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