Cancel classes during stormy weather
I agree with with Lance Lajoie’s March 25 Bangor Daily News letter to the editor criticizing the University of Maine for its reluctance to not cancel classes during inclement weather, and I want to take the idea a step further.
The university runs a transport van for disabled students. On stormy days, UMaine cancels the operation of the van so that no one gets hurt if there is a crash. The students that rely on that van must then find their own way to the classes (since the school has not canceled classes) and sometimes get to the classroom only to find that the professor has canceled the class (because they did not want to jeopardize their own life getting to the university for work).
What is the sense in this? This policy needs to be scrutinized and clarified so that everyone is safe.
I-395 connector questions unanswered
I am opposed to the Interstate 395-Route 9 connector. Shortly after I addressed the March 25 Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System meeting, Scott Rollins of the Maine Department of Transportation claimed what we’ve heard is not true. Deputy Commissioner Jon Nass pointed to several books, saying the project has been thoroughly vetted. One of them contains 67 pages of my own questions to the 2012 draft environmental impact statement, the majority of which the Department of Transportation considered not substantive, neatly packaged and unanswered.
That’s what these people do: control the conversation by dissimulation. Maybe it’s time the public demands real answers as our tax dollars drive these events. As of February 2015, $2.8 million had been spent on this study and the cost to construct the 2B2 route is $61 million.
I have asked the following question of many state and federal officials and no one has answered. FOAA documents of emails starting on Dec. 16, 2011, indicate that the Federal Highway Administration study co-manager advised his Maine Department of Transportation counterpart that because of criteria changes, the preferred alternative, the 2B2, does not satisfy the purpose and need and moving forward with the analysis is now an apples-to-oranges comparison. We would learn two years later that the Federal Highway Administration study co-manager was overruled by his superiors. The administration needs to explain why they allowed this study to continue and why they suppressed such serious concerns from their own transportation professional.
This has been and continues to be an unethical process locking out private citizens and their municipal leaders.
Keep solar regulations simple
Net metering for residential solar power producers is a great practice that benefits both the homeowners with solar panels on their roofs and electric utility companies. The homeowner benefits by being able to “bank” electricity credits during our long summer days to use during our short winter days while paying a fee to the utility for distribution of the electricity. The utility company benefits from net metering almost twice what it costs them, according to Maine Public Utility Commission analysis.
LD 1649, under consideration in the Legislature, proposes to grandfather existing solar net metering contracts. That is one of the many good features of the bill. But the bill as it is written now will deny net metering to new residential solar producers. Instead of net metering, LD 1649 proposes having new residential producers sell their electricity to the utilities then buy it back. That is fine for businesses, but let’s keep it simple for homeowners who want to produce enough solar electricity for their use with perhaps some to spare.
Our legislators should support LD 1649 and make the changes necessary so net metering is available not only for those of us who already have a few solar panels on our roofs or in our yards but also for new residential solar producers.
Rockland should revise zoning rules
Rockland’s City Council held a planning meeting March 24 to propose regulations to protect the city against companies building power plants, such as the proposed natural gas-fired plant, that could hurt our people, our environment and our community’s ability to grow and prosper.
One serious omission in the plan was zoning restrictions on where power plants, even on a small scale, could be located. The plan calls for prohibiting these facilities from zones A and AA only. Without tighter zoning restrictions, developments such as Bartlett’s Woods Retirement Community, which is zoned B, could have a noisy, intrusive, possibly polluting plant constructed right next door. And the most bizarre part is this plant could belong to a company located miles away, which just found it convenient or cheaper to locate it in someone else’s backyard. Imagine the disastrous effect on property values this ordinance would cause.
The ordinance would also damage the character and potential for growth for the entire city by allowing such lax zoning regulations. Who would want to invest in property in a city when there were no assurances that power plants could become their next-door neighbor? No one.
Zoning laws exist to to protect people and the communities in which they invest and live. They assure us that our investments are safe and our communities remain livable. Let’s make sure the City Council continues to offer those assurances by revising this zoning proposal.
Second Amendment not obsolete
I am writing in response to Steve Perrin claiming in a March 21 BDN letter to the editor that the Second Amendment is now obsolete because the times have changed and so have guns. He also claims to know that the ratifiers of the Bill of Rights did not have today’s guns in mind when they wrote it.
He is not the first person to ask this question and probably not the last, but I never see any call for an overhaul or abandonment of the First Amendment because of today’s communications systems. I also doubt very much that Perrin wrote his letter with a quill and inkwell. The world has modernized, but the Constitution still is needed and useful.
If somebody is breaking into your house in the night, would you rather have a gun in your bedstand or a cellphone and wait 10 to 30 minutes for help to arrive?