Skipper's Comments 10/04 to 5/05

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Web skipper's Comments

This page is intended to provide me (Burr Taylor) with an opportunity to express some of my ideas.  Your comments are welcome. As always please, send them to Comments. I will  post them on the new comments page.

Other Pages in the section

Skipper's Comments 3/04 to 5/04
Skipper's Comments 10/04 to 5/05
Skipper's Comments 6-06-?
Conflict with Sel. Weil



  • It appears that ConocoPhillips may have a heart or at least a concern about public opinion. The following was in Grist's newsletter today.

ConocoPhillips withdraws from Arctic Refuge lobbying group ConocoPhillips, the third-largest energy company in the U.S., has withdrawn from Arctic Power, a lobbying group the sole purpose of which is to convince Congress to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The company is playing down what it calls "merely a business decision," saying its intent is to focus on getting more black gold out of its current holdings on Alaska's North Slope. However, enviros and socially responsible investors are playing up the role of a campaign they organized, culminating in a shareholder resolution, urging the company to drop out. A similar campaign prompted BP to bail on the organization in 2002, but thus far the group's other members, ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, remain immune to the greens' blandishments. Said Athan Manuel, director of U.S. PIRG's Arctic Wilderness Campaign, "It appears that ConocoPhillips and BP are more enlightened than the Bush administration when it comes to drilling in the Arctic Refuge."
straight to the source: Juneau Empire, Associated Press, Mary Pemberton, 05 Jan 2005 <>
straight to the source:, 06 Jan 2005
discuss and read more in Gristmill: You go, Conoco

  • There are two interesting bits of news in the LNG front these days. One suggests that the Selectman owe FairPlay some serious apologies for accusing them of lying. The Federal Energy Department has come out with a report explaining how serious and far reaching a terrorist attack could be to an LNG tanker. See LNG news.

  • Also, the Alaska Legislature is about to be asked to approve an LNG liquefaction facility in Valdez, Alaska (Includes ConocoPhillips). It sounds like a pretty cutthroat procedure to me. See LNG news.

  • If anyone is interested, I plan to attend the Selectmen's meeting tomorrow, and request the changes of assessment be put in writing on the web, including the new definition of a unbuildable lot.

  • Thanks to Dee Williamson, here is the statement from Jim Knight's campaign letter. I leave it to you to decide if he has fulfilled his campaign promises.

"In recent months our town government has wrestled with many complex and difficult issues.  It appears that some of those same challenges will continue in the months ahead.  I am passionate about our community, which is my hometown, and I feel the fresh outlook I can bring, along with years of managerial experience at a major corporation can help us all through the challenging months ahead.  If you welcome a new perspective or agree with me that different ideas can be a healthy component of our ever-changing town, please support me with you WRITE-IN vote."


  • The Selectmen have decided that they have not yet made it sufficiently difficult to make a comment at one of their meetings. They put public comment to the end of the meeting, limited the length and subject matter of the comment.
    Now Lee Theberge in the meeting on November 4, 2004 moved to eliminate completely the public comment period . The other Selectmen did not want to get rid of it entirely, so they limited it to one minute and the subject matter could not be controversial or open to debate. Their efforts to limit the time and content of public comment come when someone has said something they do not like. In my opinion they provide an excellent example right here in our town of why freedom of speech is important.
    One consequence of this is that the selectmen can say anything they want, make any accusations they choose, malign someone's character and then deny any opportunity to respond or rebut what was said.
    If it wasn't bad enough to virtually eliminate public comment, Selectman Knight complained about something broadcast by HCTV immediately after the business meeting. WOW! I wish the Selectmen could appreciate their own unfairness, as easily as they condemn suspected unfairness in others.

  • A good example of their unfairness: Selectman Knight went on to say that twice in the last year and a half he had been involved in situations with HCTV which were the opposite of fair. On one occasion he arranged for a TV show. Unbeknownst to him or anyone else in the event, the guests were contacted and told that the show was canceled. He happened to find it out just by chance.  [Sound simple. I suggest you read Dave Chipman's view on the comment page.] The other example I referred to above. The TV station appended something to the show which appeared to rebut something said during the  business meeting.

  • I have left the best (or worst) comment for the end and will try to write it as close as I can to the way Jim said it. "Next thing is public comment. and um I am going to skip public comment tonight because I've got a headache and I wanna go home. Is there a motion for adjournment." Besides the potential for humor, this is one of the most outrageous comments I have heard. Is it "fair" to cancel public comment after someone may have sat waiting for 2 1/2 hours to make a comment. This certainly shows the thorough lack of respect Selectman Knight has for any public comment. Fortunately, the other Selectmen prevailed on him a wait the extra for the public comment to be made.

  • I would like to clarify a comment made yesterday.  "In my opinion, that old form of government has already been taken far away." The old form of government refers to the time when the selectmen were accessible to the public and behaved in a respectful manner to its citizens. While I am sure technically, I could get an appointment with any of the Selectmen, I have zero confidence that I would be listened to or treated with respect. I base this statement on their behavior during Selectmen's meetings, particularly during the comment period.

    • I do not assume that the Charter Commission "will take away our form of government." I do assume it will provide a forum for the people of Harpswell to discuss the good and the bad of our government. I dearly hope that it might provoke a wakeup call to our current Selectmen.

    • I am a strong supporter of fishermen, lobstermen, clammers, old time residents of Harpswell. Although am no fishermen, I have been to many fishing and working waterfront conferences. I was on the working waterfront advisory committee here in Cundy's Harbor.

    • Yet when the Consultants had a public meeting to discuss some ways to protect the working waterfront of Cundy's Harbor, you had to look very hard to find a fisherman. I am slowly becoming tired of people who just complain that they do not want any change. Change is coming, and I surely hope they will be part of the process and not just people to be circumvented. Harpswell is a democracy. If these complainers do not participate, then it will be difficult to include their wants and desires.  Fishing Families for Harpswell gives me great hope and I have great respect for their efforts. I have long believed that the biggest threat to the working waterfront in Harpswell is the lack of all kinds of fishermen being involved in government.

  • The old minutes are at: The Scrapbook is at

  • Gordon Weil made some remarks in an article in the Press Herald today about the Charter Commission.

    • "'It is being led by some of the most vigorous opponents of LNG,' Selectman Gordon Weil said Monday." This statement clearly shows the bias inherent in Gordon's attitude about the petition. Apparently it makes no difference the petition group is made up of people from both sides of the LNG issue (see first paragraph of article) Aside from that, LNG has absolutely nothing to do with Charter Commissions..

    • "Weil said the drive is an attempt to usurp the selectmen's authority." WOW! I wish he would explain how a petition drive usurps his authority." I find this comment inherently undemocratic and arrogant. It's like when Jim Knight made it harder for the public to speak at meetings, because sometimes he did not like what the public had to say.

    • When two of our selectmen refused to bring governing issues (re-call and 5 selectman) to the public even though the public had expressed an interest in them, I believe the selectmen demonstrated a need to have their authority usurped.  In my opinion, the selectmen are usurping the authority of the public.

    • Weil said a charter commission is a bad idea because there is nothing wrong with the way Harpswell's town meeting and selectmen form of government operates. He said the current system keeps government spending relatively low and an effort to change will only serve to further divide a community that was ripped apart by the LNG project. I had opposed previous efforts to change our way of government. However, I do not feel our town government is working well now. I do not know how to fix it either. I do think it should be talked about, though. I hear there was some arguing at the table where people could sign the petition in Harpswell Neck. Some people were complaining that newcomers were trying to take away their form of government. In my opinion, that old form of government has already been taken far away.


  • I sent an email to Gordon yesterday, with the statement below. He replied that my use of the word "demand" was incorrect. I wasn't there, but I suspect there is truth in his comment. On the other hand when a selectman asks HCTV for time to rebut a video, there are many people who would consider that a demand.

  • He also pointed out that since I hadn't seen the charter video, I was not in a position to say it was balanced or unbalanced.
    This raises a very interesting question: Who decides whether a presentation is unbiased for the purpose of "requiring" a rebuttal? Would it be (HCTV {Donna, George, and/or Dave}), the Selectmen by vote, the Selectmen's liaison to HCTV (Gordon), the individual viewer or someone else?
    In my opinion, only HCTV can make that decision. If the Selectmen or Selectman did, that would welcome censorship. Having viewers decide would be unwieldy and messy.
    I have heard both George and Donna say the video was unbiased, and, frankly, that's good enough for me.

  • Finally, the name of Gordon's show was changed from a rebuttal of the video that was aired to "Harpswell's Selectmen Discuss Town Charter Petition". Does this name change make his presentation unbiased? If it does make it unbiased, the HCTV does not have to give the petitioners and chance to rebut. (FYI, the petitioner declined an offer to rebut.)

  • I attended the Special Selectmen's meeting last afternoon. According to Gordon Weil the purpose of the meeting was to permit Gordon to converse with George Swallow who is President of Harpswell Community Television (HCTV) in the presence of the other selectmen. Gordon thought that another divisive issue might be brewing about Charter governments (The idea of a Charter Commission had been brought up at the Thursday meeting during the comment section). Gordon was concerned about a video on charter governments that HCTV has played sometime Thursday or Friday. He expressed concern that the Selectmen had not been informed that the video would be played. While he said HCTV has done an excellent job broadcasting public affairs and presenting programs requested by the community, his primary concern was that he felt that HCTV had a responsibility to present programs representing the both sides even if both sides were not requested by the community. He has demanded equal time and will speak Monday night.

    I had some thoughts during and after the meeting.

    • Gordon successfully gave the Charter Commission considerable publicity. I would not have been aware of it until I went to vote. It has also provoked me to begin rethinking charter government and I will probably at least sign the petition.
    • George Swallow pointed out that the video had been presented earlier, so Donna Frisoli did not think it was a big deal and presumably saw no reason to inform the selectmen. (I do not understand why she would anyway.) George also said that the video did present both sides of the issue. It appears, therefore, that Gordon jumped the gun with this meeting. He and the town would have benefited from Gordon being better informed before having this meeting.
    • Gordon demanded that HCTV present both sides of issues. However this demand leaves many questions
      • Which of the many issues facing Harpswell, or which residents would like Harpswell to face, deserve this extra care
      • Charter government was not a big issue until Jim Knight and Gordon made it an issue.
      • Most, if not all, issues have far more than two sides.
      • According to George Swallow, the video presented "both sides." Since Gordon is giving an anti presentation Monday night, does HCTV have the responsibility to present a "pro" presentation prior to Tuesday's election.
    • Fortunately I do not remember George making any promises, or making any assurances at the meeting.

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Last edited on 05/20/2012