Letters to the Editor for Jan. 26

Posted Jan. 25, 2011, at 7:51 p.m.

BDN’s perspective on wind energy

It seems the Bangor Daily News is gaining a new perspective on wind energy in Maine. In the recent editorial, “Saving Maine Electrons,” a more realistic view of this issue seems to be evolving. It was a more sober assessment, noting that the benefits of wind power to Mainers are a bit difficult to define. A more objective view of wind power is welcomed, but the Bangor Daily News hypothesis is short on facts.

The BDN acknowledged that wind projects create few permanent jobs. It’s nice to have that settled. There is a short burst of construction work — wind projects don’t take long to build — and then it’s over. So, the BDN posits that the opportunity lies in the use of off-peak electricity to heat Maine homes.

It’s hopeful thinking, and hope is good. It reminds me, though, of a quote from a business writer: “Facts are better than hope.” The BDN takes big leaps past important details in making its case. It’s how our state officials have approached wind policy: long on concept and faith, short on facts and evidence.

I ask the BDN to run a follow-up article. Make the case again. Use hard numbers, facts and statistics. Show the math. It’s much more complex than the article would have you believe.

Skepticism of Maine’s wind policy is spreading. Incomplete and unsubstantiated explanations of wind power’s benefits are no longer adequate. The cost of being wrong is high. It’s time for those promoting wind power to start proving why they’re right.

Alan Michka



Hu paid for dinner

A few days ago, the White House hosted the leader of China for a state dinner. The glitz and glamour were in overdrive; red carpets, marching bands, Hollywood stars, and banking elite all lined up to pay tribute.

After the 225 people dined to an All-American cuisine, two things were certain: the Maine lobster was delicious, and the bill was outrageous. A few million dollars would be a fair estimate if they drank California wine.

Given our current budget shortfall, President Hu was nice enough to lend us the money to pay for the event. Vera Wang officials were informed there would be plenty of cheap labor to make the couture dresses in 2011 but didn’t chip in for the bill.

With hundreds of the worlds wealthiest people dining together, one might ask, who paid the bill? Well, you did of course. Thank you, taxpayer, the meal was fantastic.

Sean MacMillan



They’ve got theirs

Am I the only one out here who remains appalled by the irony (hypocrisy?) of the House, not to mention our own Maine attorney general, who rail against health care reform, but nevertheless are themselves the recipients of gracious and expansive taxpayer funded health insurance?

During last summer and fall’s tea party brouhaha, I was very impressed by the number of participants and advocates who appeared to be retired state and federal employees who also basked in the warm glow of taxpayer supported health insurance coverage. But on the other hand, maybe they were all card carrying socialists.

Peter R. Roy



Tunisia’s example

Tunisian society always will function best under strong, visionary, charismatic leadership such as it enjoyed under Habib Bourguiba. He led its independence movement until 1956 and served as the new republic’s president until 1987, when he yielded to a bloodless coup engineered by then Prime Minister Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. I was a diplomat in Tunisia from 1985 to 1988 and was the U.S. embassy’s point of contact with Ben Ali.

Ben Ali was a favorite of Bourguiba, who promoted him from director general of national security to interior minister to prime minister over a little more than 18 months. Bourguiba had relied on Ben Ali to hold burgeoning Islamist political forces at bay.

Both Bourguiba and Ben Ali were conscious of the constitutional provision that a president determined medically incapable of governing should be replaced automatically by the prime minister. And Ben Ali had contacts in the Tunisian medical community necessary to generate that determination.

Popular reaction to Ben Ali’s bloodless coup was a nearly audible nationwide sigh of relief due to the once great leader’s debilitating senility.

Apparently, Bourguiba failed to perceive that his protegee was introverted, insecure, thirsty for power and greedy. Now courageous elements of the Tunisian populace have figured it out and had the courage to act.

Will other impatient Arab societies now take courage from events in Tunisia? Egypt? Syria? Maybe the courageous actions of Tunisian revolutionaries will even give Iranian revolutionaries impetus to proceed to a logical conclusion in that troubled land.

Robert Sargent



Ask towns for help

Congratulations to all the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce award recipients and to 100 years as an organization that represents 21 towns.

BRCC gives its 800 regional members “access to shared resources, expertise and networking.” It is proud to facilitate “investing in growing our region’s economy and making greater Bangor a better place to live, work and play,” according to the BDN’s Jan. 20 supplement.

The BRCC is also challenging its members to seize the opportunity to make the proposed new arena a reality.

Based on Bangor’s finance director, Bangor can afford $54 million, using the revenue from Hollywood Slots, to build the new downsized auditorium and convention center. The current projected cost is somewhere between $65 and $69 million, roughly $15 million more than Bangor can afford. A commitment of $1 million from each represented BRCC town would certainly help to alleviate the anxiety of Bangor taxpayers and help make the medicine go down for everyone.

I challenge the BRCC staff to encourage their out of town members to appeal to their local town councils. It is time these communities seize the opportunity to be fiscally responsive by contributing to the cost of building a new regional convention center-auditorium.

“A community must constantly come together and reinvent itself,” the Chamber writes. Help us build it in a financially responsible way.

Perhaps the complex could be named Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and Convention Center to honor 100 years of promoting and advancing business in Penobscot County.

Pauline Civiello