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Editor's Desk

See No, Hear No
By Ken Anderson
Jan 31, 2005 - 7:17:00 PM

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Last week the Katahdin Times published an editorial decrying the fact that Millinocket's dirty laundry was be being aired throughout the state. I didn't actually read the article, but heard about it from someone else, who may not have read it either, so please excuse me if I'm wrong.

It seems curiously odd, to me, to think that a newspaper would be concerned that people might find out about something that's going on. There was a time when publishing the news was the major function of a newspaper, but I guess we don't do it that way in the Katahdin area.

I started the Magic City Morning Star a few years back after realizing that the Katahdin Times wasn't printing the news, at least not any "negative" news, which has always been defined as anything that might upset the folks at MAGIC, or the people on the hill.

If you don't know who the people on the hill are, ask Dave Cyr and he'll explain it to you.

When the Community Press started, I thought it was sort of mean the way they went about it, but still I hoped that the competition might encourage both of the local print papers to bring us some real news for a change.

Obviously, that didn't happen, and I don't think that I need to review the results. Res ipsa loquitor.

There is something to the argument that people don't want to hear anything negative, however. While they may not want to be left in the dark, necessarily, people around here do have a tendency to shoot any messenger who dares to bring them unhappy news. So the result is that we have one newspaper that ignores anything that the MAGIC group wouldn't like, when they're not actively cheerleading for them, and another that regularly reinterprets the news to fit the agenda of the people they live with up there on the hill.

I don't think that the problem is so much that the local print media agrees with MAGIC's green agenda, but that they recognize that the MAGIC group will do its best to run over anyone who dares to get in its way. But of course, we're not supposed to recognize any negativity in that. Not wanting to be run over on the tracks, one of our print papers ignores anything that might get them in trouble, while the other boarded the train long ago.

Understanding that people don't like negativity, even I can get caught up in it once in awhile. In reporting on a town council meeting, I wrote that Bruce McLean had spoken untruthfully, when what I should have said is that he had been caught in a lie. Saying that he spoke untruthfully makes it sound as if he had intended to tell the truth, but when he opened his mouth a lie came out instead, and that he was somehow not responsible for it.

The truth is that Bruce lied when he told the council that no one had approached MAGIC looking for land but was unable to find any available. And at the last council meeting, Gail Fanjoy lied when she said that she had never been made aware that there was a problem with potential businesses being unable to find available land for development in Millinocket. She had sat in on a planning meeting in which Tammy Shorey, a local realtor, had clearly testified that she has had trouble selling houses in Millinocket because people often want to establish or bring their businesses here as well, but are unable to find land in order to develop them. And it's not as if this is the first time this problem has come up.

They lied because the truth didn't serve their purposes, which are themselves based on the lies that were brought to us by the Nature Conservancy, the Wilderness Society, and MAGIC itself.

The biggest lie is that MAGIC is an economic development organization, looking out for the economic interests of the Katahdin region as a whole. The only economies these people are interested in growing are their own, and those of a carefully selected group of appointed stakeholders. The rest of us will be left washing dishes in their establishments, or selling trinkets to the tourists, if we're permitted to stay.

Don't depend on the dishwashing jobs, since they'll probably hire foreign labor for that. I understand that Matt has been spending a lot of time in Mexico lately, at least when he's not lurking outside the windows at Good Morning America.

It may not be a happy message, folks; but you might want to consider that the dirty laundry you keep hidden beneath the cushions of your sofa can be expected to smell after awhile. Instead of worrying about people finding out about it, you might want to think about cleaning house.

We have an opportunity to do that in November, but I'm concerned about the damage that will be done between now and then, like stains that won't come out in the wash.

We should start now. Perhaps we can begin the process of cleaning up our town by taking back our town government.

Rather than leaving MAGIC to oversee such things as the Pine Tree Zones, for example, we could bring this back to the people who we elected to do this job, and who are answerable to the voters. Perhaps then, this tax incentive can be used to bring industry back to Millinocket - the old fashioned kind, the ones that manufactured a product and hired people to do something other than apply for public funding.

If regionalization makes sense for the Katahdin area, and I am not suggesting that it does, maybe it can be negotiated by people who were elected by the voters, and who can be held accountable.

Town government should be conducted by those persons who are hired or elected to do the job, not by committees appointed by non-governmental organizations such as MAGIC, Worksphere, or any of their green little friends. Perhaps then, they can serve the interests of the people of Millinocket instead of the same small group of appointed stakeholders.

We need to bring our town government back to the town hall if we are to hold the people who we elected to do the job accountable for it. And we should hold them accountable, now and in November.

Don't be afraid of knowing what's going on around you. It's the only way that you can control it, and it's awfully hard to breathe when your head is stuck in the sand.

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