It is interesting and refreshing to see the outpouring of shock and indignation that has surfaced over the clear-cutting of a shoreline parcel (“Naples seeks heavy fines for lakeside tree-cutting,” May 6).

However, I believe we would be better served by reflecting on the underlying factors that lead individuals to believe they can get away with violating the rules that protect our irreplaceable shoreline habitats.

Shoreland zoning is a unique approach to environmental protection, wherein the Legislature vested responsibility for establishing and enforcing the rules in individual towns, rather than having the Maine Department of Environmental Protection manage it statewide.

This placed a unique and often unwelcome burden on local governments, which must enforce a set of rules regardless of whether they understand or support the underlying environmental stewardship principles.

The combination of our desire to live on the water and our deep-seated history of protecting the rights of individual property owners create a dramatic tension for local officials.

High shoreland property values contribute disproportionately to local property tax revenues and make it all the more difficult for towns to enforce an unpopular set of development restrictions on these tax-paying citizens.

Yet, from an ecological perspective, the shoreland zoning rules represent a weak political compromise that under the best of circumstances barely protect the resources it is intended to preserve. The price we all pay for lax enforcement in terms of habitat destruction and water quality degradation is simply too high. With a staff of three in the DEP’s shoreland zoning section, they must focus on the most egregious violations.

It seems that when it comes to our shorelands, we have become the invasive species. Until more towns invest greater time and energy to educate the public and enforce the rules, I’m afraid that we will continue to read about similar violations in the coming years.

Dan Ostrye


Stories on King classroom only gave one side of events


I am concerned about the information being spread about the recent Maine Republican Convention, and more specifically the events that took place during the convention pertaining to the Knox County Republican group and the caucus that took place in Paul Clifford’s classroom May 7.

Reading the article created very strong emotions for me, because I, along with about 30 or so other delegates from Knox County, were in the classroom and witnessed everything that actually took place.

It makes one wonder whether all the information that has been given thus far in Bill Nemitz’s recent column, “Call it class struggle: How politics went too far,” can be said to be honest, just or balanced.

I would like to point out the facts from what I witnessed during the Knox County caucus. One, I did not see vandalism of any kind. No one removed or destroyed any of Paul Clifford’s “cherished” posters.

Two, the classroom was left in “slight” disarray because we were a rather large group in a small-sized classroom. That kind of thing is to be expected when there weren’t enough chairs. I opted to sit on an overturned trash can while taking notes in order to accommodate my elders in the room.

Three, there was no poster posted on the door of the classroom when we first entered. Four, the bumper sticker was left on the desk of Mr. Clifford, not the door, along with the note mentioned in the article. Five, my parents and I were some of the last people to leave the room, and none of us saw anyone take anything, let alone a poster.

This information has been misconstrued and made the Maine GOP and Knox County Republicans sound like a radical, misinformed group that acts in an unjust and demeaning manner. From my standpoint, the group I am proud to be a part of did nothing wrong. The content of the classroom’s political posters was alarming and we reacted in a civilized manner.

I do not know why Mr. Clifford’s poster is missing. What is missing is both of sides of the story, something the media should look into further before broadcasting a one-sided version of events.

Virginia Alley

Junior, University of Southern Maine




What a shame so much negative publicity has been tied to the Maine Republican Convention when there was so much good that happened.

A record number of people from throughout Maine attended, some coming to Portland for the first time. These folks filled their cars with gas, stayed in local hotels, ate at downtown restaurants and purchased items from stores that may have otherwise been empty.

The Portland Expo staff was stellar in their level of professionalism throughout the event; seven fantastic gubernatorial candidates, along with their supporters, presented their platforms to over 1,800 attendees; three candidates for local office were able to address the convention crowd; Still Fed Up with Taxes was met with a standing ovation; and Charlie Webster, chair of the Republican Party, gave a speech that at times couldn’t be heard due to the applause from points he made about the Legislature in Augusta.

So a boost to the local economy and 1,799 attendees who behaved themselves really shouldn’t go unnoticed because one fool decides to act like an idiot and turn the focus of so much positive to a negative.

Good call, local media. Glad you are covering both sides of the story.

Ruth Summers



Mealtime in Portland tasting a bit too rich lately


The perception of Portland as a Foodie Town is troubling. To identify oneself as a Foodie implies a cult-like, fetishized reverence for food, coupled with a heightened aestheticism that ordinary mortals don’t experience.

Maine was a state once known for agriculture, not gluttony. This Foodie phenomenon may be the harbinger of a new “Other Maine,” comprised of pop-culturists who have “branded” us as a food destination and God knows what else.

Please — food is made up of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some people get enough, but most people on Earth don’t.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with appreciating well-prepared meals, but preferably Portland should not be branded a Foodie Town, because it’s embarassing. What next — eating contests and food fights?

Like everything else, this Foodie business too shall pass.

Nancy Goodspeed

South Portland


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