Thanks, election workers

A heartfelt thank you to the clerks and staff of the Rockport, Islesboro and Camden town offices for all of their work on Election Day.  Despite the driving rain and unprecedented turnout, officials and volunteers alike were professional and polite, even at the end of a very long day. How fortunate we are to have such a pleasant experience at our polls! I’m proud to have been a part of such an important democratic process.

Vicki Doudera

State Representative-Elect

District 94

Grateful to WCGH

To all those at Waldo County General Hospital, thank you for all the care and concern given to me and the patience and kindness making my day easier knowing you cared.

Thank you.

Brenda L. Torrey

Brooks

Concerns justified

Oh, Samantha! I voted for you in spite of my concerns that you are too young to be mayor because I know that at 26 we all had more to learn about life and relationships with others than we could have imagined. Unfortunately, you are proving my concerns to be justified.

Lee Woodward’s chamber award for Citizen of the Year was not about you; it was about Lee. Lee is famous in Belfast for his acerbic wit. And because of his devotion to the Belfast community professionally and personally, anyone who knows Lee was delighted with the chamber’s choice. Perhaps If you had lived in Belfast longer you would have had an opportunity to know him.

Dissing Lee publicly because of his hilarious reference to recent City Council events was very poor judgment on your part. You have totally undermined any sincere purpose you may have had in bringing the council together to facilitate a civil discourse. You should have laughed out loud like everyone else, taken the hit, and enjoyed yourself. You have shown us too many times already that you are just waaaay too thin-skinned for this job.

My suggestion is you meet with Lee over a cup of coffee and find out who he is and what he has contributed to this community. You have such an opportunity to contribute to our community, too, in your position as mayor, but before you can put your stamp on it, you need to respect, learn from, and listen to others who have walked this road long ahead of you.

Heather Frederick

Belfast

Hasn't lived up to the hype

As a young person, the image of Samantha Paradis, the self-described “first queer, second woman, and youngest mayor of Belfast” is something that is inherently appealing to me. The breaking of these glass ceilings alone should not qualify her for any position, but she also seemed qualified for the position and was, and is, an active member of the community, things that would seem to make for a wonderful mayor.

So, under this pretext, she was elected mayor of Belfast, something at the time I could not complain about. A fresh face in local politics is most certainly a welcome one.

Unfortunately, she has not lived up to the hype. Not only has she instituted unnecessary regulations upon the town and City Council meetings, such as her mandatory breaks on the hour at the City Council meetings described by her as to “stretch my legs, practice meditation, or use the bathroom,” prolonging an already painfully long agenda; when she faced criticism for such policies from the city councilors she facilitates, she began her now regular practice of discrediting them in public and the press, such as her latest allegation in The Republican Journal that “a male council member addressed a female constituent from across the table with verbally aggressive behavior; the same council member frequently keeps an open switchback knife on his desk” behavior that she “cannot tolerate.”

Now ignoring the jarring and somewhat confusing inclusion of gender into her description, her attempts to discredit one of her fellow members of government as a knife-wielding oppressive figure is absurd, to say the least, and does not instill a strong sense of leadership.

When attending the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce dinner a few weeks ago, one of the speakers, Lee Woodward, made a humorous comment mocking her facilitating processes, saying that he “did not have time to facilitate” and that “anyone that needed to use the bathroom could get up and do the same at any time.”  Following these seemingly innocuous and what should have been harmless comments, Ms. Paradis left the meeting, emotionally distraught at the comments, saying “I left the Belfast Area Chamber dinner when everyone stood up to applaud for you (Mr. Woodward) and cried on my way home.”

Though I feel for the emotional toll that such a leadership role instills on an individual, this behavior at such small incidental comments does again not impart a strong sense of leadership. This feeling again is only compounded when such attack articles are published in an attempt to drum up some semblance of public opinion against her political peers and perceived opponents.

By writing such articles and leveling such inane accusations, she only perpetuates the stereotypes of ageism that she describes as a daily battle for her, which is a real struggle in many fields, especially politics. Ms. Paradis seemingly means well, but her actions and public attacks on her peers are not something that is needed or good for someone in her position.

Alexander Doyne-Ditmas

Belfast

Irresponsible local press

The first responsibility of good journalism is to collect information and present it clearly and forcefully so its readers can make up their minds about important issues in the community. Good newspapers check their facts and make sure their analyses are sound.

Good newspapers editorialize on the information of their journalists, helping readers understand what the facts mean. Good newspapers hire columnists to provide worthy perspectives on the world.

The recent firing of columnist Lawrence Reichard by News Director Dan Dunkle represents the nadir of a long downward slide by our hometown paper. Consider:

In last week’s editorial spot, Dunkle suggested that Reichard, a passionate observer of an important community issue, was biased. The Journal’s editor and the news director paid Reichard for each of his columns, never questioned his facts, printed all he wrote, and then fired him for writing too much about the issue. Did the right person get fired?

The rancorous divide in the community over the fish farm persists in large part because the Journal has not provided its readers with the information we need. What we have learned has come from involved parties, opponents like Reichard and proponents like Nordic Aquafarms. Unlike the enterprising Reichard, the Journal attended some meetings (and didn't attend others) and seems to consider its coverage good enough. It isn’t.

Reichard had written his Bricks and Mortars column for years, winning awards along the way. He was the left-wing foil for Tom Seymour on the right, whose columns remain. Seymour, whose journalistic energy and accuracy do not merit awards, continues with three columns (we are tempted to imitate Dunkle and repeat “Three!”), a political column, a garden column and a Waldo town news column.

Could there be another reason for Reichard's firing that Dunkle hints at in his article (“Not threats of lawsuits, though I was becoming concerned about that”)? Was the paper threatened for printing Reichard's incendiary views? Did Reichard's oppositional words lead to behind-the-scenes talk between the city and the salmon farm developers about moving to another coastal town? These are questions about which a responsible newspaper should be informing its readers.

This is an important and difficult time for our community, though certainly not the first. As authors of the Belfast community’s most recent history, we are aware of and greatly appreciate our city’s boisterous, sometimes strident, but always open and democratic legacy. We are concerned that our local press is irresponsible in its coverage of an important community issue and is letting Belfast citizens down.

Is it time to start a new newspaper?

Tim Hughes

Jay Davis

Belfast

So long and thanks for all the fish

For six years I’ve submitted a cartoon to the Journal each week without fail or lapse despite pursuing an undergraduate degree, a marriage, a career as a photographer, educator, and carpenter, and various extended travels across the country and abroad.

At the beginning, most of my contributions favored the benignly amusing, the oddities of life, or playful pokes at small local news items. My cartoons were safe and non-threatening. As my style evolved into something less reminiscent of chicken scratching, I felt compelled to explore more serious topics of consideration. The slow demise of our state and country struck me as a good place to start.

Though disappointing, it wasn’t surprising to me this departure brought with it the first series of cartoon rejections from my editor and the news director. I suspect the newspaper leadership longed for the simpler days of puns and humorous asides concerning the weather. I chalked the rejections up to an as yet unrefined technique and message. However, as my capabilities crystallized and I found my voice, direct and precise, the rejections continued.

My editor and I had entered into a dance where each side attempted to gently influence the other toward the others’ position. With little leverage, the best I could do was appeal to the better nature of my gatekeepers by calling into question the seeming lack of filter other contributors enjoyed, as witnessed in Tom Seymour’s objectively partisan and vitriolic biweekly contribution.

To my editor’s great credit, over the years, several cartoons were allowed through which caught even me by surprise. However, at the end, with pressure from Dan Dunkle, the cartoon intended as my penultimate submission to the newspaper, before a farewell illustration, was rejected. The topic of the cartoon was the state of modern journalism and how far it has fallen. The intent was to call attention to a crucially important institution in our country — one which I and many of my family have been a part of.

The press has been maligned by our president and his cronies for the better part of two years, but however destructive an effect this has had, it is nothing to the level of destruction rendered by the prevailing ideology which contemporary news organizations adopt. The Journal’s leadership expressed confusion at the meaning of a cartoon which called into question the role of contemporary journalism as steward of the status quo and so they rejected it. The irony is not lost on me.

Dunkle betrayed both his poor understanding of the history of journalism and its intended function with his inane remarks in a recent editorial defending his decision to censor Lawrence Reichard. Never forget Mr. Dooley’s admonition concerning the role of a newspaper, namely, to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

I’ve enjoyed my time with the paper and though I’m sorry it ended the way it did I wish them well. The body of my work, including the rejected cartoons, can be found on my website: TaberCartoons.com.

Forest Taber

Waterville

Urgent need for blood

Editor's Note: The next local blood drive takes place Monday, Dec. 10, at Tarratine Tribe, 153 Main St., Belfast. To make an appointment, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org.

The fall and winter can be a busy time full of fun activities and travel, but the same activities that bring joy can also negatively impact patients in need of lifesaving transfusions.

In fact, right now, the American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage and has issued an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types to give now and avoid delays in medical care for patients. Right now, blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

Volunteer blood drive sponsors are also critically needed to host drives in December, January and February to prevent the shortage from continuing throughout the winter. Fewer groups signing up to host blood drives in September and October, coupled with the widespread cancellation of scheduled drives as a result of hurricanes Michael and Florence, were factors that contributed to the current shortage. Winter blood drive hosts can also play a key role in helping to end it.

There’s a chance you may know someone who has been helped by a blood transfusion. Blood and platelet donations are often used in the treatment of those being treated for cancer or sickle cell disease, heart surgery and organ transplant recipients, and accident and burn victims

On behalf of the Red Cross, I’m inviting you to roll up a sleeve and give the perfect gift — the gift of life. Your gift could lead to a lifetime of holiday memories for patients in need. To make an appointment to donate or sign up to host a blood drive, I urge you to visit RedCrossBlood.org.

Patricia A. Murtagh

Chief Executive Officer

American Red Cross Maine Region

Adopt, don't shop

According to The Humane Society of the United States, 6 to 8 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters each year, and over 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters annually because of overcrowding. Approximately 70 percent of all shelter cats are euthanized, and roughly 80 percent of all dogs and cats killed are healthy animals who could have become beloved members of someone’s family.

Many of these animals are the offspring of family pets, and having our dogs and cats spayed or neutered is a proven way to combat overpopulation and prevent these tragedies from happening. As caretakers of these animals, it is our responsibility to keep them healthy, and ensure that any we bring into this world will have a safe and loving home.

Everyone knows puppy mills are horrid, although this is where many pet store puppies come from. And it’s not just dogs who suffer these breeding mills, as cats, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters and other popular pets are also subjected to these cruel conditions. Some backyard breeders have been known to engage in inhumane practices, as well.

Buying animals from these sources perpetuates the cycle of abuse. Animals in these profit-driven systems are treated as nothing more than commercial goods to be bred, bought, sold and disposed of at will. Meanwhile, healthy, lovable shelter dogs and cats are killed by the hundreds of thousands each year (1.5 million total annually, according to the ASPCA), because people are choosing to shop rather than adopt.

Also, I would encourage anyone with cats to keep them indoors, if they cannot be provided with a secure, contained outdoor area. This will help keep them safe from disease, parasites, traffic and other animals, and also keep other animals safe from them.

Cats are carnivores with strong hunting instincts, and will kill even when they’re well fed. Some might say, “So what? That’s nature.” But domestic cats are not a natural part of our environment.

Invasive species are living organisms that are not native to an ecosystem, and can have devastating effects on the environment, and pose a serious threat to biodiversity. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers domestic cats to be one of the worst invasive species in the world.

Cats are prolific breeders, and not enough people are spaying or neutering their pets. It’s difficult to tally the number of feral cats in the U.S., but there could be as many as 50 million (according to The Humane Society), and that doesn’t include the roughly 40 million pet cats who have outdoor access. This is a problem.

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, domestic cats are responsible for 63 modern day extinctions, including 40 bird, 21 mammal and 2 reptile species. In all fairness, this is a mess we humans created, and we are responsible for far more extinctions than cats. Still, we should take action where we can to prevent unnatural biodiversity loss.

So please consider keeping your cats indoors, be sure to spay and neuter your pets, and as always, adopt, don’t shop. Lives literally depend on it.

Rebecca Tripp

Searsport

Nationalism: Yes!

We have a national bird, the American bald eagle. We have a national flag, the Stars and Stripes. We have a national capital, Washington, D.C. We have in D.C. many national monuments distributed on the National Mall. We are, whether you like it or not, a nation, the best nation on the face of this planet.

We are also a wealthy nation. A place where citizens using their own initiative can excel at almost anything. Granted, there are a lot of poor people and there always will be. There are also a large number of good caring and not necessarily wealthy people, who gather together to raise money for every disease, every event, natural or man-made that affects others in a negative way.

We are a generous nation, full of generous people. We saved most of Europe from the evils of the Third Reich — all so the leaders of France, Germany and Italy, to name a few, can criticize us with impunity.

I remember when, as a young man growing up, we cancelled the enormous financial debt that Europe owed these United States after the world wars. We defended most of the world against the evils of the former USSR at great cost. I could go on, but I won’t.

Suffice to say, we are a great nation. I am proud to call myself an American. A lack of nationalism is causing a lot of the evils we see around the world. All you globalists should remember and consider the old adage that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Who would you put in charge of your preconceived, socially just world?

Leo Mazerall

Stockton Springs