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Go directly to Burr Taylor's statement to the selectman.
Could you clarify for me please the reason you did not permit me to finish reading my statement at the Selectman's meeting last evening (2/26)?
Also, Since you said you had read the statement prior to the meeting, could you explain for me why you did not communicate your concerns prior to the meeting?
I realize you asked me to summarize my comments at the meeting. I was unable to because: In my opinion your request was wrong. I had spend hours trying to compact my words to fit the time and other requirements of the public speaking portion of the meeting. I did not know how to summarize further on the spot. I think I was well within the time limit. I had sent you notice and you had had made no comment to me before the meeting. Making a summary was not a choice for me. I am learning that I am literally unable to speak extemporaneously at Selectmen's Meetings. I am barely able to get out a complete sentence. This was shown at the beginning of my remarks when my effort to say something positive bombed, when I spoke for Harpswell Historical Society some time ago, and when I spoke for the Comprehensive Plan, etc.
On a personal note.
I feel I have worked hard for the town, on the Comprehensive Plan Committee, on Harbor and Waterfront Committee, on the Land Use Committee, and on the website. Moreover I go to conferences on town concerns, such as the Fisherman's forum this Thursday, a conference at Darling Marine Center, at a regional meeting in West Bath. I suspect there is more. I also started a website which I honestly hoped and tried to make fair, balanced and civil. I hoped, within the limits of my time and ability, to provide information on all sides of the question. I am on the Board of the Harpswell Historical Society, Harpswell Land Trust, do the newsletter for Harpswell Islands School as well as other public service efforts.
Despite this I feel I am treated like dirt by each of the Selectmen (in different ways and degrees). Needless to say that hurts. And what hurts most is that I do not understand it.
You are of course welcome to share this with the other Selectmen.
I sent the following letter to the Time Record last evening, 2/26).
I live in Harpswell.
I tried to read a prepared statement at the Selectmen meeting tonight during the public comment period. I had made the statement available to the Selectmen during the morning before the meeting.
Halfway through my reading I was told my statement was inappropriate and I had to summarize the remaining comments. Since I have difficulty speaking off the cuff, I had to leave.
The statement concerned the fact that the Selectmen are not even handed towards opponents of the Project and the inappropriateness of Mr. Weil's comments during his rant last week (2/19). You can read the statement at http://www.harpswell.info
I want the world to know the effect that our stresses are having on our Selectmen. I am sure they are good men who have done good things for our community. Unfortunately something is happening. Certainly we are not a community if our own Selectmen will not listen to their own citizens.
I live on the "other side" (Cundy's Harbor), but my quality of life was severely diminished tonight.
Well, Mr. Knight did not let me finish my statement at the Selectmen.
Mr. Weil very quietly apologized to the person he interrupted the previous week.
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I am at present planning to say the following at tonight's Selectmen's meeting. The comments are all based on observations during the 2/19 meeting. Of course I reserve the prerogative of editing it.
While I agree with Mr. Weil's concern about fairness and civility in Harpswell, Mr. Weil's comments from the podium were filled with simplistic, biased, ego-centric, unfair accusations, inappropriately delivered and filled with unsubstantiated generalizations and unfounded assumptions.
In conclusion, I hope the vote on Mar 9 ends this unfair and bizarre behavior. Unfortunately, I am afraid that this meeting is more a preamble to what will be going on for some time to come (depending on how the vote is). To quote someone, "we have seen the future and it is here."
Did you know that the town website does not have the candidates for office, a sample ballot, dates of upcoming events and hearings? I could go on.
I received, as I am sure you did, the card from Fairwinds today. What a beautiful piece of work, good photography, good layout, plenty of white space. It even looks like it came from the fisherman of Harpswell. The Selectmen would have us believe that FairPlay and the opponents of Fairwinds were the only ones who stretched the truth. It is curious that the Nazis (who Mr. Weil refers to frequently) these days learned the art of propaganda from the Americans. Some things I found interesting follow:
The front page: "Fairwinds is a guaranteed good deal for fishermen ... and for every Harpswell resident. Can anyone tell me what it means. What, if any substance or reality to it.
This flyer seems to be directed not at fishermen, but at people who do not know much about fishing or fishermen, but who don't want the fishermen to be hurt.
"Guaranteed good deal" I wonder who is guaranteeing or assuming responsibility for this good deal? Is Fairwinds guaranteeing a good deal, the town, Warren Graybill, Sr. I do not think anyone is guaranteeing anything, but it sounds good.
"a good deal for fishermen. . . and for every Harpswell resident" Why do they separate fishermen from the rest of Harpswell. I think they calming Harpswell residents about the treatment of fishermen.
What is this good deal for fisherman. If you look at the list of fishermen on the back, you will notice that virtually all the fishermen listed do not not fish Middle Bay, and one who does, is retiring this year. On the other hand, the fishermen who are most affected do not think it is a good deal.
"A good deal for every resident"??? That is clearly not true (i.e. abutters), but it sounds good.
The back page or addressee side
"We had our doubts about Fairwinds. . . but then we got the facts." The quote makes it looks like someone said it, but I cannot find who!
"then, we got the facts." They got the facts by talking with the people who created the lease. That is like the chickens getting the facts from the fox. I wonder if they read the Yellow Wood report
Please note the generous use of guarantee on the rest of the page.
I cannot finish this now..
I now have the Selectman's meeting 2/19 on my computer as an audio file so I can listen and re-listen as I write. I hope to make a statement or a comment or whatever the Selectmen are allowing at the time on 2/26. What is allowed seemed to vary on 2/19. In preparation for my comments I was listening to the comments made on 2/19. I found it a little hard to follow Mrs. Ogrodnik thinking, but when I realized she was saying that in a democracy (town meeting) people should have the opportunity to discuss items and even modify them. In a democracy, it seems to me that the leaders should help the citizenry develop their thoughts, not yell at them and berate them, which I think Mr. Weil did. I again give Mr. Knight credit for an effort to help her.
I was very surprised by Mr. Floccher's comment when he said something like, in the democratic process the people elect these leaders (selectmen) and then the people are put their faith and trust in them. The leaders should be supported and not torn apart like people in Harpswell have been doing. I am very surprised (not really) that Mr. Weil did not challenge this. I have always thought that the essence of democracy is the ability, even responsibility, of the citizenry to keep an eye on their leaders, to challenge and question them. I am not familiar with any governmental body on the national level, or the state level, or the local level, where the legislature (to use Mr. Weil's term for the people) sits back and supports the executive branch. That is not democracy, that is an oligarchy. I know some of the employees do not feel they can discuss the Project. While I think that is unfortunate and contrary to democratic ideals, it is probably understandable. Many countries in Europe used Mr. Floccher's system of electing their leader (they called him a king, though), and then supported him (at least as long as he won tribute). I believe that idea went out with the Magna Charta. Maybe Mr. Floccher
Also, as I listened to the tape of the comments, I was
impressed with who was allowed and not allowed to speak their mind.
I think Mr. Weil said comments are a time when people may ask the
Selectmen important questions that they could deal with.
1. Len Freeman asked the selectmen if they had any comments about the potential hazards of spilled LNG on the land or water. He was told it was a comment period, not a debate or town meeting, and was asked to make a comment. In brief, he said he had not heard the selectmen discuss risk or hazard. No response from selectmen.
2. & 3 Then there were two appropriate comments about voting as well as a critique of Len Freeman's film (Debate topic)
4. Then Mr. Paulhus defended Community TV. It was well done, but ineffective based on the Mr. Weil's later criticism in his rant.
5. Then Jim Meikle told us that because he did not want his wife on TV without permission, Mr. Freeman should not have included either Mr. Weil or Mr. Micciche in his film
6. Then, Debbie Levensailor said because people spoke their mind at hearings, the Selectmen did not suppress people speaking about safety of LNG. Of course that is not what Mr. Freeman said during comments.
7. Then Dan Boland (sp) spoke about training films and asthma (debate topic)
8. Then Mrs. Ogrodnik spoke about democracy
9. Then, Mr. Floccher spoke (incorrectly) about democracy.
I am disturbed that Mr. Freeman and Mrs. Ogrodnik were the only citizens cut off in their presentations and treaty rudely, yet their comments were among the most relevant - (Along with comments about voting and Harpswell TV, of course)
Is this the model of fairness and objectivity to which Mr. Weil wants us to aspire. In my opinion, the "media" in our area are far fairer then a Selectmen's meeting.
As I went to bed last evening, I realized that there is no one read the material I write, no one to tell me that I have gone too far, or am offensive. Therefore, I deleted some things this morning so I can reconsider them.
With reference to Tyranny of the Majority (see discussion below) Selectman Weil might like to read Calhoun versus Madison The Transformation of the Thought of the Founding, A Bicentennial Cerebration, by Harry V. Jaffa (James Madison Symposium) which among other things says, "The problem, at this point, is to prevent the rule of the majority in the interest of all from degenerating into the rule of the majority in the interest of the majority–the tyranny of the majority. Hence the separation of powers, and the other devices of constitutionalism. Also, I compiled some references on references to "tyranny of the majority on the web. .
I am sorry if my comments are long. There is no need to read them all to get the point. However, I am trying to substantiate my comments and not to speak with innuendo, sweeping generalizations, questionable assumptions and non-understandings.
At the Selectmen's meeting Selectman Weil interrupted Mrs. Ogrodnik in a very angry and rude manner, told her in a yelling tone of voice that she had no right to make the assertions she had been making with such authority, and then proceeded to loudly assert she was wrong about the phrase "tyranny of the majority" He said that Calhoun "coined" the phrase "tyranny of the majority." Unfortunately, Selectman Weil is not correct either. I also hope his behavior was not a model to which he expects the rest of us to aspire. I compliment Chairman Knight for his gentle, tactful efforts to encourage Mrs. Ogrodnik to finish.
I wonder if Mr. Weil remembers this book or its author (I didn't) The Tyranny of the Majority : Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy, by Lani Guinier. Clinton wanted to appoint Ms. Guiner as Attorney General (I think), but here writing were considered to radical by many. I have not read it but I would guess it's subject matter is a lot closer to what Mrs. Ogrodnik was talking about then slavery. Here's Amazon's summary: MINORITIES UNITED STATES PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT VOTING AFRO AMERICANS SUFFRAGE POLITICAL SCIENCE GENERAL ELECTIONS HISTORY THEORY SOCIAL AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES MINORITY
The following are excepted from Encyclopedia Britannica at the State Infonet.
They show aagain that Mrs. Ogrodnik was using "tyranny of the
majority" in an appropriate was
Objections to democracy were not limited to misgivings about the fate of private property. Many liberals genuinely feared the potentialities for tyranny latent in democracy. If the will of the majority is to be supreme, everyone will be at its mercy. Benjamin Constant (1767–1830), noted French diplomat, expressed a general concern when he observed that from the point of view of the individual it makes no difference whether he is tyrannized by a single despot or by the totality of individuals composing his society; he is oppressed just the same. Indeed the latter could well be worse: tyrannicide might rescue him from an individual oppressor and, in any event, others would commiserate with him; whereas if oppressed by a large majority, he would have no comparable recourse or comfort....
The liberal formula
The essence of the liberal solution is twofold. It lies partly in making the decision of any given majority subject to the concurrence of other majorities distributed over a period of time. The majority that elects a president of the United States, for example, is different from the majority that two years before elected one-third of the Senate and two years later elects another third. Likewise two-thirds of the senators are elected by a majority other than the majority by which members of the House of Representatives are elected. These groups, in turn, are checked by the Constitution, which was approved and later amended by majorities no longer alive....
The second part of the solution is related more directly to the initial inspiration of liberalism, its basic commitment to the autonomy and integrity of the individual, which the limitation of power is, after all, intended to preserve. In the liberal understanding, the individual is not only a citizen who shares a social compact with his fellows; he is a person and, as such, he possesses rights that the state may not invade. Even as a citizen, he must, if majoritarianism is to be meaningful, possess such rights.
Alexis de Tocqueville used the phrase
in 1831. In Book I,
Chapter 15 has section heeded by the Tyranny of the Majority.
"TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY.
"How the principle of the sovereignty of the people is to be understood--Impossibility of conceiving a mixed government--The sovereign power must exist somewhere--Precautions to be taken to control its action --These precautions have not been taken in the United States --Consequences."
I am sure I could go on, but I am also sure that I must be trying the patience of anyone who has read this far. Actually, I am glad that I had to relisten to Mrs. Ogrodnik , because she is really making an interesting point. I believe she was saying that the people should have had a say back in September about whether the Town should pursue Fairwinds. I think she is correct that that could have alleviated considerable discord in town. I heard this same idea from a neighbor a couple of days ago.
I have recently
Told Gordon Weil (2/20) that I had put an email exchange between us on this website/
Sent a message to Peter Micciche (2/21) asking where I can get more information about their report. I do not feel there was much solid information in the Times Record Article.
Asked Gordon Weil (2/21) what websites he meant to include in his speech before Selectman Knight
Sent Peter Micciche (2/18) a copy of the article in the Algerian news saying that the explosion/fire was caused by a gas leak and requesting his comment.
Sent Peter Micciche (2/17) a message reminding him that he had unequivocally said there was no LNG on the Algiers site and asked if there was any NG on the site.
Sent Peter Micciche (2/15) a message asking if there would be any ethane or propane on the Fairwinds site. He answered (2/16) saying "The lease prohibits fractionation of natural gas at the LNG facility. [Clause 11.1.1 (a)]. There will be no propane or ethane produced or stored at the plant.)
Except as noted I have received no replies.
Gordon said in his speech, "I see media, our town and area newspapers, local websites, and even our own television station whose obvious bias against the project undermines any claim for objectivity. They may say that they may say they print for broadcast what people bring to them, but that's not enough. They have an obligation to provide a balanced report even if they have to work for it. One example only, the Times Record ...."
Selectman Weil appeared to be speaking from a prepared text, or
perhaps detailed notes because he looked at them frequently. I
wonder if he heard or absorbed what Mr. Paulhus (sp?) said prior to his
speech. t I wondered if it mattered.
He says "local websites" I know of the following local websites: The
town site, FairPlay, Fishing Families for Harpswell, Fairwinds, Harpswell
Anchor Forum and Harpswell Info. Obvious FairPlay, Fairwinds and Fishing
Families are biased and not "objective." I believe that the people who
maintain Harpswell Anchor and Forum have made a significant effort to
present all reasonable opinions on the issues in both the newspaper
and the forum. I have not spent much time reading the forum, but I
have spoken with both Bob and Rick who have expressed their frustration at
keeping on top of all the comments. I know some people have been banned.
The town website is, of course, the least objective of all, because
everything on the site has to come from the Selectman. That
leaves this site. I never promised an unbiased site or to only allow
objective opinions. I did say I would try to keep it balanced and open to
all (civilized) opinions.
I do not understand what he wants from these sites
In another part of his rant, Selectman Weil complained that his report
about his trip to Alaska did not get equivalent coverage in the news to
the Loyd Report. I wonder if he realized that is was probably because the
Loyd Report was more newsworthy - partly I am sure because of his own
comments about the Loyd report. This seems much more like ego than
Len Freeman spent considerable time developing a presentation which in essence said 1) LNG is much more dangerous on water than on land, 2) No one, including Fairwinds or the Selectmen, have discussed this issue 3) The Selectmen have a responsibility for the safety of the people of Harpswell.
While someone may question some of his presentation techniques, I think it
was an honest effort by a citizen of Harpswell to present information that
is relevant to Fairwinds. I do not think it is necessary to agree with
what he said, to respect and respond fairly to his points. This did not
happen at the Selectmen's Meeting
Before Mr. Freeman spoke at the Selectman's meeting, Selectman Weil
checked the rules. I think I know why, but I cannot prove it.
During the meeting, Mr. Weil made a big point that the purpose of the
public comment section was to give people an opportunity to present
problems to the Selectmen. Both Mr. Freeman and the person who spoke
about checks and balances were indeed presenting a question to the
Selectmen. They were essentially stopped by the Selectmen. Jim Meikle and
the others who made comments about Mr. Freeman's presentations were not
asking the Selectmen anything. They were just making irrelevant criticisms
about the presentation and the content. These people were not stopped,
they were thanked. That is about as unfair, undemocratic, unobjective as
one can get.
I will say that Mr. Knight eventually did respond. He said that it was "disgusting," and a complete lie. I hope that is not the best Mr. Knight can do. Personally, I do not know what was disgusting or what was a complete lie. I hope he did not mean that LNG is safe on water. I hope he did not mean the entire presentation. Even more I hope this is not an example of how Selectmen Weil wishes the people of Harpswell to communicate. I have to revise this comment. He made some additional comments I hear when writing 2/21/04
Please note that none of my comments below demonstrate a bias for or against the Project. They are entirely focused on process.
I now have had the night to sleep on it (see 2/19/04. I think the key to
what bothers me is that I have worked hard to try to moderate the tone of
discussion in Harpswell with this website. I have asked many people to
rewrite their comments so they less strident and more informative. I have
tried to obtain opinions from "both" sides. I have personally asked Debbie
Levensailor to try to get more opinions. I have told Peter
Micciche I am interested in opinions favorable to Fairwinds. I made a plea
at a public meeting for opinions favorable to Fairwinds.
I started this site because there was no information on the town web site (which I also maintain). I had started to add information to the town website, but I was told (correctly) to remove it. I could only post information authorized by town office personnel. I hoped by starting my own site I could provide information about the project that I have not seen anywhere in Harpswell - or anywhere. I hoped to provide space for all sides to make "civilized" comments I had hoped to have a calendar that would list all the activities of the Selectmen, Fairwinds, FairPlay. To date I have received no calendar information from the town or from Fairwinds.
Unfortunately, maintaining an informative town website has not been a priority for the Selectmen. Kristi Eiane, the Town Administrator, has been much too busy to keep up. As of this writing there have been no minutes since December 4, 2004; there is no up-to-date calendar of town activities and no schedule of upcoming events. In fact, I listed the date and time of Mr. Weil's private discussion sessions with citizens on this site because I received a notice from FairPlay. I never received any notice from the town and could not post the information there.
The town web site could be an excellent means for the town to communicate with the public. I do not know how the public is supposed to know about the content of the Selectmen's or administrator's announcements unless they happen to watch the the meeting on the (biased) media, Harpswell TV.
Gordon Weil complains about the media, yet the Selectman have done little to take advantage of their own media. I guess they rely on their personal, non-public conversations with our citizenry. It is a very effective technique of controlling opinion because no one knows what other people are thinking or asking, except through the filter of the Selectmen.
I would counter Mr. Weil's quote at the Selectmen's meeting (approximately) "I am mad and I am not going to take it any more, with two other quotes
It is better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness.
Also, I think he could look in the mirror and tell himself, in Pogo's words, "I have met the enemy, and it is me."
In other words, if instead of complaining about the media, he should ensure there is comprehensive information on the town website. When I say comprehensive, I mean more than the lease. There should be substantive informative on the Project, including LNG safety. I believe Len Freeman's presentation deserves a more substantive response than "it was disgusting," or "it's a lie" ( both Mr. Knight's phrases) Len Freeman made a substantial effort to inform the public. He should be encouraged and responded to. At the meeting last night I do not think anyone provided a relevant, informed response to Len Freeman's thesis about the safety of LNG. If the Selectman have made any comments about the safety of LNG, particularly on water, I do not remember them. I could not find anything on the town website. In my opinion, the Selectmen are doing exactly what they complain others are doing. Clearly Mr. Weil's comments have raised the level of anger. He has provoked me into spending more than 7 hours writing this stuff. I have better things to do, but Mr. Weil's rant seemed to require a response. I hope it has been appropriate and constructive. In short, I want to say :
Mr. Weil, I want to help make Harpswell a better place. What do I have to do?
I have resigned (02/18) my volunteer efforts to maintain the town website. Shortly I expect to be showing the new Deputy Administrator, Jay Chace, how to do it.
Mr. Weil likes to talk about how intimidating it is for people to be in favor of the Project. Perhaps, he should venture forth to the Cundy's Harbor side. I personally know many people who are afraid to speak out against the Project, because they fear the consequences from their friends, from people in organizations they belong to, and companies they operate.
I think, with Gordon Weil's rant, that Harpswell has reached a new low. Partly in response to his comments, I am posting an email exchange between us. I feel it helps to put his comments in perspective. I am also tired of his complaining about the way he is treated, while at the same time failing to recognize those who may help him. Talk about intimidation. You can read it here.
There are reports coming from the Algerian news that the fire/explosion there was caused by an LNG leak. Peter Micciche has said there was no LNG on the site. He has also said that LNG does not explode, which of course is true, but also of course NG is highly explosive. I have asked him by email if there was NG on the site and for his comment on the news article.
I checked out Yellow Woods web site Yellow Wood Associates last evening. I suggest you have a look also. It adds perspective and context to the credibility of their report
There are a couple of new comments today.