Millinocket is at a crossroad.
We are at a point where the town council can choose to move forward and hire an economic development director to work along with our town manager, or we can continue to lose time and do nothing.
Hints are being floated around that MAGIC may change its name, presumably following the November elections and before again requesting funds from the towns. If O.J. Simpson were to change his name, would he not still be O.J. Simpson? As the saying goes, "a leopard can not change its spots". A change of name is not what we need.
We need a course of action now and to leave the controversy of MAGIC behind us so that we can move forward.
At last week's town meeting. the subject of economic development and using funds set aside for that was hijacked mid discussion by a councilor who changed the subject to the airport issues. When another councilor tried to bring the subject back on track, he was instructed by the council chairperson that the council was discussing the airport, not an economic development director. The chairperson offered to go back to that topic later, but that did not happen.
Three councilors have offered a plan by which the town hires a professional to work with the town manager for economic development. The remaining councilors insist there is no plan and have stated they are not willing to vote on how to use the funds earmarked for economic development until there is.
That leaves this town in a stalemate. Can we afford to continue to do nothing until the November elections? Do councilors who hold the town's economic development hostage for months have the town's best interests at heart, or are they just intent on a predetermined agenda?
Since it began, MAGIC has stressed the need, not only for funding from Millinocket, but repeatedly, for increased funding in order to continue. I believe the last figure thrown out there by a former town councilor was funding to the tune of $150,000 for MAGIC from Millinocket alone.
That MAGIC is now being very insistent about continuing to be involved in economic development efforts in Millinocket, even with no funding from the town, leaves one to wonder why it is so important for them to want to continue their involvement with no funding.
Clearly, many in Millinocket are not happy with the lack of good results from MAGIC. As one councilor stated at the meeting, "It is time to put the controversy of MAGIC behind us and move forward".
Millinocket needs to take a fresh approach to economic development if we are to not only survive, but to revitalize our town. A fresh approach will not happen if we choose to allow the same issues and the same people to be involved in this effort.
Let us use what we have learned from the history of MAGIC and not make the same mistakes again, under any name. It is time for the town council to stop holding the town hostage and take action to move forward with economic development efforts. We have already lost time and money waiting for this to happen; now it is time to rectify that and do what is right for the town.
If the council cannot end the stalemate and move forward with the plan offered by some councilors, maybe it is time for the people of Millinocket to finally be allowed a fair say.
The voting majority has already stated they do not want to continue to increase funding for MAGIC. At the time, after weeks of argument as to the wording, this was the only option available with that vote. I think we need to have two fair and clear questions on the November ballot as to whether the citizens of Millinocket want to have MAGIC involved in our town's economic development at all, and whether or not they want the town to hire an economic development director.