Sunday, February 27, 2011

In the Words of a King-- "It's all about the View"

Former governor Angus King and his partner, Rob Gardiner have once again submitted a permit application to LURC for a 39 turbine grid-scale wind energy plant on Highland’s mountains, at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail. Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission determined Highland Wind LLC’s application was complete on February 23, 2011, even though that application is NOT complete, as evidenced in news articles in Friday’s Kennebec Journal and Portland Press Herald.

Mr. King is wasting our tax-payer money by continually submitting permit applications which fall short of the requirements for completion. LURC staffers have already spent countless hours reading each of his applications. The Commissioners have already had to rule that HW LLC’s first application be pulled and the ‘expedited clock’ stopped. If ordinary citizens can read an application and determine that it is lacking, I assume that Mr. King, Mr. Gardiner and their attorneys know the same thing.

I suppose the applicants hope to have the missing data and documentation and road crossing permits in hand before LURC rules on whether or not to grant them a permit for their project—but that’s not the way this works. The burden of submitting a completed application rests with the applicant. Not with the LURC staff. Not with the interveners in the case. Not with the citizens of Maine. And yet, it is we who are paying the price while this limited liability development company tries to get its ducks in a row. The Section 1603 cash grants for these projects will expire in December, and those no-strings-attached grants are huge. Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner will lose out on millions of free tax-payer dollars if they do not receive approval, and soon.

So they play games and waste our resources in the hopes that it will all work out okay for them in the end.

I predict that it won’t. I believe that Mainers are waking up to the realities of this scheme to line over 350 miles of our mountain ridges with expensive and intrusive industrial turbines which produce power that is unreliable, intermittent, cannot be stored, and for which our grid was not designed. I believe that the people of Somerset County have the courage and the strength of character to stand up and make common sense decisions. Sound science and economics do not support the notion of mountaintop industrial wind in Maine.

The following quotes are from Angus King, taken from his video, “A Vision for Maine—Inauguration 1995”.

"We certainly can do tourism better. Just to our south, to the north, and across the ocean are millions of mobile, affluent and time-pressed individuals who would love Maine if we could get them here, first. But we must think strategically about tourism-- spreading out the seasons and the locations where we welcome visitors. In the process of rebuilding Maine, we must never compromise our environment... Our final natural resource is our QUALITY OF LIFE. We have what the world wants... creative and hard-working people, an unspoiled natural environment and a civil society that works..... We share a common heritage. We share a common stewardship of the land. We share a common pride in an extraordinary place called Maine....and the best of Maine-- a land of deep woods, jagged coasts and people of integrity--will endure and flourish."

The former governor wanted to encourage tourism. “We have what the world wants,” he said. I urge Mainers to visit First Wind’s ongoing destruction of Rollins Mountain and Rocky Dundee in Lincoln, in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. Then picture the same thing happening all across this state. Estimates for this little rural corner of Somerset County are for upwards of 300 turbines. Everywhere we look, there they will be. Huge. Unnatural. Inefficient, intrusive, foreign-made machines. In every direction, we will see evidence of greed. Evidence of folly. Evidence of corporate-run state policies, rather than common-sense rule by the People. A tourist attraction? No.

This is another quote from Angus King, recorded in a meeting last May in Skowhegan.

"There's not a sound issue, there's not a health issue, there's not a bird issue, there's not a wildlife issue… No issues of wetlands.... we're not 'removing' anything-- we're MOVING...when you build a road, as I say, when you build roads, you cut out the high spots and fill in the low--we're moving a lot of earth, but nothing's being taken away from the mountains…”

This is an excerpt from the Highland Wind LLC permit application, submitted to LURC in December, 2010.

“A total of approximately 3.1 miles of existing logging roads are being rebuilt, and
approximately 15.1 miles of new roadway are being constructed. In addition, turbine sites must be graded to approximately level with no more than three percent cross slope. Table 12-1 below outlines the cut and fill requirements for the different portions of the Project. Roadway construction along with the 39 turbine pads results in the earthwork volumes listed below.”

Those turbine sites which must be ‘graded to approximately level’ are on the tops of Stewart, Witham and Bald Mountains, and Burnt and Briggs Hill. The total ‘cut’ from the project is estimated at 1,518,000 cubic yards. That’s more than 90,000 dump trucks’ worth of earth excavation for this one project. The ‘fill’ is listed as 1,438,900 cubic yards. It’s being blasted and excavated from the mountains, and then used to build 18 miles of slope-side roads and turbine pads. But, no. It’s not being ‘taken away from the mountains’.

And again from Angus King last May, when speaking about the Highland project:

"So-- it's all about the view. And the view is important because the Appalachian Trail goes over Bigelow....Stop by Mars Hill! It's cool! It really comes down to-- are we going to say 'no' to a half-billion dollar infrastructure project producing renewable energy because of the VIEW? I think that's the question. The interesting thing about this project--we're involved in some others-- the others have some different issues, but this one is really the view. And, you know...people throw in a lot of other stuff, but it's really about the view. What will the impact be? Well, it'll be visual--you judge.”

Mr. King, despite his continual assurances that this project is ‘all about the view’, knows better than that. His patronizing attitude is intended to gain him some support for his project. He hopes that if he repeats that tag line often enough, Mainers will look upon those of us who are opposing his project as selfish elitists who would put our ‘view’ before anything else. We who care about the big picture, and who have spent months researching the facts about industrial wind, oppose this project—and others—for a variety of reasons related to economics, the environment, residents’ healthy and quality of life, and Maine’s unique ‘quality of place’.

I once thought former governor King cared about those same things.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brillo's New Pad

For the last week, the Pease family has been host to my sister’s Labradoodle, Brillo. A Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. Labra-doodles are congenial and active dogs. They have the wonderful temperament and loyalty of the Lab, and the high-spiritedness and intelligence of the Poodle. At least, that’s what my ‘dog book’ says…

Brillo is all legs. Black-- with just a wee spot of white on his chest--his hair is curly and of the non-shedding type. Instead of falling out to create tumble-weeds which roll across my floors every time the front door is opened, Brillo’s hair grows, instead. At one family function, I’ll see a dog close-shaved--and the next…he’ll look like a raggedy black mop with brown eyes and a wagging tail. Last summer, Chris went so far as to give the (poor) dog a Mohawk. Hair cropped short… except for a narrow, two inch high ridge of hair down the middle of his head.

There’s no dignity in being a dog in the Bessey family.

Here at The F.A.R.M. we haven’t had a dog living with us for almost a year and a half--and Josie-Earl, especially, has missed that. There’s been no canine running to the door to greet us when we return home from a day at work or at school. No thumping tail when we speak a kind word; no cold, wet nose nudging our hands when it’s time to go for a walk. So, we were anticipating a visit from our ‘dog-nephew’…

He arrived with a leash, some food and ‘treats’, and a quick word about how good he was about being put outside on a run. We were cautioned against letting him roam outside without being tethered--for the boy has legs like a gazelle and the heart of a long-distance runner. And once he was off—he was gone. I assured my sister that there’d be no problems. That Brillo was safe with us.

Chris left. I got some rope and made a long tether for him by the front porch. I came inside and smiled benignly at the dog.

He peed.

Right in front of me, he peed! I hollered. A knee-jerk reaction. What else could I do? I didn’t have the ability to magically shut him off, mid-stream! But the act of hollering “Brillo!” only made matters worse. For instead of standing there in one place, he took off through the house at a trot, happily sprinkling as he went. A Labrapiddle, then…

I’ve mentioned that we've missed having a dog around the place, right?

I followed his trail and mopped up after him. It was no big deal. Any dog in a new place was bound to have an accident, right?

He made the rounds, investigating the sights and sounds and smells of the house. Brillo has been here many times, and has met our three cats. But this time, he had a new feline to socialize with. Marian, my neighbors’ cat, is also visiting us while her humans are away for a month vacationing in New Zealand. I could almost read Brillo’s mind as he sought out the source of this new kitty smell.

“Ooh! Fresh meat!”

If only she’d just stayed still. Not run. But gray Marian took one look at the mop-headed Brillo and lit out in a flash of fur and the scraping of claws on hard-wood floor. The chase was on! Yee-haw!

Yes, life at ‘The F.A.R. M.’ is the epitome of ‘serene’. The cat ran, the dog chased, the teens followed—worried that the black beast was bent on having a kitty chew-toy. I knew better. I can read a dog’s soul. Brillo was a push-over. A child at play. A softie. And… when Maid Marian turned on him, spitting and with claws extended—Brillo was a coward.

But he was a coward with fully operational body functions. That night, when Mr. Grumbles got up to go downstairs to use the bathroom, that fact was discovered in vivid detail. I heard my husband holler. I heard him swear. And then, I heard him say, “Karen! Come clean up your dog’s $***.”

The man knows better than to demand. His wife doesn’t comply with demands.

“Excuse me!!??” I said. “Would you care to rephrase that?”

“Karen, come clean up your ***-****** dog’s $***!”

An excellent rephrasing. Asterisks are exclamation points in this house. Regardless of the fact that it was three a.m., I wandered downstairs, my curiosity piqued. I flipped on the light.

There he stood, leaned against the table, one bare foot held aloft.

“And while you’re at it, clean this off, too!” He looked. He gagged.

Oh, brother…

I had to chuckle. I mean… it wasn’t ME who’d stepped in a gigantic pile of labrapoople. It wasn’t me who’d wandered around barefooted in the dark, trusting that the floors that I so often traversed would be free of excrement! Out of pity for the man, and to save myself the chore of cleaning up after him, too, I grabbed some paper-towels and wiped between his toes. I grabbed some more, and cleaned up after the dog. I listened to the harangue—a rare occurrence in the wee hours of the morning. I nodded in compliance as I was told that I was a push-over. That I was ‘too nice’. That I never said ‘no’.

I cocked my head.

“Should I have refused to clean the doggie-doo off your foot? Does the fact that I did, also make me a ‘push-over’?”

Throwing me a glance that was half-nervous, half-exasperated, Mr. Grumbles limped off to the shower, walking on the heel of his right foot, toes held aloft.

A wise man knows when to be quiet. And a wise man might not know WHERE to put his foot down, but he knows when NOT to.

And Brillo? He slept through the whole thing… and was perfectly well-behaved for the rest of the week.

Cheap entertainment, that’s what he is.
I’ve missed having a dog at The F.A.R.M.


Top photo: Brillo in September 2009
Cat photo: An irritated Curious-- Josie-Earl's cat
Bottom photo: Etta, another Labradoodle who has stayed with us at The F.A.R.M. (She lives with Marian kitty, mentioned above. Sorry, no pics of Marian, yet. She hides when the camera comes out...) Etta had just finished chewing something she wasn't supposed to have... hence the guilty look. :o)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Moment of Silence For Rollins Mountain and Rocky Dundee

Before First Wind.....

And after....

I’ve been single-minded over the last year and a half as I’ve made an effort to help educate Mainers about the realities of industrial wind, and as I’ve worked to halt the destruction of Maine’s ‘quality of place’. There’s no quick fix. This is a long and drawn-out battle and the opponent is a wealthy and powerful corporate lobby which enjoys the backing of some high government officials, departments and independent organizations.

As long and as hard as I’ve toiled though—there are many others in Maine who have been at it longer. Men and women whose battle scars are deeper and whose knowledge and experience far surpass mine. Citizens who are in a place--and who have a perspective--which I dread having to share.

First Wind is building their industrial wind facility on Rollins Mountain and Rocky Dundee in Lincoln. This financially troubled company did not have to prove they had the capacity to fund their project before the Department of Environmental Protection granted them a permit. The Friends of Lincoln Lakes have filed an appeal based on First Wind’s lack of financial capacity, but the blasting of mountain ridges and the building of new mountain-side roads continues, unchecked.

Here are two links which I hope you will check out. The first will take you to YouTube, where you will see a short DVD which I put together with my friend Tom Olds. This music video consists of photos of Maine, the way it is. Maine… the way it SHOULD be.

The second link will take you to photos snapped by my friend Brad Blake on February 20th in Lincoln, the land of thirteen lakes. These photos show First Wind’s Rollins project, currently under construction.

First—the “before” shots, and then--the “after”.

Our hearts are breaking as we watch the destruction of our high terrain areas for an energy source which is not reliable, is not constant, is not able to be stored, and is not needed in the state of Maine. This should not be happening. But the wind lobby did their ground work under cover of darkness—misleading Mainers about the benefits of Big Wind, and neglecting to mention the many negative impacts.

Now, in the light of day, we watch. Like an accident happening in slow motion, we can’t take our eyes off the scene of the tragedy. We don’t want to look—but we can’t help it.

But we can help keep this from happening again. To learn the FACTS about the plan to develop hundreds of miles of Maine’s mountaintops and to find out what you can do to help, please call me at (207) 628-2070, or email me at

Let’s make this the last grid-scale wind turbine facility to be built in our state. Together, we can bring common sense, ethics and fiscal responsibility back to Augusta. By standing together, we can move mountains… or better yet—we can preserve and protect them.

First Photo: Rocky Dundee before the turbines
Second: Rocky Dundee under construction, Fe. 20, 2011
Third: A Rocky Dundee ridge with waterfront cottages on Upper Cold Stream Pond below them
Fourth: Welcome to Lincoln--with turbine towers in the background

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Whirlwind in Maine…

Citizens from around the state convened last Saturday at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport to hold a legislative summit. Individuals and citizens’ groups concerned about the industrial wind plan for Maine’s mountains and hilltops have submitted several pieces of legislation to be considered in the current Session, and we came together to combine our resources, share ideas and develop factual talking points to use when these bills are heard in Committee.

The event received some coverage by the press, but the real story was found in the responses to the summit by supporters of industrial wind. One gentleman, Jeremy Paine, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, was particularly vocal in his attempts to trivialize Mainers who oppose this expensive and unnecessary proposal for our state.

"Better organization by a vocal minority shouldn't be interpreted as growing public opposition…Their voices may be growing louder," he (Payne) said of opponents, "but their numbers aren't growing larger."

One wonders how Jeremy Payne can be so sure of himself and his facts. Surely he doesn't want readers to believe he is a party to the inner workings of his opposition? This quote sounds like it comes from a man who is very worried. He may believe that if he states his opinion often enough, citizens will believe it is the truth. That may have worked, once upon a time, but no longer. Citizens all across Maine are becoming informed about the FACTS regarding this industrial wind energy plan, and as they do, they are stepping forward to have a say. We were denied that right by the passage of the emergency bill, LD2283, the "expedited wind permitting law". Now that the realities regarding the negative impacts of grid-scale wind facilities are coming to light, common-sense folk are determined to restore fiscal and ethical responsibility to the process.

Another article about the summit quoted Mr. Payne as saying, “Every time a turbine is spinning, it is offsetting fossil fuels".

I would like to see proof of that. If an apparent expert like Jeremy Payne can give such a sweeping statement, surely he is prepared to back that up with the facts which support his claim.

I believe that less than 2% of Maine's electricity is generated from oil-burning power plants.

I believe that many new fossil-fuel generating plants are being built in the U.S. and around the world for no other reason than to take up the slack when the wind doesn't blow, or when it blows too fast and hard.

I believe that oftentimes, when wind-generated electricity flows into the grid and must be used, it is renewable, storable and reliable hydro-power which is off-set.

I believe that Maine's predominant use for oil is in home heating and transportation-- neither of which can currently be efficiently or economically replaced by electricity.

Mr. Payne's job is to promote industrial wind energy facilities-- regardless of the cost to Mainers or to the environment. Surely, if average Mainers have access to the FACTS about wind energy, Mr. Payne must already know the truth.

His livelihood depends upon Mainers buying his story. We're too smart for that, and we're growing impatient with the corporate interests which are making our energy policies.

Let’s let scientists and economics experts have a hand in it, for awhile. Then we'll see which way the wind blows.

Many Mainers are tired of being asked to tow the line and quietly sacrifice for an industry which benefits a few in the short term, rather than benefitting us all, for the duration. Wind was abandoned 100 years ago for good reason. Until the electricity it can produce can be stored, we should not even have to have this conversation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Lobbyist, a Senator and a Representative... A New Contest on GAG

It’s time for a contest on GAG. It’s been far too long since I had some fun on Grumbles and Grins, and I figured I’d better do something now, while it’s First Quarter moon. Because… you all know how I get when the moon is full!


Recently, I was telling a friend about some of the events, meetings and activities written into my schedule for the next few days. I wrote, “I have a meeting with a lobbyist, a senator and a representative in a coffee shop…”

Of course, I immediately thought, “Boy, that sounds like the intro to a joke!”

“A lobbyist, a senator and a representative walked into a coffee shop…”

“A lobbyist, a senator and a representative walked into a bar…”

“A lobbyist, a senator and a representative walked into a…”

So, here is my challenge. Come up with a joke for one of those introductory sentences and submit them in the comments section of this posting. The winner will receive a copy of the new cookbook just put out by the Lexington-Highland Historical Society, and a copy of the DVD produced by Tom Olds and me, which contains photos of the beautiful state of Maine, set to music. (By the way… the photo on the label shows Hutchins Hill in the background, and although you can’t see it, my house is nestled in those woods half-way up the hill.)

The contest will run until February 27th, and I will decide the winner, this time. No drawings, no ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moes’. I’ll simply choose the one I like the best, or the one that made me smile the longest, or groan the loudest. Enter as many times as you want—the more, the merrier.

And if you’re not ‘into’ cooking, just remember—someone you know and love, IS! This book will make a great gift, and you are supporting the efforts of the folks in two tiny, rural communities who are trying to preserve the history of this region in the western mountains of Maine.

Okay! “A lobbyist, a senator and a representative walked into a….”

Give it your best shot! And thanks for playing with me on GAG.

Bottom (fuzzy) photo was taken in the Tavern at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine-- where I actually DID meet with a lobbyist (er...Governmental Affairs Consultant) on Friday night.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Delta by Tony Park

I’m not sure that there is a whole lot of value in writing a review of a novel after it’s been on the market for several months. Nevertheless, I’m going to go ahead and spout a few words of praise for a work of fiction which I recently finished reading.

The Delta, by Tony Park, was such an excellent book that I’m taking the time to laud it.

As I’ve made my way through Tony’s novels, I’ve been impressed by his versatility. Yes, each novel is set in Africa. But the Dark Continent is a vast, mysterious land of diverse cultures, landscapes and ecosystems, and it’s apparent that this author hasn’t just read about the land—he’s experienced it, up close and personal. Africa isn’t just another continent—it’s a whole world, unto itself.

The Delta takes place in Botswana, in the Okavango Delta. As in all Tony’s novels, the reader is allowed to roam with the majestic creatures of the region; elephants, lions, impalas, hippos, and more. And as in all of Tony’s novels, the characters are deep, true to life and inherently human.

The Delta’s protagonist, Sonja Kurtz, is an enigma. A soldier, a mercenary, and a proficient killer, she is also a mother and a woman who is second-guessing the choices she has made in her life. Set up to take the fall in a botched assassination attempt, she finds herself on the run. But the land she is escaping through is the land of her childhood. The home which shaped her—inside and out, and for better or worse. Determined to find her first love, reunite with her daughter and throw aside her sinister past, Sonja heads for the Delta—and straight into another perilous battle.

The Delta is not just an adventure story with a little danger, romance and an exotic setting thrown in for good measure. It is a contemporary chronicle of the conflict between modernization and the status quo; between corporate interests, and the desire to preserve that which Mother Nature and time have created, molded and jealously guarded.

Sonja Kurtz is confronted with challenges. An unexpected reunion with her alcoholic father and a new family she never knew she had. An attraction to a handsome television star who seems more glitz than grit. An employer who holds her future in his hands. And a massive hydroelectric dam which threatens to forever change the essence of the Okavango Delta.

Author Tony Park presents a timeless issue in a contemporary setting. Man vs. Nature is the perpetual conflict, and the colorful characters and the fast-moving plot of The Delta engross the reader and make it impossible not to choose sides.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Genuine Imitation Faux Pas

I really shouldn’t be allowed out in public. Seriously—I shouldn’t. There should be firm policies against letting boneheaded women have access to normal people.

As I write this, I’m listening to Mr. Grumbles as he reads aloud to me from a catalogue: American Science and Surplus. Since I spend so much time working at the computer, the poor man has gotten quite proficient at speaking to my back and expecting nothing more than the occasional grunt in response. Once in awhile, he says something that breaks through my concentration and causes me to pause and really listen. I don’t do that often enough, I know. But he seems content to prattle away as he waits for that cognitive spark from his wife which acknowledges—at least temporarily--his presence on the bed behind me.

Tonight, he’s said several things which caught my attention. He read the description of a combination wallet and checkbook holder. It was made of “genuine imitation faux leather”. I puzzled over that one for several minutes. Genuine. Imitation. Faux. Leather.


As he read along, he also described another item offered in the catalogue. World War One-era glass urinals. Curiosity piqued, I turned around and said, “What in the world would someone want to buy those for?”

Of course, there was an answer. He continued. “These can be mounted on the wall and used as vases.”

What excellent imagery. That is the exact language--and usage--I would have chosen. Sheesh…

The catalogue offered other delights for just a fraction of the price you’d pay at any other high-class boutique or gift store. My favorite? For just pennies on the dollar, you can purchase a kit which includes toothpicks and toilet paper, so that you can turn house flies into mini airplanes. (Flies not included.)

I kid you not…you can’t make this stuff up.

But it was Mr. Grumble’s earlier ramble which really sent me for a loop. He’d climbed into bed and enjoyed his customary cuddle with his cat, Timmie. My husband doesn’t like cats, but he loves Timmie. She’s simply too danged cute and snuggly to ignore. He pets her and talks to her for a few minutes each night as she sits beside him with her tail-end on the bed, and her front feet on his chest or belly.
As he patted Timmie, I typed away-- hearing his words but not really listening. Not absorbing them. I was engrossed in a project, after all.

“That was pretty funny, this afternoon.”

“Mmm hmmm…” I typed away.

“You gave them quite a laugh.”

I turned around. He was talking about me, so I thought I’d better pay attention.

“I gave them a laugh, when?” I raised my brows enquiringly-- a little embarrassed, because I knew he’d probably already told me, and I simply hadn’t absorbed it. It wasn’t long before I regretted asking him to repeat himself.

We attended a meeting and luncheon today, and I was called on to give a brief rundown of the agenda for a conference which I have helped to plan and coordinate, and which is coming up on Saturday. As I explained the events for the morning session, I told the 35 attendees that there would be a segment during which representatives of other, similar organizations would come to the podium and give summaries of their own projects. I told them I was going to be very strict about keeping each speaker to his allotted five minutes. Someone in the crowd asked what I was going to do if a speaker went over his time.

I said, “I’ll yank him off.”

I remember the laughter. One chap asked, “You’ll WHAT?” and I thought he didn’t understand that I was serious. That those speakers would be held to their time limits, or there would be serious consequences!

The laughter went on. But saying that I’d jerk someone off stage if they spoke too long wasn’t really all that funny, I didn’t think.

That’s the problem, though. I didn’t think. I didn’t get it. And I carried on, content with my merry-go-lucky audience, and not even cognizant of the (genuine imitation) faux pas.

It took a retelling by Mr. Grumbles to make me realize I’d had another Bonehead Moment while in public. And he took more than five minutes to tell me, too.

Pffftt! I’m staying home, from now on. It’s not like I’ll be bored, here. I’ve got some house flies to catch before my order from the catalogue store arrives.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Whoopie Pies and Whoopie Cushions

There was a news article on the front page of the Maine section of today’s Bangor Daily News which caught my eye. “Lawmakers Debate Whoopie Pie as State Dessert”.

Incredulity caused me to read the article from beginning to end. It was just yesterday, while speaking to two of our state representatives, that I first heard of this bill… and the fact that upwards of one million dollars might be spent on promoting it and debating it before a final vote is taken in the Legislature.

One million dollars. For whoopie pies.

Here’s the deal. Apparently, some Mainers feel the need to have an official ‘state’ dessert. Why? I asked myself. Well, that question was promptly answered—by a University of Maine executive, no less.

““It builds pride in our state, it capitalizes on our unique and wonderful foodstuffs,” University of Maine Foundation President Amos Orcutt told the State and Local Government Committee”.

Okay. But are whoopie pies unique to Maine? Here is another quote from that article.

“Whoopie pies should be declared Maine’s official state dessert before Pennsylvania tries to snap up credit for the tasty chocolate cakes oozing with creamy white frosting, a legislative committee was told Monday.

"The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, warned that residents of the Keystone State may try to make a move if Maine lawmakers are unwilling to act. The hearing featured fresh whoopie pies, someone wearing a whoopie costume, and even a song praising the product as “a slice of happiness.””

I’m all for promoting the whoopie pie industry here in Maine—now that I know one exists. And I’ve always been open to the notion of inserting a little fun and ‘theater’ into a debate. But I’ve got to say this. To burn up expensive resources (our tax dollars pay the Legislators’ salaries, mileage, and other expenses) to debate a topic like a ‘state dessert’ seems to me to be a misuse of time and funds. This state is in economic shambles. This state is confronting weighty issues which must be dealt with immediately; such as medical insurance and health care, a welfare system which is out of control, and a corporate wind lobby with a terribly expensive agenda to push while we citizens are expecting our representatives in Augusta to study the facts of the issue, and then—push back.

I won’t find fault with the citizen who wrote this bill—after all, this is supposed to be a citizens’ government, and we can devise bill proposals of any type we choose. I won’t even criticize Representative Davis, who sponsored it; no doubt, at the request of one of his constituents. But what I will do is make a few requests of my own.

I ask that the Bangor Daily News and its sister papers-- the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Maine Sunday Telegram-- devote some of their front page space and a few fact-hungry reporters to the debate revolving around the former governor’s wind energy plan for Maine before the session draws to a close. This topic is immediate and critical to our state’s future. Whoopie pies, however? Not so much.

I request that our Representatives and Senators make a point to become at least as involved in the wind energy debate as they are about the question of whether or not they can trounce Pennsylvania in a race to claim the whoopie pie. (The act of putting this topic into words is a bit embarrassing, I am finding. Somewhat similar to the emotion I’ve experienced when inadvertently sitting on a whoopie cushion, I suppose. I wonder if the two ‘whoopies’ are related?)

And third: Those hundreds-- even thousands-- of us who have been devoting vast amounts of time, money and resources to educating the public about the facts regarding industrial wind would be very encouraged if citizens would take a few moments out of their busy days to ponder the implications of one of the most socially, financially and environmentally damaging energy plans to confront us in decades. We all love those dual chocolate cakes sandwiching creamy vanilla icing—there’s no doubt about it. But let’s all put this into perspective. There are vital, time-critical issues facing this state.

Please get down to business. Make whoopie, if you must. And then get back to the business of making ‘Maine—the way life SHOULD be’.

Whoopie Pie--Kevin Bennett photo, Bangor Daily News