Letters for Jan. 3, 2019

Jan 03, 2019

We can do better

I am struck by the technological gymnastics that some people are willing to go through to produce tank-raised fish for human consumption and, surely more important, for profit.

I can spend a day in my garden planting dry beans, and with minimal effort grow enough to meet my family's protein needs for a year and beyond. It's been over 45 years since Frances Moore Lappe's "Diet for a Small Planet" hit the bookstores with compelling arguments about the amount of energy — feed, water and environmental consequences — of producing a pound of meat versus the nutritional equivalent of plant-based protein. While she initially failed to make the connection between the meat and dairy industries, and did not address sustainability issues regarding commercial fishing, she made compelling arguments.

Yet in 2018, despite public awareness of so many catastrophic environmental issues, our species continues to clamor for more meat, fish and dairy, all at a tremendous cost to our beleaguered planet. As long as food production is profit-driven, it is in the best interests of neither the consumer nor the environment.

I just don't trust anyone whose primary motive is profit, especially when they propose major technological infrastructure with potentially sweeping consequences. There are so many better ways to provide jobs for our region, as well as affordable housing and improved quality of life. We can do better, without Nordic Aquafarms.

Jamila Levasseur

Waldo

Performance difference

This is written in response to the very enjoyable article on the Mount View Chamber Singers published in the Dec. 21, 2018, Central Maine Media newspaper.

I have been privileged to hear the group on a few occasions, most recently this year at Knox Ridge Baptist Church on Dec. 8. I noticed quite a difference between this year’s and past performances.

My friend and I sat near the end of the row where we could be close to the performers as they rotated. The sounds this year were not as open and English words were difficult to understand. The singers appeared to be holding their mouths in a rigid “O” position that seemed to restrict the voice.

We spoke briefly about this with the person who is (according to the article) a new musical director. She indicated that yes, she was teaching them to perform this way.

In the opinions of my friend and I, the result is not as openly musical and tonal as in previous years. It is our hope that this style can "loosen" up so the voices soar better and words are understandable.

Pat Clark

Palermo

Right, title and interest

Re: the Dec. 17, 2018, Nordic Aquafarms public meeting, I would like to set the record straight regarding the issues we have raised.

Right, title and interest is a legal right to use, or the outright ownership of, certain lands required for an applicant to have standing. Proof of these rights is the legal responsibility of the applicant, Mr. Heim, not of the neighboring citizens or the state.

Cianbro Corp., Ransom Engineering and Nordic’s legal firm submitted, on Sept. 27, 2018, a plan for the factory discharge pipe. It shows the proposed pipeline crossing the intertidal property of Dr. Lydon Morgan of Belfast, and then proceeding into the water approximately 1,000 feet away at low tide onto the littoral zone of Dr. Morgan and others.

Astonishingly, the Submerged Lands Office and the DEP accepted this proposal as adequate, and on Nov. 9, 2018, DEP found that the right, title and interest “proof” for Nordic’s wastewater discharge application was acceptable. On Nov. 8, 2018, I formally commented and asserted this was not the case.

Despite the issues I raised, and the subsequent admission of the failure of this plan, DEP went ahead with its Nov. 9, 2018, acceptance of Nordic’s application as “complete.” Commissioner Paul Mercer resigned on that day.

In mid-November, the “Amended Plan” appears, and Nordic’s so-called “amended” proposal for an application for a submerged public lands lease is likewise seriously flawed, as admitted by Mr. Heim to me in person on Nov. 17, 2018.

This current plan, in a different location and configuration, relies on and references a survey by James Dorsky PLS, dated Nov. 14, 2018. This is a survey of the tidal lands supposedly under contract to Nordic from the Eckrote family. It is obvious to the discerning eye that the plan prepared from this survey is still seriously flawed in a variety of ways, including, most obviously, the improper use of the Eckrotes’ entire littoral zone of 350 feet instead of the 25 feet under contract to Mr. Heim.

The aggrieved and threatened parties and I have requested from Mr. Heim and his engineers the release of Nordic’s proof of location and claimed property right, title and interest evidenced by Mr. Dorsky’s survey. They have refused, as stated definitively by attorney Joanna Touranguey at the Dec. 17, 2018, meeting.

As a result, the aggrieved parties have filed a nine-page motion to dismiss, on substantive grounds, Nordic’s application with Maine DEP.

As of this writing (on Dec. 25), we await the findings of the review of this motion by Tom Desjardins, director of Parks and Lands; Melanie Loyzim, acting commissioner of the DEP; and their respective assistant AGs, on the numerous issues we have raised challenging Nordic’s right, title and interest claims.

According to Greg Wood of the DEP Water Quality Department, that review was to have been completed Dec. 21, and Acting Commissioner Loyzim was to have decided the fate of Mr. Heim's flawed right, title and interest claims and the wastewater discharge permit that relies on such claims.

Paul Bernacki

Belmont

More biased reporting?

National News reported on the day after Christmas that another child, an 8-year-old, died while in the custody of the immigration authorities. That’s two in the past month or so. Both received good medical care. A sad event, of course, but not worthy of the type of coverage it received.

American children die all over the country every day from all sorts of events: accidental, medical, and, worst of all, family violence — something we have recently been sickened by right here in Maine. These events occur regularly with little if any coverage unless it can generate sympathy for some left-leaning cause.

In October, 10 children died from a viral infection in a New Jersey hospital; many more were sickened. Although these sad events were covered, they did not receive the level of concern that the deaths of those seeking to cross our southern borders illegally seem to generate.

Anything that can be directed toward the current administration in negative fashion gets front page exposure.

Leo Mazerall

Stockton Springs

Tractor Supply?

I have some concerns regarding the proposed Tractor Supply development in Belfast. The proposal of having Tractor Supply plus two more large retailers brings the image of the beginning of "strip development" and I wonder if this is in the best interests of Belfast merchants and all who live here.

I also have concerns with the concept of combining housing with a big box retail district. Because excess noise, light, pavement and traffic typically accompany big box districts, housing in that same location may be less than desirable. This type of housing may not be what people who are drawn to Belfast are seeking.

There has been some discussion of a housing area on Congress Street at the Public Works site. This would be a more favorable location for housing because it is in walking distance to downtown Belfast.

I don't see the proposed Tractor Supply development as progress, but instead as a step backward with regard to our efforts to mitigate climate change.

There is a Tractor Supply store 27 miles from here in Rockland. I propose we offer dependable shopping bus service to Rockland for times when people need to access bigger stores. Also an online ride-sharing service could be organized to help people carpool when needing to travel to existing shopping districts.

Another approach is that current merchants in Belfast could consider adding additional items to their inventory if such demand or need exists.

I think that, at this time in our world, progress means saying no to some development. I hope that our Comprehensive Plan includes serious consideration of the climate effects of every development decision that is made in Belfast.

All of this may sound inconvenient to some, but I think this is part of the new reality to preserve our planet.

Joanne Moesswilde

Belfast

Persecution mania

"Times have become dangerous for conservatives and that danger will continue to worsen. Even displaying Republican campaign signs can put a person in danger. Democrats will continue to confront conservatives in public places.

"Religious people will become even more marginalized. The slightest hint of religiosity in public will signal attacks by atheist groups as well as House and Senate Democrats."

The late art critic and essayist Robert Hughes wrote a book entitled "Culture of Complaint." While his citations have become somewhat dated, the book tells us now as before that nothing sells like persecution. Authoritarians and dictators have always required threats and dangers — Jews, capitalists, the anti-revolutionary bourgeoisie, the Yellow Peril, uppity blacks, brown thugs and rapists, and so on in predictable dreariness — to secure their grip on on the minds of the unmindful.

Hughes would have relished Tom Seymour's declarations of imminent confrontations, quite likely violent, in the street, in the workplace, bars, restaurants — anywhere and everywhere! I'm no shrink and am disqualified from tossing about terms like persecution mania. But would love to.

My suggestion to the Republican Journal's editor and publisher? Show this guy the door. He does you no credit.

Mike Silverton

Belfast

Editor's note: The op-ed column referenced in the above letter also noted it was the last to be written for The Journal.

In 2019 I promise to…

I’ve plunged into the first of several New Year’s resolutions — keeping my desk clean so as not to be ashamed if someone else sees it. Next: Eat less brownies. Next I’ll buy less stuff I didn’t really need. 2019 will be different, I resolve today. I’ll strive to improve even though, like most of us, I’ll probably slip up.

Moral resolutions are different. If they’re kept they can change more than just ourselves. Here are some examples that come to mind:

Try not to idle in parking lots unless it’s extremely hot or cold and think beyond yourself why that can matter. (Wonder how many people in this country do it without even thinking.)

Throw away less; recycle more, and learn why that’s a good idea.

Turn off lights when you don’t need them on and start using a few LEDs. Beyond saving money, why else is that a good idea?

Go meatless once a week; then discover how local farmers and the planet benefit when you do.

Throw away less food. Find a place for the compost where you live or at a community garden. How is that helpful, beyond your own needs? Find out.

Go outside but not just onto sidewalks and parking lots. Walk the Rail Trail and greet others who have torn themselves away from their laptops. Discover a quiet place beyond the noises of towns and cities. Stand there a few minutes looking closely at grasses, shrubs, trees, sky.

Listen and look for critters that aren’t pets. While you’re breathing, note that the air is probably not going to make you cough, your eyes water. Appreciate that you can walk 10 steps to drink clean water from a faucet and not the 10 miles that some children and women walk every day to water that’s often muddy or contaminated, just to survive.

Ask yourself — was it always this way for some people or what has made it change? Ask yourself why you should even care about these people, thousands of miles away. Wonder — is this one of the reasons people might migrate to places that have reliable water 10 steps away in their faucets? Could climate change be one reason? Go to reliable sources (not pro-industry websites) to find out.

Care about what’s been happening to butterflies; to the many insects that used to end up smashed on your windshield. Even if insects aren’t your thing, find out why they’re disappearing.

Pay attention to what leaders in DC, led by Mr. Trump, are doing to compromise our drinking water, our land, our oceans, other species, our health. Then wonder, why are they working to undo laws that protect us? What’s in it for them? Wonder how they can keep dismissing climate change as a hoax when almost 300 countries are resolved to combat it. Learn why, from reliable sources.

I’m an English teacher, so I’ll say that resolutions often start with transitive verbs: Clean. Diet. Exercise. Throw. Wonder. Find out. Promise. Resolve. I’d like to add one more verb, then I’m done preaching. That word is think.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Beverly Roxby

Belfast

Thanks from Santa's Snowbird Express

Thank you, we made it! Cheers to the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Rail Road!

To Joe, Mike, Mike, Joe, Joey, Pat, Julie, Thor, Nicole, Aaron, Russ, Carl, Gary, Sue, Howard, Pete, Greg and Calvin at the railroad (and all the other volunteers I may not know), who made that happen.

To elves! To Don, the singing elf, president of Elf Union 37, who had a heart attack almost in our midst; we hope he will be back next year when he’s mended. Everyone loves Don! To Betsy, who persevered, came back, came back again, and again, to be Mrs. Claus’s right hand elf when Don was gone and she had no elves to turn to.

To Amanda, Hazel, Greg and Cher. To John, Nyla, Kai, Ara and Jonah for being cheery elfin and bringing delish soups! To Paula and Tom for treats, equipment, and train tending. To Debbie, Di, Ruth, Olivia, Mickey and Finn. To Matt, Bob P., Bob B. and Joan. To Kami, Jackson, August, Eileen, Corlis, Sarah, Ariane, Allie, David, Oona and all the reluctant elves who donned hats, were cheery and so very helpful,

To Barb for taking away dirty dishes and pots every day and bringing them back clean! And for bringing yummy cookies that were quickly consumed. To Bob P., Harriet, Anne, Eileen, Shaughnessy, Ariane, Betsy and Betsy’s mom for bringing treats and good breads and other great foods that were eaten in short order.

To Ken and Adrienne for loads of veggies and good wishes. To Harriet for constructing 450 bell pins that were eagerly purchased by travelers. To Linda, for decorating with greens and milkweed and making the space beautiful.

To Grace for snowflakes and signs that were loved and taken away to new homes; for a great poster design, and for great web coverage of all events until she had to leave to take care of Don, our aforementioned singing elf.

To Steve, for donating his beautiful 1950s Lionel train set, a major attraction to visitors of all ages. To Kasey and Neil for parting with it. To Joey for loaning his trains when we had technical difficulties with the older stock, and for keeping things all on track.

To Ethan and Stephanie for great newspaper coverage! To all the reporters from local TV who took footage! To Jimmy for bringing us music by way of Leslie, Link, Sofia, Esker, Eric, Mazie, Osa, Quillen (Thanks!) and the other musical ones whose names I do not know (but hope to).

To Kip, Doug, Ray and Harriet for firewood, which we burned a lot of, trying to keep a drafty barn warm, and to Ray and Kip again for stoking the stove in the middle of the nights, probably the least favorite job.

To Peter, Dennis and Greg for taking on one of the toughest jobs, being jolly Santa, over and over and over again, in the face of harsh weather, very long hours, cold environments and critical public. And to Denn again for rescuing our neighbor when he fell in his driveway, and to elf Bob who provided his EMT and nursing skills to be sure Pete went to the ER when it was needed. (Pete will have some stories to tell about that!) And thanks to the Quimbys for being good neighbors through all the craziness.

What a long hard trip it’s been. We’re glad it’s done, and we’re glad we did it. Hope to work with all of you again through the year!

Diana Prizio

Director, The Farwell Project/Timelines Community

Thorndike

Have courage, Belfast

Belfast’s caring, creative locals understand the value of breaking bread together. These folks have challenged the impersonal big-business model threatening to disrupt their community before.

The latest big business to move to town, Nordic Aquafarms, is a new breed of monolithic factory farming, imagining profits from well-fed Americans’ demand for salmon. Norwegians invented the over-crowded containment of salmon in massive land-based tanks, borne out of failures and financial losses of open-pen sea-cage farming, which reportedly creates toxic pollution and spreads contagions of lethal sea lice. According to a New York Times article, factories were shut down and fined by the Norwegian government for salmon escapees contaminating the wild stock.

Land-based aquaculture won’t provide solutions for whole-earth resilience to climate change. Nordic is using technology so new it’s impossible for scientific researchers to track long-term environmental impacts. Gaps in research and the regulatory systems allow for this industry to build costly infrastructure that will be impossible to remove after harms to life in water, land and air have been discovered.

The Belfast City website posts a letter from Donald Perkins, CEO of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, dated Oct. 12, 2018. Perkins glowingly endorses Nordic Aquafarms to Gregg Wood, who’s in charge of wastewater licensing at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Perkins’ support of the project, and zoning changes by Belfast City Council, illuminate the power dynamics held by government, industry, and scientific research that block other voices and green-light NAF. This system does not allow for determining the real social and environmental costs during the permitting process.

GMRI’s respected scientists do important work educating the public and adapting to rapidly warming ocean waters. GMRI’s endorsement makes complete sense because NAF’s daily dump of 7.7 million gallons of treated wastewater in Penobscot Bay would be more sustainable compared to sea-cage factory fish farming. Their research is designed to manage the ocean, not land. As quoted in GMRI’s strategic plan, they want to “…Attract capital and develop new business models that benefit the marine communities we serve.”

What are the benefits for water, air, and whole earth communities? Unpredictable, devastating drought effects from climate disruption are real. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “By 2050 at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent.” If NAF claims water rights from the Little River and depletes those aquifers, how can we call this sustainability?

Consider having the courage to attract and endorse a truly sustainable model implemented by Bren Smith as described in his 2011 Atlantic article, "The Coming Green Wave: Ocean Farming to Fight Climate Change." Small, local seaweed and shellfish farms have the capacity to grow huge amounts of nutrient-rich food in 3-D underwater columns. Oysters and kelp act as an efficient carbon and nitrogen sink. In this model, complementary species are grown together to help feed the world and clean up the ocean. That’s a no-harm local business model Belfast can promote.

Jasmine Spence

Belmont

Response to a one-sided view

Reade Brower's Dec. 27, 2018, op-ed, “Searching for a kinder America,” a one-sided view of the political landscape, cannot go unanswered.

He says “many economists are predicting a recession,” which sounds like news stories supported by “unnamed sources.” Not even the Fed is predicting a recession (i.e., two successive quarters of falling GDP). GDP is expected to continue over 3 percent per quarter in 2019.

He says the strong middle class's “ship has sailed,” but unemployment has been around 4 percent or below for the past 16 months ― with all-time low unemployment for blacks, Hispanics and women, along with a historically high labor participation rate. All this good news easily qualifies as “lifting all boats.”

He talks about the rich getting richer and the homeless still without a place to live. This is a euphemism for income inequality, a hallmark of the progressive left that leads to income redistribution. The Trump tax plan, doubling the standard deduction for married couples, will significantly benefit millions of Americans, the top 10 percent of whom pay 80 percent of federal income taxes. I'd say they pay their fair share.

He says Trump is holding the Democrats “hostage” on the wall, yet key Democrats (Pelosi, Schumer and even Obama) supported substantially more funding for border security just a few years ago. Just because building a wall or barrier or fence along the southern border was Trump’s key campaign promise, it’s now considered unacceptable.

Somehow, Trump is doing this to “keep his base fired up,” but when taking the oath of office, the president promises to protect and defend the United States. The 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, along with many more independents, Hispanics and blacks, want border security to stop the flood of illegal immigrants depressing wages, and burdening cities, states and the federal government, and to stop the flow of heroin and fentanyl, which kill tens of thousands.

And keeping the Mueller investigation off the front page? That Russian collusion story belongs in the obituaries.

Brower says wall or fence effectiveness is “debatable.” Ask the Israelis about their barriers, deemed 99-percent effective against Hamas, some of the world's worst terrorists. Trump offered a reasonable compromise by giving several million DACA “dreamers” a path to citizenship in exchange for border security, ending chain migration and beginning merit-based legal immigration. Democrats balked at this deal because they're not interested in comprehensive immigration reform ― just more votes.

Brower talks about a “vetting process, not based on fear, but guided by common sense.” There is no master data base provided by Central American countries for Border Patrol and Homeland Security to vet so-called asylum seekers, which include hundreds of MS-13 gang members bringing in enough fentanyl to kill millions. An estimated 90 percent of asylum seekers don't qualify.

President Trump is not a Boy Scout; he has character flaws, like most politicians. But Brower makes a big deal about “lies” regarding infidelity. Compare that to Obama's whopper of a lie that “you can keep your doctor, your health plan and health premiums will be reduced by $2,500 per year.” That lie led to Obamacare turning our insurance coverage and health care system inside out — and my premiums are now $1,350/month.

I'll take a president with character flaws but with a solid ideology and a “magic wand” who looks out for Americans and puts America First, over our former president who tells me “You didn't build that” and “spread the wealth.”

The only noose that is tightening is not around Trump, but around the Deep State embedded in the former Obama administration and the holdovers buried inside the bureaucracy. It will take more time to flush them out.

Eric Schrader

Belfast


 

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