Jonathan Fulford for Maine Senate

October 14, 2014

There are a lot of reasons to support Jonathan Fulford as Waldo County’s next Maine Senator. He won’t cut taxes for the wealthy and pass the bill to towns and schools. Every property owner in Maine is paying for that gift to those who needed it the least. He won’t try to take away voting rights from you, your families, or your neighbors. It’s only a few years ago the Maine’s “people’s veto” had to undo the work of well-trained Republican extremists in the legislature who limited the young, poor, and the elderly right to vote. While nearly every state of the union is quickly and successfully expanding wind and solar; the State of Maine has had a policy of energy development denial. Jonathan Fulford will not turn his back on clean affordable energy. The last four years was supposed to be all about economic development but we are behind every state in New England because of a failed conservative experiment following a national play book that did not work. Jonathan Fulford won’t experiment on Maine. As a current Belfast City Council member and former Belfast Mayor I have seen firsthand the effects of the Maine legislature’s tax cuts and the cuts in school funding and municipal revenue sharing. These cuts hurt every Mainer. Jonathan Fulford will work to restore fair school and municipal support. Jonathan represents decency, honesty, common sense, hard work, and fairness. Please join me and vote for Jonathan Fulford. It is time for a change.

The Bangor Daily News only accepts a letter fom any one individual once every 60 days.

October 14, 2014

Really? But you can buy an ad every day of your life. I absolutely hate this policy. They’re okay with totally faceless individuals hiding behind internet names like REALMAINER who can say truly just about anything at their “on-line” comments but God forbid someone should put their real name to a letter more than once in two months. Shame on the Bangor Daily News and any other paper with these kind of anti reader policies.

Withdrawal from RSU 20 FAQ as written by the withdrawal committee.

October 9, 2014

Withdrawal from RSU 20 : Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

• Why these five towns (Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont, Swanville)?
It’s been less than five years since SAD 34 (Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville) and 56 (Searsport, Stockton Springs and Frankfort) formed RSU 20. The former SAD 34 towns once benefited from mutual collaborations. The former SAD 34 has over 50 years history, and the facilities are at comfortable capacity levels (most are significantly full). Returning to this format also causes no disruption in educational practices. Northport is pursuing a municipal school system but will send high school students to the New RSU or other schools of their choosing.

• Did committees look at other options?
Yes, many other options were studied (including pursuing separate town school systems) and the present plan was found to be the most economically feasible and to provide the least disruption to students.

• Why are we going through this again? Didn’t we just vote on withdrawal?
Although voters in all five towns voted resoundingly in favor of withdrawal, the vote was not held during a major election and the towns were unable to meet the steep voter turnout requirements in the withdrawal law.

• How will this affect my taxes?
With Northport leaving RSU 20, the Five Towns will save money on their “school bill” if we withdraw. The five towns hired an independent analyst to review the financial consequences of various withdrawal options. The analyst determined that if the schools’ budgets were to remain the same as today, withdrawing would save the towns approximately $300,000 as compared to staying in RSU 20 without Northport. As the analyst pointed out, school costs are more significantly driven by factors such as population shifts and state funding. Those in favor of withdrawal believe that the five towns would be better able to address the challenges posed by these factors in the coming years through a smaller, more involved school board and new leadership.

• Why should we withdraw?
1. Petitioners and a growing number of residents feel withdrawing would make closing schools in the five towns much less likely to happen. All of those schools are full or significantly enrolled, making it difficult to send students to other schools. Supporters believe that dropping enrollment and high per- student costs in the former SAD 56 make RSU 20 a framework that cannot be sustained without cutting programs, closing schools, cutting teacher positions and/or raising taxes. Many believe that withdrawal will provide a measure of security against an uncertain financial climate in the coming years.
2. Other than the consolidated central office and school board, the two districts operate much as they did when they were independent. The former SAD 56 schools serve the towns where they are located and likewise for former 34. SAD 56 teachers teach in their schools and likewise for SAD 34 teachers. Each side of the RSU has its own bus garage and, with only a few exceptions, buses its students to its own schools. Try as many have there is still an often expressed “tension” between the two districts. Separating the districts again will eliminate the potential for the mistrust or resentment when decisions have to be made. As long as there is financial pressure to close schools, there will be resistance and mistrust rather than a true effort to work together.

• What happens to teacher contracts?
All teachers, in both former SAD34 and SAD56 now have the same contract and will be earning the same pay scale. That will not change if withdrawal occurs.

• What happened to the concept of consolidating to one high school?
Although the RSU 20 Board last year considered various options to close and consolidate schools, there was no agreement on a viable plan. Ultimately, the Board opted to table any further discussion on consolidation until after the vote on withdrawal. In the meantime, the discussion of consolidating the high schools has caused Searsport and Stockton Springs to pursue withdrawal. If the five towns are not successful in withdrawing, Searsport and Stockton Springs are likely to push to withdraw.

• When will withdrawal occur, if approved?
If the five towns each approve withdrawal and forming the new RSU at the November 4 election, the withdrawal will take effect on June 30, 2015 and the new RSU will exist as of July 1, 2015.

• What kind of changes should students/parents expect if we withdraw?
Much as when the two SADs combined to form RSU 20, there will be much behind-the-scenes work to transition business into the new RSU. However, the change in administration will not affect the day-to- day lives of teachers and students. Students will stay in the same schools, with the same teachers as they would have if the region continued under RSU 20. The new RSU will have a new school board (with 9 members), and will hire a new superintendent to assist in the transition and to serve the new RSU.

• How much will withdrawal cost?
Costs related to withdrawal include transferring deeds, changing stationary, signage, software, legal costs and other similar expenses that will be a one-time cost. The costs are not expected to be major (less than $150,000) and some portion of them can be spread out over time.

• What will the new RSU do for funds until it can make assessments?
The new RSU will need some funds to handle expenses during the transition time prior to July 1, 2015. Examples include election costs for the new school board, part-time salary for a business manager and superintendent to prepare the RSU to run, legal fees, and startup costs for the central office. The Reorganization Plan has accounted for these expenses and authorized the new Board to spend up to $150,000 for these purposes. These expenses will likely be covered by a short-term loan and/or through distributions from RSU 20 that are required under the withdrawal agreement.

• What is the timeline for the withdrawal process?
There will be two questions on the November 4 ballot. The first question will ask voters if they want to withdraw from RSU 20 in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreements already signed between the withdrawal committees and RSU 20. The second question will ask voters if they wish to reform into a new RSU comprised of Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont and Swanville. If both of these items are approved on November 4, the withdrawal and reorganization will take effect on July 1, 2015. If the withdrawal vote fails in even one of the five towns, all five towns will remain in RSU 20. If the withdrawal vote passes but the reorganization vote fails, the Reorganization Planning Committee can make changes to the plan and submit it for another vote.

• Why were SAD 34 and SAD 56 consolidated in the first place?
In 2008, a new law mandated the consolidation of school districts around the state, and directed SAD 34 and 56 to consolidate. Penalties were threatened for any non-complying district, and these funds were to be distributed to the districts that did comply. Although it was opposed by many in both districts, the consolidation went ahead to avoid the threatened penalties. However, the law was ultimately changed to remove the penalties and to take away any mandate to consolidate.

• Are other school districts withdrawing?
Yes. The withdrawal statute states that members of a regional school unit that have been members for 30 months may petition for withdrawal. At the present time, nine towns statewide have already withdrawn from their RSUs, ten will be voting on November 4, and another five are considering withdrawal. Locally Northport and Searsport and Stockton Springs are also all working towards withdrawal.

• – Prepared by members of the Withdrawal Committees

Maine is in the top ten of fifty states on almost all measures

October 7, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/10/07/why-the-south-is-the-worst-place-to-live-in-the-u-s-in-10-charts/?hpid=z4

An interesting article with lots of charts and Maine does well. Better than 40 states in most counts. 7th overall as “best place to live” but just listen to our Governor bad mouth everything. After the election he’ll be free to move into the real estate foreclosure he picked up at a bargain.

It is time to get the City of Belfast off oil

October 5, 2014

Have you seen my black 55 gallon oil barrel? I have it on the corner by Alexia’s but it will be moving around town.
It says….

This barrel is 55 gallons.

In the heating season of 2013 the City of Belfast burned 484 barrels to heat the few buildings the City owns. 1. City Hall, 2. Library, 3. Police Stations, 4. Fire Department, 5. Highway Garage, 6. Belfast Boat House, 7. Waste Water Treatment, 8. Transfer Station, 9. Cemetery , 10. Harbormaster .

484 barrels X 55 gallons = 26,607 gallons of oil x $ 3.125 per gallon = $ 83,148.00

Since 2000 we have burned 372,498 gallons of oil or 6,773 barrels of oil to heat 10 buildings.

Since 2000 372,498 x $ 3.125 = $1,164,000.00 of taxes collected to pay for the oil.

Laid end to end, starting at the traffic light downtown, the 484 barrels for last year alone would extend past Jacks Grocery or 1,391 feet.

    Since 2000: Laid end to end, starting at the traffic light downtown, the 6,773 barrels of heating oil used and burned would go 3.7 miles down Route One nearly half a mile past the Bayside Store.

Last year the City paid CMP 242,451.76 for electricity. For oil and electricity we paid 325,599.76 and since 2000 4,558,396.64 (more than the entire city budget for 2014).

The City of Belfast is looking into what we can do to use solar energy, heat pumps, or whatever it takes to cut these costs, burn less oil, and spend less and to do it fast.

Please support City of Belfast efforts to save money, cut costs, and burn less oil. Please demand it of your governemnt. The 4.5 million was your tax dollars. We can do better.

Belfast Maine is Happy is still a great tune!

October 2, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8vm1xaKF1I

Have you seen this? :)

Vote for Christine Burstein in Belmont, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo, and Searsmont.

October 2, 2014

Here is my strong endorsement for Christine Burstein for the Maine House……..I recommend you support Christine Burstein as she runs to serve you in the Maine House for Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo, and Searsmont. I have known Chris since she was a teenager. She was then and remains the hardest working most cheerful person you will ever meet. It is somewhat amazing to me that the young Chris who I knew from messing around boats went on and became a 100 ton sail/power license holder, wife, a mother, nurse, school board member, and businesswoman. She is a remarkable person. She is running for all the best reasons: To make things better here for Mainers. She is not driven by a national agenda. She has not been recruited and anointed as a representative for anyone other than the citizens of her district. She is not a divider. She will work to get the job done with and for everyone. You can count on Chris to work hard for you, for your town, and to be fair. I would be proud to vote for Chris Burstein if I lived in her district but I live in Belfast. I do know her though and if you are in her district she is the person you want working for you.

Yours truly/ Mike Hurley/ Belfast/ Maine
Michael Hurley
93 Main Street
Belfast Maine 04915
207-338-1975 or 323-0881

I’m back!

October 2, 2014

It’s election time and we have big choices to make. I’ll tell you what I am supporting and why. Hopefully you’ll join me but just as importantly you’ll know where I stand. And as the obnoxious guy said…. “I’m not arguing I am trying to make you understand I am right.”

The Belfast Skatepark needs your support

February 15, 2014

I am forwarding this as written. I’m not a fan of all caps…. but I am a fan of the skate park and downtown vitality and keeping kids as part of society and not banishing them. The skate park needs your support: please take a moment to read this and send a letter of support to the email address at the end.

TO THE FRIENDS OF THE ERIC OVERLOCK MEMORIAL SKATEPARK:
WE NEED AN EMAIL FROM YOU TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!
THE PARK HAS SERVED US WELL AS A STATE OF THE ART PARK FOR ITS TIME; BUT LIKE ALL OF THE WOOD FRAMED RAMPS IN MAINE THEIR TIME IS LIMITED OUT IN THE ELEMENTS.
HERE IS OUR “SHORT TERM” PLAN: IT IS TIME TO REPAIR THE PARK TO MAKE IT SAFE BY REPLACING BROKEN FRAMING MEMBERS, REPLACING ROTTEN SUBSHEATHING, AND REPLACING BROKEN FASTENERS. WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A 4 FOOT HIGH BY 24 FOOT WIDE HALFPIPE THAT WOULD FIT PERFECTLY IN PLACE OF THE NOW GONE VERTICAL HALFPIPE. THIS RAMP IS USER FREINDLY FOR ALL ABILITY LEVELS AND WOULD BE A GREAT ADDITION.
WE WILL NEED TO RAISE MONEY FOR THE MATERIALS FOR THE REPAIRS. THE DONATED HALFPIPE NEEDS NEW SURFACING,(SKATELITE), SAFETY RAILS AND A SET OF STAIRS. WE ARE ESTIMATING THE MATERIAL COSTS TO BE 5 OR 6 THOUSAND DOLLARS. WE NEED TO START RAISING MONEY NOW IN ORDER TO GET THE PARK READY FOR SUMMER. FUNDRAISING RAISING IDEAS SO FAR INCLUDE: BOTTLE DRIVES, BATTLE OF THE BANDS CONCERT, LOCAL ART AUCTION, AND SKATEBOARD RELATED MOVIE FEATURED AT THE COLONIAL AS A BENEFIT. WE ARE WORKING ON FINDING A NON PROFIT THAT WILL ACT AS OUR TREASURER SO THAT WE CAN START COLLECTING DONATIONS. IF YOU CAN HELP WITH ANY OF THESE THINGS INCLUDING THE CARPENTRY WORK, PLEASE LET US KNOW. ANY OTHER FUNDRAISING IDEAS WOULD BE APPRECIATED AS WELL.
OUR “LONG TERM” GOAL WILL BE TO START PLANNING FOR A PERMANENT CONCRETE REPLACEMENT THAT WILL BE MAINTENANCE FREE, QUIET,MORE USER FRIENDLY, AND A BIT LESS OF AN EYESORE. BUILDING A NEW SKATEPARK IS VERY EXPENSIVE AND WILL TAKE LOTS OF TIME AND SUPPORT.

PLEASE SEND US YOUR EMAIL OF SUPPORT FOR THIS CAUSE TO: JOANNEPARENTART@GMAIL.COM, AS WE ARE COMPILING LETTERS TO TAKE TO THE CITY TO SHOW THEM HOW MUCH THIS PARK MEANS TO OUR TOWN!

Is Belfast Becoming Gentrified?

February 14, 2014

Good article in the Bangor Daily News read all about it and don’t miss the “comment” section or you will be sorry. :)

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/02/12/news/midcoast/is-belfast-becoming-gentrified-locals-hope-it-wont-lose-its-gritty-spirit/?ref=comments


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