Letters, Dec. 6, 2018

Dec 06, 2018

Consider stepping down

It has with come sadness but no surprise what I watched on BTV2 of the Belfast City Council meeting held on Nov. 27. For the past six months now I've observed the slow unraveling of our civic fabric at City Hall.

Since my arrival in Belfast in the early '80s, our city has had its share of political intrigue, its election battles and its policy setting controversies, but I have never seen quite the attempted usurping of power that I've seen by our new mayor.

From the verbally dominating and arrogant behavior at City Council meetings to the immature sarcastic smiles meant for her small band of followers in the audience during meetings, it all smells of the political intimidation that we have all witnessed at the national level for the past few years.

After hearing the thoughts and feelings of four mature and experience councilors expressing their concerns over the mayor's behavior in office, anyone with half an eye toward objectivity cannot fail to see that something is drastically wrong at City Hall.

Our mayor is very smart; she speaks carefully and with precision. She speaks as a student of psychology and political correctness. In many arenas those skills are very important.

In trying to lead a city such as Belfast, being smart is also very important but so, too, are understanding, empathy, communication and the ability to compromise. Being mayor is not "me against the world"; it is about how best can I work with my team to accomplish our goals.

I simply do not see this happening. As a matter of fact, this situation can sink faster and deeper very quickly.

I would like to suggest to our mayor that she consider stepping down from her position as mayor for the good of the whole of Belfast. I'm sure her current skills would be appreciated in any number of organizations or businesses, be it as a spokesperson or as a consultant. Only in this way can the city move on from this embarrassing and unfortunate state that it finds itself in.

Mark Kuzio

Belfast

A welcome timeout

The constant controversy over the last year between the mayor and the City Council has been most unfortunate and the council’s vote of no confidence is a welcome "time out."

Since the mayor took office it seemed like the council couldn’t do anything right. They didn’t know enough to take regular breaks (and evidently couldn’t see that this was leading to poor decision-making). Then they needed remediation in how they talked to the citizens (evidently the citizens didn’t need remediation).

From the outset it seems that the council has been cast as perpetrators — now culminating in egregious accusations on the mayor’s part. I applaud the council for their decisive action. I hope they will keep this in place until the mayor demonstrates a consistent ability to listen and collaborate.

Nancy Mahoney

Belfast

Hurts us all

I have no doubt Mayor Paradis has experienced moments of unfair treatment since being elected mayor. Humans misbehave all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. The broad strokes she’s using to describe it leave natural human curiosity with little choice but to explore for themselves what exactly she might be talking about, so we’ve all been arm-chair "psychologizing" over this all week. In the end, though, it remains true that Sam is the only one in town who knows what Sam is talking about: She refuses to elaborate.

In the meantime, she is reiterating those same vague claims to an ever-widening circle of state and national press eager for a juicy story of modern strife. What Sam fails to understand is that when we elected her mayor, we laid upon her our trust that she will be our Number One champion in the world.

Everyone at City Hall has their role in managing the business of the city. The mayor’s most sacred duty is to make sure Belfast always has its best foot forward.  She’s spent this week making sure the world knows she finds us a rather disappointing bunch.

All I can think of are the hundreds of Belfastians who have put thousands of hours of thought, time, labor and millions of their hard-earned dollars into making this city a wonderful place to be.

From the volunteers who put on the menorah lighting ceremony so that our Jewish community members are celebrating their faith in Post Office Square right alongside our annual Christmas tree, to the crew that puts together the annual Pride parade that draws out hundreds of citizens to march with solidarity with Pride. From the free Belfast Street Party that was conceived as a way the city could provide an event for families that enjoyed fun carnival rides and dancing music over the more high-brow artsy events we’re famous for to the annual Early Bird Sale the local shops offer so that us locals who don’t make Boston money can more easily enjoy the same holiday shopping that people actually come here from Boston to do.

We have a vibrant, diverse community and they are not segregated into pockets — they are all of us, working together to make this a truly remarkable community. The way Ms. Paradis has chosen to speak to her truth, to make it so public and confrontational, yet still so very vague, hurts us all. And I don’t mean just emotionally.

She hurts our livelihoods by painting a poor picture of us to the broader world. She hurts our relations with our fellow citizens because we are all wondering which one of us was such a jerk to her. She hurts our confidence in ourselves as we ask, “Jeez, was it me?”

I hope she didn’t intend this consequence, but here we are. What can we all do to help fix it?

Anne Saggese

Belfast

Window Dressers thanks

The 2018 Belfast Window Dressers workshop has ended, and our steering committee would like to recognize and thank the volunteers, businesses and other community supporters who made our seventh year another great success!

We began unloading trucks of supplies and equipment at the Belfast Boathouse on Nov. 7. By Nov. 20, we had rewrapped 31 inserts for past customers and made 459 new inserts for 64 households in Waldo County and beyond. Twenty percent of our customers, who could not otherwise pay for inserts, were only asked to donate toward their cost.

About 125 volunteers, including most of our customers, built frames and wrapped them so local households will stay warmer, save on fuel costs, and reduce carbon emissions for years to come.

We especially want to thank the city of Belfast for allowing us to use the Boathouse again this year. We would also like to recognize the following for their generous and crucial support, including meals, gift cards, cash, a crew of volunteers, insert deliveries, painter’s tape, and more:

Bank of America, Belfast Co-op, Belfast United Methodist Church, Chase’s Daily, Darby’s Restaurant, Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House, Dockside Family Restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts Belfast, Eat More Cheese, Hannaford Supermarkets, Harbor Walk Restaurant, Moonbat City Baking Co., Nautilus Seafood and Grill, Rollie’s Bar and Grill, Sweet Henry’s, Traci’s Diner, Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, Viking Lumber - Belfast, Viking Lumber - Lincolnville, and Waldo County Technical Center.

Since 2012 we have made over 3,000 insulating window inserts here in Belfast alone.

Orders are being taken for 2019. If you’d like to order inserts for your own home, please visit windowdressers.org and click on “Order and Participate.”

Corliss Davis, Local Coordinator

Steering Committee members Neva Allen, Dean Anderson, Judy Bond, Jerry and Mary Brand, Bill Colcord, Ernie Cooper, Rick Davis, Jasmine Fowler, Mike Funke, Bruce Morehouse, Mollie Noyes, John Terry, Liza Wheeler and Chris Wright

Not worth the ink

If my sources are correct, I recently heard that Lawrence Reichard no longer writes for The Republican Journal. It’s about time.

I have long enjoyed the writing of insightful and articulate curmudgeons. Sorry to say, he is definitely not one of them.

Michael Corden

Belfast

Irritating

I fantasize installing an insanely loud public address system on the roof of my house where I would daily bellow into the mic, "Walter Ash, Belfast needs you!" But that's not why I'm writing.

So then, it does appear that by far and away your best and most interesting columnist is persona non grata, while one of the more irritating right-wingers here or anywhere remains in your stable.

I likewise fantasize bursting in through the French doors in tennis whites and bellowing, "Stupidity, anyone?"

Mike Silverton

Belfast

First step on long trip

I want to thank the people of House District 98 (Frankfort, Searsport, Swanville and Winterport) for putting their trust in me to represent them in the Maine Legislature.

I also want to congratulate Brian Kresge on the strong campaign he ran around the issues that were important to him. Brian and I never officially agreed to “stay positive” in our race, and I never felt the need to because Brian is the kind of person who wouldn’t go negative.

The campaign to get elected is only the first step on a long trip. It’s a trip that we’re all going to take together, and I need to hear from you to represent you well. My cell phone number is 944-1662, and my email is scott.cuddy@legislature.maine.gov. (As of the writing of this letter, it’s not active, but it will be soon and all legislative business has to be conducted through this email to be sure we can comply with Maine’s Freedom of Access Act).

The new Legislature, Maine’s 129th, has already met to pick the leaders of their respective caucuses. We will soon meet as a full Legislature to be sworn in and pick the constitutional officers: secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general.

The business of passing, amending, and repealing laws will begin in January, and I look forward to working hard on your behalf.

Thank you again for your support, and whether you voted for me or not, please know that I will work to represent you.

Scott Cuddy

Winterport

Nothing is safe from this president

This past week Mr. Trump approved starting seismic testing, the first step in searching for oil and gas deposits that will lead to drilling off the coastlines of every state save Florida, which is coincidentally the location of Mar-a-Lago.

Drilling platforms could become common features, and as hurricanes increase in intensity, new safety regulations that might have prevented another huge oil spill like the BP Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been removed by this president.

Every Atlantic seacoast governor (except, of course, Paul LePage) has come out in opposition to offshore drilling — that includes three Republican governors.

Blasting 24 hours a day, seismic air guns are as deafening as rocket launches. The practice harms fish, dolphins and whales — any animal for which hearing is critical for survival, and entire pods of toothed whales have beached themselves during and after seismic testing, autopsies showing clear signs of severe brain damage.

En route to his helicopter this past week, the president was asked if he had had a chance to review the National Climate Assessment, Vol. II. These assessments appear every three years after exhaustive research and peer review by hundreds of scientists worldwide. “I’ve seen it but I don’t believe it,” he said dismissively. Case closed.

This president seems to take bizarre pleasure in trashing the planet. Absolutely nothing he has said or done so far proves otherwise; no one he has chosen to head key departments has any qualifications whatsoever to protect our essential natural resources from harm.

In fact, his choices of cabinet members shows that Trump intends to undermine or destroy the departments and agencies they now lead. He embraces the mantle of “pro-life” but no one has done less than he has to demonstrate it.

Back to seismic testing — we must tell Janet Mills to join all the other governors in opposing oil and gas drilling off our coastlines. Maybe those of us who are passionate about protecting what is left of our natural world can still make our voices heard.

Beverly Roxby

Belfast

No one knows

One serious flaw in so many political arguments is the use of phrases such as “Everyone knows...” or “No one wants....” On its face, such a contention is false. There’s hardly anything in this world that everyone knows or that no one wants.

It seems this tactic is often used by self-described conservative pundits. Rush Limbaugh or Howie Carr, for example, frequently say something like “No one watches CNN” or “No one reads the Boston Globe” when broadcast viewer or newspaper circulation figures clearly negate such claims.

In last week’s column, Tom Seymour used the same false language when he wrote, “No one goes to the polls thinking that if their candidate of choice loses, at least their second or third candidate may have a chance. If that were so, nobody would bother to vote at all.”

Well, I bothered to vote in the midterm election and appreciated the opportunity to express a second or third choice who somewhat reflects my views and I suspect many others did so as well. We picked our favorite and then ranked second and, perhaps, third the candidates whose views also reflected our own to a lesser but significant extent. In this case, the system favored the more liberal candidate.

But in another election, Tom might find it works for him if, in a three-way race, one candidate is liberal and the other two are more conservative. The alternative, in a race with more than two candidates, is the election of someone who is primarily supported by and represents only a minority of voters.

That was certainly true with the two elections of Paul LePage. We can debate the merits of ranked choice voting. But the debate will be more useful if none of us pretends we know what “everyone knows” or what “no one wants.”

Denise Goodman

Searsport

Student seeks project help

I am a student at Cascade Christian School and I am writing a report on the state of Maine. We are responsible for gathering as much information as we can about our state.

If any of your readers would like to help me by sending any pictures, postcards, used license plates, facts, products, etc., from your state, it would be greatly appreciated!

Ciara

Fifth Grade

Cascade Christian School

601 Ninth Ave., S.E.

Puyallup, WA 98372

Wanted: Diversity and inclusion training

I write as a concerned citizen of Belfast about how the City Council has responded to our Mayor Samantha Paradis, and to some broader related issues.

I attended the meeting Nov. 27 and was shocked at not only the punitive actions of the council in stripping the mayor of her powers — but also some of the responses, language and seeming worldview of the councilors.

What this has made clear to me is that our City Council — and perhaps other institutions in our town — is in desperate need of diversity and inclusion training. Mayor Paradis’s guest column is akin to some of the activity we have seen with the “Me Too” movement, which is about speaking out about experiences of sexual abuse and violence — and how this points to wider social issues concerning inequality, oppression and abuse of power.

This connects to the feminist axiom, “the personal is political,” which emerged from the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s, when women gathered in “consciousness-raising groups” and spoke intimately about their individual experiences of inequality and oppression. When they realized they weren’t alone in these experiences, which included sexual harassment, domestic abuse, racism, sexism in their workplaces, etc., this moved the focus off the individual and an “It’s my problem” mentality to a more systemic view.

In other words, I believe the issues Mayor Paradis called attention to in her column are not just about her, but also about broader issues that exist in our town concerning diversity and inclusion.

One thing “Me Too” has made abundantly clear is there is no longer room for women — or other marginalized groups — to just “suck it up and take it” when they feel uncomfortable, disrespected, mistreated or oppressed. That time is over. And though humor certainly has its place, we are coming to see how many jokes are just not funny.

Perhaps what we really need to be looking at is why “the roast” is a public ritual we are expected to participate in...and without question? Some may find this kind of activity funny and innocent...others, not so much. We need to respect the diversity of voices here. And question the status quo.

If the City Council is truly invested in “moving on,” then I urge this group to commit to diversity and inclusion training as part of that process. I participated in such a program through the University of Maine.

Though I teach Gender and Sexuality Studies at the college level, there was still plenty for me to learn, many layers to peel away, to look deeply at our beliefs and biases about gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, ability — and power — all issues that seem to be on the table nationally and in the current crisis in Belfast.

Almost every week I hear about yet another institution incorporating diversity and inclusion training. Why shouldn’t it be so in Belfast? I feel this is something that will only strengthen our town. The City Council feels like a great place to start.

Nicolle Littrell

Belfast

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.