Thanks for the ‘delightful musings’

To the editor,

So true that one only knows what one’s got when it’s gone. With today’s mail in hand, happy it’s Friday – which for me, among other good things, has come to mean, “yay! more to come from Orrin Frink.”

Alas, today, having sorted through the mail quickly, with the Kennebunk Post in hand, eager to see what reflections he chose to share this week, I leafed through it once, leafed through it twice. No dice. Nothing from Orrin Frink this Friday.

I take this opportunity to first, thank Orrin Frink for sharing his delightful and humble weekly musings with us, and second, to wish him well, with hopes this week’s absence means he’s vacationing, and vacationing well!

With gratitude too to the Post’s editor for bringing us this gem!

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Andrea Roth Kimmich

Kennebunk

Sand buckets and stone walls

To the editor,

I wish to correct a statement made in the Dec. 8 Kennebunk Post article about the excellent new Sand for Seniors program managed by the Kennebunk Police Department. In that article it was reported that “the town attempted to launch such a program a few years ago but did not have volunteer support.” This egregiously false statement was corrected by my predecessor as chair of the Kennebunk Committee on Aging in an letter to the editor published shortly thereafter, but as yet, despite three private pleas, has not been formally corrected by the town. As the most recent former chair of the Committee on Aging, I have been asked why I have not made a statement on this issue.

Since its inception in 2016, the Committee on Aging investigated and introduced to the town many possible projects, starting with the sand bucket program. We promised the volunteer support needed to enable them to succeed. In every case the town told us that liability concerns and time constraints prevented their acceptance. In October 2021, the Committee on Aging resolved “that the town committee structure was is not an effective vehicle to enable volunteers to work for the older citizens of Kennebunk.” All the community committee members resigned immediately thereafter.

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Since then, I have sought through private messages with the town manager and select board chair to discuss the issues and restore needed trust and credibility. Sadly, I have been met with a stone wall – no response at all. I cannot imagine why such stonewalling occurs in our town where we depend on each other and generally know and trust one another. I sincerely hope town officials will reconsider their relationships with citizens who wish to work with them for the benefit of the citizens of our town. Otherwise those citizens may not be there for them when they need them.

Ted Trainer

Kennebunk

Stop the divide

To the editor,

Recent petitions calling for the recall of Mr. LeBlanc and Mr. Stentiford from RSU 21 School Board are divisive and were misrepresented to the citizens of Kennebunk. We now understand that a significant number of signers were not shown the actual petition text, but rather a hand-out related to supporting RSU 21 teachers.

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Mr. LeBlanc is out of the running for recall. However, Mr. Stentiford remains at risk, and now we know that Fr. Braxton is at risk in Kennebunkport by even more devious means.

It is folly to think that the removal of capable and committed RSU 21 School Board members will alter teachers’ work-lives. What will improve relations and communications among teachers, administration and the school board is participation and interest in the forum created to increase dialogue between the Kennebunk, Arundel and Kennebunkport Educators Association and the RSU 21 School Board.

Steady progress is being made and appreciation for this alliance has been broadly touted by many including association President Jenessa Cadorette, who said, “We appreciate the superintendent and the board creating a forum where we could be heard.”

The sentiment was amplified with this comment from Bethany MacLeod, second-grade teacher and building rep from Kennebunk Elementary School: “Though it was an emotional conversation, it was positive, and I believe everyone felt heard.”

The time is now for each of us to be awake and listening. The current attempt to divide us as either ‘pro-teacher’ or ‘anti-teacher’ is an intentional ruse. This obvious tactic is being used across the country by those who are intolerant of full inclusion.

Let us not be busy re-stringing our fiddles while these flames of hatefulness and exclusion spread throughout our community.

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Marie Louise St. Onge

Kennebunk

Address and acknowledge our deficits

To the editor,

I’ve been thinking about what’s happening in Kennebunk recently. Having lived here for 45 years, I’ve noticed that there’s a myth that many of us have embraced: Kennebunk is special. We have the best schools, the best people, the best way of life, and very few problems. And we want to keep it that way. In order to maintain the status quo, we tell ourselves that we welcome outsiders, we are not racist, we are not homophobic, we don’t have a drug problem, or a bullying problem.

Consequently, if someone points out blemishes or problems, we deny them, or downplay them and we often attack those who want to address those problems. But a town does not thrive if it does not change and progress.

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We currently have the first female black school superintendent in Maine. We have a member of the school board who is openly gay, and our first black school board member. Some have said that these people are unfit and don’t “fit in” I say, they’ll fit in fine if we welcome them and are willing to face down our fear of change.

If we really want to be that ideal town, we must acknowledge and address our deficits, and open our hearts to change. I think we can do it.

Miriam Whitehouse

Kennebunk

Teachers as pawns in recall effort

To the editor,

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While we wait for lawyers to untangle the legalities surrounding RSU 21 school board recalls, it feels vital to revisit one persistent fallacy adopted by recallers. Despite their claims, they do not speak for teachers, nor do they have a monopoly on supporting them. One neither “supports” — nor fails to support — teachers based on one’s recall position.

It could be argued that by supporting division, conflict, instability, and costly recall initiatives, the recall movement works against teachers’ interests. RSU 21 dissolution, a possibility raised by recall leaders, would certainly threaten teacher positions and funding. Some recall leaders quite publicly fight any increase in school budgets, even to raise teachers’ salaries. Prominent recall supporters have identified themselves as seeking greater control over curriculum — conveying a desire to usurp that authority from education professionals most qualified to make those decisions. While parents and community members play an essential role in giving input to shape curriculum, teachers remain best suited to design the curriculum they teach.

Don’t be fooled: the recall is not about teachers. Be suspicious of recallers’ lowest common denominator slogans and platitudes professing a monopoly on supporting our teachers. Our teachers deserve better than to be treated as pawns or used to advance a movement’s ideological agenda. Whatever turn the recalls take, all those invested in our schools’ success understand the exceptional role teachers play — and are committed to ensuring teachers can do their best work. The good news? This is something we actually can — and do — all agree on.

Gaby Grekin
Kennebunkport

Resolve the recall quickly

To the editor,

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The Kennebunkport select board voted at its last meeting to hire an attorney to defend the town’s interests due to the RSU 21 recall efforts in Kennebunk. The cost to the taxpayers in Kennebunkport is an open question.

The legal matter stems from efforts by a group in Kennebunk to recall two members of the RSU 21 school board. Subsequently the school board filed a preliminary injunction to restrain further proceedings. The board’s legal rationale is that the state Legislature designed RSU’s to govern as a single body thereby precluding any one town’s exercising its ordinances over it.

I believe the recall efforts in Kennebunk are unfounded, unfair, dishonest and undemocratic. Now residents of Kennebunkport face unforeseen legal expenses. Additionally, this action tarnishes the fine reputation of the RSU 21 school system due to the bogus efforts of a few in Kennebunk. Let’s hope this matter gets resolved quickly. To better understand the facts, go to norecallRSU21.com.

Tom McClain

Kennebunkport

Recall provision does not apply

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To the editor,

The current attempt to recall two Kennebunk representatives to the RSU 21 school board is fraught with problems, but this is probably the biggest one: the recall provision in the Kennebunk Charter simply does not apply to the school district.

How do I know this? I served as chair of the 2007-2008 Charter Review Commission. Our charge was to examine the town charter (which had remained essentially unchanged since its adoption in 1984) and make recommendations for updates and changes which would eventually be put before the voters. We were guided in this work by then-town attorney William Dale. One of Mr. Dale’s early recommendations was that we remove all provisions that sought to control functions of governmental units other than the town, such as the school district, sewer district, etc. … His legal guidance was that the town of Kennebunk had no authority over the functioning of these units. This would, of course, apply to the ability to remove their elected officers.

I have recently examined the official minutes of the Charter Commission as well as successive drafts of the revised charter to confirm that what was sent to voters was never intended to apply to the school district or its board members.

I have made Kennebunk town officials aware of this and provided them with full documentation of this background. Town government should not allow the current effort to proceed under the mistaken belief that it is permitted under our charter.

John Costin

Kennebunk

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