From : Governor
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 8:50 AM
To. Stearns, Alan
Cc: McGownn, Patrick K; Davies, Richard
Subject: I need your advice
David Bright has sent me this memo. I think his intention was for me to talk these points to the Governor. As the Governor knows David well, and I have passed many memos from David to the Governor, (although, none quite so blunt as this one). I'm not sure if I.should just give this to John or rework it (soften) and would welcome thoughts from all of you as you are players in this issue. Lennie
----- Original Message-----
From: David Bright [mailto:dbright@BrightBerryFarm.cam]
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 8:38 AM
Subject: Sears Island talking points
Both the Republicans and the Democrats seem more concerned about the 2006 governor's race than about doing the right thing for Sears Island. The Republicans have hired a guy from Portland who wants to be the G0P gubernatorial nominee again to drive two hours a day each way to his Bush-Cheney office in Bangor. The targets there are not so much one dinky electoral vote for Bush as they are 2nd district name recognition for Cianchette and an attempt to dump Mike Michaud.
As for the Democratic side, Id heard about a month or so ago talk that John might make Sears Island a campaign issue in 2006, announcing it will not be developed. Doing that in 2006 would immediately be seen as a sleazy attempt to win over same environmental votes. His sincerity would be suspect the minute he mentioned it.
Beyond that, if he doesn't take the lead in this in the next few weeks he will have to be content to follow. As I hope his office knows, last Saturday, (5/15) the people of Searsport voted a 6-month moratorium on development at Sears Island. One of the purposes of that is to give people in the REGION, not just Searsport, time to organize an initiative petition drive to take Sears Island away from the Department of Transportation, give it Marine Resources, rename it a preserve using the Indian name for the island, which escapes me now, and dedicate it to study and research of the estuarine environment. It wouldn't be a state park with lots of people and cars and camp fires. There would be no development, except perhaps a solar-powered rest roam facilities right at the end of the causeway (one plan even has the causeway coming out to restore the clam flats).
Basically people are really tired of seeing all these schemes coming down for development of the island, and they think Angus King and John Baidacci was/is being really stupid to continue to listen to people about them. Simply put, John is getting some seriously bad advice on this from, I suspect, people who stand to gain financially if they can convince him to give up the island for development.
As for LNG specifically, it's just a dumb idea. It's one more scheme of
"put the danger and the pollution threat in this part of Maine so folks
in Portland and Boston can heat their swimming pools," as I heard from a
70-year-old guy the other day while I was gassing up at the Troy General
Store. Simply put, there's a core of about two dozen white men in
Searsport (likely all Republicans who wouldn't vote for John anyway) who
stand to profit substantially if any kind of development is put onto
Sears Island. Then there's the tens of thousands of people who work
and/or play on Penobscot Bay whose activities will be seriously disrupted if an LNG plants comes into the region.
The lead in the BDN story last Saturday about the Baldacci/Collins Homeland security deal at UMO was that Maine doesn't have a Sears Tower, Golden Gate Bridge or other big terrorist target. I must admit that when I read that lead my first thought was "Maine will have, if Baldacci lets that LNG plant be built on Sears Island."
I would strongly urge you to dig out the two Belfast newspapers from about three weeks ago and read the coverage about the letter the Waldo County Commissioners sent to the governor (a letter that, based on the form letter they got back from Commissioner Cole in Transportation, people in Waldo County don't believe John ever saw, let alone read).
A major concern is that Maine does not have anywhere near the financial resources needed to protect an LNG facility here. In an ironic twist, the county commissioners took up the wording of the letter and whether to send it on the same day they discussed the fact that the state had sent them a bunch of metal detectors for the court house but had provided no personnel to run them. That topic came up during the discussion of the public safety aspects of an LNG plant and was duly reported in the press. The general consensus here is that the only way Maine could protect an LNG plant on Sears Island would be to seriously and permanently disrupt commerce and free enterprise in and around Penobscot Say.
I should also note that the,day after the Homeland security meeting was the Searsport special town meeting at which voters, by a NINE to ONE margin, passed the six-month moratorium on development on Sears Island. Searsport voters that day also passed, but a much narrower 55 to 45 percent margin, including Searsport in one of John's Pine Tree Zones - BUT ONLY AFTER FIRST AMENDING THE VOTE TO EXCLUDE SEARS ISLAND FROM THE PROPOSED ZONE.
In any event, there will be petition gatherers at the polling places in November, if not in June (I'd guess November after the proposed bill is well vetted) who I guarantee you will quickly gather enough signatures to place on a ballot a bill to take the island away from the developers.
This will turn out to be as big a political deal as the Bigelow Preserve. If John acts now to do the same thing he will gain all the credit for this. If he sits on his hands and lets his handlers and the lobbyists who hang out in his office debate over what to do, he'll lose either way.
From what I've heard, the petition drive will be announced later this
spring or early summer. At that point it will be too late for John to show any leadership on this.
So here's my suggestion:
He make this decision himself, after locking out of the roam all those people who whisper bad things in his ear a1) the time. He decides whether maintaining the last major undeveloped island along Maine's 3,000 mile coast line is worth preserving for use as a preserve and science and research facility.
If he decides that's not the right thing to do, that's his decision.
But if he decides it is the right thing to do he should use his speech at the Democratic Convention to announce a major policy initiative on the preservation of the island. If he is afraid to just come out and protect the island on his own, he should at least announce that he'll sponsor the bill for a referendum on protecting Sears Island from development. But it would be much stronger if for once he took the leadership role and said he was just going to do it. I'd personally be much happier if he took at least one bold stand on something his first term all by himself.
He should announce the island management is immediately being transferred to Marine Resources (I like them better than conservation because of the Bigelaw Lab connection) or to the UM Sea Grant program. But in any event he needs to get it out of the hands of any state agency with an eye towards developing it -- either as a factory or as a playground.
One of the big criticisms he'll get is that Sears Island is surrounded by industrial development, what with Mack Point and the chemical plant. so that it's not a beautiful pristine place. My answer is "Take a walk around the perimeter of New York's Central Park. That view isn't pristine, either, but no one's talking about plunking an LNG plant down in the middle of it." (well, I'm sure there are developers who dream about that, but the people wouldn't stand for it.)
And as for LNG and homeland security, here's some phrasing I wrote that John can use:
"Maine does not have the financial or personnel resources to protect an LNG plant. To properly do that would involve 24-hour surveillance. It would require restrictions of air and sea space, electronic monitoring of the property boundaries, visual inspection of all highway traffic moving in the vicinity, and constant patrol of the waters around the facility, both on the surface and under water.
"There is only one spot in Maine where these security measures are in
place. So I guess if the people who live at Walker's Point in
Kennebunkport would like an LNG facility built on their property, we should allow it there."
John needs to stand big and bold on this. He has a chance to make a real difference in Maine for the rest of its days, or he can just cower in the shadow of those who would develop every inch of Maine just to make a buck.
He can be remembered like Jock McKernan or Angus King, or he can be remembered like Percival Baxter.
[END OF MEMO]