Hold reps accountable
To the editor:
In 2016, I ran for State Representative for House District #79 which contains China, Albion, Unity Plantation and most of Benton. The voters re-elected Representative Timothy Theriault. During my campaign, I told many voters that as a state employee of nearly 30 years, I know that government is broken. It is broken, in part, because of the public’s failure to hold elected and appointed officials accountable for their actions and inactions. As a citizen, taxpayer and voter, I believe it is time to hold our State Representative accountable.
During his campaign, Representative Theriault cited jobs, taxes, advocating for seniors and veterans, and protecting the Second Amendment as priorities. During this legislative session, he is sponsoring just five bills. They involve tree specialists, left hand turns at red traffic lights, game confiscated by IF&W, municipal accountability of funding for volunteer fire departments, and proposing funding for the “restoration” of China Lake. None of his five bills has much, if anything, to do with his campaign priorities.
The first three bills only have the titles available so their contents are not yet public. The fire department bill would repeal current statutory language about municipal funding of volunteer fire departments but would not provide any funding for them. The China Lake bill would “charge a fee to customers of the Kennebec Water District to be used to restore the quality of China Lake.” The bill contains no details about how he defines “restore”, how the lake would be “restored”, how much it would cost, how long the fee would be assessed, who would collect and spend it, why it would be paid by the customers of KWD, how long it would take to “restore” the lake, who would “restore” it and who would be held responsible for its “restoration.”
I’ve asked several questions about this bill to Representative Theriault and have yet to receive a reply. The public hearing on the bill (L.D. 55 “An Act To Provide Funding for the Restoration of China Lake”) will be heard by the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31, in Room 211 of the Cross Office Building. Perhaps Representative Theriault will provide the answers to these questions when he presents the bill at the hearing.
I encourage all voters to hold their elected representatives accountable. I recommend that you communicate with them via email or letter and insist that they also respond in writing. The public can rely on few politicians to provide us with a complete picture of their actions and inactions. Most tell and show us what they want us to believe. To track the status of these and all other bills, go to the Maine legislature website at www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_128th/billtexts/.
Response to KWD regarding alewives
To the editor:
Thank you to the Kennebec Water District (KWD) for their thoughtful Community Commentary. We agree that care should be taken not to overstate the case for water quality improvement resulting from alewife reintroduction. KWD’s phrasing strikes us as most appropriate: “it is hoped that the alewife reintroduction will be a contributor to water quality improvements in China Lake.” Scientific evidence does not yet prove conclusively that reintroduction of alewives into China Lake will improve water quality, and certainly we know that alewife reintroduction on its own will not be enough. But we feel it is reasonable to hope that alewives, over time, will contribute to improved water quality, as long as other significant actions continue to be taken. Such actions include continued annual flushing, reduction of sediment runoff, and reduction of fertilizer, septic and animal waste runoff into the lake. We encourage people concerned about China Lake and Outlet Stream to move forward with a clear-eyed view of what is needed to restore ecosystems that have become so far out of balance. Alewife restoration is just one of many ways that we can improve these ecosystems. All agree, as KWD says, that alewives will help to improve the ecosystem in China Lake, including a more robust food chain. We expect these improvements to help sport fish in the lake, as well as birds and animals that make their homes on the shore. We look forward to the restoration of alewives to China Lake, and to the many ecological benefits that we know for certain will result. We hope that water quality improvements will, over time, prove to be among them.
Alewife Restoration Initiative