Letters for Oct. 24, 2019

Oct 24, 2019

Think carefully about contract rezoning

I am grateful to Mayor Samantha Paradis and all the council members who stood up for Belfast and our very valuable waterfront parks. They are an important part of recreation, local festivals and a sense of community. We all need these gathering places and should not feel constrained by one person's wishes, such as Paul Naron was insisting.

Now I urge the council, the Planning Board and the people of Belfast to step back and consider what Belfast and its special character really need. We already have a keystone development in Front Street Shipyard, which has brought high-quality jobs and a sense of excitement to our waterfront. (Today the presidential yacht Sequoia arrives!)

There are other aspects of Belfast history that we can draw on to promote healthy development, and I strongly urge residents and city officials to think carefully about our future before agreeing to other contract rezoning requests.

Joanne Boynton


Good governance in Belfast?

How is it that the city of Belfast has a city manager, Joe Slocum, who's been employed by the city since 2007, but never bothered to become a taxpaying resident of the city he manages?

The possible reason? Maybe to save real estate property taxes, since his residence in Castine has one half the millage rate of Belfast.

Under Slocum in 2016, the state performed an audit of the city's General Assistance Program, resulting in a fine of $100,000, and the woman who became homeless got “Give them a tent and a sleeping bag.”

Then the ambulance reimbursement where the city was relying on reimbursement of return trips for a resident taking round-trips several times a week for dialysis. This resulted in a $260,000 hit to the city budget.

Then the lawsuit brought by two residents over how the city handled the early stages of the Nordic Aquafarms project. Cost to the city in legal bills? North of $50,000.

Slocum tried to scuttle the deal with Paul Naron with the profound statement, “Why doesn't he (Naron) just withdraw his application?”

Lost money to our local economy and property tax relief.

How can ignoring the City Charter (ordinances) since at least 2011 for two of the biggest eyesores in the downtown area be justified? The MacLeod Furniture back lot has been full of discarded appliances and the McCrum blue refrigeration building has eight broken-down, graffiti-filled tractor-trailers. Both have been in violation of the City Charter for years as an “illegal auto graveyard or junkyard" and "exposed dumpsters." Maine's Premises Liability statute comes into play, also.

Maine's Freedom of Access Act (“FOAA”) grants residents access to public records. Slocum's employment contract was obtained, showing he makes nearly $105,500 per year, $5,400 car allowance and 8% of his annual salary earmarked for his pension. And four weeks' paid vacation since 2010.

Good governance? You be the judge! I believe the city deserves better and Slocum's contract expires in June 2020. Give the councilors your opinion! Change is good!

Eric Schrader


Commitment to community

I’ve known Ridgely Fuller since moving to Belfast in 2015. When we met, she had just learned that the warming center at the Troy Howard Middle School was staffed by people from out-of-state and wanted to give local people the opportunity to volunteer. She was in the process of gathering volunteers and asked if I would sign up. She provided the initial training and set up various specialized trainings.

This is one specific way I have seen Ridgely’s dedication to strengthening the community. She really does care about the well-being and concerns of Belfast citizens and truly enjoys getting to know her potential future constituents while campaigning.

I appreciate that Ridgely has been so forthcoming with her three top issues and am glad restoring goodwill is listed first. Her commitment to the community working together as we face the climate crisis is key.

Ridgely speaks admiringly about locally owned businesses and their important contribution to Belfast’s economy and vitality. She has stated that local support for our businesses strengthens our community’s well-being.

I urge everyone to learn about Ridgely and strongly consider electing her to be Belfast’s city councilor from Ward 3. Ridgely4belfast.org or 370-5756.

Natalie Charles


Global decisions affect Belfast

In the 1980s, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said all politics is local — decisions made among nations can affect individual countries, states, communities, even neighborhoods. Such is the case with the G7 summit that the U.S. will be hosting next June.

The G7 includes leaders from seven of the world’s most advanced economies, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. Since 1973 this group has met yearly to try to agree on ways to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Last year in Switzerland, Mr. Trump claimed to have a scheduling conflict that prevented him from attending the climate change portion of the summit. (This was proven to be untrue — there were no overlaps or impediments — he’d just avoided it.) The only effort this administration has taken regarding climate change is to avoid it, deny it, or to attack environmental laws directly.

Recently Trump’s spokesman Mick Mulvaney said that next June’s G7 summit will not include a session on climate change. This could have a worldwide impact.

At the state level, Gov. Janet Mills has committed to lowering greenhouse gases and she’s created a Climate Council to examine many ways Maine can become greener, cleaner and healthier. Communities throughout Maine are doing likewise and are coming together to share ideas, plans, and their successes.

Locally, our city’s Climate Crisis Committee is sponsoring monthly discussions at the library to share information on what’s being done, what’s possible, and how citizens can get involved.

But to keep momentum going we need support from beyond our community and our state, though the Trump administration is doing everything possible to discourage those efforts. Last week, Trump’s original plan to hold the G7 summit at his Doral Hotel in Miami was so roundly condemned that he was begrudgingly forced to seek another venue. That’s what made headlines, but what didn’t is his decision to keep climate change off the agenda.

Maybe the powers that be in our country, ourselves included, will miraculously put enough pressure on him to revise the plan. High-level talks among seven of the world’s leaders may not seem to affect us, but that’s not the case at all.

Note: This letter is my opinion only and does not represent the endorsement of Belfast’s Climate Crisis Committee, of which I am a member.

Beverly Roxby


Welcoming to diverse views

While I live in Swanville, Belfast is "city center" for most of us in the outlying communities, and so I/we are very interested in the race for Belfast City Council. It affects our lives, too. I am very glad at least one race, Ward 3, has two candidates ― this makes for a much more vibrant campaign. And I am also glad that both women candidates are committed to restoring civility to city politics.

One candidate speaks clearly to the diversity of our community, and to the idea that civility does not mean everyone should have the same opinion ― but rather the willingness and intention to listen to diverse views, because we might just learn something that is helpful to our community as a whole.

My chief concern about this race is that someone will be elected because "collaboration" means agreeing with those already on the council. Personally, I want to see a council that remains respectful no matter what the differences of opinion are. I do not believe that a diverse community can be represented without differences of opinion ― it is how we handle them, that matters.

The current council has gotten way off track with this one. It will take someone who is both able and willing to discuss some of the hard choices facing communities in this time of climate crisis and the move toward local economies, yes, in a respectful manner, and someone welcoming to all the diverse views here ― messy or not ― to help restore goodwill to the Belfast City Council. Ridgely Fuller can be this person.

Meredith Bruskin


Count on my vote

I am confident that the city of Belfast will benefit greatly from adding Ridgely Fuller’s clear vision and sturdy voice to the City Council. That is why she can count on my vote in the election for Ward 3 councilor Nov. 5.

Ridgely is focusing her campaign on the need to build goodwill and respect among all parts of our community, despite differences we may have on specific issues. Most important to my mind is her commitment to prioritize a healthy local economy that “focuses on building a community-wide vision, local ownership, and prioritizing local resources,” because local self-reliance is the foundation for Belfast to successfully face an uncertain future. Ridgely wants to work with all of us to “build a community where every person matters.”  I’m happy to vote for that.

Don’t forget that in Belfast, while council members must live in the ward that has a seat up for election, they are elected by votes from every part of the city. So even if you live in Ward 1, 2 or 4, you can still vote for Ridgely at your polling place at the Crosby Center (96 Church St.) along with Ward 3 voters. If you live in Ward 5, you can still vote for Ridgely at your polling place at the United Methodist Church (23 Mill Lane).

I urge you to join me in voting for Ridgely Fuller for Ward 3 councilor.

Ernie Cooper


Committed to community

Commitment to making Belfast continue to be a thriving community going forward means voting for Brenda Bonneville for City Council. She embodies the spirit of Belfast in a love of the city, a commitment to community, and a desire to bring people together in order to make government work for all of us.

Ron Braybrook


Apt poem

This poem is part of a Be Belfastian Tryptic I wrote when I was Belfast poet laureate in 2007-8, with a few edits. More apt now than ever and RIP Anita Robertson, Peg Worth and Eunice Palmer.

Karin Spitfire


Be Belfastian: "Wild Caught"  by Karin Spitfire


“Isn’t that the town

With the lovely big houses

And the wild women?”


“Yup,”  Said Josephine Grady telling her

story at the footbridge reopening

the bridge over the Passagassawakeag,

where the sturgeon used to run



That would be a part of

Belfastian I know

when Barbara’s cum Bruno’s, cum Bar 132, cum The Neighborhood

Was being boycotted

'cause two women

dancing together were thrown out

When Sue Farrell was fixing instruments

And Mary Weaver’s productions were regalia, pagan and packed

And we danced all night at the Susan B. Anthony Club

on the third floor of the Odd fellows hall, over the Grasshopper, previously Woolworth’s, now Chase’s Daily

After that we closed the Belfast Café, (now Parent Gallery)  run by Mayor Mike

And waited on by Lisa Newcomb, but

We never got as close to wild as Rollies.


And it won’t be appearing in Jay Davis’s history

What happened when the Wild women met Bill’s W. Club,

but it is a good example of

divergent groups

Facing the same problem,

amid swashbuckling on all sides

The circle ekes open,

language changes, and we all tame down

when we have to rub shoulders.


Wild is part of Belfast,

be it in the shining homegrown heirlooms,

Anita  Robertson, Eunice Palmer, Susan Lauchlan

Or the invasives, like me, Peg Worth, Sharon Walsh

Characters, opinions, big hearts, civic minds,

a little rough around the edges

even when we get cleaned up.

Now we’re talking this Belfast Brand,

the World Market telling us

that because we are not completely a stripped mauled mono-cultured shopping opportunity

we still actually have culture…

old fashion hometown culture,

idiosyncratic and eccentric for its very existence.

We have a draw, something unique and special

to Bank on, if we play our hand right.


It’s a good analysis, as they go,

but me,

I’m feeling a bit like salmon…


…a few years ago,

Wild Caught,

was oxymoronic

Now, it means us.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Patricia Edith Kaplan | Oct 26, 2019 08:37

"Wild Caught" a ferocious beating, thumping, heart song, shouting out to power, control and greed....still the music plays on and the foot stomping continues and we will march to our own drums without worry of so called political correctness.  Bravo Karin for an amazing song of life.

Posted by: Patricia Edith Kaplan | Oct 26, 2019 08:37

"Wild Caught" a ferocious beating, thumping, heart song, shouting out to power, control and greed....still the music plays on and the foot stomping continues and we will march to our own drums without worry of so called political correctness.  Bravo Karin for an amazing song of life.

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