Letters, Aug. 13

Aug 13, 2020

Depart, I say

President Trump has stated concern over delayed election results, ”maybe weeks, months or even years." He and his devotees can rest assured. By every poll including Fox News, the president is far behind former Vice President Joe Biden. The outcome may well be evident weeks, even months prior to Nov. 3.

The reason for the president’s plight is clear. He has failed the nation. Trump has yet to take any meaningful steps to control the spread of the virus plaguing our country. He refuses to work with other nations, even condemning the World Health Organization, a leader in the global effort to fight COVID-19. He has spoken in support of those who favor flying the Confederate battle flag, thus disrespecting our national symbol, the Stars and Stripes.

His ignorance is manifest, encouraging injection of toxins and ingesting useless drugs, rejecting science in favor of his “gut feelings.” Trump is contemptuous of basic constitutional rights calling the free press "an enemy of the people." He attacks citizens who have assembled peacefully to redress their grievances, denigrated judges and regularly insults anyone who disagrees with him.

He has alienated our longtime allies and befriended our enemies. He is the most divisive president in our history. To quote Oliver Cromwell as he urged the removal of King Charles I of England, “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us be done with you. In the name of God, go!"

Ron Jarvella

Belfast

An appalling columnist choice

Courier Publications has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in making Sam Patten its new conservative columnist. Conservatism is a legitimate political philosophy, and I don’t object to seeing it represented on the opinion pages of our local papers.

I strenuously object to seeing it represented by Patten, who also represented Viktor Yanukovych — the flagrantly corrupt Putin-backed president of Ukraine, who was later toppled by a pro-democracy uprising and is currently hiding out in Russia from a treason conviction — and pleaded guilty to deceiving our own government about his activities.

Patten’s local roots and family ties to the local newspaper business make for an appealing bio, but they don’t absolve him of the crime he committed against his country, the ethical stain of partnering with Paul Manafort — also a convicted felon — or the moral vacuity of working on behalf a brutal autocrat like Yanukovych.

There are many conservative voices in our community more deserving of this platform. I urge you to seek them out and, out of respect for your readers, apply a higher standard to those whose character you endorse with the title of columnist.

Bruce Snider

Belfast

Support for Susan

I admire Susan Collins' backbone. She is able to make tough decisions for us Mainers, and she's always working for us. She has a hard-earned reputation as a problem-solver, and her seniority in Washington tremendously benefits our small state.

This was especially evident with her quick action to draft, pass and launch the popular Paycheck Protection Program, which has been credited with saving our national economy, within three short weeks. Now, she’s back at it, working with her colleagues on a second round of forgivable loans to protect Maine workers.

So thank you, Susan Collins, for all you do, and for never losing sight of what’s important for Maine. You have my support this fall.

JoAn Petersen

Swanville

Dedicated to service

I am writing this letter in support of Jan Dodge, who is running for representative of Maine House District 97, Belfast, Northport and Waldo.

I first met Jan attending a meeting of the Waldo County Education Association - Retired. She was the president. I am a member. Jan is without question an enthusiastic, vibrant leader. I learned that right away. By the end of that first meeting I was thinking to myself that there are very few people I have ever met that lead with such preparation, focus and skill.

So I was honored when Jan consulted me about running for office as the representative in District 97. “Please go for Jan!” was pretty much all I had to say for starters. Well, it turned out that I worked for Jan to help her elected.

After two years in office, Jan has fulfilled my expectations beyond belief. She showed us that she was ready to put all her skills and her big heart to use serving us in the State House. She made sure that low income children were never to be shamed in their school cafeterias again, working hard to make sure LD 167 was passed.

Jan also knew in her heart the importance of encouraging other teachers to take leadership roles in state government. The bill, LD 176, allows active teachers to sit on the State Board of Education.

She was involved in so many other issues. In looking at the list of bills she has co-sponsored (it's long!), I found LD 160, sponsored by Sen. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, Add Personal Finance to the Maine Learning Results. As a retired teacher I've often thought that students should learn about personal finance in school. Managing money is an important life skill, to say the least!

Jan is dedicated to service. I encourage you to vote for her in November. She will serve us well as our representative in the Maine House.

David Smith

Belfast

A team player

I am writing in support of Chip Curry, state Senate candidate for Waldo County.

I met Chip many years ago when we were playing together on the same sports team. He was a very good listener. He knew and followed the rules. He was honest and ethical. He worked for the good of the team, never selfishly for himself. Chip was always inclusive, accepting others on the team, regardless of ability. He was a good sport — graciously winning and accepting a loss with a hearty and courteous handshake.

As a volunteer for our sports group, he was always ready to lend a hand, to step up when needed. He is good-natured, interested in others and eager to know how he can help.

All the attributes that make Chip such a good sport will also make him a good state senator.

The patience of listening, inclusiveness of others, being a team player, having a good work ethic, enthusiasm, responsibility, and a genuine interest in representing and helping others — I am voting for Chip Curry. Please join me. Thank you.

Diana Hauser

Unity

Works with both parties

I am writing to support Jan Dodge’s reelection for House District 97. I met Jan when she came to my house to ask for my vote in the primary election two years ago. It was the first time a candidate had ever knocked on my door. We talked for some time about her background and the issues she wanted to address. As a fellow retired educator, she immediately caught my attention. Her issues were my issues.

In her first term she has not disappointed me. Three bills she worked to get passed — related to food shaming in schools, participation by an active teacher in the State Board of Education and studying the use of adjunct professors — are all important issues from my experience. I am glad that she stepped up as a first-term legislator.

I also appreciate that she was able to work with like-minded fellow legislators from both parties to address need of teachers, children and young adults.

Jan’s enthusiasm for her work is obvious. I urge you to join me in voting for Jan Dodge to continue her work for the citizens of House District 97 and the state at large.

Deborah Nowers

Belfast

Restoration, not degradation

On a clear, warm beautiful day, I kayaked from Belfast City Park south to almost Bayside. It is the same kayak I have used since it included a kid’s seat. My young son would jump off, in his life preserver, and clamber back in, like an otter. Anyway, it was low tide. I was surprised how shallow the outlet of Little River was, and how far out the shallowness extended. Way, way out, still ankle deep water. Different types of clam shell visible through the clear water, signs of life.

It is a myth that Nordic will not cause water degradation in Belfast Bay. Their permit application proved it regarding nitrogen levels. So, Department of Environmental Protection, do your job and deny Nordic’s wastewater permit. Do not propose go-arounds or exceptions. If you are to uphold the U.S. Clean Water Act, Nordic must walk.

Equally relevant, Nordic continues to pursue permits on land they do not own. With deep corporate pockets, Nordic’s strategy is not to prove ownership (they can’t), but to pile lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit on the rightful owners. If the owners run out of funds, Nordic gets their pipes. Such lack of honor and integrity does not bode well for the future of Belfast Bay.

Readers, to fight this travesty, I urge you to support the Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area Fund with whatever contributions you can. Support restoration, not degradation. Do not let this environmental disaster of a corporation co-opt our Belfast Bay land and water. And while you’re at it, check out UpstreamWatch and their legal efforts regarding Nordic, as well.

Eileen Wolper

Belfast

Reject hate speech

Following an incident of vandalism that occurred in Waldo late on Friday, Aug. 7 (or early the next morning), the following statement was distributed online for signatures from concerned residents of Waldo County and beyond. As of Tuesday afternoon, 328 signatures from Maine, mostly from Waldo County, have been recorded and more are still coming in. We cannot append the signatures here, but a full list of signatures and towns will be published on the Engage Waldo Facebook page later this week.

“Waldo County Rejects Hate Speech"

A sign on private property in Waldo, Maine has been defaced with a Nazi swastika. The defaced sign read “BLACK BROWN LBGQT LIVES MATTER TOO.” As residents of Waldo County we want it to be known that we reject both the content and the method of this cowardly act of hatred. We are all attacked when a neighbor is attacked in this way. We hope that only a very few people in our county would condone the defacer's behavior and message but nonetheless it is shameful for this to be associated with our community.

Posting a sign is a fundamental expression of our First Amendment rights. Defacing that sign is tantamount to spitting on the Constitution. Using a symbol of hate and bigotry and violence to do so is also an implied threat. We strongly support the message of the original sign and we support our neighbor who posted it. We invite the person who painted the swastika to come out of the shadows and post their own sign on their own property if they have something they are not too ashamed to say publicly.”

Trudy Miller

Northport

Tower makeover

Wondering why the First Church Paul Revere & Son bell is not chiming on the hours this week? Well actually, it won't be chiming for the next two or possibly three weeks, beginning Monday, Aug. 10. That is because the First Church in Belfast, UCC, Bell Tower is getting a makeover!

The tower has been deteriorating in recent years with paint peeling, some of the wood beginning to show signs of rot and even a few of the finials (the urn shaped decorative ornaments on the corners of the railings) have fallen from the tower. It is uncertain when the last time the bell tower was refurbished or even painted, but the church trustees decided it was due time.

So as of Aug. 11, steeple jacks from Mid-Maine Restoration, under the direction of Declan O'Connor, are working on taking down the old finials and railings with a crane on the front lawn, and then replacing them, along with putting on a new coat of paint. The new finials will be made of lighter-weight fiberglass, constructed at Mike Hurley's Fiberglass Farm, and will last much longer than the old wooden ones, which have been replaced numerous times over the years.

New LED lighting will also be installed. The total project will cost just under $50,000 financed in part by a grant from the Maine Steeples Fund, a bequest from the family of a longtime church member and the church's budgeted designated projects funds. The trustees hope that more work on the tower won't be needed for 20-25 years and that the church bell will continue to ring out for years to come.

The Rev. Joel Krueger

Co-Pastor

The First Church in Belfast

Questions about housing

In response to Paula Smith's letter to the editor last week regarding the housing plan for the old Public Works site, she has hit on many critical points about how this project is coming together. If this project, by decree of the city councilors, is supposed to provide “workforce” housing, then why are 30% of the units designated as three-bedroom? By implication, workforce housing would typically be for singles and couples working in town.

Probably not a good idea to mix families with singles, couples and possible elderly tenants.

How was the developer selected? Just because Developers Collaborative (DC) is doing an affordable senior housing project on Wight Street, why wasn't an RFP (request for proposal) published asking other developers to review the project? Whatever happened to the contract that the city signed with Camoin & Associates last year, where they were engaged to provide a comprehensive study of the housing stock in select areas inside the bypass, including this parcel? They are the “independent” experts that will determine the highest and best use of this 4-acre site to maximize its utility. Will any of the units be ADA compliant? Will the floor plans be designed to be converted to “for sale” housing sometime in the future that would provide an opportunity to own your own home?

Assuming that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will not be used, what will be the projected increase in the property assessment as a result of the project being built? The city desperately needs more property tax revenue. Currently, nearly 20% of all the assessed value according to the 2019 commitment book is tax exempt! The city is essentially selling the property to DC to recover their costs of cleanup, so what would have been the fair market value of this property if sold to a third party in an arm's-length transaction? Is the city going to participate financially in any way with this project in the future?

I love the city's response to Paula's questions: “This has been in the works for 10 years.” As former City Manager Joe Slocum famously said, and paraphrasing, “It takes 10 years for anything substantive to happen in Belfast” in a radio interview with Ned Lightner. And what is Plan B if the project is not approved for Low Income Tax Credits?

Eric Schrader

Belfast

Why?

When I saw the image of the swastika painted over the yard sign on Waldo Avenue, my first reactions were anger, disgust and empathy for the victims of this act. My second reaction was a question to the perpetrator: “Why would you choose to hurt and intimidate others in our community that way?” I answered my own question: “Because you have been hurt yourself.”

My message to the person who did this: It is your job to stop this cycle of violence and pain. The first step: Come forward and admit your wrongdoing. You may be surprised to find a community willing to work with you to heal all the damage inside of us, and start fresh on a path toward peace.

Prentice Grassi

Freedom

Deserves continued support

I am writing this letter in support of Jan Dodge who is running for reelection as representative for House District 97, Belfast, Northport and Waldo.

Jan has demonstrated the ability to “work across the aisle.” She co-sponsored two bills with members of the opposite party. Bipartisan work is one of Jan’s core beliefs.

Of particular interest to me is her work on the Education and Culture Affairs Committee. Coming from a background in education has enabled Jan to bring first hand experience to her work. This work has resulted in a task force to study the coordination of services for young adults with disabilities, an act to strengthen the school transportation workforce and an act to include an active teacher on the State Board of Education.

Jan has demonstrated a strong work ethic. She is a member of many committees in Waldo County. The common theme committees are designed to keep Waldo County a safe and productive place for our children, and our working families and our senior citizens.

I believe that Jan Dodge deserves our continued support for the House District 97.

Martha Brown

Belfast

Get back to where we belong

I, for the first time in my life, feel I need to share my opinion for the current race for the Maine state representative for District 96.

I was born and raised here in the great state of Maine, and I find myself wondering many times how we got ourselves where we are today, and not in a good way. One thing is clear, things are moving further and further away from where they should be in my opinion.

I feel it's time to bring back family values, do the right thing for all involved, and focus on building a strong future for our state. That is why the clear choice for me is Katrina Smith. It's time to get back to where we belong.

Gerald Knight

Lincolnville

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