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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

7/22/09

Wednesday July 22

MATINICUS LOBSTERMAN SHOOTING

Emergency Closure, Matinicus -
Serious lobster gear conflicts have persisted at Matinicus Island and the fishing area around the island this spring and summer that have escalated to the point of having an adverse affect on the safety of lobster fisherman and the economy of the island community. Property has been vandalized, hundreds of lobster traps cut off, assaults taken place and threats on individuals and personal property has occurred. On July 20th, 2009 the conflict escalated to the point of a physical assault, pepper spray and firearms being used, and one person being struck by gunfire seriously injuring him. These circumstances create a serious and immediate threat to the personal safety and welfare of lobster fisherman using the waters off Matinicus Island, as well as an immediate threat of serious economic dislocation. To address these threats, it is necessary to close the areas traditionally fished around Matinicus Island in order to resolve the gear conflicts and to restore peace and create a reasonable and safe atmosphere where lobster fishing can take place without the fear of personal confrontation or injury and significant monetary loss. The adoption of this rule, addressing the gear conflicts on Matinicus Island, is necessary on an emergency basis to prevent serious economic dislocation in the area, . . . as well as to avoid an immediate threat to the public health, safety or general welfare.

Village Soup - Col. Joseph Fessenden of the Maine Marine Patrol said unofficial fishing territories have been in existence in Maine waters for the last 100 years or so and each season there are problems with traps being cut. Generally there are fist fights or assaults, he said. "This is the first time someone has actually pulled the trigger," Fessenden said. Fessenden said he has worked for the Maine Marine Patrol for 34 years and this is the first time a fisherman has been shot.

. . . At the time of the shooting, members of the Maine Marine Patrol and the Knox County Sheriff's Office were already on Matinicus for a report of a confrontation resulting from lobstermen feuding over fishing rights and territory, according to a press release from the sheriff's office.

. . . Several officers from the Maine Marine Patrol, the sheriff's office and state police remained on Matinicus throughout the night to provide an immediate law enforcement response in the event additional problems developed.

WCSH - The Maine Marine Patrol announced the closure [of lobstering in the area], saying it was taking the unprecedented action to force a kind of "cooling off period" on the roughly 25 fishermen who work the waters around that island. . .

ABC News - The origins of the industry's unofficial territorial system go back to about 1890, said University of Maine professor James Acheson, who has written two books on the subject. Mostly, those territorial rights stay within local fishing families or among long-timers in the same harbors.

When fishermen feel their turf is being encroached upon, they send signals to the offending lobsterman by leaving a note in a bottle in the trap, by tying a knot in the buoy rope or by cutting out the door to the trap so lobsters can escape. Sometimes they resort to cutting trap lines - resulting in lost traps, which can cost $80 to $100 each.

Lobstermen have been known to ram their boats into each other and occasionally show a gun. Once in Portland Harbor, a boat crew jumped onto another boat and struggled with another crew before they were tossed overboard.

On occasion, lobstermen fire warning shots, and Acheson remembers a lobsterman once firing bullets through another boat's windshield in Penobscot Bay. On Matinicus a few years ago, two fishermen were charged after one of them fired a shotgun at the other. . .

Matinicus has a reputation for lawlessness and as a place where locals take matters into their own hands. The island, which has only 40 or 50 year-round residents and is about 20 miles from Rockland, is so far-removed that Maine's state ferry makes only four trips a month there in the summer and one a month in the winter.

"The island up and down the coast has a very bad reputation," Acheson said. "I was talking to a man from Stonington who said fishermen on Matinicus think of themselves as being outside the United States. What he meant by that was the law simply doesn't apply to them."

PASS ID

Bangor Daily News - Just back from the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, Gov. John Baldacci said he is endorsing the Pass ID proposal of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. "We need to strengthen our driver's licenses, and we need to require a lawful presence requirement," he said. "It eliminates the fees currently assessed to states to use existing federal databases. It eliminates all the data-sharing mandates. It adds flexibility to the states." Baldacci said the Pass ID legislation is designed to replace the controversial Real ID law that Maine and other states have opposed. While governor of Arizona, Napolitano opposed Real ID but said the new proposal fixes the problems she saw in the Real ID law.

. . . In Maine, both Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and the Maine Civil Liberties Union are opposing the Pass ID proposal.

. . . Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, said she is "disappointed, but not surprised" that the governor has endorsed legislation that she said is just as bad as Real ID. "Pass ID is Real ID under pseudonym," she said. "The two proposals are largely the same."

Bellows said that in many ways the new proposal is worse than the existing law. She questioned whether the section allowing radio frequency ID chips in ID cards to be used in credentials has been thought through with many reports of the data from similar cards being stolen by identity thieves.

"That and the creation of all of these central databases are an identity thief's dream," she said. "All of that private information in one place is scary."

ACLU Blog - It's not every day that privacy advocates agree with this particular group of four congressmen. But in Tuesday's Washington Post, Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) spoke out against PASS ID as a threat to our national security. We concur: PASS ID does present unnecessary risk, all while doing nothing to aid national security.

Unfortunately, once you get past the headline, our agreement pretty much ends. The four congressmen are actually supporters of the failed Real ID Act - Rep. Sensenbrenner is the act's author. They oppose PASS ID because they feel it weakens some of Real ID's more draconian requirements. But the PASS ID Act is no benign alternative. It exposes Americans to an increased risk of identity theft, endangers victims of domestic violence, and cuts off religious minorities and some legal immigrants from full participation in society.

Given the lengths PASS ID goes to imitate Real ID, we're honestly surprised that there can be objections labeling PASS ID too soft on terrorists. In any event, the important thing is that the ACLU and Congressmen Smith, Sensenbrenner, King, and Issa can stand together and oppose PASS ID on its merits.

THE MAINE STREAM

Morning Sentinel -The 12th annual Maine International Film Festival broke all records . . . "We did sort of cross the 10,000 admission threshold this year, which was awesome," festival director Shannon Haines said Tuesday. "Our goal was to hit 10,000 and we were around 10,500 admissions. It's really exciting.". . . The audience pick for favorite film of the festival was "The Necessities of Life," a Canadian movie about the tuberculosis epidemic that broke out in the Inuit population of far northern Canada in the 1940s and '50s.

Bangor Daily News - A business agent for the local Teamsters union said Monday afternoon that she was "shocked" by the mountains of canned goods collected during a statewide food drive that culminated at the Maine Potato Blossom parade this weekend. "We collected 25,000 pounds of food and $860 in donations," said Traci Place, the business agent for the South Portland-based Teamsters Local 340. . . A tractor-trailer left Kittery on July 17 and headed north, making several stops along the way, during which the Teamsters collected nonperishable food and monetary donations.

Given the size of Maine, this could be a real bummer: Sun Sentinel,FL - In the not-too-distant future, the government may be riding along with you, keeping tabs on when, where and how far you drive. Instead of paying a gas tax at the pump, you would get a bill every month based on how much you use the roads. . . . South Florida is one of six areas in the country chosen to test such a system as an alternative to the gas tax you pay at the pump. The University of Iowa is looking for 250 volunteers willing to have tracking devices similar to cell phones and Sun Pass transponders installed in their cars so researchers can record their mileage for the next 10 months. The study won't track individual routes. For their trouble, participants will get $895. . . The $16.5 million study, authorized by Congress, hopes to address a looming consequence of the nation's rush toward greater fuel efficiency as people drive less and buy cars with better gas mileage. The Iowa researchers are launching the study today at Florida International University's Lehman Center for Transportation Research in Miami. Drivers also are taking part in Chicago; Albuquerque, N.M.; Portland, Maine; Wichita, Kan.; and Billings, Montana.


Newburyport News - Over the past two weeks, New England Aquarium has received a number of calls from residents who have seen harbor seal pups lying on the shores of Hampton, Seabrook and Salisbury beaches.While the typical response may be to pour water on them, cover them in a blanket, push them back into the ocean or get close to them, biologists are warning residents to stay away. "Harbor seals are born in May and June and are weaned by their mothers this time of year," said senior biologist Kate Sardi of the New England Aquarium's rescue department. "Seal pups, like any young species, need to rest and often come up on beaches to lie." . . . Typically born in the cooler and more fish-infested waters of Maine, seal pups travel south, often being seen in this region before moving down the coast. . . Sardi said when a seal pup is spotted, the best thing people can do is call the New England Aquarium hot line - 617-973-5247 - to alert biologists.

All Gov
- A small town in Maine has used an unusual tactic to stop exploitation of its natural water source: residents voted to declare that nature has legal rights. Poland Spring, a bottled water subsidiary of Nestle, has tried in recent years to gain access to underground water supplies in the small town of Shapleigh, which ignited fierce opposition from many locals. In response to Poland Spring gaining permission from state environmental officials to drill test wells in the area, Shapleigh residents overwhelmingly passed an ordinance granting legal rights to the town's natural assets, including the aquifer, so it could sue (with the help of some human legal assistance) the company in civil court. Shapleigh is now one of about a dozen American towns to make such a bold legal move. Proponents declare that the designation is not as odd as it seems, considering that other non-human entities-such as corporations-already have the right to file lawsuits. The effort seems to have had an effect. It was reported last week that Poland Spring officials have asked the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for permission to decommission its test wells in the Vernon Walker Wildlife Management Area.

Pat Gallant-Charette, 58, of Westbrook plans to try to swim the English Channel that she missed crossing by two miles last year. She's been training for next week's adventure at the Freeport YMCA.


Salem News - The National Park Service has canceled the remainder of Friendship's summer schedule after rot to the bow of the tall ship proved more extensive than it first appeared. . . Rot in the ship's bow was discovered while the replica 1797 East Indiaman, which is 104 feet in length, was being inspected at the Boothbay Harbor shipyard in Maine.

Exception Magazine - Recent changes to Maine's Mandatory Shoreland Zoning laws will impact any property owners within 250 feet of a lake, wetland or river. In July, all Maine towns must update their shoreland zoning ordinances to comply with state mandated changes. Towns may adopt the exact ordinance written by the state, or amend it to meet their own needs. However, a town's amendments must be more restrictive than the state's in order to be approved. . . The Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, which was enacted by the Legislature in 1971, affects public and private lands within 250 feet of rivers, wetlands, lakes and the ocean, and lands within 75 feet of certain streams. If a town does not create its own ordinance, the state will impose a standard ordinance on the town.

B World - Late blight, which caused the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s, is killing potato and tomato plants in home gardens from Maine to Ohio and threatening commercial and organic farms, US plant scientists said earlier this month. "Late blight has never occurred this early and this widespread in the United States," said Meg McGrath, a plant pathologist at Cornell University's extension center in Riverhead, New York. She said the fungal disease, spread by spores carried in the air, has made its way into the garden centers of large retail chains in the Northeastern US. "Wal-mart, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart and Lowe's are some of the stores the plants have been seen in," Ms. McGrath said in a telephone interview.

NY Observer - From Ocala, Fla., and Unity, Maine, the fate of New York doormen may be decided. The two towns headquarter the remote command centers of the Virtual Doorman, a technology that, as the name suggests, acts as a building's doorman in everything but a warm body. Plus, it's cheaper: $9,000 to $17,000 for installation, maintenance extra, while a real, live doorman might run a building $80,000 annually. About 110 apartment complexes in the New York metro area use Virtual Doorman, mostly in Manhattan, and the company that released its first virtual doorman in 2000 is now looking to expand nationwide. There is a tradeoff, however, for the price: Orwellian-like vigilance. "The theme that's happened in the last couple of weeks is we have people that watch their dog walker," said Colin Foster, the founder and marketing head of Virtual Doorman. "'He was out for only 15 minutes-I'm paying him for half an hour!'" And workers from the Florida and Maine command centers can watch female tenants as they walk home alone from their parked cars. If anyone comes from behind, someone from Ocala can intone Eastwood-like, "Sir, you are instructed to leave the building. If you do not leave immediately, we will call the police," or, "We have already called the police, and they are already on their way." And why Ocala and Unity, anyway, and not, say, Brooklyn or the Bronx? The bottom line. "Fifteen to seventeen dollars is a very good salary in Ocala, Florida," Mr. Foster said.

Working Waterfront - After more than 14 years of contentious debate, momentum is building to allow sea-run alewives back into Maine's St. Croix River. On July 10, an international commission with jurisdiction over shared U.S. and Canadian waterways wrote Gov. John Baldacci to urge the removal of structures on dams that block alewives from the river. Canadian wildlife officials long have argued that the dams were put there illegally and without any scientific basis. And a coalition of 51 American and Canadian fishing and environmental organizations recently banded together to lobby for action to restore the alewife in the St. Croix.

Foster's, Lebanon - There have been no new developments as state police continue to investigate the homicide case involving Frances Moulton, whose remains were found at the bottom of a well last month. . . Moulton went missing in July 2006. Family members said they watched her get on the back of a motorcycle and drive off, never to be seen again. Since she was thought of as a transient who often disappeared for long stretches of time, police had two theories to work with: either Moulton had simply disappeared again and would return soon, or she was dead. . . When they received information suggesting they search the old well on Creamery Hill Road - which before their search was covered by a pile of tires - they quickly mobilized to the area. After a day of state police divers going to the bottom of the well, police announced they believed they found her remains.

Village Soup - Moffatt & Nichol, a company based in Long Beach, Calif., was selected over four other contenders for the right to market some 300 acres on Sears Island for potential port development. . . The state issued a nationwide request for proposals from consulting firms in mid-March, and the search attracted responses from a total of five companies from all over the country. The idea of obtaining a marketing expert was initially discussed at a meeting of the Legislature's Transportation Committee in early March. . . That announcement followed the committee's approval of a joint use plan for the 941-acre island, which divided Sears Island into two parts - about 340 acres at the northwest quadrant of the island for a potential port, and the remaining 600 acres to be placed in a conservation easement.

WCSH - Police in Lewiston will be keeping a watchful eye out for litterbugs in an effort to decrease trash on the streets and increase pride in the community. . . A fine for littering can run from $100 to $500.

Sun Journal - Corn stunted from too much rain in the Hastings Farm field took a direct hit from Saturday evening's tornado that touched down on the north side of Farwell Mountain in the background. The twister cut through the trees, traveled through the cornfield, hit the nearby Androscoggin River, crossed Route 2 and toppled trees in Hanover. . . . Gloria Crockett of 1360 Intervale Road said she watched it develop in front of Farwell Mountain about a mile from her house. "When I looked out there was one big old black cloud forming right up over the mountain," she said Tuesday. "I mean huge. It filled a quarter of the sky.". . . . . . Jason Coolidge was sitting on the lawn behind his house with his fiancee, Rebekah Howe, and his son on Saturday evening when they saw and heard the tornado. "It sounded like a continuous rumble of thunder," Coolidge said. "I looked up and could see the clouds swirling. You could see the edge of it."

Brunswick Times Record - Clearing a monumental hurdle on the road to redevelopment, the Town Council unanimously passed amendments to the municipal zoning ordinance, adding three new zoning districts for the proposed reuse of Brunswick Naval Air Station. The Navy is scheduled to relinquish the 3,200-acre base property for civilian redevelopment in 2011. The zoning amendments. . . create three new zones designated for conservation, economic development, and college and town use. . . Representatives of the base environmental watchdog group Brunswick Area Citizens for a Safe Environment, however, remain concerned about groundwater contamination and the continued cleanup of a section of the base property known as Eastern Plume. Members argued that while institutional controls are not necessary immediately as part of the zoning ordinance, a process must be in place to implement such controls as soon as the property is conveyed from the Navy.

UPCOMING

The 5th Annual Peace Fair of Greater Brunswick. Saturday, August 8 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Brunswick Mall. Music and art for children and adults peace, environmental, economic and religious exhibitors conversation cafes.
371-2077 or 729-0023

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