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Saturday, April 27, 2013: Casella, civic center and gun safety


State PR relations

On April 9, I attended Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s hearing on Casella’s application to dump municipal solid waste at Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. In 10 years, this was the first time that Casella and state officials have testified under oath about the landfill.

Under cross examination, a representative for Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. admitted they were under a contractual obligation to Casella to testify favorably on Casella’s behalf.

Some questions:

First, what did Casella think they were buying from the energy recovery company in addition to “the truth” that witnesses swear to tell?

Second, how many other witnesses were also under “contractual obligation” to Casella to “testify favorably?” We already know that Casella uses secret contracts, as in the secret amendment to Old Town’s Host Community Agreement signed with the State Planning Office.

Third, are other Casella supporters under similar “obligations”? We are given the impression, hopefully true, that citizens speak for Casella out of civic obligation. But how do we know? How about letters to the editor, OpEds, civic events or municipal meetings, besides hearings?

We would like to believe that the energy recovery company was the only entity in Maine under “contractual obligation” to “testify favorably” on Casella’s behalf. Again, how do we know?

I suggest the best course for Casella is to fully disclose the counterparties to any other contracts like Penobscot Energy Recovery and fully disclose the nature and extent of its public relations efforts in our state.

Sam Hunting



Keep Bangor Civic Center

Bangor’s City Council and voters had the vision and courage to build the Cross Insurance Center. The facility is world-class. In addition to the new building, we still have the auditorium and civic center. Let’s wait before we tear them down!

Instead of spending money to demolish the auditorium and civic center, let’s use them to attract new business to Bangor. Keeping those buildings will give us tremendous flexibility and enable the city to host several events at once or provide space for large conventions or events that overflow the new arena. Both buildings are structurally sound and built to last many more years. To build the auditorium today would cost $20 million and the civic center $7-8 million, and we already own them. It’s free space.

The arrangement would be similar to the relationship between the Cumberland County Civic Center and the Portland Expo; those venues work cooperatively to host a variety of citywide events. The Expo is considered a valuable asset to Portland.

These two buildings have the potential to become a true community center to host many events, such as the Shrine Circus, that may not be a good fit at the new Cross Insurance Center, either because of scheduling conflicts, event size or cost limitations. With good management it will be possible to host a large convention in the new arena, basketball in the old auditorium and a trade show or seminars in the civic center.

Let’s not tear down two of the region’s greatest assets.

Peter Daigle



Safety questions

I have had several folks ask me about my feelings on the gun issue and express that they do not understand why some feel the need to own guns in general and “assault-type” guns with high-capacity magazines in particular.

Let me ask a couple of questions. As police SWAT teams combed Watertown, Mass., looking for a mass murderer, and folks were confined to their homes, which group do you think felt the most secure in those homes, the ones who owned guns or the ones who did not?

Of those who owned guns, which group do you think felt safest? The ones with a single-shot or low-capacity weapon or the ones with an AR-15 with a high-capacity clip?

The point is you never know when you may have to defend your home. When or if that situation presents itself, there are those who would choose to be prepared.

I think that answers the question why some folks feel the need to own these weapons.

Bob Mercer



Deficit logic

Americans are forced to endure even more airline travel delays. Access to our national shrines, such as the White House, and our several national parks are being curtailed. Plus, the performances of our internationally famous precision flying teams like the Blue Angels are no longer affordable.

This is all in the name of “sequestration,” an apparently politically selected, vindictive and punitive program. Yet, in the same instance, our government has “sequestered” from some budget source $100 million to aid a marginally Jihadist Syrian group of “freedom” fighters.

Priorities must have fallen through the cracks of logic.

N. Blake Bartlett



Waste hearing heroes

On Earth Day, I committed to traveling to the State House, which was always known as the “People’s House,” until now. Has it been that long that I have been away? I now have to put my purse and my bag through a detector machine. How sad.

As a former member of the Natural Resources Committee, I had to bring in a treat since it is tradition. I knew my testimony would not change anything, but I refuse to give up on something so important as a monopoly by Casella to control all our waste.

Juniper Ridge will now be accepting our lifestyle, and my city, by contract, has agreed not to testify against Casella. It does not matter what they did to us for 30 years. It does not matter that the testing done has found dioxin and other pollutants.

We continue to promote this company in order to get rid of them. Well, I do not agree to pollute northern Maine, and I have done everything to help.

I am sorry that former Gov. John Baldacci and former Public Utilities Commission chairman Jack Cashman sold their souls, along with my whole Biddeford delegation. Let it never be said I did not try. To the people who have also tried, you are my heroes.

Joanne Twomey


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