Brewer councilor’s comment questioned

Posted May 29, 2009, at 6:35 p.m.

I admit I personally don’t know Brewer City Councilor Manley DeBeck. Perhaps he’s a good enough fellow, having been elected to the City Council and all.

But after the story this week describing his reaction to the possible formation of a Brewer-Bangor advisory committee with a goal of finding possible cost-saving measures for both cities and hence their taxpayers, I’m not so sure he’d like to get to know me.

I also admit I didn’t grow up in Bangor or Brewer and have lived here, on what I guess DeBeck would call the west side of the Penobscot River, for only 20 years or so.

So I probably don’t have any right to express my view about this contentious issue of the two cities teaming up to find out whether there may be ways to save their residents some money. After all, I care little about historic and traditional rivalries between the two river cities, beyond the fun involved when the two high schools meet up for a great sporting event on the field, a basketball court or a track.

I don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about some people’s belief that any cooperation with the city across the bridge suggests weakness on the part of Brewer or indicates a takeover conspiracy by the officials in Bangor.

I do know that I cross back and forth between the cities with little thought. I shop and dine in Brewer just about as often as I shop and dine in Bangor. I have a new doctor who happens to have her office in Brewer. My kids used to go to day care over there and I am certainly a strong supporter of the Brewer Farmers Market where you can find me at 9 a.m. just about every Saturday, May to November.

I also know that I pay taxes in one of those two cities and, oh yes, one more thing — I’M A GROWN-UP!

Perhaps that last point is the most important.

Here, dear taxpayers of Brewer, was the response from your City Councilor Manley DeBeck, when asked whether he would support a resolution that would form a voluntary committee of folks from both sides of the river to see whether there were any opportunities to save some serious money for both municipalities.

“Hell will freeze over before I vote for it,” said DeBeck. “The first thing I saw [after reading the proposed resolve] was Brewer becoming Bangor east.”

Personally, if I were the other kids in this particular sandbox, especially if I were paying for it, I might question whether DeBeck is actually the best representative on the Brewer side of the playground.

I question whether on Saturday morning when I drive over the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge to check out the deals at Marden’s and to pick up some fresh veggies from the market that DeBeck might be standing on the other side with his arms crossed asking to see my Bangor-Brewer passport.

Here is the deal. Bangor Councilor Richard Stone and Brewer City Councilor Joseph Ferris had the audacity to think that now may be a good time for a level-headed group of residents from both sides of the river to take a look at whether there are some areas where the two cities could save some money through some simple cooperation.

The Bangor council voted 7-2 that it sounded like a good idea. Brewer? Well, not so much.

DeBeck and Brewer City Councilor Larry Doughty will have you believe that this effort is simply a way for Bangor to absorb Brewer into its municipality infrastructure. Stone and Ferris, they may have you believe, will simply eliminate all of Brewer’s city workers and replace them with Bangor city workers.

The question to Brewer City Council last week was to approve the formation of an advisory committee to report back to both councils as to whether there are possible cost savings in personnel, equipment or purchasing power.

Both Bangor and Brewer have their own identities, their own economic development plans and certainly compete with each other on some of those levels. Level-headed, smart and independent voices at the table can see past those issues to benefit the communities as a whole and each individual taxpayer.

Perhaps DeBeck thought his public statement that “hell would freeze over” before he would entertain such an idea made him feel powerful and thoughtful at the moment, but Brewer taxpayers and voters should think beyond that when making their decisions at the voting booth next November.

By the way, a call to Mr. DeBeck to discuss the issue was not returned.

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