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Letter to the Editor March 24, 2009

Our letter to the editor did appear in the April 5, 2009 Sunday Telegram on the Editorial page under Another View. However, the passages in red were eliminated from our original. Just another example of the Press Herald filtering out controversial issues in support of big money interests.



The Portland Press Herald (Tuesday, March 24, 2009) believes that Fryeburg’s loss, in judicial court, to Poland Spring should teach a lesson regarding “guidelines for policies or practices contained in a planning document . . . .”

The paper’s editors are talking about a Regulatory Ordinance – Fryeburg‘s. A Regulatory Ordinance is exactly as described in quotes above. If it is a weak one, gaining a permit for whatever is being sought is easy. And what’s more, once a large corporation gains entry into town through the town’s Regulatory Ordinance System – they don’t go away. They use the system that allowed them into town to keep them in that town. This is what we just recently saw happen in Fryeburg.

The news today shows so many large corporations taking advantage of towns, particularly small rural towns. In the case of Poland Springs, their parent corporation is Swiss-owned Nestle. Nestle has so much money to spend and does so using ordinances to their advantage. This has been stated and written about by folks who’ve been through problems with Nestle in Hollis and Fryeburg, Maine; Framingham, MA; McCloud, CA; Zephyrhills, FL, and many others.

Throughout the United States, and in Ecuador, a Rights-Based ordinance has been sought, brought forth, and enacted. A Rights-Based Ordinance is the law that should be enacted prior to any “guidelines for policies or practices contained in a planning document . . . .” A Rights-Based Ordinance gives townspeople the right and opportunity to say Yes or No to problematic corporations or entities that will effect their lives and communities.

The lesson I see in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s decision last week against Fryeburg is that a Rights-Based Ordinance would have solved a lot of issues. It would have given the townspeople the ability to say Yes Poland Spring can come into our town, or No it cannot. Plain and simple. I urge any town, here in the State of Maine, to consider a Rights-Based Ordinance. Shapleigh just enacted it’s Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, as did Newfield. Hooray for these people who want to have a say in the way their towns are run.

This newspaper seems to be very much in favor of anything Nestle says and does. It definitely prints more about them with pictures and wide coverage than it does those of us that provide the other side of the story.

All over the country newspapers are going out of business. Many others, including the Portland Press Herald, are in jeopardy of printing their last issue. This is often blamed on the internet, I.e., computers. Why people are not buying and reading newspapers as they have in the past is complex and multi-faceted.

We still subscribe to this paper, but know many others who have stopped purchasing the Press Herald because of your one-sided stands on issues that effect your readers.

Newspapers have historically taken sides on controversial issues. This is expected. The Press Herald, however, consistently sides with lobbyers and wealthy outside interests against those that buy their paper (“Poland Springs Vote Sends Unfortunate Message” March 5, 2009).

The Press Herald would do well to remember that large advertisers such as Nestle/Poland Springs will desert you like rats leaving a sinking ship once your subscribers drop to a certain point.

Your paper’s editors need to print both sides of a story, not just cave in favor of big money.


Martin & Barbara Britten

No. Shapleigh, Maine


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