Letters to the Editor

Town going to the dogs

To the Editor:
    There’s a new cop in town! Dover-Foxcroft now has a handsome four-legged, no nonsense-looking K-9 that is certain to enhance the police force while keeping Police Department expenses in check. No uniform or side arms required; no office space and telephone; not even a new, radar-equipped cruiser.

    This recent addition has to mark a unique moment when the town budget guru smiled with pleasure as he might have considered the long-term cost factor and taken pity on an already stressed budget. Wonder what’s next for local gendarmes, a new drone? Maybe there’s a Homeland Security grant available to help underwrite the drone’s purchase price. After all, just think what an “eye–in-the-sky” can do to help suppress Dover’s rampant crime problem.
    Despite the national economy and the hardships the town administration is placing on its citizens, there seems little or no stomach for budgetary discipline. Is there anyone in town management that sees the possibility of a national financial crisis ahead or do they simply not care? What’s coming could well make the collapse of 1929 look like an informal dress rehearsal.
    Isn’t it time to put a stop to the apparently out-of-control spending and to halt the continued extraction of still more taxpayer coins? Our lives cannot continue to subsist on grants either. In good conscience, can we really justify a sludge pond park development, or a white elephant senior center, which even now is projected to require taxpayer funding because it will be unable to sustain itself? How much debt is enough and how much more of your funds are you willing to donate to town management merely because they say they “need it?” Remember how the “Business Park” was going to be a financial life ring? Yet, with empty store fronts on Main Street there are folks who seem to think a handful of upscale boutiques in a renovated factory building will become the cornerstone of a viable enterprise destined to return Dover to its glory years.
    The beat seems endless, the taxpayer gets little consideration or relief, and the absurdity of not having a realistically projected spending plan without corresponding population growth and an enhanced tax base defies logic. The town is well on its way to unsustainable debt and we’ve begun to look more like a mismatched pairing of an Obama budget and a bankrupt Detroit.
    Even in the current economic climate Dover continues to ignore the economic facts of life. Unlike neighboring towns, Dover has yet again whistled its way through another annual tax increase. And if you want to become totally dismayed, check out your most recent tax bill and note the town’s bonded indebtedness. Currently it stands in excess of $7 million. More than a $3 million increase since 2009. That’s nearly doubled in five years, yet the town continues to spend money it doesn’t have. You and I are on the hook to guarantee its repayment, including interest!
    The financial hole is getting deeper. You need only to count the number of real estate “For Sale” signs to make you question why? Unless major changes occur in the way the town does business, Dover’s population will not increase. Red ink, unnecessary expenditures and sentimental acquisitions cannot trump the basic needs and requirements necessary to sustain the town let alone promote its growth.
    It’s time for a change! Condensing voter ballot Warrant Articles so the voter doesn’t know how his dollars are being spent can only be considered as deceptive. Where is real transparency? The Select Board must embrace taxpayer needs and abandon their own pet projects and personal agendas.
    If Dover citizens want to reverse an accelerated downward financial spiral, each one of us needs to be less apathetic and make demands on the town that ensure austerity becomes our key to survival. If we continue in our lethargy and not caring attitude, it becomes clear that our latest “police officer” won’t have much to track or many drugs to detect. To sit idly by and make no effort to affect real change is to guarantee Dover-Foxcroft will “go to the dogs.”

Don Benjamin


Letter misrepresents CELDF

To the Editor:
    As Mr. McNaughton noted in his well written letter in the Aug. 28 Observer, the citizens of Sangerville are preparing to vote on September 18, on an ordinance which would give the people of the community a say in how their land and resources will be used, and will be holding a public hearing on September 4. Other regional communities will soon be doing the same. This is, it seems to us, the essence of true democracy. We are so fortunate to live in Maine, a state which recognizes in its constitution the rights of the individual citizens and towns to make decisions at a local level.
    Unfortunately, his letter misrepresents the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), an organization that has been very helpful to the interested citizens in drafting this ordinance and in educating the public about how citizens can exercise their rights under U.S. laws. We in the United States have become accustomed to believing that we have no power, and that giant corporations will find a way to do whatever they please because they have the money to buy anything. His statement that the intent of CELDF is to “intentionally provoke lawsuits” is not only erroneous but is not borne out by their support of numerous communities throughout the U.S. who have successfully adopted Rights Based Ordinances — without lawsuits — which protect the local air, water, land and natural resources from corporate control. Control over what happens within our communities should remain with us!
    Several excellent, sold-out workshops by the CELDF have been held in Piscataquis County in the past year. (Another one is scheduled for Oct. 17) Residents from various towns attended these, at their own expense. Over a two-day workshop they explored the historical foundation of the U.S. Constitution and its implementation and interpretation in the last century. They also discussed Supreme Court decisions and how these have affected individual rights of citizens vs. corporate rights. Finally, they have empowered local residents to draft ordinances that support the rights of our communities to protect their futures, their resources and their natural beauty with the goal of enhancing the lives of all in the community and for future generations.
    We did not see Mr. McNaughton at any of these workshops. So we hope that his urging everyone to become informed is sincere and not just meant to frighten people with the remote possibility of a lawsuit. We believe it is the responsibility of all of us to take part in protecting our communities and making them strong for the future. It should be our vision for our future, not the vision of the heads of some foreign corporations, which determines the future of the towns in Piscataquis County.
    We agree with him that residents should inform themselves and think about how they would like their community to look in the future, and we encourage people to attend the hearing in Sangerville at the East Sangervillle Grange at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 4.

Lesley Fernow
David P. Frasz


Will it make a difference?

To the Editor:
    Will your vote count? It most certainly will. Does your voice make a difference? Absolutely. Can Sangerville come together, share our differences, gather our facts and accept alternative opinions? Can we go home and glean from the experience the necessary wisdom to cast our votes that will undoubtedly and profoundly influence the future of our community? Only time will tell.
    In March the townspeople of Sangerville voiced their opinion on two moratorium articles. Those moratoriums compelled our select board to develop ordinances and regulations during the next 180 days to address the issues we strongly believed needed addressing. The purpose of those moratoriums was to buy valuable time in order for our town leaders to provide due diligence on our behalf. Those moratoriums will run out at the end of September.
    Tonight, Sept. 4, there will be a public hearing regarding a private group’s proposed Rights Based Ordinance for our town. There are plenty of facts and questions that need to be heard and answered, regarding this ordinance, before a final decision can be intelligently rendered. It is very important that prior to the upcoming special town meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, townspeople learn as much as possible about this proposed ordinance, and the implementation and enforcement concerns surrounding it. It is at that special town meeting that a vote will be called and our voices need to be heard.
    Thankfully, prior to the special town vote, our select board has a regularly scheduled board meeting. This meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall. I urge all of our citizens, who are concerned regarding those moratoriums and the issues they were designed to address, to attend. It is at that board meeting that our select persons should be sharing with the public their alternative, moratorium-driven, ordinances and regulations developed over the last several months. It will be their efforts on our behalf that will provide all of us in the town of Sangerville the knowledge and security that we have viable alternative choices.

Regan McPhetres


It’s our constitutional right to say ‘No’

To the Editor:
    On March 30, 2013 Sangerville residents voted with overwhelming support to enact a moratorium ordinance to block development of a proposed East/West Corridor across the town of Sangerville. Moratoriums are only a temporary measure, so a group of Sangerville residents, who later named themselves the Sangerville Community Rights Group, began to investigate possible solutions to counteract the threat of the Corridor. We contacted the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund [CELDF] for information on their unique approach to asserting our right as a community to say “no” to the threat of this unwanted development.
    Based on the rights conferred to us in the Maine State Constitution, including the Maine Municipal Home Rule Amendment of 1969, we wrote “A Community Bill of Rights Ordinance” with the help of the lawyers from CELDF. The Rights-Based Ordinance rests on the Maine Constitution, where in Article 2, section 1 it says, “All power is inherent in the people, all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.”
    The RBO claims our rights to self-governance guaranteed by the Maine State Constitution. It challenges the Doctrine of Preemption, including Eminent Domain, because we assert our legal standing in regulatory matters. We declare that corporations don’t have the rights of persons and that local communities have the right to determine their own future. Based on these assertions the RBO rejects the proposed East/West Corridor on the grounds that it is unsustainable, meaning that the corridor does not support, and is not supported by the local community.
    The RBO is legitimate law because it is based on the Maine State Constitution’s Bill of Rights. RBO’s are validated by popular vote at a legal Town Meetings. RBO’s are effective in stopping unwanted development projects and have been successfully used in over 150 communities across the U.S.
    The Sangerville RBO specifically targets “private and public-private transportation and distribution corridors.” The RBO does not prevent the landowner from selling his land to any buyer, but it does prohibit the acquisition of land and the construction of “private and public-private transportation and distribution corridors” within the town of Sangerville.
    Some of our citizens worry that we are being set up for a lawsuit, and that we are the dupes of fancy lawyers from out of state with an environmental agenda. Anyone can sue at any time. Municipalities are frequently sued because it is common knowledge that that they have insurance, and the insurance companies find it cheaper to settle rather than incur the expenses of a protracted legal battle. The Sangerville Community Rights Group contacted CELDF, because their tactics work. We cannot win this battle in the regulatory arena, and the big corporations that are backing the Corridor project know this. But we can win by taking the argument out of the hands of the state permitting agencies, and asserting our constitutional right to say “no.”
    The people spoke in Sangerville last March. Let’s continue to stand firm against the Corridor project. Vague threats of lawsuits, sly innuendoes and half-truths only serve to cloud the issue. The Rights-Based Ordinance has worked in other places against fracking, sewage sludge dumping, open pit mining and other corporate abuses. The RBO can and will work here to protect Sangerville’s citizens’ right to say “no” to the Corridor project.

Melissa Randall


Yes, ‘Become Informed’

To the Editor:
    In response to “Become Informed”, a letter posted Aug. 28 in the Piscataquis Observer by Mr. Irving McNaughton, a longtime resident of Sangerville. I take no pride in pointing out the comments of error by my elders; especially those I may not know on a personal basis, yet hold respect of my elders as part of my personal character.
    I would first say that to “Become Informed” is the first and foremost duty of educated persons. Toward that end many citizens, myself included, have devoted a great deal of time learning and sharing what we have learned about the proposed corridor issue. Though this corporation that brings forth this proposal through its representatives is not forthcoming with any information and has used our government to craft specific laws to suit their needs over the people they are supposed to represent, we have become as informed as we are allowed to become.  This not being presented to the public in a forthright manner has caused doubts, confusion, illness of mind and body, along with a greater distrust for all large corporations not of our communities; but also with members of our government. We the people have been the sleeping giant, now we are awakening. I welcome you to join us in “Becoming Informed.”. Though bring with you your valuable knowledge of the past, and how a community could better survive being wiped out by a corporation of unknown origin.
    The promoters of the corridor project it seems can not be trusted. They promote this one way to we of Maine, and another way to the Canadian citizenry, yet another to other corporations across North America and overseas. They are national and international corporations with no vested life-long experiences within our small communities; and hold no real concerns for our welfare, livelihood or futures. They come for exploitation of some labor, any and all raw materials they view and depart with a larger profit margin, bonused to retirement no longer responsible if things go wrong.  Men like King Cummings, and old Joe Cartwright were owners of companies (not corporations) in their day, that held great concern for the communities. There is a difference.
    To “Become Informed” or better informed at least, read some of the documents we have found in such places as public records, libraries, and newspapers. If that is insufficient for you then do more research for yourself. Do not take my word for it, as if you really want to “Become Informed” as I did, do your research. Others such as myself have spent countless hours doing this research so others may not have to work at it as hard. Some not having access through technology, others busy raising a family or caring for the elderly. If you really have the will to “Become Informed,” do as you ask of others. The public library is a good place to start, we know! Your taxes are paying for the right to access the materials. If you require help, we shall. If no other, than I shall.
    This RBO that is being presented, is done so by citizens of the town. Not outside activists! The only activists left here are those that were awakened by this proposal. It is through research found to be an effective, maybe best chance effort to defend our communities against a vastly changed world since our younger days.
    This RBO is about “Who has more right to make choices for our community called Sangerville — a community where I once resided and still hold close to heart.” The people who live there, I believe, should have more rights to make choices than a corporation from Canada, Mexico or China. The community has already voted on a moratorium against this proposal, within the law.
    Please do not misrepresent a document of proposal by your fellow citizens, should you not be fully “Informed.” “Become Informed!” Ask questions! Think it through, then ask more if needed. Do not do an injustice to your fellow citizens, as well as to yourself by speaking out against something you are not fully informed about. Do not ask those citizens to stand back and “Become Informed” should you not take the lead as an elder of the community. Do not ask them to lay down and allow corporations to mow over their lives, future and dreams.
    When you have taken the time to “Become Informed” then, sir, you may critique our efforts against the proposed corridor, along with this proposed RBO.

Eric A. Tuttle

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