Poland Spring issue still boiling

It is unfortunate that you have chosen to give former law Professor Orlando Delogu what appears to be the final word on the issue of large water extractions in the town of Wells. He is long on pronouncements and short on insight, with a narrow lens through which he decides what is good for us and what is not.

Equally inappropriate is your headline for his April 27 column, which continues to muddy the issue of water extraction (“There’s no way Poland Spring could have depleted water in Wells”).

The professor seems to confuse the actions of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District trustees and those of the residents of the town of Wells. More than a year ago the trustees voted to table indefinitely the contract negotiated by their superintendent and representatives of Nestle/Poland Spring.

That contract would, indeed, have provided for substantial income to the water district, but the trustees, in their wisdom and in response to public sentiment, decided that revenue was not the single most important criterion in determining whether to do business with Nestle.

The contract was flawed and reflected little more than Nestle’s self-interest. Then there was the “small matter” of the district charter, which unambiguously stipulates that its water is only for its inhabitants.

The vote last fall by the citizens of Wells had nothing to do with a potential income stream from Nestle. We voted on an ordinance that would have allowed the town to permit and regulate large water extractions in the local aquifer. If it had passed, the town’s only revenue would have been minor and as a consequence of taxes on pipelines and loading facilities.

The water extractions would have occurred on private property, with private landowners profiting in accordance with their own contracts with private/corporate extractors. As the professor would say, statements to the contrary are false.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected the ordinance, preferring that large water extractions remain a non- permitted use. The question of whether there was sufficient water in the aquifer was a minor and peripheral issue, in contrast to what your paper suggests in its headline.

The central question was whether the town or a private corporation should control large water extractions. While it is true that the town writes its ordinances and enforces them, it is also true that large corporations can throw their weight around and unduly influence the permitting process.

Nestle/Poland Spring spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a multimedia blitz last fall to influence the election. Voters resented that action, and were rightfully concerned that the town might not be calling the shots with regard to large water extractions from its aquifer.

Was that an anti-corporate bias? Yes, and rightfully so. For the professor to suggest that such an attitude is inappropriate is, to use his word, ludicrous. The making of good public policy involves far more than weighing economic and scientific data, as he would have us believe.

Our beliefs about what makes for a good community are complex, and can’t be reduced to simplistic notions about what is objective and measurable. Some communities ban big-box stores, others do not. Some allow public nudity, others do not. Some permit corporations to extract their water, others do not.

Don’t lecture us on how we make our decisions, professor.

Joseph W. Hardy
Wells 

Since 1948, Hartt Transportation has been Maine-family owned and operated. We employ more than 500 full-time employees, and 150 of them work on the Poland Spring account, which represents $10 million a year in payroll.

These are good jobs — the average salary of our workers is about $67,000 per year, including full benefits. These jobs wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Poland Spring.

If some of the extremists who write letters in this paper are successful, 150 of my co-workers will be out of work, and maybe I will too. Hartt has made over $32 million in capital investments just to service the Poland Spring account.

That includes buying trucks, trailers and the parts to maintain them, all of which we purchased from other Maine companies and which help support Maine jobs.

From the dealerships to fuel stations to tire suppliers, there are hundreds of Mainers who have benefited from our partnership with Poland Spring. Maine needs more companies like Poland Spring.

We must reject anti-business crusaders who gleefully threaten a trusted Maine company and willfully jeopardize hundreds of good-paying jobs. Perhaps they have that luxury. Real Maine families do not.

Ricky Hughes
Terminal manager Hartt Transportation Systems
Auburn

Portland voters should turn down school budget 

On Friday, an editorial said, “Portland voters should support school budget.”

But I say they should vote “no” on Portland’s proposed school budget in today’s election. There are 3,000 votes needed to stop this proposal.

You received no increase in your paycheck last year if you work for the city of Portland.

You received no increase if you work for the state; you even had mandatory no-work days.

You received no increase in your retirement checks if you are a Social Security recipient.

You received no increase in your military pension or VA disability benefits. Your increase this past year was zero.

Food prices are soaring. Gas is almost at $3 a gallon. Home heating oil is headed that way, too.

So, 3,000 of us need to vote “no” today.

Vote your wallet, purse or common sense. Your failure to vote will cost you.

Hank Dozier Jr.
Portland 

Local shellfish firm halts shrimp buying for 2010 

Upon reviewing the results of the 2009-2010 Maine shrimp landings and recommendations of the Department of Marine Resources, Portland Shellfish Co. Inc., and its fishing partners, as strong advocates of promoting sustainable fisheries, on May 1 ended our Maine shrimp fishery purchases for the remainder of the 2009-2010 season.

The season was originally set to run through the month of May.

We look forward to maintaining a healthy fishery for the benefit of the industry members, and the opportunity to deliver the world’s finest cold-water shrimp to our customers.

Jeff Holden
President, Portland Shellfish Co. Inc.
Portland