LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: It’s not hunting; it’s just killing

To the editor:

Thank you to Roland Hallee for his recent article “The unfair resources of today’s ‘great game hunter.’” In it he points out tools available to today’s deer hunters such as deer urine scent, GPS devices, artificial callers, computers, and high-powered rifle scopes. Deer hunting is perhaps the most traditional hunting engaged in, in Maine. It still largely requires hunting skills.

Moose, bear and coyote hunting, on the other hand cannot be called hunting. Moose are killed during Maine’s moose hunt while they simply stand there in clearcuts looking at the “hunters.” The only skill moose “hunters” need to possess is the ability to drive a vehicle on woods roads and look for the moose that stand along the roadsides.

Bears are fed and trained to come into feeding stations where they are ambushed by “hunters.” They are also chased by packs of radio-collared dogs until they climb a tree or can run no more. The “hunters” track them via radio signals while driving their trucks and then shoot them while they are either treed or are surrounded by the dogs.

Coyotes are also run down by dogs and are also fed at feeding stations and are shot both day and night when they come in to eat.

There is virtually no such thing as “fair chase” when it comes to killing wildlife. This is neither sport nor hunting. It is just killing.

John Glowa

OPINIONS: China firefighters yet to receive citizen-approved stipend check

by Sheldon Goodine
Retired Chief of SCVFD, Inc.

To the editor:

At the town meeting on April 6, 2019, the town approved article 9 with the addition of $7,000 to the $33,0000, for a total of $40,000, for stipends for fire and rescue services. As of this date, October 28, 2019, the fire departments have not received checks. This is almost seven months since the town vote. When the subject of stipends for firefighters came up, it was done by the select board without input from the fire departments. A lot of meetings and letters on the subject have done little to solve a perceived problem. Most of the firefighters who are volunteers did not favor the stipend but thought that it would be a nice way for the town to thank us for our service.

“The way I see it,” if the town has a problem with paying stipends, they can shove it where the sun don’t shine. It was written in The Town Line (Oct. 24, 2019) that select board member Ronald Breton said that the fire department representatives (fire chiefs) have not signed the memorandum and the $40,000 should not be handed over until they do. The voters of the town did not require this memorandum when they voted to approve the #9 article. This was done by the select board so they could have control over how the money was spent and who gets how much. When in reality the chiefs of the departments know best how to disperse the funds as they know who puts in the most time and effort into the workings of the department. How can an appointed town official have more authority over an expenditure than the voters of the town? The select board serves the town by a vote of the people and the town manager serves the board of selectmen. We can solve some of the issue in the upcoming election on November 5, 2019, by electing new people to serve on the select board. Look well at the ballot and choose candidates that will take charge and hold the town manager to only operate as the select board dictates.

I talk to a lot of people from all around the state of Maine and when they find out that I am from the town of China, they ask me, “what is wrong with the town of China?” I respond to them that there is nothing wrong with the town of China, it’s just the select board and the town manager that is the problem.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Close Town Landing Road

To the editor:

Amidst the drama at the recent Selectmen meeting, I noted Tom Michaud is busily repairing fire roads throughout the town. In addition, he is taking suggestions for repairs to other fire roads “to reduce run-off.”

I would like to nominate Town Landing Road to this list. While technically not a “fire road,” it is in serious disrepair. Ditches that were dug a few years ago are not serving their purpose, and continued run-off is clearly evident. Further, the Town should give serious consideration to closing the road permanently for boat access to the lake. Most boats are getting launched at other locations that have been built for this specific purpose, and the road has become a popular nighttime location for illegitimate activities. Closing this road would not affect any local businesses, as there are none in South China Village.

Closing Town Landing Road would serve to protect the Town’s most precious resource, China Lake. I hope town officials will consider this seriously. If that cannot be done, please add it to the repair list.

Geoff Hargadon
South China

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Question 2 makes people with disabilities part of the election process

by State Representative Bruce White

Election Day is right around the corner. At the polls, you’ll see two ballot questions that come from our work in the Legislature. The first asks if you’d like to authorize a $105 million bond for transportation infrastructure projects, things like road and bridge repairs. The second question comes from a bill I submitted last session and aims to make the political process more inclusive and accessible. This bill had bi-partisan support in the legislature.

Question two will read, “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to allow persons with disabilities to sign petitions in an alternative manner as authorized by the Legislature?” This would allow persons with physical disabilities who cannot sign their own name to use an alternative method to sign citizen’s initiative petitions and people’s veto initiatives.

Alternative signatures for people with physical disabilities are already approved for the purposes of voter registration, change of party enrollment, candidate nomination petitions and Maine Clean Election Act forms. This question simply expands the existing provision and helps ensure all Maine residents are given the opportunity to participate in our political system.

The original idea for this bill came to me from the Secretary of State’s Office, and I was immediately excited and honored to sponsor the legislation. By allowing people with disabilities to use a signature stamp or authorize another resident to sign on their behalf, we’re getting more Maine voices involved in solving the issues our state faces. I look forward to you all having the opportunity to weigh in on this matter on Nov. 5.

OPINIONS – Understanding the Johnson Amendment: A tax law that prevents nonprofits becoming PACs

by Tom Waddell

There is a growing but minority movement within the religious community to repeal the Johnson Amendment. If the amendment is repealed, our churches would no longer be houses of worship; instead they would become Political Action Committees (PACs). It is for these reasons repealing the amendment is widely opposed by both religious and non-religious groups.

The purpose of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that modifies the IRS tax code for all 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporations, is to prevent these corporations from becoming Political Action Committees. It does this by prohibiting all 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporations, including churches, from campaigning for or against political candidates.

The current administration in Washington and a small minority of evangelical Protestant churches want to repeal the amendment because they believe it limits their religious freedom. Their goal is to allow all churches to support political candidates while maintaining their tax-free status. That would make political contributions to 501 (c) (3) charitable organizations tax deductible.

The Johnson Amendment preserves a charitable organization’s right to support, or oppose, any government policy, law, bill, statute or social issue that they believe is not in their or the community’s best interest. The amendment also protects charitable organizations, including churches, from pressure by political candidates to endorse them in an ever-increasing divisive and partisan political atmosphere.

Repealing the Johnson Amendment and allowing 501 (c) (3) tax-deductible corporations to maintain their tax-free status would result in donors making political contributions to candidates primarily through their local church. Unlike Political Action Committees, which churches would fast become, churches don’t have to deduct operating costs from those donations. In addition, the donor would be able to deduct political contributions, something not allowed now, when they make political contributions through a charitable organization. It is a win/win situation for the donor class, but a lose/lose situation for churches, state and federal governments.

Churches will lose because repealing the amendment would bring political divisiveness into the church. Clergy and parishioners want their churches to remain a place of worship where members sit in the sanctuary or gather at coffee hour in groups of friends and neighbors. They want their church to be a place where parishioners gather as a united community in worship, not divided by political ideology. Local, state, and federal governments would lose, too. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, repealing the amendment would cost America $7.7 billion over ten years through lost tax revenue.

An overwhelming majority of charitable organizations and churches support the Johnson Amendment. Lifeway Research, an evangelical Christian polling group that regards the Johnson Amendment as policing sermons, reported in their 2016 survey that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose repealing the amendment. It is no surprise then that more than 8,500 faith and secular leaders signed a document asking Congress to preserve the amendment. Americans do not want charitable organizations and churches to be divided by partisan politics.

Some of the well-known churches and charitable organizations that support keeping the Johnson Amendment are: American Baptists, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Catholics for Choice, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, League of Women Voters, Meals on Wheels, National Council of Churches, National Council of Nonprofits, Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, Volunteers of America, and the YWCA.

If the Johnson Amendment is repealed, churches will, in effect, become political action committees, not houses of worship. They will also experience the same division and lack of trust within the congregation that is so common in today’s volatile political atmosphere.

Whether churches become money-laundering establishments for politicians is up to you. If you are part of the 80 percent of Americans who want to preserve the sanctity of your local church, I urge you to vote for candidates who support the Johnson Amendment in the 2020 elections. Doing so will determine the future of your place of worship, your community and your country.

Tom Waddell is a resident of Litchfield and is the president of the Maine chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He can be reached at president@ffrfmaine.org.

OPINIONS: Embden selectmen refuse to schedule special town meeting on citizens’ petition

by Sandi Howard

At the Embden Select Board on September 4, 2019, town residents submitted a Citizen’s petition for a town vote on the CMP corridor and a vote to enact an electrical transmission moratorium ordinance.

The selectboard refused to schedule a special town meeting for this vote despite residents following all of the legal requirements to submit this petition. Embden resident and lead petition gatherer questioned the board about this decision. Selectboard Chairman Chuck Taylor responded that their decision was based on advice of the town’s attorney, Ken Lexier.

The board’s decision seems inconsistent with an email communication sent by Chuck Taylor, selectboard chairman to Sandra Howard on August 1, 2019, which reads as follows:

“Dear Mrs. Howard,
We’re good. There will be no permitting in Embden. Thanks for your concern.

“We are disappointed with the Emdben selectboard’s decision to refuse town residents the opportunity to have a voice on the CMP corridor. Like in the town of Jay, Embden’s town leaders are not representing the will of their constituents,” said Sandra Howard, Director of Say NO to NECEC.

It is very important to understand that the municipal officers may not refuse a petition merely because, from their political or personal perspective on what is appropriate for the municipality, they believe the petition is unreasonable. A select board’s denial of a citizen’s petition must be objectively reasonable as a matter of law, not merely subjectively reasonable in the view of the municipal officers.

Because Embden’s Select Board is refusing to allow residents to vote on the CMP corridor, town residents are now circulating a new petition addressed to a state notary, who has authority to call a special town meeting for a vote on the CMP corridor. In addition, the petition will ask town residents to vote to enact an electrical transmission moratorium ordinance.

An electrical transmission moratorium ordinance would serve as a pause in any electricity transmission corridor development in a town for 180 days. To date, CMP has not received approval for most of state and federal corridor permits it needs. CMP is starting to ask towns for provisional permits, which would take full effect only after the state and Federal permits are secured. It is important to note that the U.S. EPA has raised serious concerns about CMP’s permit applications. CMP is under multiple investigations by state energy regulators right now, so allowing any municipal permitting to go ahead puts the town at risk.

Sandi Howard is Director, Say NO to NECEC. She can be reached at 603-475-4566.

OPINION: China firemen do not endorse town’s plans for new emergency services building

Respectfully submitted by,
Chief Dick Morse, South China Volunteer Fire Department,
Chief Tim Theriault, China Village Volunteer Fire Department,
Chief Bill Van Wickler, Weeks Mills Volunteer Fire Department.

To the people of the town of China:

First and foremost thank you all for your continued support. At the June 11, 2019, municipal and RSU #18 election, you will be asked on question 2 to vote on whether or not you want the town to spend $25,000 for an engineering and cost study for an emergency services building and a community building.

The way this proposed project has been presented to the town by the town manager and the select board, by presenting drawings at town meeting and by placing this item on the ballot, has given the impression that this project has been well thought through, and by implication, has the backing of the volunteer fire departments.

This could not be further from the truth. We feel it important to make the residents aware that during several discussions with the town manager and the select board and at two public hearings on the subject, China’s three fire departments have stated unequivocally that they neither need nor want such a building and feel that it would be a waste of the $25,000 to contract for the study since there is absolutely no demonstrated need for an emergency services building.

The China Village VFD has no current plans to move from their station, and if they did they would want to move into a building that they own, not a town-owned building. As we have stated many times, China’s Volunteer Fire Departments are all separate and individual, private nonprofit corporations organized under Maine law and we have no plans to make any changes. As demonstrated by their recent words and actions, the town manager and some members of the current select board appear to want to make changes to this system that has been working very well since at least 1947 and have suggested changes that we cannot agree with. The system we have works very well for the town and there is no need to fix something that is not broken.

By presenting this project in this manner, the town manager and the select board give the impression that we need to start down the road to consolidation or to becoming a municipal fire department. Having had discussions on this topic with the volunteers at each station, we assure you that is the last thing that we would recommend for the town at this time. Such a move would not be a positive change, it would negatively affect membership and would be enormously expensive. Please understand and rest assured that should we have a real need for any major change, the VFDs will not hesitate to come to the town and make it very clear what that change is. This is not that time.

Although supported by the town manager and select board, there was a unanimous vote of ought not to pass by the budget committee and recommendations from the three VFDs not to proceed with this at the budget hearing and budget committee meeting.

We urge you to vote no on this question, thereby telling the town manager and select board that they are not listening and have once again overstepped by putting this on the ballot regardless of the facts.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: An opinion on emergency building

by Wayne Chadwick
China resident

I would like to offer up some insight on the proposed warrant articles for the upcoming June 11, 2019 Municipal and RSU #18 election.

You will be asked to vote on whether or not you want the town to spend $25,000 for an engineering and cost study for an emergency services building and a community building. Where is the justification for such an expense? There appears to be a “build it and they will come” mentality with our present town leadership. The town manager stated that there is no town building to meet in that holds 200 people. When asked how often there was such a requirement he gave the annual town meeting and voting as an example. This has historically been done at the school which your tax dollars already pay to maintain. So why do we need another building for a few occurrences per year at best.

Everything we build, even if it is originally provided fully or in part by grant money, still has a tax dollar requirement for maintaining it. You are being asked to pay for an engineering study without being given any estimated cost for maintaining it after the fact. Consider the cost of plowing, mowing, heating, cooling, repairs and preventative maintenance and utilities.

You will also be asked to approve the purchase of land for a potential beach/swimming area and boat ramp. The parcel in question is located slightly north of and opposite the town office. This site is steep, steep enough that it has to be protected by guardrail for the entire length of its road frontage. Here are some potential issues to consider: It was stated at the May 26 select board meeting that DOT did not want to issue a permit for a driveway for the property. The Four Seasons Club has agreed to discuss potentially allowing access across their property for the sole purpose of accessing a boat launch, no swimming area. Additionally, to my knowledge, to date there has been no discussion with the DEP to determine if this site meets requirements for permitting. And last but certainly not least, there is the cost. The extreme grade to this property is unequivocally going to increase the cost of development and maintenance. Issues such as erosion, storm water, etc. These are continuous maintenance requirements that will never decrease in cost.

Here again we are looking at the purchase separate from the potential cost.

I offer this in hope that it will provide a more informed voting public.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: If you have VA questions, I will find the answers

Veterans Day parade in Waterville 2016

by Gary Kennedy
Veterans’ Advocate

I have been a contributor of The Town Line news for a number of years now. I am a 100 percent service connect American veteran and have been aiding veterans in the development of difficult cases by all service organizations standards. I have seen VA refusals many times because of cases that couldn’t/ wouldn’t be developed, too time consuming or very difficult to prove. Most things can be proven if not frivolous. Your records were lost in a fire was the popular excuse. Some were in fact destroyed by fire but many were preserved and protected. Anyway, I am writing this to give my opinion based mostly on hearsay. However, when there is a lot of hum there is usually a hive. Lately the Veterans Administration has undergone a lot of trauma. I would like to share a little of that in hopes for feedback.

Veterans’ need media to vent their feeling and concerns. I can assure you this veteran will search for the answers for you. Whether you agree or not you will receive an answer. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Togus Pharmacy will be partially down from October 22, 2018, for approximately nine days because of a flood. Also another of my pet peeves is the fact that orthopedics is hurting for doctors and they have nowhere enough service rooms for the vets in need. The executive director Ryan Lilly could have prioritized the expansion of the medical side but elected to do almost nothing. Now there is a new director who has started off on the wrong foot; so I don’t see longevity there.

However, the VA, in its infinite wisdom, elected to promote Mr. Lilly to the head of the region and demote Kurt Johnson, the assistant director, to a paper pusher. He use to be the head of pharmacy but his friendship with Mr. Lilly somehow got him promoted to assistant director. It is fairly well known they are/were close friends.

There is a federal case involving prejudice involving Mr. Lilly and Mr. Johnson. The power-that-be overlooked the situation or have no knowledge of it; which means they didn’t do their homework. It was sad for me to see Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree joining forces at the new homeless housing complex developed on federal land. I am a veteran and support veterans with unfortunate circumstances but I don’t believe housing should be built on the 500 acres at Togus. It should be done but, in my opinion, is in the wrong place. That is a medical facility which could develop into the greatest in our country. I have said that many times. Lilly made the statement and believes that he had more land there but wasn’t sure what he would do with it. Some of that land is wetland and the habitat for various many wildlife and fish.

Last but not least, the director that replaces the promoted Lilly has just closed down the Veterans Record Retrieval window placing a state of mayhem there with a considerable workload shift on those employees. New people to the records who do other things will try to pick up the slack. The more they squeeze to make themselves look good to Washington, the more they eat on veteran services. They spend their money on bad who knows what; but it isn’t something you can see. They are building a small new building directly across from emergency to further congest and demean the beauty of the Togus facility. With 500 acres you can do better than that.

Many of us are getting “farmed out” now because they don’t have time for us or they don’t have the proper room, tools, ability and doctors. Thanking a vet is not enough. You need to learn respect, responsibility and remember why you don’t speak Korean, Japanese, German or Russian. We are the land of the free, home of the brave and no matter how bad we hurt we were there for you. The oversight of VA and how it evolves for the vet is the first priority. There is much more but this is enough for now. You can call me at 458-2832 and I will try to assist in anyway I can. We can keep our affairs alive through media.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Where is SLA getting their information?

by Frank Richards
President, Webber Pond Assn.

Recently, representatives of the Sheepscot Lake Association have referred to Webber Pond in articles about alewives submitted to The Town Line. I am writing to respond. I am the president of the Webber Pond Association.

I think it’s important for the public to know that in the last 20 years, sea run alewives have been restored to Webber, Sebasticook, Three Mile, and Togus ponds. People living on those lakes are generally happy with the result.

Sea run alewives are anadromous. The adults live in the ocean and, like salmon, spawn in fresh water. They need passage to get to their spawning grounds.

Afterwards, the adults go back to the ocean, get eaten, or die. The juveniles live in the lake during the summer and then egress back to the ocean in the fall. It’s not unusual to see them leave Webber Pond in August. It’s not unusual to see them leave Webber Pond in November.

Again, they need passage to make the journey. It is possible (but rare) for them to become entrapped and die – if egress is obstructed or insufficient.

There is another species of alewife, the landlocked alewife, which is common in New York. However, sea run alewives do not become “landlocked” in the sense of ever adapting to living in a pond year round.

Sea run alewives are the way nature exchanges nutrients between the marine and inland ecosystems. They were substantially extirpated by the building of dams during the 1800s. Twenty years ago, the Maine Department of Marine Resources began to restore these useful fish.

Additional spawning areas mean that more adult alewives are in the ocean to support the marine fishery; by serving as forage for haddock, cod, stripers, and other ocean fish.

They are harvested during the spawning run and have already created a multi-million dollar lobster bait industry.

Alewives also benefit inland lakes. As the juveniles grow during the summer, they sequester phosphorus in their tissues. Because there are tons of little alewives, there is less phosphorus in the water to fuel algae blooms. They take it away in the fall when they leave.

Locally, Webber Pond, Sheepscot Lake, Three Mile, and Togus Pond all substantially cleared following the restoration of sea run alewives. However, the little fish are not magic. All those lakes still experience blooms from time to time.

Twenty years ago, alewife restoration was controversial. The Webber Pond Association assented to it somewhat reluctantly.

Because of successful restorations on a number of lakes, alewives are more positively received today – except in Palermo, where the Sheepscot Lake Association is engaged in a political campaign to block returning them to Sheepscot Lake.

I have been following a recent series of articles from representatives of SLA and 2 critical responses, by people I do not know. In my opinion, the objections to “slippery facts” are justified.

For example, [in the September 14, 2017], issue of The Town Line, an article by Roland Hallee is cited to promote the idea that alewives are adding to the nutrient load of Webber Pond. Roland is the editor of The Town Line and also a member of the Webber Pond Association.

This was not a science article. It was a summary of last year’s meeting of the Webber Pond Association, where a discussion occurred about a complex, mathematical, nutrient import/export model.

The officers and directors of the Webber Pond Association have questions about how many is too many. At a minimum, we believe we have way more than we need and support increasing the harvest.

Last year, our vice president made comments about the run increasing so much that we might be getting to the point where spawning adults were bringing in more nutrients than the juveniles were taking out. He spoke in good faith and used appropriate caveats.

It’s a fact that he raised the issue. It’s not a fact that a nutrient imbalance actually occurred. For that you would need measurements and an assessment by a qualified person.

Our vice president also attended the recent Sheepscot Lake Association meeting. He was the one who asked, “If you don’t mind my asking where did you hear something like that?’ when someone referred to mass die offs on Webber and problems with the fishery.

He advised that he’d lived on the pond for 30 years and there had been no mass die offs. Similarly fishing was good. Funny, nobody thanked him for setting the record straight.

It isn’t clear where the Sheepscot Lake Association is getting its information. They haven’t reached out to any of the nearby lake associations.

Similarly, it isn’t clear who they are using as their science advisor, or even if any specific person with appropriate credentials is working with them. I know that they have not consulted with the Department of Marine Resource, which with 20 years of restorations behind it now, is one of the leading agencies in the country with respect to alewife restoration.

I can confidently assert that it would be difficult to find an appropriately credentialed person who would back up many of the claims SLA is making in The Town Line. If there is one, maybe SLA can get them to step forward and write an article. I am all but certain that Roland will print it.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive, and informative, as submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.