I found Sen. Roger Katz’s recent OpEd, “Sussman in the newspaper boardroom should worry us all,” to be ironic at best.
As a Republican, Katz and his party systematically dismantled the Fairness Doctrine in broadcast news in the 1980s and supported the rise of right-wing talk radio as well as party mouthpieces such as Fox News in the 1990s. This, combined with the deregulation of campaign finance to allow anyone with sufficient money to steer political discourse, has created a modern political landscape dominated by monied oligarchs.
Now Katz has the temerity to complain about this brave new world that he and his ilk have fostered? I think his efforts could be better spent on building a world where the Donald Sussman’s can’t buy and sell public opinion.
Beware east-west highway
I am worried about a bill that is before the Legislature, the east-west highway bill, LD 1671. Taxpayer money shouldn’t be spent on private projects such as an east-west highway. Legislators say they don’t have enough funds for basic needs such as fixing our existing roads, yet some of them sponsor an attempt to create a huge infrastructure project with state money, a project that will be privately owned?
What is the purpose of an east-west highway connecting remote sites in northern Maine? Who stands to profit if one is built? I think we need to look closely at outsiders coming to Maine intending to build a highway, the primary purpose of which will be shipping LP gas from a mega-tank proposed for Searsport, to be used in Canada for fracking.
Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas that has polluted water tables and even caused earthquakes. Generally, water is injected into the earth’s crust to release deposits of natural gas, but liquefied petroleum can also be used. Maine communities will not benefit from such an energy transport project across their state, at their expense.
I think Maine’s natural resources — including air quality, water quality and forests — should not be auctioned off. They are the legacy meant for our kids and our grand-kids. If you agree, please contact your state legislators to let them know that they can represent you by opposing LD 1671.
‘World’ teams unfair
I just watched Penquis lose by one point to the “world” team, Lee Academy. The other day I watched Vinalhaven lose to another “world” team. Talk about an uneven playing field.
I want to congratulate the coach of Lee, Randy Harris; he actually played one kid from Lee the whole game. The high scorer for Lee was the young man from Islesboro who just happened to show up to attend Lee Academy.
I don’t think it is very fair when one school can get talented players from everywhere. I find it hard to believe that some kid in Germany or some other country is just wandering around and might end up at Lee Academy next year and be 6 feet, 5 inches tall and just might be able to play basketball. Something should be done about this, but of course it won’t. The ruling body, the Maine Principal’s Association, is not interested in fairness.
Exchange students are one thing, but when over half of your team is from somewhere else, this situation doesn’t pass the smell test. The Penquis team played its heart out, but the kid from Islesboro did them in at the end.
Preserve LURC, Maine
As the BDN’s Feb. 24 article makes clear, efforts to weaken the authority of LURC continue.
Let me state what should be obvious to anybody who cares about the long-term interests of Maine. The Maine North Woods is the largest undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi. For reasons which should be clear to all but are apparently not, we need to keep it that way for both environmental and economic reasons. If we allow it to become fragmented and overdeveloped for the sake of the short-run profits of out-of-state commercial interests we then become a slightly colder version of New Jersey.
LURC has done a good if less-than-perfect job of preserving the forest. Current attempts to “reform” it endanger our single most valuable resource. To be more specific: County commissioners should not be appointing themselves or their designees to LURC and counties should not have the right to “opt out” of LURC requirements.
LURC is and should remain responsible to the people of Maine, not to county politicians in league with developers. The North Woods is not just the sum of its parts. Once fragmented the parts lose much of their ecological vitality and diversity. We need to maintain a rational vision for the future. We must resist short-run economic temptations to sell out now, only to be sorry later for what we gave away.
Takings bill needed
I strongly disagree with the BDN’s conclusions in the Feb. 24 editorial “Leave ‘takings’ bill.” LD 1810 provides the missing incentives we need to bring fairness and accountability into government’s regulatory process — for small-property owners as well as all residents.
When Rep. Andre Cushing says we need “to put the Legislature on notice,” he is speaking for all small-property owners and individual voters who are fed up with legislative bodies that have increasingly stepped beyond what is fair and necessary.
Having legislators put on notice is not enough to instill fairness in important decisions. Nor is having legislators “push for a better vetting process of regulations.” Maine already has an open public hearing process. Unfortunately, we have seen that process fail. It will take the force of law to make our rulemakers fully consider the costs and benefits, who will bear those costs or receive the benefits and when a regulation is truly important.
LD 1810 will not prevent important new environmental regulations as the BDN implies, or lead to a flood of lawsuits costing “millions or tens of millions,” as extreme environmental groups want you to believe. Check with other states that have enacted similar legislation. In addition, LD 1810 specifically excludes claims over regulations that are necessary for public health and safety — the essence of the water quality laws enacted in the early 1970s.
Maine’s legislators and the Bangor Daily News need to reconsider what is truly fair. If they do, they will support LD 1810.