All Maine Matters

August 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 8      August 2006 FREE

Letters to the Editor

Maine Needs a Governor Like Chandler Woodcock

The first reason for my strong support of Chandler Woodcock has to do with character. As a Pastor, I have to believe that character is the most important measure of a man. I have known Chandler Woodcock for about five years. During that time, he and I have formed a friendship that has allowed me the privilege of witnessing the character of the man. He is a decent and compassionate man with solid principles and convictions. He is trustworthy and reliable. I know Chandler and I know some of his family. He is a good man. He demonstrates uncommon grace and discernment.

The second reason for my strong support of Chandler Woodcock has to do with leadership. Along with pastoring, I have worked as a legislative aide and as chief of staff in the Maine Senate Republican office. For two years, Chandler was the assistant Republican leader. Chandler brought out the best in the entire staff. We found ourselves wanting to do not only more, but better work because of him. That is a quality of leadership that is needed in government. Working for him always included a sense of trust and accountability. Chandler knows how to bring out the best in people and is not afraid to hold them accountable.

That brings me to policy issues. I do not mean to minimize the importance of fiscal issues or any of the other matters than a governor must deal with. I have listened to and watched Chandler Woodcock as he had dealt with these. He understands these matters and is prepared to deal with them. I would be hard pressed to find an area of disagreement with him. But the issues of life and morality are most important to me personally.

And on these, I wholeheartedly support the positions taken by Chandler. He has been firmly on the side of protecting children, born and unborn. The same is true with issues of marriage and family. Our state government has overstepped its proper role with attempts to redefine marriage. Chandler supports a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Perhaps more important than specific legislative actions, Chandler Woodcock understands the need to change the attitude of state government. State agencies and officials often seem to promote behaviors that are offensive to most of us. I do not believe that state agencies under the authority of Governor Woodcock would be allowed to promote such behaviors or to hide information about them. I believe that Chandler Woodcock would expect and encourage churches, religious organizations and individuals to work toward improving Maine’s culture without undue government interference. Chandler Woodcock supports giving parents more control over education, including home schooling.

I believe Chandler Woodcock is the best choice to be our next Governor.

Bob Emrich, Plymouth, Maine

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Proposed Presque Isle (PI) By-Pass

Based on a July Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, prepared by Maine DOT consultants, I want to say the following about the projected economic benefits and permanent environmental costs, of the proposed Presque Isle (PI) By-Pass.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires that an SDEIS put environmental concerns on equal footing with economic outcomes. This lengthy report succeeds! Environmental issues are as weakly assessed as the economic returns to the public.
The proposed new bridge near Presque Isle would be built about a mile downstream of our current 4-lane bridge. MDOT says they “will coordinate with Maine DEP” during bridge design to ensure the crossing meets all criteria with regard to aquatic and wildlife habitat, water quality, recreational access, and minimizing visual impacts.

However, it’s my understanding through Maine’s Natural Resources Protection Act (Title 38 Chapter 3 §480-P) that the lower Aroostook River is among Maine’s “outstanding river segments” afforded special (ORS) protection under Article 5-A.

I also understand through §480-D (8) that crossing the river with a new bridge requires that MDOT demonstrate to Maine DEP, in a future NRPA permitting application, that no reasonable alternative exists which would have less adverse effect upon the natural and recreational features of the river segment.
MDOT consultants dismiss this protection, saying the existing bridge carrying Route 1 over the Aroostook River would not satisfy the project’s “Purpose and Need.”

But, a 2002 draft environmental assessment for the Easton Industrial Access Road (MDOT PIN 6462.11), with a connector terminating at Route 163/167 (without crossing the river), was deemed satisfactory in meeting that project’s Purpose and Need – providing “immediate benefit to the Easton/Presque Isle transportation system by improving safety, access, and mobility for materials and finished product.” Annual Vehicle Hours Traveled to Easton Station would be reduced at least a third.

Furthermore, this SDEIS declares the US Army Corps of Engineers said (July 11, 2005) the “Presque Isle By-Pass” project’s purpose is to “improve east-west and north-south traffic movements in and around the City of Presque Isle along Routes 1, 163/167, 10, and 227 in order to improve public safety and relieve traffic congestion.”

MDOT consultants now say the intersection at Route 1/Route 163 is a High Crash Location. That label deserves a definition. How many crashes have occurred at that intersection in the last 10 years involving medium or heavy trucks?

MDOT consultants also hasten to note there are no EPA-designated “sole source aquifers” used as public water sources in the area. If there were any, EPA review would be required -- which could prevent a commitment of Federal funding.

The highly-productive sand and gravel aquifer surrounding and under the Aroostook River, that publicly supplies Washburn, Fort Fairfield, and recently Presque Isle and Caribou, would likely qualify for sole-source status -- if only someone petitioned for it.
Should this aquifer become contaminated, alternative sources of surface water may no longer be economically available due to EPA drinking water standards and the large excess of phosphorus from major point sources documented by Maine DEP in a report simply footnoted in this SDEIS. The proposed new bridge would be about 2,500 feet from Presque Isle’s new drinking water wells, even closer to McCain Foods supply wells.

The SDEIS gives no consideration to the adverse effects on the community having to live near the proposed by-pass. Basically deceptive, consultants say the area north of the river, where the preferred option would cross, is generally agricultural. From my vantage point, the corridor would also cross acres of wetlands and Raymond Brook, and destroy the environment of a cluster of homes on the Higgins Road and Reach Road.

For economic analysis, MDOT consultants used the regional economic model REMI (Regional Economic Models, Inc.). Widely used by government agencies throughout the nation, one major criticism of REMI is that it contains no government budget constraints. Tax expenditures on projects are treated as cost-free. Although the model has important scientific merits, REMI inevitably exaggerates the benefits of government projects.

REMI is a complex model that most can’t assess; the claim the best scientific model available shows x dollars of personal income created by the project often carries the day.
In reviewing the Report, I paused on Table 2-7 “Effects of SDEIS Corridors on Aroostook County Economy (2035).” For the proposed PI By-Pass, I’m not even sure REMI can carry the day. During construction of the PI By-Pass, the $120.8 million dollar cost would yield only $3.79 million in aggregate personal income to the year 2035.

After construction, change in personal income is shown by REMI to be minimal – meaning most personal income would be construction payroll. A number of economists, including this one, question whether a project’s short-term construction wages should be part of long-term public benefits.

REMI predicted the cumulative change in retail sales due to the proposed Presque Isle By-Pass as a minuscule $230,000 from 2008 to 2035. The Presque Isle public, while bearing significant environmental impacts and risks, has to truly strain to see any gain.

Let’s spare our local farmland, wetlands, forest lands, streams, and citizens. And spare the Aroostook River an unnecessary bridge. Choose the No-Build Option.


Steve Sutter, Presque Isle, ME

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This and That

I’d like to comment on a few of the articles you published in the July issue of All Maine Matters, and maybe some other things that are on my mind. But first, I’d like to say that I enjoy the photos that adorn the pages of each issue. Your cover photo showed an interesting perspective, with the white church steeple peaking over the roof tops of Millinocket.

For a proposal that seems to have the enthusiastic support of the larger percentage of people in Maine, and one that is so necessary if we are ever going to become truly sustainable as a state, I don’t read very many positive articles about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. It seems that the mainstream press is working overtime in its efforts to kill this idea, rather than to simply report on it. Thank you for giving us the other side of that story.

Chandler Woodcock is my choice for governor in November, but I wish he had the courage to speak out more on social issues. I trust that he holds many of the same values that are important to conservative Christians in Maine, but he seems to be afraid that these positions would lose more votes than they would gain.

I disagree. More than ever, I believe that we need someone who is unafraid to stand on principles, and when people have been able to demonstrate the courage to do this, they have won and they have served us well.
Not in Maine? Well, if that’s true then we may as well give it up and not waste our time at the polling place.

Unless I’ve missed notice of his appearances, Chandler seems to be ignoring everything north of Bangor. Baldacci seems to be everywhere, while Chandler has been concentrating on the larger population centers, whose votes are likely to go to his opposition anyhow.

I’m not complaining. Given the alternatives, I think he’s the right man for the job. I’d just like to see him get there, and there are far too many people in central and northern Maine who don’t even know who he is.

I enjoyed the profile on Millinocket, a town that has more history than the years it’s been around might indicate. It’s a shame what’s being allowed to happen to it. Tourism works well for the owners of the larger established tourist businesses, but it does little or nothing for those who are employed in the industry, trying to get by on part-time, seasonal, and non-benefited jobs. Plus, when you ally yourself with environmental interests, you can only limit your growth in every area, including tourism. It’s a scheme that is intended to make a few people rich and leave the environmental organization holding the larger portion of the pie. Good luck, Millinocket. You’re going to need it.

I’ve been reading the leaseholder’s column regularly, and I’ll have to admit that this is an issue that I’ve never understood well, not being a leaseholder. I think that most people look upon this issue as they would renters who are looking for a deed to property they merely rent, unaware that these are property owners too, now at the mercy of foreign interests that couldn’t care less about Maine or the people who live here. That’s a message that needs to be repeated often because, to be honest, most people don’t get it.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Iraqi war. I’m uneasy with the explanations we’ve been given for why we’re there to begin with, yet I don’t believe that it’s in anyone’s best interests for us to cut and run, since that sets a precedent that can’t possibly serve us well in the future.

Still, I don’t trust Bush or any of the globalists that he has surrounded himself with. I fear that we err when we place our trust in someone just because of the letter that he has after his name.

At this point, I can’t think of anyone who I could vote for in the next presidential election, at least not anyone who appears to have a chance of winning. Rep. Ron Paul from Texas comes to mind, as does Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado. There may be others, but I’m not aware of any at this time. Of those whose names have been bandied about at possible Republican candidates, there are none that I could support. John McCain versus Hillary Clinton? They ought to be running mates, not political opponents, since I doubt that either one of them ever had an idea that the other couldn’t support.

That’s about all that I have for now. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and I’ll support your advertisers whenever I can.

J. Jones, Presque Isle, Maine

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A Man With a Plan

Recently, Down East Magazine printed an article which contained an interview with Matt Polstein. I will tell you it was not very flattering to the citizens of Millinocket and for that reason I felt the magazine could use a little education on the subject. Although I don’t expect to hear back from them, I felt they needed to know “OUR” side of the story, and that will never occur if only Polstein is interviewed. Following is a letter I have sent to that publication:


As with every story, there are usually two sides - re: your featured article “Man With A Plan” by Joshua F. Moore. Here is the other side. Perhaps the most provocative statement of this article is your lead-in, “This controversial Millinocket rafting guide turned developer doesn’t believe ecotourism should be a dirty word in the North Woods.

On the surface, Mr. Polstein appears to be an energetic, articulate entrepreneur, but what also lurks under the facade is a cold, calculating and self-serving, want-to-be businessman who exhibits almost complete disregard for those who disagree with him, especially those of us in Millinocket whose very lifestyle is threatened by his project.

To understand this enigma, one must first recognize his ongoing association with many of the preservation (not conservation or environment) groups. such as The Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society, to name a few. His ambitions came to light in the mid 1980’s at Great Northern Paper’s hearing in Augusta on the “Big A” dam project, where his intervener status allowed him to address the possible infringement of the dam on his white water rafting business. It continued with his move, in 1995, to Millinocket where his restaurant hosted The Sierra Club out of which came the Allagash Wilderness Waterway agreement and further continued with the introduction of The Wilderness Society of Millinocket through our economic council, namely, “MAGIC”.

The failure of Great Northern to gain approval for its proposed dam project became the forerunner to the demise of that company. Eventually over 1500 workers lost their livelihood due in part to Polstein’s opposition to the project and to further his business. He now employs 24 local people, not a very good tradeoff for our town or the surrounding area.

Referencing the above mentioned preservation groups, many restrictions, including access points, came out of the Sierra Club’s, Allagash “River driver’s” Agreement (so named after Polstein’s restraurant). These are now being challenged, in Augusta, by John Martin of Eagle Lake and the controversy is currently receiving much needed media attention.

Fast forward to The Wilderness Society. TWS was introduced to Millinocket by “MAGIC”, our supposed economic development council. I say “supposed” since this was how it was presented to the citizens of Millinocket who believed it would help spur our economy and who have supported it with in excess of a quarter milllion dollars over the last 5-6 years.

MAGIC is an acronym for the “Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council”. NOTE: nowhere is there mention of economic development! Founded by Polstein, who served 3 years as its president (while also serving on the council and voting approval of taxpayer’s financial support), MAGIC has done little to attract successful businesses to the area, unless tourist related. (READ: low-paying jobs).

In 2003 MAGIC accepted a $25,000 grant from T. W. S. which created havoc and discord in the Katahdin Region. MAGIC’s “council-approved” funding was reduced, that same year, by a referendum vote by the citizens, and is still striving to recover from the bad publicity while Polstein was pressured into stepping down, though he still is listed on the Board of Directors.

To further substantiate Polstein’s affiliation with these preservation groups, one must examine his vocabulary. I did mentiion he was articulate. It is rife with key phrases such as “ ecotourism, gateway, sustainability, resource space, vision, conspriacy theory, and my favorite, value-added spectrum (?). And the list goes on - but all can be found in an instructional workbook issued by TWS in their effort to win public support and approval of their organization.

Yes, the people have voted him into the office of town councilor. Unfortunately for our community, Polstein speaks a “good speak” but his actions do not necessarily agree with his spoken word. I did mention that he was articulate. His voting record and persuasive tactics have resulted in Millinocket’s inability to “move forward” (another catch phrase) economicallly due to his and MAGIC’s efforts to discourage the manufacturing sector. This in turn has jeopartized the financial stability of Millinocket.

In support of theis assumption, I offer the following. Under the auspices and support from Polstein and MAGIC, two manufacturing companies were indeed introduced to Millinocket.

Neither met with the citizens’ initial approval as seeming to be viable. The first was Brims Ness, a water sensor company which had been sustained for many, many years on grant monies but which still did not have a finished product. Brims Ness has now moved to Ohio, in search of further grant money, but not before leaving behind a $50,000 debt to Millinocket’s CBDG fund, plus another $250.000 debt for a state grant/loan, a payment which falls on Millinocket. The second is Allagash Valve and Control which set up its primay business in Medway, a neighboring town, but wishing to expand has instead incurred another $250,000 state grant/loan, with the responsibility for payment left solely on the Millinocket taxpayers, and which appears to be going in the same direction.

Then we have the issue of annexation which Polstein adamantly opposes. Citizens and other councilors offered the annexation proposal in an effort to enlarge Millinocket’s physical boundaries (we are a small town in area). This hopefully would have allowed for the possible introduction or expansion of manufacturing or retail facilities and would have enlarged our tax base which is made up primarilly of retirees on fixed incomes and which was precipitated by the mill’s reduced workforce. None of these reasons appealed to Polstein since they would have interfered with the plan to establish his business in “unorganized territory” thereby allowing him to avoid paying taxes to Millinocket and reduce his tax liability. The annexation also ran counter to the views of the current mill with whom Polstein was in negotiations, behind closed doors I might add, in an effort to purchase the land upon which he wishes to build his resort.

Perhaps the most contentious point has been his ability to engineer an option to purchase 1450 acres from Katahdin Paper Company. Again, this runs counter to Millinocket’s heritage and culture. For years camp owners have leased land from the various paper companies. The accelerated costs associated with those leases, along with the many changes in the lease agreements themselves, prompted these property owners (camps are indeed property) to express their desire to purchase their lots, onlyto be informed “the company” has NO land for sale.

Why then has it been made possible for Polstein to purchase 1450 acres, conveniently left out of the TNC easements? Could it be because of “undue influence” when voting on issues that favor that company regardless of the ramifications to the town of Millinocket? Isn’t that a “conflict of interest”?

And yet there is still more! Although Polstein compliments our municipal airport, there is no mention that he has been a driving force behind his ambitious plan to have our town’s financial contribution upgrade that very airport, designed only to accommodate his needs, and to make an investment in a shuttle bus service ultimately geared to transport guests to his resort.

Nor is there mention of his ongoing efforts to gain Millinocket’s support in enlisting the services of Maine’s D. O. T. to improve conditions of State Highway #157, which will lead to his complex. Now, one can compliment him on his business acumen, but one could also assume he expects the taxpayers to absorb the peripheral costs of making his dream come to fruition. Quite a concept! and all for the privilege of low paying jobs and a loss of the very same peace and tranquility that he intends to offer his paying customers from outside the area, at a sacrifice, of the same, for the camp owners of the area who will be impacted by his resort.

On a more personal note, I’ll conclude with the “other side” of his view of Millinocket’s citizenry which is both misleading and insulting. This, in relation to the hate mail he has reportedly received, which took exception to his Jewish background, and which he contends came from the local populace. He failed to mention that the postmarks on that correspondence was from far outside the state and while they were supposedly received a year prior, were not publicized until shortly before his last run for the council seat. With that in mind, might he have been seeking a sympathy vote? If so, it seems his strategy worked. Over the years Millinocket has entertained several business owners of Jewish descent. Never have the people stooped to the level that Polstein suggests. Food for thought! Polstein has also described the business climate of our town to be “hostile” and concluded he might consider taking his business elsewhere. With his stated view of our town and its people, maybe that would be best for all concerned.

As mentioned earlier, Polstein may come across as energetic and articulate, his record contradicts this perception. Rather, it shows him to be cold, calculating and self serving and should he NOT want ecotourism to be a dirty word in the North Woods, he and his preservation groups could start by respecting the rights of those who have lived here all their lives, rather than forcing major changes that run counter to their culture and heritage.

I also realize the purpose of your magazine is to spotlight MAINE people striving to accomplish positive things for MAINE. I would suggest you be more selective and investigate more thoroughly before you make that choice in the future.

Alyce Maragus, Millinocket, Maine

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Letters to the Editor are most welcome and even encouraged! Email or send it via USPS to PO Box 788, Kingman, ME 04451.

We do publish anonymous letters to the editor, or those signed with a pseudonym.


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