May 27, 2018
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Fighting the ‘beast’ that is LURC

By Phil Merletti, Special to the BDN

This Op-Ed is in response to the BDN’s March 8 Editorial, “LURC Change Too Risky.” As a spokesperson and a fellow researcher for “Take America Back,” this immediately got my attention. Our research group has been on the front line on this issue so we felt this opinion needed a response based on research that average Maine citizens could do on their own to find the truth. Unfortunately, most people do not take the time to research, so they trust other people for their opinion.

First of all, the “Land Use Regulatory Commission Act” was passed in 1971. Maine was the first state in the union to remove the voters’ private property rights. It also affected those that worked or lived in the unorganized territories.

Since then, farms that grew livestock and fruits and vegetables, timber companies that raised and cut lumber for building and paper, fishing industries that harvested for local use and export became over regulated and over taxed. As a result, the majority of farms are only found on the pages of history books, paper industries gave up the expensive fight to run their mills and they sold all of their land, and fishing industries are a small percentage of what they were. All of these unfair regulations came slowly over the past 40 years from LURC and from legislators in Augusta, and of course, we all know who raised the taxes.

When things happen slowly, generations of people do not realize what had willfully and systematically happened to them and this is why research is needed to target what has gone wrong. With the present Legislature, we felt it was time to join forces with those who also wished to reverse the destruction of our working farms, timberland and fishing industry. We personally met with all county commissioners to see if they wanted back their responsibility and also to see if they were all right with giving the people their constitutional rights back.

We use the Constitution as a reference because the mandate of the U.S. and state governments are to protect the inalienable rights of all people, not just a small group of people who have an agenda or those national nongovernment organizations that lobby and control our naive Legislature.

We have placed in front of us a standard using the words of Frederic Bastiat who wrote “The Law: The Classic Blueprint for a Free Society.” He said: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong, then this is legal plunder.” He urgently asks readers to “abolish this law without delay, for it is evil itself.” He goes on to say “If such a law is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply and develop into a system.” This evil system has gone on since the onset of the LURC Act and many of those affected have labeled LURC as “The Beast.”

What is now being debated in the Legislature is no longer a constitutional rights bill that would repeal the LURC act, but now the legislators are deciding how to strengthen the existing law and to prevent any changes for another five years. This new bill will dash the hope of those who believe in private property rights.

Instead of the county commissioners’ direct ability to regulate their own counties for the people, this new stronger, more regulated LURC will have nine newly appointed board members who are beholden to no one. To add insult to injury, the same staff will maintain the same positions and they will be sent to classes and taught how to speak to those that they regulate.

The governor made a promise to Maine people that he would work to shut down LURC; where is he now? Many new legislators ran on the repeal of LURC and many incumbent legislators also knew the truth, too. Where are they now, what are they afraid of and why are all they hiding?

The committee that has given the green light to this reform bill was lobbied heavily and even those legislators who understood the need to repeal LURC have fallen in line with those who support the agenda of the national nongovernmental organizations that want to lock out jobs and industry in the unorganized territories. If this bill is not voted down, there will be less local control and less of local voices and there will be more red tape. Do not let anyone tell you differently, do not let them distract you from researching this on your own. The truth is at your fingertips.

Lastly, the final quote from Frederic Bastiat, a quote that personally drives me: “If this [information] is true, it is serious fact; and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow citizens to it.”

Phil Merletti is an environmentalist and spokesperson for the research groups “Take America Back” and “Take Maine Back.” He lives in Lee.

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