ClickBack on Arena

Posted Nov. 15, 2010, at 7:32 p.m.

This week, ClickBack seeks editorial page reader comments on the proposal by the Bangor City Council to build a new arena and civic center, the tourism season, the nurses labor dispute with Eastern Maine Medical Center and tidal power. To participate, visit bangordailynews.com and select ClickBack from the Opinion menu.

Should Bangor residents have final say on arena?

As the Bangor City Council nears a final estimate on the cost of building a new arena and civic center, an opposition group wants to mount a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot. Should residents get to say whether or not the project goes forward? Or should the council, as the representative government, be able to make such decisions without the threat of a citizen veto? The argument against putting the question to a citywide vote is that the council, city committees and staff have worked for years developing the multifaceted plan. It includes a funding scheme that calls for borrowing money to be repaid with revenue from the city’s share of the proceeds from Hollywood Slots. Such a complex matter does not lend itself to an up or down vote, opponents of the referendum say. Those supporting a referendum argue that a project of such magnitude, which likely will be supported in some manner with tax dollars, should have to pass muster with voters. If the referendum is on the ballot, will opportunities be lost, such as getting a low interest rate?

What pitch might tourism officials have made to visitors this year?

Thanks in large part to a sunny and warm summer, Maine’s peak tourism season brought many people to the state. What marketing pitch might state officials have made to out-of-state visitors as they left? Should information about recreation during Maine’s other three seasons have been handed out at the York tollbooths? What about discount coupons for next summer? Or a contest giveaway that one could enter only by providing an e-mail address, which in turn could be used for occasional promotional messages? Any other ideas?

Are nurses underpaid and overworked?

Unionized nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center are in a contract dispute with management. Are they undercompensated? Are their working conditions — long hours, overtime, extra shifts — unfair? Or are they fairly compensated, and the recent public statements by nurses merely part of contract negotiations conducted through the news media?

Should more public investment be targeted to tidal power?

Tidal power advocates are reporting that the U.S. industry is now pulling even with its European counterpart. Wind power in Maine, particularly offshore wind power, has been the target of federal and private investment; should tidal power get equal attention? What barriers does tidal power face? Will the fishing industry oppose it? Will existing federal law regulating coastal zones hinder development?

Comments posted at ClickBack may be featured on Friday’s OpEd page.

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