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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Submitted to the RFP from

Guest column, from the Boston Phoenix.

They call me Mr. Lucky
Politics and other mistakes

By AL DIAMON July 16, 2008 Recommended By 6 People

Nominations are now open for the 2008 award for most politically inept person in Maine. Try to be somewhat original with your vote. If everybody casts a ballot for Democratic Governor John Baldacci, this isn’t going to be any fun. Also, no group nominations. I can appreciate the logic of writing in “all Republican legislative candidates” or “the Portland City Council” or “every single person registered to vote in Androscoggin County,” but the rules limit this contest to specific individuals.

Here come the early returns….

Want to know who won this honor? Click here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

There are a couple of people in town, including a couple on the Finance Committee, that have jumped up and down and hollered about how much our Fire Department would save is they didn’t provide First Responder Service to our community. Well, we have obtained the actual figures on how much it really cost to provide this service to our town people.

• Cost for fuel for the truck – $921.22
• Overtime for additional coverage - $837.60
• Training, supplies, books, oxygen and licenses - $3,197.16

That’s a grand total of $4,955.98.

It cost less than $5,000 for our Fire Department to provide First Responder Service to the injured and sick members of our community. Often times our Firemen arrived on scene faster than the ambulance crew, providing emergency first aid and medical care. The assistance they provided also allowed our paramedics to fully concentrate on providing medical care to their patients and moved them to the hospital quicker. This seems like a pretty nice benefit for our town for a relatively small cost. It leaves us wondering what all the fuss was really about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do you support a Casino in Oxford County?

It appears the Rumford Selectmen would like your input before deciding if they should publicly support a Casino in Oxford County. The RFP has been contacted by Phil Blampied from the Rumford Economic Development Committee to post a link to a ballot. He requests that you print out the ballot that you will get as a PDF file when you click on the link, mark your vote and take it to the town office. I think the Town Manager staff will check your name as having voted when you drop off your ballot. Here's the link:

Before you vote, we encourage all members of the town to be as educated as possible on this important issue that could drastically change our way of life in Oxford County. Here is information for you to consider from both sides of this complicated issue.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Preparing for a difficult winter ahead.

To the editor:
This winter is going to find some people who do not usually ask for or need some
help, asking for assistance in potential emergency type ways due to higher fuel
cost. Examples are not being able to get fuel when needed, leaving pipes to
freeze, and ultimately keeping families who normally pay their own way and do
not rely on any type of government assistance stuck for a short period due to an
unexpected problem. For anyone or family who may be confronted with a situation
of this sort, maybe we should collectively put some ideas together to prepare a
place where those people could be accommodated for a short time until their
pipes are repaired or their home is warm again. I would ask your readers for
thoughts on if this is deemed necessary,where a place for a temporary shelter
might be, and ways to supply a place for people to harbor for a time. I have
spoken to a select person from Roxbury and we thought that having a place for
people to go when an emergency situation due to winter related issues would be a
proactive way to address a situation rather than wait and react to potentials.
If you feel we could get the ball rolling on the frees press blog, please feel
free to post it and let's ensure people do not suffer needlessly this winter and
winters to come. Thank you.
Greg Buccina

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Questions about the Casino

Honeslty, the RFP is has yet to make up it’s mind about the Casino issue. We could all use economic development, we just aren’t sure this is the way. What we are sure of is that the residents of our community should be aware of both sides of the issue. In that spirit, we wanted to share part of an editorial from the Portland Press Herald. They make some interesting points.

One more time around for Maine and slots
The latest resort casino proposal offers Maine voters even more reasons to say no.

Carey argues that a luxury hotel and casino near Maine's ski mountains would not only attract money from away, but would also capture some of the instate gambling money that is being spent elsewhere.

The Oxford County plan is pitched as economic development for a region hit hard by mill downsizing and closures. In addition to creating jobs and attracting business, the casino would devote 39 percent of its gross to worthy state projects, such as repaying Maine students' college loans, developing an east-west highway and making health care more affordable.
What the law doesn't make clear, however, is that most of what's left over will go to a national gambling company that will take its profits out of state. And since most of the gross can be expected to come from Maine residents, that will be money that is not spent at other local businesses.


Before Maine voters get to the core question of whether gambling can be good economic development, they will run up against flaws in the Oxford County proposal that should be enough to scare them away from this project.

When you read the bill, there is a lot not to like.

For instance, the referendum would lower the legal age for gambling from 21 to 19. It would also completely wipe out the legal limit on the total number of slot machines in the state. If passed into law, the referendum would prevent the development of any competing facility in the future, giving the Oxford County group a near monopoly on Maine gambling.

Because it is citizen-intiated, no changes could be made to the proposal until after it is enacted.

Money and talent would be better focused on sustainable efforts to attract tourists and create jobs in Maine, without draining state resources….

For the complete article, click here

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Free Speech is under attack in the River Valley

Censorship Is The Handmaiden Of A Police State
by Jarret B. Wollstein

Censorship is the use of force to control what you can say, read, or see. Although occasionally private individuals and groups engage in censorship – for example by stealing "insensitive" newspapers (which has occurred on several US college campuses) or threatening to kill "indecent" or "blasphemous" artists, like The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie – the primary agent of censorship is government.
In Nazi Germany, the works of Jewish writers were seized and burned by storm troopers. Resisters were beaten and shot. Merely criticizing the government could mean being sent to a concentration camp. In the Soviet Union and Communist China, the government burned bibles and churches, as well as unapproved books and art.

Although no one is being beaten or shot for exercising their right to free speech in Rumford or Dixfield, the intent to censor what people may say is the same, especially if you are a public employee. The people that have control over these employees, the local selectmen, are sending a message that they better conform to whatever the selectman want. These selectmen think that the citizens of their towns don’t deserve to hear what the town employees think. We think that is absolutely wrong and it starts us down the slippery path of censorship, allowing only what GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS want the people to hear.

As a citizen of one of these fine towns, I want to hear what the people that ACTUALLY DO THESE JOBS have to say about what they need to keep us safe. Who will know better than the people that actually do these jobs?

We have a message for Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger and Dixfield Selectmen Bettina Martin, Raymond Carlton and Jim Desjardins. We are competent to make informed decisions about what level of service we want in out towns. Stop treating the people of your respective towns like we shouldn’t have all the information necessary to make those decisions. We deserve to know and have a right to know both sides of an issue, not just what you want us to know.

Lastly, your attempts to censor your employees is the beginning of everything we have stood against as a nation since our humble beginnings. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we formed as a nation and wrote the First Amendment into our Constitution. The basic premise of your actions are exactly the same as what occured in Nazi Germany, to censor the free speech of those who think differently than you, or else...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The American flag waves in the breeze, both to the left and to the right. The flag is not a Republican or a Democrat. The flag is not against the war in Iraq or for it. The flag does not support John McCain or Barack Obama. These true but simple statements are worth repeating today, as a reminder to everyone to emphasize that the flag is the symbol of a nation in which we have the freedom to disagree.

That sometimes is overlooked as people with differing beliefs attempt to portray themselves or their points of view as being the only possible American way. The real American way is a journey over changing and difficult terrain, led by men and woman carrying our flag. It is seldom a smooth path.

Think of the struggles of this nation as our national symbol has evolved from a banner with 13 stripes and 13 stars to the 50 starred emblem we fly today.

The flag was embraced by those who thought Thomas Jefferson was right when he engineered the Louisiana Purchase and those who thought it was folly. The flag flew in both North and South as the Civil War approached and Americans argued over slavery. The flag was saluted and praised by factions who thought the nation should enter World War I and by those who said America should avoid foreign adventures.

Similar debates took place – often from flag draped platforms – in the early days of World War II, as some Americans urged the nation to come to the aid of France and England while others just as fervently offered opposing views.

Flags were carried by black and white Americans urging equal rights for people of all races and they were carried by people fighting against equality. In the heat of the Vietnam War the flag was a powerful symbol. Some saluted that symbol; some burned it. The flag became part of the debate about what kind of a nation this should be.

The flag covered the coffin of President Reagan, saluted – even kissed – by those who supported him and those who opposed him.

Whatever your beliefs about any particular policy, you can fly our flag in the comfortable belief that it represents a nation in which you are free to believe what you wish, and to express those beliefs to all who will listen.

The flag is, indeed, worth your Pledge of Allegiance.

Author unknown

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our Unselfish Firefighters

In July of 2006, the Rumford Fire Department was facing cuts. The town had proposed reducing the Fire Department from 13 firefighters to 7. To the men of the fire station, this was something they couldn’t afford to do. At the time, Richard Coulombe, then president of the firefighters union, proposed that firefighters unselfishly take a cut in pay as well as pay increased costs for their health insurance, saving the town about $90,000 over the life of the contract. Why would they do that? They wanted to maintain the level of service they were providing to the town, for their own safety and the safety of the community. It was an extremely unselfish act.

What did the Firefighters get for their trouble? It wasn’t a thank you. It was continued reduction to their ranks including the loss of 5 firefighters with this latest budget cut. They also got a suspension for advocating for keeping the level of service.

The Firemen deserve to be able to advocate for their own safety and for the safety of the town. They know, better than anyone, what they need to keep people safe. They were even willing to take a cut in pay to provide it.