Caution, the reader might just be propelled into a Red Light Zone after reading this column. I wanted to start this column in a humorous way because of what happened during the Windham Town Council meeting of Jan. 19 that I really wanted to listen to everything being talked about.

Seems like someone in the town hall installed new microphones in the chambers where the town councilors have most of their meetings, sometimes they are even televised. In order to be heard with these new microphones, one evidently has to push a button and when a light turns red, then the microphones work and everyone can hear what the councilor has to say. I have to guess things didn’t go so well because as I watched the council meeting, I often couldn’t hear what Windham’s town councilors were saying and I won’t presume why those microphones weren’t working properly. Of course there are times that is perfectly OK but when one can’t determine what is being said only God knows how much money our local government could be spending.

That leads me to the suspicions why the council chambers needed new microphones in the first place. I believe the town councilors’ first responsibility is to listen. I also believe that belief falls on deaf ears. There have been far too many times that as I watched the town councilors discuss items, as one councilor spoke others were speaking with another councilor beside them. Sometimes part of the discussions came over their microphones. It is my opinion the taxpayers of Windham didn’t need to pay for microphones that cut those conversations, what Windham needs is town councilors who listen.

Hopefully, with practice, every Windham town councilor will get the hang of things if the new microphones aren’t the problem. However, I noticed in a recent television news story that our elected officials in Augusta have to push a button to ensure that they are heard when they speak. Imagine that, a politician being able to do two things at once.

What comes next is even scarier, at least for me, because I do not like corporate welfare and it seems Windham councilors are hearing more requests for it. The sad part of this discussion is that I don’t recall anyone, either on the Town Council or those appearing before the council, saying the name of this business but I give a hint it is probably one of the dollar store chains. Just guessing, of course.

They want to be located below the junction of routes 302 and 202 going toward Westbrook. I take it they want the town to use TIF funds to pay for some of the cost of extending a waterline down to the property where they want to build. Maybe we should ask what the wages of this new store would be and determine if using TIF funds is appropriate. That idea wasn’t mine as I was surprised because some people wonder if this new business would be paying a living wage.

For years in Windham all I heard was how the growth of the business community would reduce the property taxes for those who own their homes in Windham. It is now more than obvious that it will never happen, especially if new businesses get some kind of tax break or end up in a new tax increment financing zone where the possibility of millions of new tax dollars wouldn’t go into the general fund. If one didn’t see it in the news lately, Lowe’s is asking for a reduction on its property taxes in many towns, including Windham. Who’s next?

But, recently, an even larger red light has gone off. I know the condition of the Windham Correctional Facility is absolutely deplorable. Now the governor has proposed any even larger facility, which might include the criminally insane and drug treatment as well.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham will go into hiding after his next column if he gets out of Maine safely.


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