“One more regret at my age won’t make much difference.”
Mayor Frank Skeffington, played by Spencer Tracy in the 1958 movie, “The Last Hurrah”

The 5th of July is my 71st birthday and after tossing and turning for several nights I decided it would be a good day to end my column. When I visit my doctor my blood pressure is usually taken several times until it declines to a suitable level. That’s connected in part to my military service, when I had more than one very high pressure job to do, having duty at the Pentagon and going to the White House both night and day. The Watergate Affair had already begun, and I was going to the White House during the end when President Nixon resigned. It opened my eyes to what government could do if no one was watching or listening.

I began writing this column, which I can also blame for my high blood pressure, when the town of Windham implemented the personal property tax on anything and everything worth $1,000 or more, things like riding lawn mowers, computers, guns and anything else the tax assessor at the time could find. Once I heard that our local government was snooping in barns and garages, you might say I became unglued. So much so that this newspaper interviewed me and then the story spread to the Portland Press Herald and all the local television stations as well. The tax assessor at the time left and so did the personal property tax. Then I wrote so many letters to this newspaper  that the editor at the time asked me if I wanted to write a column. The rest is history. It probably was the wrong reason to become a columnist.

Government at all levels needs to have citizen watchdogs as we are called and Windham is no different. Windham has had ups and downs on the Town Council, School Board and even some of its lesser committees and boards. I am proud to state that the vast majority do a great job, but the few bad apples can wreak havoc on the rest and it’s still happening today. Please don’t forget that.

Take, for example, the June 25 Windham council meeting where, correct me if I am wrong, the majority of councilors were against retail marijuana establishments in Windham. We certainly haven’t heard the last of that story. I’m sure there are more than several people who were planning to open retail marijuana shops in Windham.

I have previously written that I expect our next council election in November to be, at the least, extremely contentious, and I have no doubt retail marijuana will be a hot subject. I believe Windham will witness some of ugliest campaigning ever seen in the history of our town, although I really hope I am wrong. If the marijuana entrepreneurs win, we will be singing these words from a Tom Petty song that goes something like, let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint.

Lane Hiltunen has heard people believe legal marijuana will end the sale of illegal marijuana. Don’t believe it.

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