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Comments current (3/13/04 - present)

I will post any comments about happenings in Harpswell. I am most interested in the government. Please keep your comments clean, brief, to the point, clear and unnasty. Otherwise, they may not appear here. If the spellchecker finds a mistake that makes sense, I will correct it.  Also, please include your name and part of town. Let me know if you would prefer that I not include your name and or community with your comment.
The most recent  comments are first.

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  • 6/22

The LNG re-vote petition in Harpswell has been turned in; now Harpswell’s fate lay in the hands of three selectmen.

For six month the LNG proposal wreaked havoc in Harpswell. It pitted neighbor against neighbor. Family member against Family member.

It created wounds in this town that will take time to heal. It created some wounds so deep that they may not ever heal. It created distrust between town citizens and town government.

The LNG proposal drove a wedge in Harpswell. So instead of functioning as a whole town we have become them and us, instead of “we the citizens of Harpswell.”

At the selectmen’s meeting on 6/17/04 Chairman James Knight, suggested that the town should send a letter to ConocoPhillips and TransCanada.

In that letter, Mr. Knight said he wants answers to three questions:

1. Does the partnership between the two companies still exist?

2. If a revote reversed the earlier decision, would the two companies come back to Harpswell?

3. Would the major provisions of the contract that was agreed on earlier be honored?

If the re-vote petition is supposed to be about the bomb scare, a fair vote, and democratic principles, then what does CP/TC have to do with it?

The questions for a re-vote should be simple did the bomb scare affect the outcome of the vote?

Despite a bomb threat called in Tuesday morning March 9th
Voting at Harpswell Islands School was not interrupted, nor was the town office closed thanks to the sheriff's department and town officials.

By the end of the day 3,468 people, or 72 percent of the town's approximately 4,800 registered voters, cast their ballots. More people voted on the LNG issue than voted in the last presidential election. 2029 people voted by Absentee ballets

This was the highest voter turn out in Harpswell's history.

The perpetrator of a bomb threat's primary purposes for calling in a threat was to disrupt the voting process. Thanks to the towns officials and the sheriff's department for doing an outstanding job.

The threat was dismissed long before it became widespread public knowledge, but precautions remained in place. This allowed ongoing activities to continue, thus thwarting the purpose of the perpetrator of the threat and sending the strong message that such criminal activities will not be allowed to alter, interrupt, violate or impact important public activities.

If the re-vote petition is allowed to come to a vote it will only be encouraging this type of criminal activity to take place at future dates.

Are the people pushing for a Re-vote petition any different then the person who called in the bomb threat?

The re-vote petition is trying for the same effect that the person who called in the bomb threat was looking for.

The revote petition’s primary purpose is to alter and disrupt and ultimately try to turn over the democratic process of a vote that has already taken place.

 The Selectmen have the power to take a stand and send a strong message that such sour grapes petitions will not be allowed to alter, interrupt, violate or impact the democratic process of voting in this town, now or ever.

The threat was not allowed to disrupt the democratic process on March 9th. It should not be allowed to affect it months later. It should not be allowed to affect the democratic process ever.

The only thing that the re-vote petition has done is pour salt into wounds that have not yet healed.

The Selectmen have the power to uphold the decision already made by the majority of the town.

 The March 9th vote was certified as a legitimate vote by all government bodies that were involved. People have the right to petition there local government. The Selectmen have a right to dismiss a sour grapes petition. The town's selectmen have the power to uphold the democratic process that took place.

The re-vote petition has already inflicted unnecessary pain in Harpswell.

Portland Press Herald 6/15/04:

Gov. Baldacci would not support an LNG terminal in Harpswell. Spokesman Lee Umphrey said the project, which was voted down once, turned out to be too divisive. And the governor has repeatedly said he will support LNG projects only where they are welcome.

A re-vote will only cause more pain. It will only drive the wedge that was placed in Harpswell nine months ago deeper.

The only thing a Re-vote will do slow down the process of healing and moving on.

 Selectmen Gordon Weil was quoted on 3/10/04 by The Times Record. "We have to deal with the town's business, including what to do with the fuel depot and, to the extent that we are able as selectmen, to try to reconcile the town," Weil said.

The Selectmen do not have the power to heal Harpswell on their own. The Selectmen of Harpswell do have the power to take a stand and help the people of this town heal and work towards becoming “we the citizens of Harpswell” again instead of “us and them.”

It is time to let it go! It is time to move on! It is time to allow the healing of Harpswell to begin! 

  • 6/22

Nice balanced commentary in your section.

  • 6/16

Hi there, Burr,

I don't think you know me, but I have heard you speak several times at Selectmen's meetings, and Town meeting, and often say to myself, "I wish I'd thought of that!" I just finished reading your comments of 6/14, and thought your observations were right on the mark. Did you send a letter to the Selectmen with these thoughts? I don't see how anyone could argue your points.

  • 3/25

This is a copy of a letter to the Times Record that I've sent....Entitled:

The Harpswell Selectmen are completely FREE to NOT reschedule the vote.

The Harpswell selectmen are protected by Maine law from any repercussions when they decide that, with a record setting 72% of town voters weighing in, the people have already spoken clearly on the issue of LNG in town, and they dismiss the sour grapes referendum before them.

This is an excerpt from the court case that grants them the power to protect the majority vote:

"Maine Superior Court declared that the municipal officers' obligation to place petitioned articles before the voters for their consideration, under both 30-A M.R.S.A. § 2522 and § 2528(5) "should be interpreted to apply to petitions proposing new articles for voter consideration or concerning municipal officers' failure to act and should not apply to situations, such as the one presented here, in which minority voters seek a revote on a recently approved referendum." Inhabitants of the Town of Vassalboro v. Frederick & Camille Denico, et al., Sup. Ct. Kenn. Cty., Civ. Action Docket No. 89-517 (Feb. 23, 1990), at p. 3 (emphasis added)."

The power to let Harpswell heal is in the selectmen's hands.

The issue has already been decided. The bomb scare is cheap leverage by the sour grapes petitioners. The danger was dismissed by the State Police within minutes of the call. Nothing closed. Turnout continued to be strong. MOST had already voted.

It cannot be seriously argued that voter turnout would have been substantially higher than 72%, or the town opinion would have been reversed, had not the scare occurred. The scare was NOT a determining, altering or even relevant factor in the voting outcome. It had no legitimate impact.

Why continue the hurt? It's un-needed and unnecessary. The selectmen have the power to heal. 

They should use it.

  • 3/25

Perhaps the lack of comment by the Selectmen relative to their conduct indicates the need for an action of censure. With this new and ugly petition going around, things will only get worse. The true case for intimidation has nothing to do with the bomb threat, it has to do with the conduct and attitudes of the Selectmen. Democratic principles should still apply, even in Harpswell. I suggest a counter petition on the NO side, as well as a recall petition for the Selectmen, banning them from further service within the community. We can't have the tail wagging the dog here at such a critical time of healing, nor can we have citizens stifled by elected officials at town meetings or Selectmen's meetings.

A lot of business seems to be conducted at the Store on Orrs. I don't know if any minutes of these meetings are available, but I think not. What is going on and who can tighten the reins?

Someone has to get a grasp on the future of Harpswell, and it isn't going to be the Selectmen if their past performance is any indication of that future.

  • 3/24

I am a student at Searsport district high school. I am doing a project on the LNG terminal that will be coming in on sears island. I have heard nonstop about all the bad things that are coming from this, but no good things. See people like me can't just make up there mind based on negative facts. I would like to hear some good things about it! Another problem I have is the fact that the environmentalist are using peoples fear of terrorism to make sure we don't have it. Its not fair, to just have all negative facts, and the fact that no one is saying anything good about it isn't helping it become part of the society. I know that the environmentalist want to turn Maine into a big national park and have everyone be poor and die poor, I don't think so if you want people to stay in towns then maybe people should open up some jobs, this could be the start of something good, and i agree with what someone else said, I'm not afraid of terrorist attacks, if we need to have it so we can advance in life then maybe we should just learn to deal with it.

  • 3/24 (rec'd 3/15)

Hello Burr,

I want you to know how much I appreciate your work on this site. I am on Chebeague and thought we would breathe a sigh of relief when your vote was done, but a friend just contacted me from Eastport, asking for information on LNG.

Burr, are you planning to keep the LNG information up on your website for awhile yet?

Would it be ok if I pointed the Eastporters to your site to help them get organized?

Also, if you have any suggestions, I would be pleased to hear them. I had heard that Conoco was still looking for a place on Casco Bay...

What times we live in.

Thanks for your terrific resource, Burr. This has not been an easy time to live in your town.

I hope things are improving a little bit for all of you.

  • 3/24/04 (rec'd 3/15)


We like many Harpswell (Non-Resident) Taxpayers appreciate your effort on behalf of Harpswell. We like yourself and a majority of the NOs believe that the Selectmen orchestrated the Fairwinds Lease and Vote in a manner that ignored concerns of both residents and non-residents. Lord only knows how the vote would have gone if the Selectmen were more up front and even handed.

Thank you for your efforts.

Copy of e-mail sent to Anchor and FairPlay

I was disappointed to learn that the Anchor Forum is no longer supported. I, like many others, hoped it could be a place where ideas related to the future of the depot could be posted and shared. Without such a tool I afraid that many good ideas may not see the light of day.

I do understand the costs and other issues relating to the forum (I noticed the continued negativeness). If you become aware of another mechanism, please let us know.

  • 3/24

Town Meeting-Selectmen-Manager Form

This document is reprinted with permission from "The Manager Plan in Maine" published by the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy. Copies of the complete book may be obtained by calling the Center at (207) 581-1646.
Town Meeting-Selec-Mgr Form

  • 3/24

I am dismayed by the news that a petition is being circulated to nullify the town's vote on March 9th on the Gas plant issue. A huge percentage of the town's registered voters participated in this important vote. We have Ms.Knight's word that this was an unusually large turnout for a town vote ( no government officials being selected) and that it was fairly tallied. I know that there was a criminal bomb scare on that day but I also know that most residents had voted before they heard of this scare.

Additionally, the scare was designed to reduce voter turnout, an established goal of oil and gas companies when proposing what they call LULUs ( Land use locally undesired). Industry manuals suggest that a low voter turnout is ALWAYS best for their objective and they include low voter turnout as one of the characteristics desired for a "target community" for their undesirable industry.

 Well, despite the fact that Harpswell has many taxpaying residents who have no vote, the COMPANY was wrong in targeting this community. Harpswell has always been among the highest in voter turnout no matter what the election is about. And, in this case, Harpswell residents have spoken and their answer is NO! 

Any attempt to nullify this vote is a travesty of democracy.  Since this project was heavily supported by the town officials, an attempt to nullify it raises further questions about their integrity if they support this effort. 

  • 3/10

Hopefully you can keep the web pages with the signs as part of the historical record of what the town went through on this issue.

  • 3/10

Due to a business trip to the West Coast, my access to local news is limited to the internet.  Your website was the only one that listed the vote results.  I will rest easier tonight knowing that the lease was voted down.

Thank You

  • 3/10 (posted 3/24)

We move forward from the vote. What’s done is done, and the time for mending fences has started. When faced with the intense pressure brought by an issue such as this, it becomes very clear where weak points exist…both in the governmental process, and the needs of Harpswell’s citizenry. All must learn from this, and not return to the complacency of our prior lives. There are problems to be solved and work still to be done. I encourage all to remain involved. Democracy performs best with an involved and informed electorate.

Speaking of electorate, I want to express my thanks to all who voted. I particularly want to express my gratitude to everyone who voted “no”. In my opinion, the correct decision was made for the town.

Where we go from here is still in your hands.

  • 3/19

The FFFH discussion forum is poised to be our on-line venue for exploring the future of the fuel depot site and other issues related to life in Harpswell. I encourage you to climb aboard and join in the discussions. Also. please encourage others who have an interest and who might have insights to offer.

Go to (out of operation)

Since things will hopefully be less contentious now that the Methane Monster is gone, I encourage you to subscribe with a recognizable name, nickname, or initials. Also, let's set an example by including real names in our user profiles and even revealing our email addresses. I suggest this, as I believe these discussions will be more productive if we discourage anonymous posting.

Onward and upward,








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Last edited on 01/07/2010