Public should have the right to comment on school consolidation plans

Everyone is allowed his or her opinion on the rights of the public to speak on consolidation and when, but again the seven plans are in all the newspapers this week.

You do not just put out a policy with this kind of impact on eight towns then deny taxpayers the right to speak on the subject. I have studied the consolidation plans and so has everyone else on the board. Why not put it on the agenda? I can stay up after 8:30 p.m. Is this a technological matter no one understands? It is not a secret. What I have seen of the agenda next week is that no one can talk to the board about anything important. The year before last was so embarrassing, as the public was cut off at every avenue, then Tony loosened the policy up to a reasonable sense. I do not have the votes to change this policy because the majority of the board does not want to change the policy. We are a pubic committee and we discourage the public from participation when the Belfast City Council has two opportunities for the public speak on any subject, every meeting! We are drawing out the consolidation process another month and for what? We are a board and few want to discuss the matter? I almost feel our policy is either against the freedom of access law or against the intention of allowing participation. Again no one has to answer a question of the public, just limit the amount of minutes they speak. Having once a month meetings when taxes are going up 10 – 15 percent again next year is not the answer either.

Allowing the public to speak only if 100 percent of the board agrees is to me denying public participation and may be illegal. I feel like I am somewhere else in time, when only a few could have the right to speak. However if the board wants to just wait on important topics until December and maybe enter into a beginning discussion on consolidation, that is their choice, and of course only let the public in at the last minute. It is the public’s tax dollar and the public is allowed to speak. We have only one scheduled meeting in December, one in January and one in February. Are we serving the public with all the current situations and denying the public their right to participate with these few meetings? I am elected by the public to serve them and will advocate for their right to speak at our meetings without 100 percent vote of the board. I just have a difference of opinion to the majority of the board. I hope I at least have the right to disagree.

Take care and see you next Tuesday.

Alan Wood

Belfast

Rails to Trails would terminate possibility of passenger rail service to Belfast

This letter was sent to the Belfast City Council and Mayor and copied to The Republican Journal

I am disheartened and shocked at your decision to rip up and destroy the Belfast and Mooshead Lake railroad tracks — the section that is owned by Belfast. I have written in the past to repair and revamp this service to Belfast not destroy it.

As a founding member of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition and part of the Maine Sierra Club Energy and Transportation committee I find your action an egregious act that is short sighted and stands in opposition to most of the environmental, energy and transportation standards that our state and country is striving for. As I speak, we have gotten LD999 passed and with the transportation bond just passed yesterday, will be having our DOT funding the final Environmental and Engineering study on the former St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway (now state owned) to open this line for passenger service from Portland to Auburn and eventually to Bethel and Montreal.

We met with Commissioner David Bernhardt last week and are happy he will be sending this out to bid shortly. We will be working on restoration of passenger service to Augusta, Waterville and Bangor in the near future. Belfast can be a part of this service. By destroying your rail line and making it into a bike path you will be guaranteeing that cars, trucks and petroleum-based pavement is the future of your town. This is a really bad decision.

Passenger rail service can be restored to your town and this could return a green transportation method and open up a large tourism and transit-oriented development potential, like has happened in Brunswick, and Saco. The Maine Rail Transit Coalition is able and willing to include Belfast in future passenger rail plans, but if you sell off and cannibalize the rest of the rail line to town, you will doom Belfast to a carbon-based, petroleum future, one that is not sustainable and is a step back from modern, forward-looking towns and cities across the state and country.

Paul Weiss

Maine Rail Transit Coalition

Cumberland

What Will It Take?

The recent typhoon that swamped the Philippines, killing more than 10,000 people and displacing at least another 60,000 is only the latest symptom of global warming, yet another warning of disasters to come if we don’t learn how to live in harmony with our planet. According to the experts, we still have a slim chance to reverse direction: we can replace fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprint. Or we can expect more huge storms, more deadly droughts, and many, many more suffering and dying human beings. There are no more hiding places.

We all have to help. One way to educate ourselves is to go to the 350.org website and learn where we are in terms of climate change, and how each of us can contribute to caring for this beautiful earth. A splendid video shows people all over the world getting together as 350-ers to speak up. 350maine.org offers a calendar of meetings and actions in each Maine county. In Waldo County meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Belfast Free Library; earth vigils happen on the corner of High and Maine Streets each third Sunday at noon. More voices are needed. No one else can do our part, only we can.

Charlotte Herbold

Belfast