Friendship across the divide

As I write this (last Thursday morning), I just got word that a close friend passed away. He was an old man at 95 and many may think, well, that’s a long life. But to me it was not long enough.

On the face of things, ours looked like an odd friendship. He was once my boss many years ago, and only in the last five years we renewed our friendship by reprising our 10 o’clock coffee break. We were opposites in every way. He was from The Greatest Generation; I am of the Me Generation. He was a “privileged “old man; I am a middle-aged feminist woman. He was a devout religious church member; I a Recovering Catholic with a skeptical eye toward organized religion of any denomination. It goes without saying, he was a conservative and I am a bleeding-heart liberal. Not too much in common. The one thing we did have in common was that were were both From Away. He loved to point out he was not a “Mainer,” but John had more roots in Maine than just about anyone else.

Despite our differences, we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. I learned so much from John. His joy at life (there was way more to him than Grumpy Old Man Hart), and sheer grit at life seemed at times like a contradiction, but he was a complicated person, as we all are. Some might think I visited out of sympathy or obligation. But I feel I was the one who benefited most from our weekly visits.

There is so much more to say about this man, whom so many of you know or would recognize as the old man walking to town or in Marriner’s having some fish chowder. My heart is filled with sadness at the moment, so my thoughts are all jumbled. But I guess I want to use our friendship as a example in this divided time. With genuine love and respect from both sides, we can come together if we take the time.

I will miss him dearly. My condolences to his children and grandchildren, and the rest of those whose lives he had touched. He was a very special individual and I am so glad I can say he was my friend.

Peace be with you, John.

Susan Cooney


Statue should be removed

As a Fuller descendant of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, I add my name to the long list of those agreeing with the Maine Supreme Court Justices’ call for the removal of his statue from the grounds of our Capitol Judicial Center in Augusta. I have long known that there was a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in our family, but I only recently learned of his presiding (and joining) role in the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson decision which upheld the constitutionality of segregation and so institutionalized systemic racism in our country.

By giving constitutional sanction to segregation, this decision helped ensure the failure of post-Civil War reconstruction, paved the road to the horrific violence of the Jim Crow era, and the present-day gross inequality in housing, health care, income, education, justice and voting rights. I firmly believe that a statue commemorating such a man has no place in a society espousing equality, and certainly not on the grounds of our state’s Judicial Center, which ought to represent the highest judicial and moral values of Maine.

Removing the Melvin Fuller statue from the Capitol Judicial Center is more than a Kennebec County issue. It is an important opportunity for all of Maine, with its own checkered history, to begin to acknowledge and repair the painful but true history of white supremacy on which the United States was founded and has since prospered.

Ridgely Fuller

Belfast and Vienna

Low on champagne

I've been celebrating ever since our recent presidential election, and with every glass of champagne I thank Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for saving our country's democracy, but I'm afraid I'm running out of champagne.

Dave Hills


Paycheck Protection Program is small business lifeline

The Paycheck Protection Program, coauthored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has been a lifesaver to small businesses and nonprofits across our state.

Maine has received over $1.2 billion in PPP loans — one of the highest approval rates (per capita) in the country — since Congress first passed the Paycheck Protection Program back in March 2020. These loans have been made to local businesses, restaurants, nonprofits, churches, and medical and dental clinics, just to name a few — helping many keep employees working, pay their bills and stay open for business.

Large or small, the loans have clearly made a difference for Maine people.

As a former banker and state legislator, I am grateful for Sen. Collins’ authorship of the Paycheck Protection Program. In the face of a national crisis, her swift action has helped save more than 28,000 small businesses and helped sustain over 250,000 jobs in Maine. As we continue to move through the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, a second round of PPP funds is on its way to help struggling businesses and workers, as well as boost our local economy.

I commend Sen. Collins for her leadership during this difficult time and I am grateful she is our senator in Washington.

Jayne Crosby Giles


Equal justice?

I see and saw rant after rant about Trump and his team in your paper, but not a word about the Obama (Biden is just the placeholder) justice meted out to their Democratic supporters. FBI directors, agents and attorneys can lie to Congress and federal courts, forge court documents, bear false witness and they are not held to account. The last liar and forger just got probation for his crimes. This guy has destroyed the lives of many people, including an innocent Naval Academy graduate who has served his country in an outstanding manner.

Contrast the treatment Republicans got from Obama courts. For lying to the FBI — in some cases set up by the FBI — severe jail times and raids by tactical squads were the order of the day. I have yet to see one contributor even mentioning the totally corrupt organization the FBI has become. Are you and your writers afraid you’ll end up in a re-education camp, as proposed by your Democratic brethren (known as Gulag under Stalin, concentration camp under Hitler, enlightened camps under XI)?

One of the reasons I subscribe is because I thought the Journal believed in an uncorrupted, impartial justice system, but I seem to be wrong. I guess Reade only knows one way of justice — the left way. I am weighing whether or not to renew.

How does your RINO contributor Patten feel now that he sees the non-sentences meted out to Democratic felons while he got hammered with a severe penalty?

Peter Petersen


Niemöller’s lecture — updated for our time

First, the virus came for the old people,

But I did not help them by masking, socially distancing or getting vaccinated,

because I was not old.

Then the virus came for those of color, the indigenous, the other minorities and the poor,

But I did not help them by masking, socially distancing or getting vaccinated,

because I was none of those.

Then the virus came for the essential workers in the hospitals, the markets, the shops, the fields and the factories,

But I did not help them by masking, socially distancing or getting vaccinated,

because I had none of those jobs.

And when the virus came for me,

There was no one left who was willing or able to help me,

or to care.

Sidney R. Block


A Post, Post Modern Rap

A Post, Post Modern Rap

What climate change you talkin' bout,

it's not a problem, we'll be all be fine,

in our lifetime, in our lifetime

but in your lifetime kiddo not so much,

for the times they are a-changin'.


It's not an issue, excuse me have ya got a tissue

my eyes they’re a-burning, my belly it’s a-churning

just drank some well water cost only a quarter

yep, still some to sell at the bottom of the well,

it's a little bit gritty as I write this ditty,

while coins they rock it in my back pocket

so here's to sockin' it to ya kiddo,

or the times they are a-changin'.


The permits they’re a-passin', no more a-sassin’

now excuse me please I’ve gots to sneeze,

or pass some gas or do a puke always happens

when I float in da Luke aka Penobscot Bay

but don't you worry ' bout us oldies we'll be just fine,

sorry for some water you’ll need to stand in line,

for the times they are a-changin'.


Now I'm a-thinkin,' maybe at Woodstock

we shoulda done less drinkin’ but hey,

we were busy havin’ our fun,

not like you young ‘n serious ones,

we set out to use it up, so keep on a fillin’ our cup,

remember dear children like we always said

they’ll be no more worries when we’re all dead,

for the times they are a’changin’.

Pat Kaplan


Responding to Ryan commentary

In his guest commentary in the Jan. 28 issue of The Republican Journal, Belfast Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Ryan asks, in regard to opposition to Nordic Aquafarms' proposed land-based fish farm, “What expansion or new opening would be safe from the onslaught of the well-funded few?"

Thanks, Steve Ryan, for sharing your concerns. Personally, I know quite a few small and large business owners in the Midcoast, as well as many dozens of individual practitioners. I don’t recall ever hearing about their fear of these anonymous “well-funded few" and business expansion safety or predictability in Waldo County or Maine before.

I do know some things about a certain “well-funded few," a primarily Norwegian-funded U.S. subsidiary of Nordic Aquafarms Inc. run by Erik Heim. As of March 2, 2019, Mr. Cotter, an employee of this corporation “in the know," admitted to me that the company had so far spent $7 million and counting on the permitting and design and, oh yeah, legal fees. Up to $10 mil yet, Ed?

This was just before the start of a Maine Department of Marine Resources statutorily required meeting concerning the “barge haul route" of dredge spoils across Penobscot Bay. Funny, Steve, us few (I presume that you are talking about the combined Nordic fish factory opposition groups) were expecting a presentation concerning the predictable 6,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils to be disposed of “upland," somehow.

We were quite bewildered when the Cianbro public relations representative and Nordic agent Elizabeth Ransom unpredictably stated that now Nordic/Cianbro was actually removing 20,000 cubic yards of “unsuitable" Holocene mud and untested mercury contamination via barge and dewatering across the entire upper bay.

Unpredictably, I say, because Nordic’s submerged lands lease applications, the state environmental permit applications and the U.S. Army Corps applications all state, under oath, the 6,000 cubic yard figure!

Oh, and Mr. Heim’s surveyor of intertidal lease option property, Mr. James Dorsky, P.L.S ? He has revised his survey six or seven times since Nov. 14, 2018, the last being a week before his legal deposition in the summer of 2020. Mr. Dorsky’s unpredictable revised opinion? He doesn’t actually know who owns the intertidal lease option property: “ownership unknown"!

Rather than wringing your hands over the distress of our business community’s upstream battle over regulatory punctuality and predictability, perhaps a little sympathy and hand-wringing should go out to your pet fish factory proposal and the wealthy backers from Norway. Through their own basic unpredictability and incompetence (Nordic’s third try on sediment testing still not approved by the regional Army Corps office or EPA to date), the pile of thousands of pages of public process documents will make good kindling next winter if it doesn’t sink the Superior Court.

Paul Bernacki