Local Letters to the Editor

Feeding the elephant

To the Editor:

    Forces are working in Dover-Foxcroft which, if not checked, will lead the town over its own “fiscal cliff.” What follows may sound like a “bah-hum-bug” attack, an assault on the sentiments of a few but let’s face it, nostalgia can be very expensive.

    Dover-Foxcroft seems unable or unwilling to live within its means. Yet, even with the town’s millions of dollars of debt, a handful of folks persist in their attempts to extract still more tax money in order to satisfy their own pet projects. Have they lost their financial compass; are they so personally financially well-off as to disregard the needs of those living on restricted incomes; or is it the liberal fervor to “redistribute the wealth” that drives these few to dream of Dover becoming another Blue Hill or Camden?

    A striking parallel exists between the Central Hall Project and the person who begs and borrows enough money to buy and house an elephant. He erects the cage to confine the beast but neglects a major detail – the elephant must be fed. Remember, the owner is already out of money – he’s broke!

    Dover-Foxcroft is broke and we’ve already got a couple of “elephants” we shouldn’t be supporting, yet, here comes what some might call an “opportunity.” It’s really another elephant, Central Hall, a very attractive elephant, a sentimental beast with a history all its own, but so far no one has figured out how Central Hall can be self-sustaining without remaining a drain on meager tax resources. Those are tax dollars (elephant feed) the town can ill-afford and simply doesn’t have.

    Back on Oct. 15, at the town offices, still another grandiose scheme was presented that at first appears to be quite attractive. It supposedly will solve the town’s problem of what to do with Central Hall, but upon further examination it becomes quite apparent that without taxpayer subsidy the project is unsustainable. It’s that elephant everyone became so sentimental about but it’s coming time to feed this extremely expensive undertaking. Expectation was that the Central Hall renovation and restoration was going to be masterminded and supported by the Historical Society, after all, they hold the deed. But now, under the latest proposal the town (that’s us, the taxpayers) is being called upon to pay off an annual shortfall well into the projected future.

    No reasonable or logical person creates a business or restores a building that shows a net loss, that bleeds red ink with the expectation that a former owner will pick up the tab for a sentimental folly. The numbers don’t lie as the following projection reveals. Taxpayers will be asked to supply $18,000 in 2014, $31,000 in 2015, and $34,000 in 2016. Remember, this was supposed to be a Historical Society endeavor, and elephant feed tax dollars were never scheduled for inclusion in any budget for Central Hall.

    Those projected numbers for the next three years will undoubtedly be impossible to find in the town budgets because they lack sufficient transparency. They’ll be supported by a “rubber stamp” Budget Committee, and advanced by selectmen who just might have their own vested interests.

    Some time ago we were told the Central Hall project wouldn’t cost local taxpayers a thing. Wrong! In that same Oct. 15 proposal/report, we find that the town has picked up the tab for insurance right along. Do you think we’ll ever know how much reimbursement the town received from the grants to cover the costs of town employees as well as the use of town trucks and equipment? Interesting to note that last year the town would have had to exceed the regular budget in order to repair town roads, yet Public Works employees and town trucks could be pressed into service on a building the town no longer owned. And remember those early estimates of a few hundred thousand dollars to complete the work? We’re now over a million dollars and the job isn’t complete yet.

    Being sentimental can be virtuous but practicality and clear-headed reasoning is essential when it’s other people’s money that is footing the bill. The financial facts are what they are – Dover-Foxcroft is in debt – it’s broke – the town can’t afford, nor should it be called upon to subsidize an enterprise in which few residents have any real interest or the ability to support.

    Here we are, no longer the owners of Central Hall, yet every taxpayer, it is assumed, is called upon to dig a little deeper in order to “feed the elephant” – the beast of a few folks’ grand design. According to the October 2012 projections, a restored and renovated Central Hall is unable to support itself. It won’t even break even, well into the future. How many times is Dover going to repeat the same mistakes all the while expecting a different outcome? Psychiatrists call that a true sign of insanity.

    Let’s question with boldness! It’s time to discover the true spending plans for our tax dollars. It’s time for our tax dollars to be spent on the necessities of the town not on the pipe dreams of a few who apparently dwell in a world of nostalgia. The town needs to live within its means – with the reality of a balanced budget, devoid of the “pork” driven by nostalgia.

    You have the power to control town spending at the voting booth in June. Meanwhile, attend the Budget Committee meetings and learn what happens to your tax dollars. Speak up and agree only to pay what you can afford, and demand that your tax money be spent only on the necessities of the town, only for those services required to sustain the town. No more elephants and no more tax dollars to feed them.

Don Benjamin

Maine’s roadways have become
far too dangerous

To the Editor:

    The number of motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and related injuries occurring on our roadways continue to have a devastating toll on our citizens and visitors to our great State. As of the last week of 2012, 163 people have died on Maine roads during 2012 and that is too many deaths, too many relatives, too many friends and too many Maine citizens. The safest driving occurs when drivers direct full attention to the road and their surroundings.

    Most alarming is the number of young drivers killed as a result of distracted driving. Sadly, 14 teens have died on Maine roads during the past year. Twenty-seven fatalities involved 20- to 24-year-olds.

    Unfortunately, too high of a percentage of all crashes are due to driver error. Last year, roughly 10 percent of vehicle fatalities were a result of distracted driving.

    Law enforcement is serious about cracking down on distracted driving and texting while behind the wheel.

    While no state bans cell phone use for all drivers, many prohibit use by young drivers. Thirty-two states, including Maine, ban cell phone use by novice drivers and texting while driving is illegal for all motorists in Maine.

    I would also like to take a moment to talk about the importance of buckling up. Seatbelts save lives.

    Each year, approximately 42,000 Americans die in traffic crashes and another three million are injured. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable if the victims had been wearing safety belts.

    Fifty percent of young drivers in Maine who die in motor vehicle crashes did not buckle up.

    It is important to protect our citizens. That is why I support the effort of the Maine State Police in stepping up enforcement of seatbelt violations, especially for young drivers.

    In addition to this effort, law enforcement across our State will be looking to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

    Federal money is helping pay for the ‘Drive Sober Maine!’ campaign that started in December and will continue into the New Year. Fifty-two Maine highway agencies, from Fort Fairfield to Kittery will work overtime to patrol at places and times where drunk driving is most common.

    Alcohol-related traffic deaths doubled in the first six months of 2012 with 32 OUI deaths compared to 15 deaths during the same period in 2011.

    Whether it is drinking and driving or distracted driving – the consequences of either are too great. Lives are on the line and no life is worth losing. As we head into 2013, it is my sincere wish that all Mainers enjoy the journey ahead of them.

    Do not drink and drive and think twice about texting when behind the wheel. A safe driver is a responsible driver.

Gov. Paul LePage


Not the right development

To the Editor:

    What is the thought process that decides building a pizza/bar restaurant on Main St. in Dover-Foxcroft, smack dab in-between a pizza restaurant and another established restaurant and bar, is a good business move? There are already 14 other food serving businesses in town and this new restaurant will be No. 15.

    In an already economically depressed region, where jobs are very scarce, and food banks are reporting record numbers of people using them, another bar sucking money out of hardworking citizens, can only hurt the people and the community. It will lead to more domestic abuse, more OUI’s and impaired drivers, and more children with their food, clothing and education money spent on beer. The back roads from River St. to Fairview Ave. and Lincoln St. will be less safe and very busy, as more impaired bar patrons choose these routes to avoid the police late at night.

    Hopefully, someday, a factory, mill or some other industry will wander our way and actually put money into the pockets of people instead of the other way around.

Debra Thibeault
Blanchard Twp.

A caring New Year’s resolution

To the Editor:

    There is a good chance that if you are not a caregiver yourself that you know someone else who is. In the United States, approximately 43.5 million adults provide what is called “unpaid” care to someone age 50 or older. Breaking that number down further, 19 percent of all adults are responsible for daily caregiving tasks such as meal preparation, travel to/from appointments and cleaning for an older dependent or loved one. When one considers how many caregivers in America have jobs, other demanding responsibilities and/or children of their own, one can start to imagine how stressful their lives can be.

    If you know someone who is a caregiver, there are ways to help. A lot of caregivers may be unaware that there are resources available that can provide some relief. For example, the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Eldercare Locator is a great way to get started and they are just a phone call away at 1-800-677-1116.

    The AARP Caregiving Resource Center at www.aarp.org/caregivers is also a site that offers a wide range of services and supports for both caregivers and for those of us who might wish to help. If you’ve ever taken care of an older parent or loved one, you know how much it can mean to have a break and some free time for yourself. Helping out a caregiver in 2013 would be a great resolution for the New Year.

Helena Trumble
Greater Portland AARP

Be we lemmings?

To the Editor:

    In the oft-cited scientific experiment of placing a frog in a pot of water, then turning up the heat until the frog is totally cooked, the frog never realizes what happened. Like the frog, we in Maine are somehow adapting to that which is wrong, unknowingly and not yet realizing that we are about to be cooked. The frog was passive, as most of us are in our lives, never wanting harm to others, not knowing how others may wish to harm us.

    ‘Tis time to feel the heat and jump from the soon-to boil pot, lest we adapt to those who wish to surround, suppress or consume us. Unlike the unknowing frog, we should become informed, learn about that which (or those who) surrounds us, seeking to destroy that which we cherish — our life within a more natural surrounding!

    A life not for surrender to government(s), corporate or individual control, not for sale for profit by self or others, but a life provided from the treasures found in the enjoyment, relaxation and co-existence of which nature has provided for our needs. Why destroy today that which we can destroy another day? Once gone, that life may never return — and rightfully so, since we did not cherish the gifts Nature provides while we were guests upon this earth.

    Although we can seek out solutions to the problems we have today, these problems should never have existed nor should problems arise from that which we as guests do. All of Nature rises from the ashes of the past, and so shall it return. Given eons of time, Nature will resurrect itself, however, like the dinosaurs, we humans will not be here. We are given but one time to exist, which is now! Let’s keep it the “Best Now” that we can.

    Maine is currently undergoing a resurrection of its natural past. Pressures from the outside world once again come forward and make demands of this land. The Great Fire of 1825, by historical accounts, changed the face of our newly established state, consuming many acres of timber. Along with mismanagement of that which Nature provided, we in our own right tortured the land and waterways nearly to the point of non-recovery. Having almost returned to a half-way point of a sustainable recovery, Corporate America (Western Hemisphere) wishes to add more scars to the land in the form of “Corridors of Passage” be these highways, pipelines, wind farms, electrical transmission lines, mining access, water extraction, or other atrocities within those zones.

    Much like today’s electrical transmission lines, via easements (you pay the taxes while easement holders retain the right to control, diminish or destroy) across this state, chemicals are administered to render the land void of much of its natural plant growth because chemicals are less expensive than employing people to trim and maintain the area. So it will be with this new invasion of the state. They will take the easy way out and assure their stockholders more profit, yielding very little in the way of jobs for Mainers while degrading the land to an unusable condition.

    “No” rights are granted to persons or those of personhood from nature that allows its destruction by any means. Nor be they written in any Constitution or documents of governments in the past or present. Those rights are only assumed by mankind, though practiced and at times allowed. Though nature will push back. Any justification of this reasoning that mankind has a right to destroy nature and that which it provides, would be to simply surrender ones rights of survival and that of others (all species).

    In the concept of those who retain this belief, the natural world is not owned, it only exists to provide its guests with their means of survival and a method of self-evaluation of how they would maintain or destroy that which sustains their visit as they pass from this existence to others.

    Collaboratively written and edited by:

Eric A. Tuttle

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