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As Maine Goes
I am responsible for my child's education.

Letters

Flatlanders
By John McLaughlin
Mar 25, 2004 - 1:33:00 PM

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Mr. Anderson,

Are you not a flat-lander who has come to Maine to express your opinions and then to run for public office after only residing here for a short time? I find it amusing that you still adhere to the views of the "crazies". Who will be the new voice of reason or so-called voice of reason now that Carmie has passed away? God rest his soul.

Its time for the flat-landers to live life the Maine way. Stop trying to start a revolution. If life around here sucks then may I suggest trying to horn in on some other community. It seems that all the hoop-la generated in a town evolves around some one from away. Just look at Old Town and its dump. all the rancor was brought on by someone who moved here from another state. The LNG projects are being shot down by some one from away. Someone please shoot me if I become one of the "crazies". I hope that I would have something better to do with my retirement than to bad mouth someone in the press like Maragus, DiCentes or McGibbon have done for years. If they are so worried about the financial state of this area then I say let them donate their extra monies to the budget. They can't take it with them; Just ask Carmie.

I noticed Money McGibbon has been out of the news. Is it because she's had enough? No she's busy with a grandchild. I'm glad for her now maybe she can concentrate on something else. These people need to concentrate on life, growing old and enjoying the good life. They have made their MILLIONS, they shouldn't give a rats --- about it.

Pay the tax man and shut up. Wait until the new tax year. You will see the mil rate rise because East millinocket and Medway are asleep at the wheel. We will never get to the point of consolidated school because of egos. Its a fact.

As far as police protection between the towns, poppy-cock. I will not stand for that nor will other people of this town. The ones who have their heads on right won't. Would you want to wait 10 minutes for a police officer to respond to your emergency. Or wait for the fire dep't from East to put out the fire at your house which you are restoring? One has to think about it. Is saving 2-5 mils worth the heartache of seeing your house burned to the ground or perhaps your family looking down the barrel of a gun? Do you want to see that scenario played out? I know I dont!

But I must say cudos to you Mr. Anderson on your checking up on the Avenger issue. Try not to fall into the slump of the crazies. people will respect you more and your ideas if you don't sound so much like the crazies. People are tired of them and it is about time they live life and stop the hate in the town office or what the mil rate is going to look like.
 
Respectively, John McLaughlin

Editor's note:

I can understand that talk about UN Agenda 21 and conspiracies can be easily made to seem like a crazy thing, but it only takes a few moments on the United Nation's own web site, or even on some United States government sites, to realize that it's not a theory. Still, it's easy to marginalize someone through talk about conspiracy theories, a frighteningly effective tactic.

What we are seeing here in the Katahdin area is not sponsored by the United Nations, but the facilitators are utilizing UN Local Agenda 21 as a basis for the vision process. Since they could download the plan as well as the software from the Internet, it was something that they didn't have to invent for themselves, and it came with a support system that was already put in place.

Locally, I believe that the vision process is driven by people who stand to gain financially through the implementation of sustainable development.

There is a strong influence from the Nature Conservancy, but the motivating forces are greed and the fear of being left out.

We are in the position we find ourselves in, to a large part because of the Nature Conservancy and their allies. To now believe that these people have our best interests in mind is more than a bit naive.

Your town is being taken from you, but I'm not the one doing the taking. To answer that question, you need only look at who stands to profit. You know as well as I do, so I won't take you there.

I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where the forest industries, the mining industries, and the family farms were effectively killed long ago. I understand the situation that many in Millinocket are in right now because I've gone through it. Whereas in Maine, the population centers where all of the decisions are made are in the south, in Michigan decisions for the UP are made by people who live in the Lower Peninsula.

While I very much enjoyed the area in which I grew up, it became difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to remain there after high school, as there was no work and people could no longer live off the land.

But no, I didn't come here to cause any problems for anyone. I came here because it was a beautiful place and we were able to buy our house outright for less than what would have been only a down payment in Texas, where I was living prior to moving here. This was more than a year before the mill closed, so I can imagine that out-of-staters are getting much better deals today. I brought my income with me, and have nothing to lose or to gain financially from whatever path the people of the Katahdin area might choose to take.

The quality of my life is decreased as people are forced to find work elsewhere, to move, to sell or abandon their homes out of necessity. This is my concern, and the vision process will only worsen the situation.

No, I am not from here, but if you think the vision process is being led by people who were born and raised in this area, you need to look more closely. The real stakeholders in the Katahdin Vision process are no more from here than I am.

If I thought that this was something that you guys really wanted to do to yourselves, I would be satisfied to sit back and watch, but I can't believe that anyone who cares about this community wants to see the end result of sustainable development.

I don't know that consolidation of the schools is the best answer to the problems we have here. My own past experiences with school consolidations have not been good, so I am inclined to look upon the idea with more than a little bit of skepticism.

In my own home town, children used to be able to go all the way through high school without leaving town. After consolidating with a neighboring city, they began bussing kids ten miles away for high school. Now the local school only goes through fourth grade, and I hear they are considering closing it. And all along, the cost to the taxpayers has been increasing.

In Texas, an elementary school that had been named among the top ten schools in the state was closed the following year after a consolidation. And again, despite promises to the contrary, the cost of education rose.

School consolidations always result in a lack of local control and no actual savings to the taxpayer, with the larger bureaucracy eating up whatever savings might otherwise have resulted. Less for more is the most common result.

That said, Keith Ober does make the idea sound good.

As for police, fire, and EMS protection, I don't know where you got the idea that I was in favor of reducing such services to any of our communities.

I did suggest that we might consider a consolidation of these services, but not that I necessarily thought that this was the best idea. In no event would I suggest a reduction in any of these services.

As a paramedic for more than twenty years, I was a co-owner of an ambulance company that served four cities and three towns, one of which had a population of about 14,000, but we didn't expect people to wait for an ambulance to come from a distant city. Instead, while we were one company, we had four stations, and an average response time of less than six minutes.

In my experience, Enhanced 9-1-1 actually increased the amount of time that it took to get an ambulance to a person who was in need of one.

Back to the point, however, I would strongly disagree with any scheme that would result in someone in Millinocket having to wait for emergency services to respond from East Millinocket, or vice versa.

I do think that our emergency services could operate more efficiently if they worked more closely together, that there may be some benefit in consolidating the management of these services, and that we would recognize a significant savings in cost through a combined purchasing of supplies.

Although mine was a private ambulance company, we regularly trained with neighboring ambulance companies and fire departments, and we participated in a three-county co-op which greatly reduced the cost of supplies and equipment.

I'm not convinced that consolidating the management of area emergency services is the best idea, but it doesn't have to result in a reduction of services, and I thought it was worth thinking about.

Decisions having to do with police, fire, and emergency medical services should be made with an eye toward maintaining and improving our current level of service rather than on reducing the mil rate.

You won't hear too many complaints from me about the mil rate, except when it seems that money is being wasted or used for things that are harmful to our community, such as the vision process.

I would rather pay higher local taxes if, in doing so, we could significantly reduce the state tax burden on individuals and on businesses that might otherwise thrive here. I worry about schemes to get the state or federal government to pick up a greater part of our tax burden because that's my money too, and I have less to say about what it is spent on at the state and federal level than I would locally.

John, thanks for writing. I believe I've extended this invitation to you once before, but it stands - If you would like to write a regular (or irregular) column on any subject that interests you, I'd be happy to publish it. Agreeing with me is not a prerequisite, but I'd suggest against calling people crazy just because they say things that make you feel uncomfortable.

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