LETTERS

April 30, 2011: Water bill, transgender reality, Bangor arena

Posted April 29, 2011, at 7:12 p.m.
Last modified May 03, 2011, at 11:04 a.m.

Show support for water bill

One of Maine’s most significant resources is our water — we have invested our taxes and resources in keeping it clean and accessible to all. Because of this, we must ensure that all of the state’s water users — farmers, manufacturers and residential property owners, municipalities, fishermen and boaters — are able to continue to enjoy our shared freshwater resources.

Unfortunately, there are those who would sell or transfer massive amounts of fresh water out of our communities. Right now we have no voice in deciding whether or not to allow this. Fortunately, there is currently a bill before the Legislature that would address water sales and transfers at the local level.

LD 1077 will guarantee your right to participate in making decisions related to the large-scale extraction of your public water. The bill gives residents in municipalities impacted by large-scale water extractions the power to vote and approve or disapprove this use of public water resources.

The bill facilitates local control: You can either cast a simple vote at a town meeting or a scheduled town referendum. No extra paperwork, no hours spent gathering signatures to show solidarity against the potentially unfair use of your community’s water resources. If you want your community to decide who gets to use community water resources, ask your state legislator to support LD 1077.

Nisha Swinton

Food & Water Watch, Maine

Transgender reality

During the struggle for racial justice in the 1960s I was far south enough to witness how horrified some people were at the idea of sharing restrooms with blacks. They imagined terrible things would happen. But as they got used to the experience, they came to see there was no problem.

Some people up North are similarly distressed about the idea of sharing a restroom with a transgender person.

We all share restrooms with transgender people already, without being aware. Those are the folks whose appearance closely fits their gender identity even though that is not the gender they were identified with at birth. Some have had their bodies modified by surgeryor hormones, but others have not.

When people use ladies rooms they go into stalls and close the door. Nobody sees anything private. In the very unlikely event that a transgender person were to engage in sexual misbehavior in a restroom, that is against the law already. They can be reported and arrested.

There is no need for a new law that would discriminate against a whole class of people just because someone worries that someone might misbehave. Our laws should be based on reason and reality, not on fear of the unfamiliar. We already experience the reality of sharing restrooms with transgender people. We just have to get used to the idea of it.

Peter Rees

Trenton

With a new arena, Bangor is back!

The proposed new Bangor arena is an economic changer. If we do nothing in Bangor, we all lose whether you live here or within 100 miles of Bangor.

Maine needs to step it up at every opportunity. This is Bangor’s turn. Our reputation demands it, as Bangor used to be the premier destination station; by air, land and sea, it all came to Bangor.

What will we lose without the new arena? More retail and business traffic. As a direct result of activities tied to the other civic centers and better, newer accommodations, we lost most of the conventions, shows and events. With the drip, drip, drip of lost opportunities and economic influences, we will all lose without the new arena.

Over time we trained shoppers, tourists, businesspeople, music lovers, and others to go south for events, then jobs and then to retire. Let’s stop the loss.

So, we have everything to win with a new arena! Bangor can re-establish itself as the destination station with the biggest, best, newest and most impressive facility for events and conferences here in the gateway to Down East, the North Woods, Atlantic Canada and Acadia.

I hope city residents say, “Bangor is back, baby, and is now the complete service center of New England and so we can erect our own sign, ‘Bangor is open for business!’”

Steve O’Connell

Orono

Vote no on arena

To put the Bangor arena vote in the right context, three factors must be addressed.

Bangor needs a good vision that includes all of us. Second, on the largest public works project in our history, we need accurate information to ground the public discourse.

The $65 million dollar project will be financed 100 percent by Bangor taxpayer dollars (of course business isn’t exempt, including Hollywood Slots which, as is normal in the U.S., pays additional taxes to offset the negative effects gambling has on a community). Approximately $56 million will come from the city’s share of Hollywood Slots while the remaining roughly $10 million will come from diverting $750,000 a year (or currently 50 percent) for 21 years from from our downtown TIF.

The BDN has editorialized that if the no votes win, these arena funds will be in “limbo.” Rubbish. The TIF money has other purposes and the Hollywood Slots money is restricted only by the wishes of the City Council.

Third, this investment should be weighed against other investments according to certain criteria such as number and quality of jobs, tax implications, quality of life, economic multiplier effects and the like. Perhaps this money should go to current budget items, schools, library, etc., or some new investment like green energy or telecommunications.

In the headlong rush to build the arena not one of these factors has been addressed.  Please vote no and let’s get it right.

Jack McKay

Bangor

Fear of change can hold us back

When my wife and I started our business, we had to borrow a large amount of money and put our house up as equity. We were confident we would be successful based upon our experience and research. It would have been impossible for us to run our business without spending money first. The new arena is the same – just a different scale.

People are generally resistant to change even when they are unhappy with what they have. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest universal fears. It is obvious we are unhappy with this current facility yet there are some who are resistant to change. The world is constantly changing and if you keep doing the same thing or only react to others, you will be left behind.

The research with this project clearly shows countless benefits to the community. There is risk, of course, but if you need a 100 percent guarantee before you act, then very little will ever get done.

We make decisions every day based upon research, experience, projections and faith. This decision may be a little bigger than most but we can use the same process. The city has gone through the process and the answer is obvious – the benefits are overwhelmingly positive and the time is now.

Since I live and work in Brewer, I will not be able to vote on this amazing opportunity but I encourage all Bangor residents to say yes to the arena.

Thomas McGary

Brewer

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