Email exchange between Gordon Weil and Burr Taylor

I  was offended by Selectman Weil's irrational rant during the Selectman's announcements during tonight's meeting (2/19/04). I was particularly concerned when he included  the local websites among the media whose (in his approximate words) "obvious bias  against the project undermine any claims to objectivity." I believe there is plenty on non-objectivity to go around, including the Selectmen (Did you notice that neither selectmen complained about those speaking for the project -even though their comments related to Len Freeman's program not the selectmen. Len Freeman's comments were appropriately, and politely directed to the Selectmen. Mr. Weil looked at the rules as Len Freeman came to speak. I wonder if he was looking for a pretext to call Len out of order.)

Therefore, I am publishing an exchange of email Selectman Weil and I had during the last couple of weeks. In the space at the right I have put some comments about the messages.. www.Harpswell.info (by implication) as one of. I think it helps to put Mr. Weil's comments in perspective.

If anyone has a comment about this discussion, I will be happy to add them. I have no desire to make unfair comments about Mr. Weil.

From: Burr Taylor

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 11:02 PM

To: Gordon Weil

Subject: Harpswell Per capita income

Gordon,

I am wondering where you get your data on per capita income. This is the 2000 Census.

According to the 2000 census the following towns had the following per capita income: Harpswell - $30,433, Bowdoin - $17,260; Bowdoinham - $17,260; Topsham - $21,135; West Bath - $23,022; Brunswick - $20,322; Freeport - $27,724.

This is much different from what you asserted.

Burr

 

 

I thought I was making a simple point about a misstatement Mr. Weil had made. It turned out differently.

From: Gordon Weil

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 11:53 PM

To: Burr Taylor

Subject: Re: Harpswell Per capita income

Burr

I do not recall making any such assertion. I have never spoken of per capita income but of median family income.

Here are the 2000 census data:

                       Family         Per Capita

 

Harpswell       40,611         30,433

Bowdoin        53,250          29,257

Bowdoinham 42,687          17,260

Topsham        47,682         21,135

 

At this hour, I will limit myself to SAD 75. I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question, but I would also appreciate your being clear on what I said. As you may know, Harpswell is said to be the town with the greatest income disparity of any town in the state.

We should not overlook those families with incomes below the median.

Gordon


First, of course, he denies  remembering saying it. As it says in the next message, I heard it, two of my neighbors heard it and John Floccher. Mr. Floccher used it as an example of a FACT, in a public meeting. He had his facts wrong.

Then, Mr. Weil says he think I should be clear. In fact, I was clear about what he said. On the other hand Mr. Weil was not clear.

Then he tells me not to overlook people with below median income. Hello!! why is he telling me this.

From: Burr Taylor

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 7:09 AM

To: 'Gordon Weil'

Subject: RE: Harpswell Per capita income

 

Gordon,

I thought I was being clear. That was what I thought I heard at the Selectman's meeting. I checked the tape of the hearing and apparently Mr. Floccher heard the same (per capita income) as I did. I am glad you meant (or said) median family income.

I said nothing to suggest that we should overlook people with incomes below the median. For what it is worth I was chair of the affordable housing subcommittee of the Comprehensive Plan and wrote the first draft of its recommendations.

Burr


 

From: Burr Taylor

Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 8:04 PM

To: 'Gordon Weil'

Subject: RE: Harpswell Per capita income

Gordon,

I happened to hear your discussion of this issue at the Selectmen's meeting (1/29/04) a few moments ago. I would like to make a few clarifications, not so much because they are important substantively, but I am bothered by some of your remarks.

I have no doubt now that you meant median family income - and that should have been the end of it.

However, I also have no doubt that you said per capita income. This is corroborated by John Floccher and my neighbors.

I was clear as to what you said, I think , and do not appreciate your related comment below. I did not appreciate your comment at the meeting which said I interpreted it as per capita income. I do not know why you felt a need to tell me that "We should not overlook those families with incomes below the median."

I noticed that at the Selectmen's meeting you appeared to use median family and median household income interchangeably. I do not think that was correct. There is a significant difference between family and household. Please see chart below.

 

 

MEDIAN EARNINGS IN 1999 (dollars):

 

 

COMMON NAME

Per capita income

Male

Female

Median household income

Median family income

Brunswick

$20,322

$32,141

$24,927

$40,402

$49,088

Bath

$19,112

$35,064

$22,439

$36,372

$45,830

Bowdoin

$17,260

$32,975

$22,025

$42,687

$46,094

Bowdoinham

$21,118

$33,322

$28,810

$44,779

$52,372

Topsham

$21,135

$35,943

$25,581

$47,682

$52,134

Harpswell

$30,433

$34,167

$30,000

$40,611

$45,119

I do not understand why Harpswell's male and female earnings are so relatively high, but it is interesting, and the chart does show a difference between family and household income.

I do not want to belabor this issue. Suffice it to say that this example explains why I find it difficult to discuss issues with you as a selectman. I could provide other examples, but hopefully this serves the purpose.

Incidentally, it saddens me that you feel my site (www.harpswell.info) only has negative comments, and that you would be massacred there. You may or may not know that I spoke up very strongly for you at the horrible FairPlay meeting a long time ago. I have also worked hard to moderate any comments that are on my site. I admit a couple slipped through.

Please, I do not want this message to start anything, but felt it was important to express my opinion to one of my Selectmen.

Burr


This sort starts a new set of emails on the same subject.

Whoops! It turns out he really did not mean median family income. As he says in the next message, he mean median household income

Note: He was still not able to admit that he had mistakenly said per capita income. The mistake was due to my interpretation - and by implication John Floccher's and my neighbors' misinterpretation.

And I thought this would be a simple email.

 

 

 

 

Prior to a public meeting I had asked him how he felt about giving me a comment about his candidacy. It was then that he said he thought he would be massacred on my site, and made another unfair (I thought) comment about the site. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to defend my sense of fairness by saying I had spoken up for him and for moderate talk in Harpswell.

From: Gordon Weil

Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 1:36 PM

To: Burr Taylor

Subject: Re: Harpswell Per capita income

Burr,

First, I regret that you find it difficult to communicate with me.  I shall try to do better.

Second, I may have said "per capita" and, if so, it was not a conscious slip of the tongue. I have always been referring to household income.  With respect to "family income", that I did say and was mistaken to do so and should adhere strictly to "median household income".

The point in mentioning this is that in SAD 75, I am concerned that other towns would be unwilling to discuss the funding formula in the mistaken belief that Harpswell is a town that can well afford the inequitable distribution of school costs.  We have a considerable number of households with incomes that make it difficult for them to pay for SAD 75 related taxes, as the district represents about 60 per cent of the total Town budget.  I am glad to say that the income numbers (and the per student costs) appear to have made some impression on the other towns.

With regard to your website, I recognize that you have tried very hard to keep it open to all views and to make it a public service.  I also agree that you certainly are entitled to allow anyone to post materials without your editorial control.   Because it seems that the majority of comments have been about LNG and in opposition to it in Harpswell, some people have chosen to regard the site as in itself biased and more a forum for opponents that a place where they will be comfortable placing comments.  I (and the other selectmen) have tried to provide the best possible lease, while recognizing that the judgment is up to the Town.  We have been the subject, from time to time, of criticism, which appears to me to go outside of the bounds of reason and honesty.  I believe that some of that has appeared on your website.

As a selectman, I have no made any comments in any forum on the LNG matter except, with the other selectmen to the press, and to individuals.  As a candidate for selectman, as I told you, I would accept a invitation from you to state on your website my position on issues and to discuss my interest and qualifications for the job.

I hope this message can clarify matters somewhat and look forward to being in touch with you again.

Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Finally, we have settled on median household income.

 

Good explanation.

 

 

Good beginning!

I never said I did or wanted allow anyone post anything without my editorial control. As many contributors know, I exercise moderate control

I have put this statement red, because red is what I see when I read it. He provides no examples or evidence. He just believes. In Germany (which he cited in his rant) one would have said "I believe a Jew did it." In the South, it would have been "I believe a Black did it."

Finally, he emphatically denies making any comments, etc. He has to correct that, too.

Gordon,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I agree that Harpswell's standing as far as median household income is an important point with reference to MSAD 75.

You make a number of other comments, however, that I am concerned about.

For example:

We have been the subject, from time to time, of criticism, which appears to me to go outside of the bounds of reason and honesty.  I believe that some of that has appeared on your website.

What, if any, basis do you have for this belief. On the face of it, it does not appear to conform to your standard of reason and honesty. Incidentally, I did Google searches of my site for "Weil," "Knight," and "selectmen." I did not find anything "beyond the bounds."  Of course, rhetoric and frustration can up the ante of some participants. I think I have already told you that I have returned several messages for the writers to reconsider.

As a selectman, I have no made any comments in any forum on the LNG matter except, with the other selectmen to the press, and to individuals.

Perhaps, I can jog your memory a bit. Very soon after Fairwinds was announced and before FairPlay was formed, there was a meeting held in Centennial Hall for people concerned about Fairwinds. I believe Mr. Knight attended a meeting of the fishermen at West Harpswell School that same night. You sat one or two rows behind where I was sitting. You were on the left side of the Hall. You stood and made a comment about your position. I was appalled by the response of many in the room, particularly by a comment by Spike Haible which I found embarrassing. Spike sort of apologized. I had my hand up for a long time because I wanted to comment on the negative comments and was not called on.

After the meeting, I briefly mentioned to you on your way out that I thought the meeting was terrible. I, then, proceeded to the front and (with too much anger) told Phyllis Gamache ???????? that she had a responsibility to exercise more control over the meeting, and that the meeting itself was divisive and too full of unsubstantiated information.

I finally sent an invitation to provide information for www.harpswell.info.

Thank you for your patience.

Burr


No comment

Burr,

You are correct about my having said something at the pre-FairPlay meeting.  I do not recall having said anything relative to the substance of the matter, but rather said that I had been taking note of the comments and that the selectmen were open to receiving comments about LNG and the proposed lease.   To the best of my recollection, that is the only time that I have spoken at a public meeting without the other selectmen being present.

You are providing a public service with the website that you have begun, and I can appreciate your desire not to exercise editorial control over the material submitted for inclusion on the website.  The Phoenix article would seem to me to be libelous except for the fact that I am a public figure.  In that case, anything goes, but I am sure that you will recognize that I might dislike any medium which broadcast the inaccuracies, especially when it is prefaced with your words: "providing new details on the history of the Fairwinds Project, including the Selectmen's role".  That introduction might well give the reader the sense that you endorse the accuracy of the contents.

In any case, I have no interest in pursuing the matter any further, so will leave the fate of LNG to the voters.

Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 


He admits to making comments, but tries (I think) unsuccessfully to weasel out of what he said earlier. I think it is  interesting that he doesn't comment on my support of him and my efforts to change the tones of those opposed to the Venture.

Note that he goes back to saying I do not exercise editorial control.

Here I think is the core of this issue - he doesn't like the Phoenix article (see). While I can understand that, I do not know how I would have  known he doesn't. He never told me. If he had, I would have modified the comment - which I did after his message.

I couldn't ask him, because he did not want to pursue it any more.

Gordon

I recognize that you do not want to pursue this. I do wish you had mentioned this earlier. I have added a note to the link. I hope that is all right.

 

Burr