Letters for Oct. 31, 2019

Oct 31, 2019

The old boys' club

At the recent candidate forum in Belfast on Oct. 22, it seemed like three of the candidates blame Samantha Paradis, the current mayor of Belfast, for all the of the local incivility we would all like to see change. Wow. And she wasn't even there to defend herself!

We may not have agreed with everything Samantha said, but we definitely defend her right to say it. And we appreciate all of the time and energy she gave to Belfast, and her leadership around forming a citywide climate change committee.

What does seem obvious is that she did manage to shake up the "old boys' club." Thank you, Samantha!

Donna Short

Meredith Bruskin


Setback for Nordic

Rule 1.7 B ,10 is my favorite Submerged Lands Program Rule. You know, the one about “Material Facts"? Once again, Nordic grossly missteps the process. Or perhaps it was a poorly calculated attempt to keep the public, the Army Corps, DEP and BEP, and the Submerged Lands Program from understanding the true environmental impact of this factory on our bay.

Nordic was told by the Army Corps of Engineers, under the U.S. Clean Water Act, to change the pipe installation plan under the water. Nordic didn’t get around to telling the public, the towns of Belfast, Northport and Bayside, the Mabee/Graces, whose intertidal land these pipes run through, the lobster industry or the Department of Marine Resources.

Nordic also did not tell Carol Dibello and the Submerged Lands Program, even though Nordic knew it had a material change in the plan and needed to redo all the impact studies, the review by Department of Marine Resources and justify the revised “impact area calculations.” It knew months before the Final Finding granting the Lease Conditional on the TRI (title, right and interest) reality of a lease.

All the deliberations based on the Nordic plan filings of spring, comments, Final and Preliminary Findings, 80 C petition to Judge Murry, Superior Court, Marine Resources scientists, timelines for comments, public notices, science and engineering review by DEP and the opponents are all for naught! Start again!

Fortunately for our bay, the clue was found, the authorities alerted, and Rule 1.7 B, 10 (Material Facts) restarts the process.

The clue was that at a Board of Environmental Protection scheduling meeting, Nordic referred to a change of construction and stabilization plan for the sub-tidal length of the intake and sewage pipes.

The authorities, i.e., the Submerged Lands Office's assistant attorney general, was informed by staff and others that the plan had changed from the plan that was considered by Submerged Lands staff in the five-month process of notifications to towns and abutters, harbor committees, etc., and then the preliminary and final findings based on that plan and then the 80 C petition (lawsuit ) challenging the final finding, were no longer functional as law — or process — even.

My opinion is that the “application” at the moment is now incomplete, and this whole house of cards should be sorted out into decks. Perhaps the king and queens will be sanctioned and exposed for what they are and have been doing?

“Sufficient” TRI? In the recently decided (Oct. 3) case of Robert Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport and the State of Maine et al, the Supreme Judicial Court, at paragraphs 39 through 43, states that a landowner whose predecessors in title don't own the beach, then those current landowners don’t own the beach, even if someone altered the deed language in the current owner's deed. Guess who argued this point before the court for the town? None other than David Kallin of Drummond and Woodsum, Nordic's lawyer.

Thus Nordic’s house of cards “sufficient“ TRI loses one more foundation card. There is no “presumption” under “Colonial Ordinance" where there are no title rights in the actual property.

The Eckrotes don’t own the beach, never did, never will, and Nordic will never get an easement from the Eckrotes over Grace/Mabee and the Dr. Harriet L Hartley Intertidal Sanctuary. Thank you, Justice Humphrey!

Paul Bernacki



Editor's note: The following letters to The Republican Journal are running online only, in keeping with TRJ policy about not publishing election-related letters in the newspaper the week before an election, where no timely rebuttal is possible.

We have to get back to work

I’m running for the Belfast City Council. Belfast is at a turning point. We are challenged by a lack of affordable housing and high taxes. Wages are rising making it hard to afford good city employees. Everything we try to do costs money and raises taxes even more so we do less and less.

This is the major reason I support Nordic Aquaculture’s proposal for a salmon farm. It will both lower property tax and make it possible to do some things that need doing. I asked for an opponent to run against me so that we could have a good debate on the fish farm subject and those opposed could not field a candidate. That’s our loss. We deserve a serious debate on this critical once in a decade issue.

I support Nordic’s proposal because it will be a clean safe business, it will not harm the bay, it will be of great help in lowering the tax burden, it will help diversify our economy, and bring needed new good jobs that will help keep young people here in Belfast.

Over the last two years I have listened and learned. I have met with anyone willing to talk. We’ve done this civilly and sometimes passionately. I understand people have strong feelings and beliefs and so do I. I am always open to respectful conversation. At times it has gotten heated. That’s to be expected when people feel strongly on an issue.

Over the last two years we’ve seen time and opportunity wasted. Tractor Supply took far too long to gain approval, apartments for the Peirce School were threatened with lawsuits by neighbors and went away, and Nordic continues to fight the good fight against every delaying tactic in the book.

We have to get back to work and work together to make progress. I ask for your support and your vote. I am still on fire for Belfast and I promise I’ll keep fighting and working for you and the city we love.

Mike Hurley


Voting for Brenda

As election day approaches and Belfast prepares to begin a new chapter in its history, we ought to reflect on the lessons of the last few years. City government is about what should be done, and what can be done, for the city and the community. The role of city councilors should not be to further their own interests or to crusade for a particular political agenda. It is to serve the people to the best of their abilities.

There is much that needs to be done to keep Belfast the wonderful place we all love, and to ensure a bright future. We need to address housing, infrastructure, economic development and ways to better meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. To do so, we need to fill the open councilor position in Ward 3 with someone who asks for that position out of a desire to truly serve the city and help improve it for everyone who lives here. There has been too much distraction, too many obstructions, too much heat and not enough light.

I believe that Brenda Bonneville would bring the dedication, creativity and compassion that is needed to the position of city councilor. I will be voting for Brenda on Nov. 5, and I urge everyone who wants to see Belfast move forward to join me.

Neal Harkness


Vote for Ridgely Fuller

I don’t know about you, but I am really worried about the climate crisis. To me, it is the most important issue of our time. What can I, and all of us here on the coast of Maine do to minimize the terrible effects that we and all living beings will have to confront?

Ridgely Fuller understands the profound threat of what is happening in the natural world. She supports steps that have already been taken by city government, and offers additional concrete proposals that we as a community can embrace in order to respond effectively. This is what I most appreciate about Ridgely: the larger perspective that informs her platform on local issues, and her ability to support the good work of others.

Transforming the present tone of communication in our city is a main goal in Ridgely’s campaign. No one benefits from angry divisiveness. No one benefits from a “conversation” where people do not listen with respect to differing ideas and views. We must be able to work together to address the climate emergency with all our ingenuity and creativity.

Ridgely has been going door to door and talking with residents and local business people. She so enjoys this — learning firsthand about people’s issues and concerns in order to effectively represent them if elected. One of her priorities is supporting and encouraging local, small businesses as the foundation of a vital local economy. This approach to economic planning is in harmony with the larger issue of addressing climate breakdown. Small businesses, good jobs, smaller carbon footprint, keeping funds circulating within the local community, greater self-sufficiency all strengthen our community.

Among other important issues to mention are the city budget and high property taxes. Ridgely’s approach to these is within the larger context of the climate crisis. How can we take care of our fiscal situation and still remember the necessity for careful stewardship of the natural world? This is a question Ridgely is prepared to address with the help and input of everyone.

Please join me in voting for Sophia Ridgely Fuller on Tuesday, Nov. 5, or before by absentee ballot, available at City Hall!

Deborah Capwell


What Ward 3 contest is not about

The upcoming election for mayor of Belfast, councilor for Ward 3, and councilor for Ward 4 will determine the city’s direction for the next two years. Two of the positions are uncontested; Ward 3 (and all of Belfast) will choose between two candidates, Brenda Bonneville and Sophia Ridgely Fuller.

The Ward 3 contest is about many things, but there are several things it is not about. It is not about Nordic Aquafarms (the fish farm project), as the council has already given its stamp of approval and the project’s destiny now lies with lawyers and scientists who must ultimately decide its fate. It is not about saving the environment, as Belfast is already taking steps to promote solar energy, clean up polluted properties (Brownfields Assessment program), eliminate plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, and convene a Climate Crisis Committee. And it is not about which candidate knows the most about city government. Neither has been a city councilor before; both have much to learn. Their votes on the council will depend on enormous amounts of new knowledge that emerge and evolve over time.

The problems facing Belfast now, the ones we MUST do something about, involve our tax base, infrastructure repair, diversity of new jobs, and affordable housing. It will take a functioning City Council, working as a team and open to new ideas, to move government forward over the next two years.

We will need a representative who can work with other councilors, welcome input from both her friends and opponents, and commit herself to solving the hard issues facing our community. I know that Brenda Bonneville has these qualities. She has demonstrated them in her capacity as mother, merchant, director, engaged citizen, and friend. To know her is to know of her honesty, intelligence, warmth, and humility.

Change is inevitable, change is hard. That is why I want to hand the wheel of city government to people I know and trust, people who know how to apply both the brakes AND press the accelerator, who have the courage to take our community where it needs to go. That is why I am voting for Brenda Bonneville for councilor of Ward 3 on Nov. 5, and encourage you to do the same.

David Loxterkamp


Ridgely Fuller belongs on City Council

We are happy to be supporting Ridgely Fuller in her quest to serve the city of Belfast as a city councilor, representing Ward 3, for several reasons.

First, Ridgely has genuine concern for the happiness and well being of our city and everyone in it. As a lifelong social worker, teacher and activist, she has been dedicated to identifying the needs and concerns of our community, and then worked passionately to find appropriate, meaningful solutions in a friendly and reasonable way.

Second, Ridgely has a firm and thorough understanding of Belfast's current political, social and economic scenes, and as a city councilor, she will bring considerable experience, organizational and communication skills to the job.

Anyone who has ever been in Ridgely's company knows that she will add a friendly, wholesome perspective to every council conversation. No matter what the topic, she strives to listen, learn, discuss and consider all views before making important decisions. A true "people person," she is at ease with all types. In a group, she facilitates participation and compromise in a lively, positive, inclusive way.

For a long time Ridgely Fuller has been working behind the scenes to improve the quality of life for everyone in Belfast; election to the City Council will enable her to continue and expand her service to our fine city. Please join us in voting for Ridgely Fuller on Nov. 5.

Peter Wilkinson

Maryjean Crowe


An excellent councilor

I have known Ridgely Fuller for approximately 10 years. During this time we have worked on issues that have negatively impacted groups of people and the environment. I have admired Ridgely's leadership and determination to work on an issue through its resolution. Not only has Ridgely been an activist working tirelessly on many projects, globally, she has been involved in bringing issues of food security to residents of Belfast by trying to start a food council for the city, especially for children during summer when school lunches are unavailable.

She was a Pen Bay steward, volunteering with the Belfast Bay Watershed working on the Hills to Sea Trail. She also completed training for Hospice Volunteers and worked as a volunteer with the Restorative Justice Project. Ridgley helped with making the Troy Howard School a warming center offering meals, socializing, and information on electrical recharging during extensive power outages in the winter. Ridgely has participated in Waldo County Climate to Thrive, working on energy independence by 2030, focusing on transportation, food security, use of renewables and advocacy policies.

We have Ridgely to thank, along with many others who worked on making Belfast the first city east of the Mississippi to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day!

Ridgely is an expert in time management. She knows the issues and always is prepared to move forward to do what is needed to make life more comfortable and fair for others.

Her intelligence and dedication is outstanding. With all her assets and achievements, I know Ridgely Fuller will be an excellent city councilor for Ward 3.

She obviously has my vote — please let her have yours. Thank you.

Phyllis Coelho




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Comments (6)
Posted by: Seth Thayer | Nov 05, 2019 08:30

So much speculation in Mr. Bernacki's letter.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Nov 03, 2019 19:03

So your initial rebuttal to Bernacki was an overstatement of a personal nature? More the "fish are okay" response than a paid advocate/propaganda spokesperson for the fish factory of which you are now gainfully employed. It appears that you went beyond the group speak and now feel a need to clarify who you are to folks who already know who you are. Bet you would like a do over on this one.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Nov 03, 2019 19:03

So your initial rebuttal to Bernacki was an overstatement of a personal nature? More the "fish are okay" response than a paid advocate/propaganda spokesperson for the fish factory of which you are now gainfully employed. It appears that you went beyond the group speak and now feel a need to clarify who you are to folks who already know who you are. Bet you would like a do over on this one.

Posted by: Jacki Cassida | Nov 01, 2019 12:46

My apologies to anyone who may not have been aware- as the community liaison for Nordic Aquafarms, I felt compelled to comment and my comment is based on information submitted in applications for permits. Feel free to email me at jc@nordicaquafarms if you have questions, anytime!


Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 31, 2019 17:37

It is not inappropriate to claim land and the property you own. The land is under dispute as RTI has never been established by these factory folks all along the regulatory process. Nordic know this and has been dealing with a weak hand. You folks have a problem and you know it. Must burn your butt to be saddled with folks who push property rights.

Posted by: Jacki Cassida | Oct 31, 2019 12:37

Rebuttal to claims by Mr. Bernacki:

For clarification- the only change was an alternate anchoring system which was developed to avoid NRPA regulated impacts on natural resources and detailed in our publicly available response to the DEP, dated August 22nd. This does not alter the area being conveyed, and piping remains in the same position as before. Thus, it does not change the use of the submerged lands. In terms of the RTI issue, it is inappropriate to make the above claims of ownership when the area is currently under dispute through the courts.

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