals is the older blue-collar population, Social Security and Medicare will continue, a small contradiction to the philosophy that God will provide; and other social welfare programs will become solely dependent upon the tithe and discretion of local churches. Should the economy fail or the country become threatened by godless foreigners, the Synod would convene ... and pray for divine guidance. Should that fail, our voluntary military of Knights Templar inspired by our new national anthem, "Onward, Christian Soldiers," would be mobilized to control the population and repel would-be foreign invaders.
There is still time to save ourselves from the veil of the self-righteous and the new theocracy. But, should we fail, the Canadian border is quite near, the gas tank is full, and our passports have been renewed.
Steeple People say thanks
The Stockton Springs Church Steeple Committee once again wants to express sincere thanks to all who participated in the yard sale Saturday, June 23. It was less than a perfect day as far as weather, but, thankfully, the weather doesn't seem to bother the hardcore yard saler or steeple supporter, and the steeple fund realized a gain of $2,275.81! Additional thanks are due to all those who worked so hard to put it all together. There were trucks and men hauling tables and donated merchandise, ladies who baked pies, and all folks who cleaned, priced, organized and helped to sell hundreds, if not thousands, of items. The names are too many to mention, but you know who you are, and consider yourselves appreciated. The next event will be a food and bake sale on July 21. Details will be published soon. Thank you again, Stockton Springs and beyond.
The Stockton Springs Community Church Steeple Committee
Submitted by Marion Fisher
for the Steeple Committee
A rousing round of thanks
The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast was the beneficiary of a rousing concert by the Midcoast Community Chorus on June 16 and we’d like to give an equally rousing round of thanks to those involved, starting with MCC Director Mimi Bornstein, whose energy and commitment to social justice are inspiring.
The Strom Auditorium was full and galvanized by the moving music from the chorus’ 130 voices and their accompanists. And near the end Bornstein said the proceeds from the night -- $10,000 -- would go to RJP. Thank you, thank you.
RJP board members, spouses, volunteers and friends served as ushers and prepared and sold snacks during intermission that also benefited our organization. We are most grateful for that support.
RJP is a community-based nonprofit working to promote fundamental change in the way our community and justice system deal with crime and wrongdoing. We are committed to transforming our punitive culture and making our communities safer by giving a voice, healing and support to victims and by holding offenders accountable while diverting them from court, jail and suspension or expulsion from school.
We encourage readers to visit our website -- www.rjpmidcoast.org -- to learn about our programs and sign up to help.
Mural had many supporters
Belfast has a new mural! While it was painted by two local artists, many individuals and businesses lent their support.
Kenny Cole climbed to the top of a steeply angled ladder last fall to help paint the porthole. Sherwin Williams supplied all our paint and painting supplies.
The Front Street Shipyard made one of the first pledges to help -- how fitting it is that a mural with a nautical theme was helped by a new company in Belfast that helps launch ships.
Larry Jones of Whitecap Builders provided a boom lift so I could paint "S.S. Belfast" and the anchor at the highest part of the building. My brother, Mike, helped set the boom lift up for the two days it took, as well as transporting it back and forth from Cedar Street.
Our local banks pitched in with financial support: Key Bank, Camden National Bank, Bangor Savings Bank and Damariscotta Bank and Trust.
Viking Lumber, the Belfast Co-Op and Oceanside Chiropractic all made pledges.
John McMillan, of McMillan Offshore International, and Greg Shaw made individual pledges right at the beginning. Greg was the mason who supervised the repair work on the Family Dollar building before it could be painted.
The mural would never have been painted if the building owner, Jim Kaplan, hadn't supported the project. Jim also made a significant financial pledge before i approached local businesses.
Boni LaValley works for Jim, and she helped coordinate all of the work required before the mural could be painted. If Boni hadn't been so helpful and enthusiastic, it's doubtful that the mural would have been possible.
Waterfall Arts was helpful right from the beginning with how to approach funding.
Belfast Public Works and the Belfast Post Office helped with making our work site safe and accessible during the painting.
Russel Kahn, local artist and art teacher, was my painting buddy. Together, we painted about 2,600 square feet, climbing ladders and using brushes and rollers attached to long poles. And to make it a little cosmic, we finished painting the bow wave on the summer solstice. The work part is done. All that's left is the fun part.
Plans are being made to have an official ship mural christening in mid-August. I'm seeing Drum and Rabble. I'm seeing beach umbrellas and beach balls. I'm seeing rubber duckies. I'm seeing some short speeches on shipbuilding and the history of shipbuilding in Belfast.
I'm seeing a visiting sea captain from the 1800s addressing the citizens of Belfast in 2012. I'm seeing Miss Maine cracking a bottle of champagne as the SS Belfast is christened. I'm hearing ships' horns. Everybody's invited, so please stay tuned for a launch date.
Also a big thank-you to the Republican Journal for coverage of the mural this past year.
Golfing for good
On Saturday, June 23, the Waldo County YMCA held its annual Golf Fore Kids Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Northport Golf Club. Thirteen dedicated teams played some great golf. In first place was Team Crabiel-Riposta, including players Mark Riposta, Nick Faulkingham, Jo Jo Oliphant and Johnny Ellis. Taking second place was Team UniTel, with Craig Larrabee, Chad Larrabee, Justin Sanderson and Joe Bauingo. And in third place was Team Savage, with Tom Savage, Randy Berry, Francis Marsano and Will Baker.
Longest Drive: Tim Stitch, Jon Cox, Tom Ballard and Bryant Dutch
Closest to the Pin: Cyndi Dalton and Nick Faulkingham
Putting Contest: Will Baker
The Waldo County YMCA thanks its corporate sponsors, Tom and Sally Savage, Dick and Anne Collins, and Dutch Chevrolet, the many local businesses that sponsored a hole, the golfers and Y volunteers for making this such a successful event. This event raised more than $6,000, which goes toward scholarships for Waldo County YMCA summer campers.
Waldo County YMCA