Sequester Flight 101
Not usually one to stir the pot, but a recent travel experience left me irritated to the point that I am inclined to make my voice heard. On a business trip last week – a simple flight from Portland to Washington, D.C., with return – I was delayed not once, but twice on each leg of the journey.
It has come to my attention that this is not just a coincidence but a by-product of the across-the-board federal spending cut known as “ the sequester,” which has negatively affected the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to pay air traffic controllers. The recent cuts to the FAA budget and resultant delays at airports across the country are simply unacceptable
The last thing we need is additional uncertainty. How can middle class business folks that rely on air travel to connect with their associates and customers afford to grow their businesses with no guarantee that their scheduled flights will ever depart?
I was pleased to see that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, took a stand and has demanded that the FAA call back those recently laid off air traffic controllers. President Barack Obama and the rest of Congress need to get on board with our senator and make some common sense changes to the way we approach the national debt.
They should also take some cues from the Campaign to Fix the Debt about how to approach our budget problems in a comprehensive manner, because chopping essential aviation personnel is a non-starter for this business traveler.
Keep Bangor Civic Center
I would like to add my voice to those people advocating for the Bangor Auditorium and Bangor Civic Center to be retained, refurbished if necessary and kept available for use for decades to come. We would thereby be adding significantly to the flexibility offered by the city of Bangor in attracting major conventions, conferences, sporting events, business trade shows and entertainment shows.
My experience in staking out this position includes prior service in five separate employment stints, between the late 1960s and 1995 with the Eastern Maine Development Corporation. This includes serving in the early 1990s as the company’s president and chief executive officer.
My experience over those years included assisting the city in the attraction of state and federal funds necessary for the Bass Park improvements of the 1970s, the Bangor Civic Center in 1978, the Kenduskeag Stream improvements project and securing infrastructure funds for water, sewer, speculative industrial building and industrial park facilities as well as business loans for Bangor businesses.
My broader relevant experience includes assisting dozens of Maine municipalities in developing public facilities of all types during four decades, either as a hired economic development official or as an independent consultant.
I feel very strongly that the city of Bangor will be making a significant error if it tears down two structurally sound, public facilities that could contribute to Bangor’s growth as a major center for sporting, business trade show, entertainment and activities.
What’s real impact of Keystone XL?
The Keystone XL Pipeline project was proposed in 2005 for the purposes of transporting tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Eight years later, the energy marketplace is finally growing tired of baseless assertions by environmental groups, and the project seems to be gaining bipartisan support.
Not surprisingly, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, voted against the measure when it was included as an amendment to the Senate budget last week. This stance reflects his long-established relationship with alternative energy interests.
However, the state department recently commissioned a fourth environmental impact study on the project, all of which has shown minimal likelihood of an environmental incident. At this point, what greater assurance of safety can opponents of the plan ask for?
It has become exceedingly clear that, should Keystone XL not be built, these oil reserves will be transported to Canada utilizing diesel locomotive — a process that would vastly increase the level of carbon emissions compared to transportation via pipeline, not to mention the increased cost to end-users.
Along with the savings in energy costs, the project will create thousands of construction jobs, according to the Keystone XL website, that would then provide a much-needed boost to that industry as we move out of the recession.
I appreciate King’s commitment to preserving our environment, but I think that with regard to Keystone XL, he needs to look past the rhetoric from environmental groups and make a pragmatic decision that will best serve Maine and the U.S.