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
In that letter, Mr. Knight said he wants answers to three
1. Does the partnership between the two companies still
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
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
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
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!
Nice balanced commentary in your section.
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.
This is a copy of a letter to the Times Record that I've
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
The power to let Harpswell heal is in the selectmen's
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
Why continue the hurt? It's un-needed and unnecessary. The
selectmen have the power to heal.
They should use it.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Onward and upward,