Responses from the community on 2012 Referenda

Updated 2012-11-02. Views expressed are those of the authors.

Opinion: Vote NO on Question 4, an "investment in transportation infrastructure"

Contribution by Ridgely Fuller, October 2012

A closer look at the full text of the referendum suggests an agenda that isn't apparent from skimming the brief description on the ballot.

1. Which bridges and roads?

This "transportation" bond issue is ostensibly for the repair and reconstruction of bridges and roads, but the bond issue spells out that reconstruction and repair are limited to highways and bridges "considered vital to the expansion of business interests by the business and economic development sector."

Translation: This is a big step toward the reality of tar sands and fracked fossil fuel pipelines crossing Maine for export and the extraction of Maine natural resources of wood, water, and gravel for export. The bond wording opens these funds for development related to the Liquefied Petroleum Gas tank in Searsport, and the East-West Corridor bisecting Maine with an up to 2000-foot wide private transmission route.

2. What are they making room for?

The Maine Department of Transportation claims there's no connection between a massive LPG facility and the tax-payer funded dredging of the channel and "potential" port development on Sears Island. But the facility can't be built without dredging the Bay.

Translation: Our public tax dollars are paving the way for the construction of the 14-story LPG tank 120 yards from Route 1 in Searsport, permitting 40 to 140 tanker trucks daily on Routes 1 and 3.

3. Economic benefits?

The bond proposal throws us vague bones in the form of "public safety," "jobs," and "federal matching funds."

Translation: Mediflight improvement gets only $300,000 compared to more than $51 million for expanding business interests, and jobs creation is a sales tool, not a promise. Thanks But No Tank estimates only 10-12 highly specialized jobs (likely for imported, trained labor) may become permanent in Searsport due to the tank whereas a minimum of 45 could be lost just through the projected closing of a neighboring restaurant. The "job" hook in all these projects does not measure jobs lost.

We know "federal matching funds" are simply our taxpayer money--the corporate 1% looking to profit from taxes on the 99%.

4. Who's in charge?

The bond issue makes clear that the "business and economic development sector will determine projects of highest priority to the business and economic development sector." These priorities are not necessarily shared by the general public. Again, the bond's authors throw us a small bone: the creation of a stakeholder group to help develop the priority of the list with "members of the general public along with municipal, highway safety officials." But the bond issue doesn't outline the powers or the composition of such a group.

Translation: No citizen power!

Question 4?

Translation: The end of "Maine: The Way Life Should Be," as our state is despoiled by a private infrastructure system supporting fossil fuels and the extraction of our natural resources. Maine should not fall prey to development as a passageway to the sea for wood pellets and gravel from the North Woods, or for natural gas, LPG, and tar sands oil.