Your publication is obviously a liberal, anti-military one that takes the privileges and freedoms of this country for granted! [“M.I.A. on the A.T.: No Escape,” July 2016] You also seem to have no knowledge of what it takes to train proficient and effective military personnel! As one who has actually attended SERE School I will testify that it is neither fun or enjoyable but is most assuredly life-saving for our troops! Your fantasy of these being secret torture sites is as absurd as you obviously are! Not all personnel sent to SERE training will be happy, just as not all people who join the military are cut out to be there!
I wonder what would happen to publications such as yours, and to your reporters, in Taliban-controlled areas or ISIS-controlled countries! Do you? I had friends imprisoned in Hanoi, Vietnam, for over six years! They will tell you they wished for a SERE program before their capture! Maybe you should get out from behind your comfortable desk and fight for your country!
Busby’s ethics are M.I.A.
Congratulations to Chris Busby on the loss of the last vestige of his journalistic credibility with regard to the Geraldine Largay tragedy.
Just to review: In July of 2015, The Bollard posted a hatchet piece [“M.I.A. on the A.T.”] in which he slyly implied a whole host of nefarious crimes and cover-ups by various members of law enforcement and the military. Let’s not forget: in Busby’s world of scandal journalism, anyone connected with any type of governing body is guilty of heinous crimes, simply by virtue of their membership in such a group.
After the Maine Warden Service released their full report on the incident in May, most people assumed Busby would let the matter drop, since all of the evidence clearly indicated that this was simply a tragic accident. Many observers even felt that Busby might experience a sense of embarrassment, given that his crackpot theories looked even more outrageous when compared to the actual evidence. Unfortunately, it seems we underestimated Chris Busby’s misplaced confidence in his own intellect.
Even Busby had to admit that his dream scenario simply wasn’t plausible: that Largay was murdered by brainwashed, paranoid, sleep-deprived Navy Seals, and that the Maine Warden Service assisted them in covering up the crime. How can we be sure? Well, for one thing, Largay doesn’t mention that in the journal she kept until days before her death from starvation and dehydration.
As difficult as it was for him, Busby was forced to give up on his pet theory. But, like any good Internet journalist, he had a backup scandal waiting in the wings: If Largay didn’t die on account of an active crime on the part of government agents, then she must have died due to the incompetence of those agents! In the July 2016 issue of The Bollard, Busby makes his case. He casually ignores the fact that the Largay search was one of the most exhaustive rescue efforts ever undertaken by the Maine Warden Service. Instead, he cherry-picks the events to find fault with his own fantasy-based list of things they did wrong — and utterly ignores any reference to the thousands of things they did right. Using methods perfected by hosts of citizen/blogger journalists, Busby ensures that the Warden Service will have to “prove a negative” to respond to his accusations, thereby ensuring that they will be unable to defend themselves against his charges.
Look, the Maine Warden Service hasn’t exactly covered themselves in glory with their recent shenanigans related to the North Woods Law TV series. But they certainly don’t deserve this treatment from Busby with regard to the Largay search. The Warden Service went above and beyond in the mission by any objective measure. Sadly, there is ample data showing that the Largay outcome is common in lost-hiker searches when the victim is unable or unwilling to participate in their own rescue. Busby almost certainly knows this, but acknowledging it would force him to admit the thing that he finds most abhorrent: that this was simply a tragic set of circumstances, and no scandalous or criminal behavior was involved.
If I were Chris Busby, I’d refrain from casting aspersions on others about their own occupational shortcomings.
Rockland city manager responds
I am writing to express my deep disappointment in some of the so-called journalism that has appeared recently in your paper, in an effort to correct the record. The August 2016 article “The Long Con of Rocklandia” is wrong, sloppy, and deeply injurious to the reputation of Rockland public servants, including me. You failed to contact me to make the slightest effort to determine if your false allegations had any merit.
This failure is, I believe, a pristine example of the Supreme Court’s definition of defamation, described as “reckless disregard for the truth,” when “slipshod and sketchy investigatory techniques are employed,” and when “elementary precautions are ignored.”
First, you did not get even some of the most basic facts correct. The surrounding towns were asked to provide letters of support not because it would benefit Energy Management Inc. (EMI), but because of the potential to achieve the economic development goal of bringing natural gas to Midcoast Maine, which has been an economic development priority for this region of Maine since long before I was involved in economic development. I also wish to clarify that I never met secretly with EMI last summer.
Next, the public servants like me who acted in good faith are portrayed in this article falsely as crooked conmen and shysters — author Judith Lawson even suggests that I’m worthy of prosecution — without a shred of good evidence to back up these claims, and with plenty of reason to think otherwise.
If only Lawson or Busby had bothered to ask me a single question.
The article grudgingly admits that natural gas “could be used to heat industrial buildings nearby”; that natural gas is “a ‘cleaner’ process than burning oil,” as the city does now; and that its supporters hoped for increased property-tax revenues, construction jobs, permanent jobs at the plant, and cheap steam for FMC and others. Lawson even manages to admit that the Rockland Professional Fire Fighters wrote an open letter urging the construction of the new plant for those very reasons.
Those might seem like good reasons for Rockland’s public servants to support plans for the plant. But no, without asking if that was the case, Busby and Lawson decided otherwise. The front page of The Bollard screams: “The Long Con of Rocklandia: How Dirty Politics and Dirty Energy Nearly Tarnished the Jewel of the Midcoast.” Inside, you describe Rockland’s public servants as “secretive and corruptible.” Busby and Lawson foment angrily at the “forces of greed and graft.” They allege we engaged in some sort of “nefarious behavior.” City officials are “complicit in this deception.” Lawson even goes so far as to call government efforts “Orwellian,” and in her first sentence compares her story to Watergate.
What is the evidence? Nothing.
Lawson seems to think that her biggest scoop is about me trying to adopt talking points drafted by the plant’s developer in an effort to drum up support for the plan. For that, Lawson bizarrely suggests, I should be “fired on the spot and then referred to the D.A. for indictment,” and “charged with a crime.”
What crime? Isn’t it possible that I wanted more jobs, cleaner energy, and increased tax revenue for Rockland? Also, as an economic development professional, my job is to meet with any business or developer, big or small, who wants to do a project in Rockland. My job isn’t to pick and choose which projects to pay attention to and which to ignore.
That’s the true story. But Busby and Lawson wanted a scoop, a splash. Sadly, they ignored the most basic rules of journalism in that craven effort. Next time, just ask a question or two.
I think it is clear that The Bollard has done its readers a deep disservice. I hope that you will show some journalistic integrity, publish this letter in full, and let your readers decide the truth.
Acting City Manager, Rockland
A citizen responds
Having lived in Rocklandia for 35 years and managed to keep my head above, but not out of, hot water with City Hall, I can only praise and respect the in-depth report by Judith Lawson as being one of the most factual, disgusting, and “I told you so” examples of dirty politics and nasty games played by inept, self-serving, arrogant and nasty people, both on the current City Council and past Council, in the office of the city manager, and those closely associated thereto. We have lost some very good people that served this city well and did not deserve the treatment and disrespect shown to them.
We will look into charges being brought in light of these new revelations — not totally unexpected, but so well researched and developed that they need to be brought into the legal arena to determine whether they constitute criminal behavior.
Renew Rockland responds
We are the founders of Renew Rockland, a community advocacy organization in Rockland, Maine. Our mission is “to promote sustainable economic growth and a healthy community by educating on the importance of protecting our natural resources, encouraging construction of green infrastructure, renewable technology and energy efficiency, and ending our dependence on fossil fuels.” We started Renew Rockland in part as a response to the natural-gas power plant and pipeline proposal described in Judith Lawson’s article, “The Long Con of Rocklandia.” We opposed the plant and pipeline, and in general oppose the expansion of natural gas infrastructure. But we feel that Lawson’s article doesn’t give enough weight to the tremendous positive energy, advocacy, and engagement that has emerged out of the past 15 months of controversy.
The fight against the gas plant wasn’t just a fight against what in our opinion was an unsustainable and unsound development proposal. It was also a fight for renewable energy, sustainable development, community values, and good governance. We advocate for all of these things, and we have been inspired to stand by our friends and neighbors as they advocate alongside us. The shift in public and official opinion and attitudes in Rockland during this struggle has been astounding, to the extent that sometimes we step back and literally have trouble believing how far we’ve come. We, as a municipality, have gone from welcoming a natural-gas power plant and pipeline with open arms to now having passed some of the most progressive power-generation ordinances in the country. These ordinances include first-in-the-nation provisions regarding air emissions reduction, water use and recycling, and decommissioning. Perhaps even more importantly, the ordinances are the result of an extensive and transparent public process that incorporated both sustained, broad-based advocacy and a spirit of inclusion and respect.
And that’s not all! Renew Rockland is working on a variety of exciting projects, including a 100-percent renewable energy goal for Rockland, a local food sovereignty ordinance, and initiatives to increase local recycling, composting, and materials reclamation. None of this would have been possible without the public support and civic engagement galvanized by the power plant proposal.
So, yes, we opposed the plant, and yes, we were not happy with the public process surrounding the proposal. But we are thankful to live in a place where the negative energy surrounding this project has been largely transmuted into an amazing sense of engagement and civic responsibility, and we wish that this transformation had played a larger role in Lawson’s article. We are proud of Rockland, which is our home and which we will continue to defend and support however we can.