2016-10-21 / Letters

Election Letters

To the editor:

This is the time of year when people from all over the country – even people from all over the world – visit Maine. In the past two weeks, we hosted friends and family from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Iowa. All of our visitors were enthralled by Maine’s fall splendor. It is always a joy to share Maine whose natural resources are second to none.

But as Mainers know, if we do not work to protect our air, land, and water, this too shall pass. We took several of our visitors on a lobster boat tour and learned how vulnerable the lobster industry is to even slightly warmer temperatures of the oceans waters in southern Maine. Global warming threatens Maine’s most notable industry.

Diane Denk, candidate for House District 9 (Kennebunkport and parts of Kennebunk and Biddeford), believes in science. Diane feels that turning a blind eye to our dependence on fossil fuels is harmful to our environment and to the future of Maine. She knows that finding alternate sources of energy such as wind and solar not only will protect our resources, but also will create much needed green jobs for Mainers.

The Sierra Club endorsed Diane’s candidacy because she believes that above all else, we will have nothing if we do not look to the future and care for our state. She supports environmental education as a key component in the curriculum of our schools. I care deeply about the future of our great state and that is why I am voting for Diane Denk on Election Day.

Penelope Gruen
Kennebunkport

To the editor:

Why would anyone who believes in the U.S. Constitution violate free speech rights by destroying my Clinton/Kaine lawn signs? Trampling on our First Amendment will not Make America Great Again.

Alan Adams
Kennebunk

To the editor:

On Nov. 8, we will have the opportunity to vote on three non-binding questions initiated by a group of citizens. These questions are pertaining to the ongoing discussion of whether or not the three dams should be maintained or removed.

Unfortunately the questions are not as simple as that as there is no cost analysis behind any of these questions resulting in what one would call a moot point. This means voters will not truly be informed to make the right decision and instead we are left with voting based on emotion.

Question 5 is asking whether the town of Kennebunk should be responsible for “maintaining and improve the existing conditions along the Mousam River.”

This question is asking for all residents of Kennebunk including those not customers of KLP and those living on the river to share the financial burden, a.k.a., tax, that will be involved.

Responding yes to 5 will mean an increase in taxes for all residents for something that should not be a priority to the town. We have already taken on a large tax hike for financing a renovated high school and we have major infrastructure maintenance ongoing and last but not least, emergency services that are vital to our thriving community. Where does having the town finance dams fit into this picture? Question 6 is specifically asking that the town hold additional voting for “any, and/or all of the following questions before the trustees of the Kennebunk Light and Power District makes a final decision on them.”

This means that a referendum would need to take place each and every time that the trustees make any kind of decision.

Do we truly understand the cost of having a referendum? What is the point of having trustees?

Kyle Wittet
Kennebunk

To the editor:

I was born and raised in Biddeford. I left in 1977 to pursue my education and returned in 1988, having attained my degree in dentistry. I was extremely pleased to see that the community had voted to supplement our community drinking water with fluoride.

As a dental student and as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force, I had seen the benefits of fluoridation.

I had also been exposed to the myths surrounding fluoridation. As a dentist, a citizen and a consumer, I have never seen anything written or said that would make me question the benefits of fluoridation. It is therefore very disheartening that the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District is again trying to remove optimum levels of fluoride from those consumers served by their district.

I encourage those voters affected by this referendum to get the information on water fluoridation. Speak to your dentist, physician, or trusted health care providers and get the true facts. Then vote yes on fluoride this November.

Dean G. Tourigny
Biddeford

To the editor:

Jay Kilbourn definitely has the brain, heart and courage to send the Wizard of Oz packing. His opponent for State Senate District 34 mostly serves as a rubber stamp for LePage. Jay’s experience and leadership skills are what we need to unite clear thinkers on both sides of the aisle to act to create new jobs through innovative technology. That’s using his brain.

Experience builds and empowers the brain. As regional vice president of Casella Resource Solutions, president of the board of trustees at Kennebunk Light and Power, founding member of Solar Association of Maine, to name a few, Jay Kilbourn has a resume a mile long. This gives him the business leadership brain we need to unite excellent minds across the aisle into action for creating new jobs through innovative technology.

His heart will help enrich and protect the environment and all of us from children to seniors. He understands that protecting our environmental resources, developing renewable energy, and investing in the education of our children is a key to our financial future. He has volunteered as school board member for our area and for No Place Like Home.

Finally, he has the courage to take on the rusty, shortsighted, established concept that we will be wealthier spending less in taxes rather than investing in the growth of our assets and our future.

As an economics major, I know that growth in jobs and innovation will reduce each individual’s future taxes and enrich our lives.

No need to follow the yellow brick road. Just vote for Jonathan “Jay” Kilbourn.

Ann Legg
Kennebunkport

To the editor:

By now you have heard the endless stories that the Mousam River dams are rundown and decrepit, too expensive to repair. The drop off in production seems to have accelerated in recent years, to the point that they are only producing about 30 percent of what they could, and far below the average of 2.4 million Kwh from 2002-2006. The year 2015 was a mere million.

The drop off seems to have accelerated in the last few years under the current board.

Most of the 46-year analysis by Wright- Pierce is based on these new low levels of production with little thought given to bring them back to their much higher historical levels.

Wright-Pierce was hired at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to analyze the various options over five years ago. They produced three different versions of numbers in November 2015 and March and May of 2016.

With each successive version the cost of keeping the dams was higher and disposition was cheaper.

The March report was the only report (including the subsequent GZA review) that showed a breakdown by ratepayer per year. So much talk has been of the millions it will cost (increases with each report), but little of the net cost.

If you look at the spreadsheet in the GZA report (KLP.org) released just days before the June vote, there is a line called equivalent revenues. This quantifies what it will cost to purchase replacement energy if the dams are gone. Another terms for this might be savings to the consumer. We have heard about the cost of keeping the dams but little of the offsetting dollars.

It is much like telling folks about Obamacare and not mentioning the premium tax credit. Next time you hear $16 million to keep the dams, remember that is only part of the story. After the May report was found to have flaws, GZA was hired at a cost of $6,300 to do a quick three-week review of WP’s work. It has been stated that the three ballot questions have no numbers to back them up. In the last few months, Mr. Copeland, Mr. Kolff and trustee Bartalucci did present their own independent numbers.

All showed the net cost to be a few dollars per month or less per ratepayer.

Notice on Pages 2 and 3 of the GZA report:

 Upgrades to the generation equipment at all three dams could potentially increase the present annual value of the energy (savings) to between $200,000 to $300,000 – this is way above the $114,000 shown in the report. I thought the dams were beyond repair? Hmmm.

 The inflation assumptions that quantify the savings to consumer indicate they believe electricity will rise by just 2.4 percent total by 2040; this while all other costs to rise 2 percent per year. Believeable?

 GZA suggested a revised dam removal cost that was over a $1 million higher than WP.

* Mr. Flynn (Oct. 7, Kennebunk Post) cited a study that Kesslen would only last 36 years. Nothing is mentioned by GZA on that point.

I understand that many are concerned about the costs. Many feel that the studies have not been objective, you are not getting the whole story. Something seems terribly wrong that just a few board members can make such a drastic decision for the whole town. If the dams were such money losers they would have been shut down decades ago.

True, no firm has made an offer yet, but two firms have shown an interest. They wouldn’t do that unless there was a profit to be made.

Finally, when voting, think about what the river has looked like during the recent drought. A preview of coming attractions?

How many potential tourists will just keep driving north?

Ward Hansen
Kennebunk

To the editor:

In few weeks Kennebunk will vote on questions 5, 6 and 7, non-binding referendums on the Mousam River dams. Not mentioned in the questions is that a yes vote would mean a multi-million dollar expense for the citizens of Kennebunk.

There is a lot of emotion and misinformation surrounding the Mousam River dams. Fortunately, the Kennebunk Light and Power trustees are steadily working through the facts. Isn’t that what we expect of trustees, especially when millions of dollars of ratepayer money is at stake?

To provide facts the trustees commissioned an engineering study by one of Maine’s most reputable engineering firms, and then just to double-check they hired a second firm to review it. I appreciate their caution and thoroughness. The study shows that relicensing and necessary improvements to the hydro dams to continue generation could cost from $4,088,500 to $5,662,000.

The dams are already costing ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. In September, KLPD trustees reported that so far this year the dams cost $100,026 more to operate than they generated in power. They also provided an analysis showing that generating power on the Mousam River cost ratepayers $336,023 over the five years from 2010-2015.

Some folks favor the dams because they provide clean energy, but does it make sense to invest millions to lose money each year? Some say that Mousam dams should be upgraded to generate more electricity, but does this make the financial situation better? No.

In 2015, the governor’s energy office hired an expert in hydropower to prepare an independent analysis of hydro expansion opportunities.

That report shows that the Kesslen dam can be upgraded to produce one third more power, some $33,000 worth per year, but with an investment of $1,090,226. Add the costs mentioned above ($4-5 million) and that’s a lot of money for little return.

Kennebunkers, please before you vote on questions 5,6 and 7, consider the facts. They are available on www.KLPD.org or www.mousamriver.com.

Curtis Mildner
Kennebunk

To the editor:

Last June many local residents were perplexed as they exited the voting booths as to the location on the ballot of the question concerning the Kennebunk Light and Power District’s decision to pursue the relicensing and/or removal of three hydroelectric dams on the Mousam River. Citizens left confused and many were angered to learn that there was to be no public vote on the future of the Mousam River, a river that runs through the heart of our community.

Since June, a grassroots group of community members have been working to put the issue before voters allowing the community to have a measure of local opinion. On Nov. 8, residents will be asked three non-binding questions. This will be our community’s voice and not the voices from outside that we have been reading and hearing from. The three questions are as follows:

Question 4 - Do you favor the Kennebunk Light and Power District continuing to invest in hydropower generation facilities along the Mousam River?

Question 5 - Do you favor the town of Kennebunk maintaining and improving the existing conditions along the Mousam River, in particular, mill pond areas and water levels sufficient to allow the continuation of existing recreational activities, by keeping the Dane Perkins, Twine Mill and Kesslen dams in place, whether or not said dams continue to generate hydropower?

Question 6 - Do you want the opportunity to vote on any, and/or all of the following questions before the Trustees of the Kennebunk Light and Power District make a final decision on them: whether the Dane Perkins Dam, Twine Mill, and/or Kesslen Dam should continue to generate hydropower, remain in place, and/or be removed?

Each of these questions can give our community a measure of what is desired for the future of our river, our dams and local hydro-generation without the interference of regulatory agencies, special interest groups and out of town voices.

This is our opportunity to weigh in with an opinion on how we would like to go forward as a community. They are questions community members have wanted to be asked. There is no mention of money to be spent in the questions because citizens are not being asked to spend money.

The folks behind those vote no on questions 4, 5 and 6 would have voters believe the questions are asking for approval of spending millions and that is just not the case.

I would like to add that if you only know the Mousam River below the dams, where it is tidal, or only have seen her shores from the Route 1 or the Mill Street bridges, you are missing a local gem. The river runs right through the heart of our town, yet remains a hidden secret from most. The beauty of what lies hidden along her banks is reserved mostly for those property owners that abut her. I invite all to take a walk out to the river.

The Kennebunk Land Trust owns several parcels that offer access at Spiller Drive, Mill Street and Twine Mill Road. There is more to come.

In June of 2015, voters approved funding to help KLT purchase 111 acres that include 1 mile of impounded, uninhabited river frontage. That access will open unsurpassed recreational opportunities along the Mousam. Today, you can launch a kayak at Mill Street even during this historic drought. The mill ponds, although lowered, are full of water and deep, which cannot be said for most of our local free flowing rivers. To experience the peaceful tranquility of the Mousam above the dams, you may wonder why anyone would want to take down the dams and rush her out to sea.

Imagine how our river would be dramatically changed with the maximum predicted depth of 1-2 feet and a maximum width of 8 feet if the dams are removed. Although the future of the Mousam River still remains uncertain, she is unique and unlike any other local river because of those dams and I urge all residents to let their voices be heard on how we want to proceed as a community that a river runs right through the heart of.

Paula Hoffman
Kennebunk

To the editor:

My dog Caisy, a beautiful Airedale terrier, died this summer. The last two years of her life she had to be on pain medication because she was hurting so much.

Not only did she have joint problems and back inflammation, she had had two ACL surgeries when she was 7. I have learned that over time, animals can be crippled from drinking artificially fluoridated water. Fluoride is bioaccumulative, so in most cases it takes a long time for symptoms of crippling skeletal fluorosis to appear after a pet or a person has been drinking artificially-fluoridated water for a period of years. The most common result in humans is hip fracture in older ages. I am wondering if Caisy’s joint problems could have been prevented if I had given her non-fluoridated drinking water all those years she was with me.

In two more weeks another beautiful terrier is coming to live with me, and I am going to have to buy non-fluoride water to drink.

Please vote no on fluoride this November so none of us have to worry about ingesting too much fluoride over time from our drinking water.

Carolyn Spear
Kennebunk

To the editor:

Almost like a rematch between Mike Jordan and Dan Bartilucci for the KLPD Board of Trustees back in June when Bartilucci won a landslide victory based on his strong stand to keep the dams and preserve the Mousam, we now have a clear choice between Jay Kilbourn and Ron Collins for state Senate — with Kilbourn orchestrating the demolition of the dams and our independent source of hydropower even while presiding over the KLPD, and Sen. Collins who wants to keep and maintain them.

Personal integrity and accountability that in turn earns the public trust and confidence are the most valuable affirmations anyone can be afforded who is willing to serve as a public official.

These high ideals were assumed and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution when our founding fathers established a new form of government based on the rule of law rather than the whims of monarchs and forged a limited government that follows the will of the people so that personal freedoms would be safeguarded and a durable Union guaranteed.

We fought a Revolution in order to have this, and two world wars to preserve this. No matter what you think about Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal (pale compared to the high crimes and misdemeanors committed by some of our recent or current candidates), at least he was willing to face the unprecedented dishonor and disgrace of resigning the presidency based solely on the inescapable realization that he had lost the public trust. Nearly 50 years later, the lesson for us remains the same: character still matters.

Dedicated to the interests of the rabid river liberation lobbyists in our state in conjunction with his manipulation of the mission and management of the KLPD, Kilbourn in my estimation fails to merit the public trust. Slick and smooth to be sure, but shrewd and determined to deliver the goods for his like-minded circle of friends who undoubtedly got him elected to the KLPD in the first place, Kilbourn is driving his own, personal agenda. In comparison, Collins has honorably and effectively served multiple terms as our representative in Augusta.

Far from being an elitist who presumes to know what is best for us and the entire planet, I have found Collins to be attentive, sincere, and responsive to all the people in our district and their collective interests and perspectives for the common good. Collins takes a genuine interest in the people he represents.

Collins is a man who listens to what is important to us and then acts on it. As a sensible conservative, he wants to preserve, protect, and perpetuate all that we have inherited from those who have gone before us and the communities they established. As one who is also enterprising and proactive, he also works hard to cultivate the potential in our communities so that we will continue to enjoy their benefits in the present and extend them to our children in the future.

Please join me in re-electing Ron Collins for state senator to make sure that the candidate representing us in Augusta will be the one who will be an advocate for all of us, not just a few of us.

Shawn Teague
Kennebunk

To the editor:

Ranked choice voting is a sensible system to restore majority rule by giving Maine voters the power to rank their choice of candidates in future state and federal elections.

The status quo is not serving us well. In our current system, candidates are often elected by less than half the voters. In nine of the last 11 races for Maine’s governor, candidates were elected by less than half of voters; in 5 of those it was less than 40 percent.

Ranked choice voting allows the candidate with the most votes to win, so voters get what they want. If your favorite candidate can’t win, your vote is instantly counted for your second choice, so you never feel like your vote is wasted. With ranked choice voting, you never have to vote for the lesser of two evils when there is another candidate you really like.

Regarding costs, Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes states, “Question 5 proposes the most cost-effective and efficient process to conduct run-offs, when necessary, to restore majority rule in Maine elections.”

Question 5 is a nonpartisan issue: 73,000 Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens and Libertarians across Maine signed petitions to place this initiative on the November ballot. Please talk to friends and family about what ranked choice voting is and why it matters. Learn more at YesOn5.me.

Jacki West
Kennebunk

To the editor:

I really worry that we are leaving our children and subsequent generations a very bleak future.

Our collective refusal to address climate change has already resulted in extreme weather events that disrupt food production and threaten lives and property.

Our economy seems to be designed to saddle most people with debt and little reason to hope for a brighter future. It is easy to be cynical and discouraged that things will change.

Over the summer I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with Jonathan Kilbourn several times as he campaigns for the Maine Senate District 34 seat and this gives me hope.

Jay, as he is widely known, will bring 21stcentury ideas to Augusta and is committed to ending legislative gridlock by working with all parties to address Maine’s energy, economic and environmental concerns.

Jay has business experience as a former regional vice president for a major recycling company, and will bring first hand knowledge of energy needs, as the current President of the Board of Trustees at Kennebunk Light and Power District and as a founding member of Solar Association of Maine.

His impressive record of volunteering for many community and non-profit organizations shows that he has a commitment to public service and a concern for social needs.

A short letter to the editor doesn’t allow for a full list of Jay’s credentials and accomplishments, but more can be learned at his website, www.kilbournforsenate.org.

I can say that meeting Jay has been like a welcomed spring breeze that brings hope for the future. Maine Senate District 34, representing the towns of Acton, Kennebunk, Lebanon, North Berwick, Wells and part of Berwick, would do well to be represented by Jonathan Kilbourn who really does have the energy to move Maine forward.

Michael Wright
Berwick

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