Archive for December, 2007

With all of the commotion surrounding Plum Creek Timber’s plans to redevelop the area around Greenville into a rich boy’s hide away retreat for the wealthy from away, we deserve to see how some of their other projects are developing. A recent article from Florida relates that Plum Creek obtained preliminary approval to develop 2,076 acres of wetland in Gadsden County. The plan is to eventually accommodate up to 177 homes. That sounds like a lot of area at first, and it relates to approximately 11 acres per home. Not bad for rural property.

The formula begins to get a little sketchy though. The article claims that 1,311 acres along the Ochlockonee River will be preserved. Hm mm, let me see, that leaves only 765 acres for housing, according to the plan. Let’s do the math, shall we? At only 765 acres for 177 homes that leaves about 4 1/3 acres per home. Sounds like it’s getting closer to a suburban setting to me. And 177 homes means 177 families, and how many children are these families going to have? What will the eventual cost be to the taxpayers of Gadsden County? Even more interesting, building requirements only allow one home per ten acre lot in the county. I tried to turn that issue into a math problem, but I’m at a loss as to how that’s going to happen.

But even more disturbing to me will be the plight of a little critter called the Gopher Tortoise. According to the article, Gadsden’s Growth Management Director, Bill McCord, recommended the council deny the request based on the presence of these turtles. According to McCord, there are 335 Gopher Tortoise burrows on the land to be developed. The tortoises are listed as a threatened species, and are said by the Gopher Tortoise Council to be on the decline. (http://www.gophertortoisecouncil.org/) Many of these burrows appear to be visibly active, says McCord.

The article goes on to say that Linda Loomis Shelley, an attorney representing Plum Creek in the applications process, to say that “these wetlands will be protected forever.” Even though Plum Creek has received approval from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a plan to relocate the tortoises, Shelley stated that “Plum Creek Timber Co. has committed to moving tortoises only when they are in the way of roadways and other necessary drainage sites.”

So let me see. Plum Creek is going to cram 177 homes onto some protected wetlands, which are going to require plenty of roads and drainage, and cart off some threatened wildlife if they feel they are in the way. Did I get that right, folks? No matter what they do, it seems to me that this tortoise is going to have their numbers reduced. Relocating will be traumatic, sure to kill at least a small percentage of them. And what about the roadways. I’ve seen turtles here in Maine on the highway. They don’t run away when a car comes careening around the corner.

In addition to offing a threatened species, Plum Creek bought, oh, excuse me, that was brought, a specialist named Carl Salafrio, president of Environmental Consulting and Design in Gainsville Fla. to the meeting. Seems they are going to try a ‘demonstration’ of the newest septic disposal equipment, claimed to be less stressful on the environment.

So here we have one of the largest landowners in the country, experimenting with sewage in what is a Federally protected waterway, teeming with a threatened species, the Gopher Tortoise, and planning to load into what could be called a fragile environment, up 177 homes. Sounds like another one of their environmental disaster, much like the ones they brokered out west. Oh, yo haven’t heard about the Mile High Club yet? Check back with me next week on that one folks.

Shelley was quoted in the article as saying “By providing the development of rural character and by allowing positive economic growth, it means there will be an excellent recognition for this concept for sensitive properties in a comprehensive plan.” (what?) She went on to say “Plum Creek looks on this project as one that will enhance Gadsden County and bring national acclaim to the area.” Wonder if she’s coming to Maine?

It sounds a lot like the turmoil they’ve stirred up here in Maine. They are claiming to want to improve the economic outlook of the area, but at what cost. I don’t generally hold with a lot of liberal whining, but I do care greatly about the environment and Maine’s wildlife. One of the issues that are at the forefront in Maine today is the reintroduction of several species. The Gray Wolf is one that is hotly debated, as well as the Canada Lynx. I don’t believe Maine will ever be able to support any meaningful wolf populations, but the Canada Lynx has an excellent chance of being reestablished here. With increasing evidence of their populations in far northern Maine, and possibly western Maine, it’s only a matter of time before they began to be seen around Moosehead Lake. What will the increased population in human terms mean to the environment to the Lynx?

The problem I see is that large developers like Plum Creek rarely take responsibility for their actions. The come and go, and leave the mess for other people to clean up. We’ve done a pretty poor job of maintaining the wilderness here in Maine, mostly so people from away can increase their bank accounts, while we get stuck cleaning up after them. The Moosehead area is prime habitat for wild cat species like the Lynx and Bobcat, as well as other species. What do you suppose will be the ultimate outcome of this development?

With hundreds of new homes and people from out of state coming to the area, traffic will be increasing, as well the resulting pollution, both from auto emissions and the process of life for humans. Next week I’m going to be posting some information about the fallout from some of Plum Creeks western developments. While Plum Creek themselves have little they can be blamed for, the devastation caused by various contractors and developers connected to the Plum Creek projects definitely bode ill for the state of Maine.

If you really think Greenville will remain wild and unspoiled, take a look at what they did to the mountains across from the Mt. Rainier National Park.

Greenville, here we come…..And by the way, I understand that Plum Creek recently purchased some other property for development in Florida. I’m not sure of the details just yet, but I’ve been told the land was immediately placed off limits to hunters and other sportsman. So they’re gonna save the woods for Mainers? There is a lot of digging here folks, and so far, I haven’t turned up a lot that’s really good about these people from away. The more I see, the less I like them.

Lonely Windows

Posted: 27/12/2007 in Uncategorized
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For those of you who do not know me, I have become a photography nut, and I write a little on the side as well. A couple of months ago I went down to that city by the bay known as Portland to take some urban photos. I was actually looking for some buildings to use in one of my books, Maine After Midnight, which is just about finished.

But as I wandered around looking for just the right shot, I found myself in one of the little cramped in neighborhoods with a bunch of multi story brick and concrete shells. It seemed to be some sort of low income or elderly housing development. I’m not really sure which it was, or maybe it was both. But the memory of that day popped into my mind this morning out of the blue, and gave birth to this poem, Lonely Windows.

I recall strongly the feelings of that day as I looked around the neighborhood. A series of cold, empty faces in the form of darkened windows against the fading autumn sky. Looking up the street it seemed as if the pavement ran on until it met the cold gray sky, with almost no change in the color of the two. But as I stood there looking around on the sidewalk, a faint, almost imperceptible sound came floating through the air to gain my attention.

Looking round for its source, I found it came from a third floor window across the street. Framed within that dark empty window was the face of an elderly woman, tapping on the pane for my attention. I smiled and waved up at her, and she smiled back, seemingly grateful that a stranger paid attention to her, sharing her loneliness.

And then it dawned on me how familiar the scene was to me. I realized that the scene had been played out before. I remembered from school days the pictures in some of the magazines decrying the horrors of Communism. Photos were displayed showing much the same scene in many of the Nations of the Communist Block community. Row after row of empty, spiritless homes built of cold, naked brick and steel to house the masses. I realized that this is what we, as a Nation, are slowly becoming.

A Nation of decreasing wealth and power, we resort to the welfare system to take care of the less fortunate. The old and infirm. The poor and uneducated. Those people who cannot fend for themselves. There once was a time when families cared for family. When parents became too old to stay on their own, their children would take them in and care for them. If a sibling was down and out, the family would lend a hand. If a family couldn’t afford oil to keep warm, relatives would pitch in and see that they got the needed fuel.

But that has all changed today. Our dependency on the government welfare state is slowly eating away at the core of our Nations spirit. Almost beyond our grasp, beyond our knowledge, we are becoming just another slave to the Communist Block.

Lonely Windows
©2007 D.L. Soucy

I was walking along the streets one day,
Just wandering around, casually making my way,
Along the streets of that city by the bay.

I looked up, and looked all around
At all the windows above the ground,
And heard amongst the silence, a tiniest sound.

But what was the noise amongst the buildings
That caught my attention with the song it sings,
And what messages the wind brings.

Vacant windows, staring back at me.
Empty black holes in that city by the sea.
But the picture, I began to see,

Was not of empty vacant holes, but frames of a portrait,
Hung upon the buildings, hanging square and straight,
Each hole displaying a home that sits, just to wait.

Each with a person, all alone. Sitting. Waiting.
Each with a soul. Patiently listening. Hearing.
Waiting for the last song the night bird will sing.

The oil price keeps on climbing, and the usual liberal crybabies keep putting the blame on Bush and his ‘buddies.’ Unfortunately, for everybody who needs oil, they are wrong. Because they are wrong, and they keep misdirecting efforts from lowering costs, they end up increasing the Socialist aspects of the Government. They do this by requiring more welfare run by the State, and ever increasing regulation to control the population.

But the reality is that George Bush has little to do with the actual price you pay for oil. As you can see from the article below, the actual percentage of the wholesale cost of oil to a gallon of gas is increasing. In 2005 the average cost of crude was 59% of a gallon of gas. The cost is expected to average 65% in 2008. What this means is that the wholesalers are absorbing more of the cost of that gasoline. The rest of the difference goes to the refineries and distributors, and in most States, taxes make up most of that difference, leaving the retailers with a very slim margin of profit.

And while the Bush haters are busy directing your attention to what they feel is a terrible president, your attention is drawn away from what’s really going on around you. As the end cost of oil goes up, things that depend on that product go up in relation. Farmers need gas and diesel to run their equipment. That means they have to get more for their products to make a profit. Retailers need to get product delivered to their stores. It costs the trucking companies more for fuel, so they have to raise their rates. The retailer in turn needs to raise the price of his goods to cover the increased costs of delivery. Manufacturers rely on oil to run their factories. Increased oil costs mean increased manufacturing costs. The list goes on and on, but you can see where I’m coming from here. At least I hope you do.

Many factors go into the cost of living, and most of them are well beyond our immediate reach. The cost of food will be taking a hefty jump over the first fiscal quarter of next year, and there is nothing we can do about it. Wheat is used for the bulk of the things we eat in this country. But unfortunately, Socialist style programs have encouraged the reduction of wheat crops in this country. Because of this we must rely on other countries to supply us with our food. The drought conditions in Australia has led to higher wheat costs worldwide. If we did not need their wheat, then the higher cost would not have affected our own costs as much as it is.

The environmentalists desire to force ‘bio’ fuels upon us is causing a new demand for food oil crops like soybeans and corn. The farming industry can only produce so many acres of crops. Since much of the crops are now going into non food use, the supply of food crops is dwindling, lowering supply in the face of increasing demand. Thus helping to spur higher food costs.

The bottom line is that more mid to lower income people will be having an increasingly difficult time over the next few years making ends meet. Instead of allowing our elected officials to sit around the house and pass more and more laws controlling our lives, we should be taking a more active interest in the affairs of the State. We should be urging the elimination of many of the needless and cost increasing laws on the books. We should be urging that the Nation return to its self sufficient status we once held, instead of allowing other countries around the world to hold us hostage while bleeding us of what we have.

My uneducated guess is that the 1920’s are once again upon us. I believe, depending upon the outcome of next year’s election, that the world may well see another depression as we had during the period of 1929 to 1940. Whether a conservative or liberal gets elected will dictate the eventual outcome. Wilson began our descent into Socialism and Roosevelt nailed the lid shut on it by exacerbating the depression with an ever increasing volume of government control and welfare under the thin disguise of saving the country.

Many of the programs instituted then have finally come to rear their ugly heads of failure. We as a nation have become entirely too dependent upon others for our well being, and the true cost of this position is finally beginning to be seen. But on the upside, maybe these increasing food prices will help to curb this so called obesity epidemic we’ve created for ourselves.

That’s my Maine view for today.

There has been several articles in local and trade papers regarding Baldacci’s latest wealth grab trick. It appears as though he wants to take the unused portion of any gift cards you have collecting mold in your wallet, and use it to try to make himself look like a hero by balancing the states questionable budget. I work in retail, so I am somewhat familiar with this area, and I have one thing to say about this shady deal being cooked up by the states Attorney General Office. WRONG MOVE FELLAS!

There are so many things wrong with this picture I don’t know where to start. But for those of you who are not fully cognizant of how and what a gift card really is, let’s talk about that for a moment. A gift card is simply that. A gift. It is a product that a loved one or a friend put time and effort, as well as cash into to present to you for some reason. Christmas, birthday, graduation, whatever. For this discussion, it really doesn’t matter what the occasion is, just remember that somebody gave you a gift. It was free and clear, no strings attached. The beauty part about this type of gift is that you can get exactly what you want at the store it was issued at. That’s a big plus in my book. But it is not cash in your pocket.

Now here’s the gist behind the story reported by the AP and several local rags. The Attorney General, under the direction of Comrade Baldacci wants the card issuers to turn over sixty percent of unused card balances after two years time. This seems to me to be in total violation of their own rules to me. Or better yet, it violates the rules of fair game. Maine is once again trying to regulate interstate businesses, just like in the so called “Use Tax” that they placed on our income tax forms, and many other little things people don’t generally realize are going on behind our backs. Laws need to be equal when they affect people from many jurisdictions. It is unfair for a national company, say Walmart here, to be held to laws that vary considerably from state to state. So far, it appears as though only the Socialist states in this country are trying to latch onto this money grab scheme.

The numbers to be garnered are plain enough. $60.00 out of every $100.00 that exists on those cards, and haven’t been used within two years are going to be stolen by the State in an effort to fix the current budget crunch. That’s a lot of bucks folks! It’s not surprising the crooks in Augusta want to give it a try. But when you look at the picture from a few feet away, you can see the whole picture, and not just the budget shortcomings. And it looks like somebody giving a pair of scissors to a four year old and telling him to go to town on a Monet. It’s gonna make a lot of gaps, and they can never be effectively repaired.

In the first place, the money is not unclaimed. It belongs to the retailer. You don’t actually have cash in your pocket with one of those little cards. What you have is a contract that allows you to purchase a certain dollar amount of product from the retailer who issued the card. The State does not have the power to invalidate a contract you and another party may have simply because you haven’t used your rights the contract provides for. And as far as two years being some kind of limit, there is none allowed by the State of Maine. That’s right, Maine prohibits any kind of time limitation on gift cards. That means the contract the card holds is valid in perpetuity.

And as I said earlier, the money value does not constitute unclaimed funds. An unclaimed fund is like when you opened a savings account in the fifth grade and forgot about it that summer, and then your parents dragged you off to another state to live. A couple of years later, the bank has no idea where you are, and has to turn the money over to the state as unclaimed funds. The issuers of the gift cards know where that cash is. It’s in their bank account, waiting for the card to be used. Suppose you have a gift card with twenty dollars on it at Walmart, and you don’t use it for five years. Walmart has to honor the card, as there is no expiration in Maine, remember?

But three years ago, Maine took twelve of those dollars from Walmart and kept it as their own under this fraudulent unclaimed funds scheme. Does that mean Maine will return that twelve dollars to Walmart? I don’t think so. Is it fair for Walmart to give you twenty dollars worth of product for only eight dollars? Under the contract of the card, they have no choice in the matter. What has happened is that Maine has redistributed Walmarts wealth, against contractual law. This places Walmart in the position of violating contractual law, which is in itself, a violation of the law. But the routine works so well in other Socialist Nations, why not try it in Maine?

More and more I read about scientists beginning to come out of the shadows about the truth of Global Warming. The recent Asian farce the UN just played to the world brought out even more scientists who decry the false warnings of the Socialist left in their rush to develop new ways to tax industry and further destroy society. Take a gander at the latest on the summit…..

I’ve long contended that there was something sinister, something totally wrong about the claims made by the environmental organizations. Bush and his administration has been heavily criticized by the left this past week for his refusal to buy in to the planned “carbon emissions/credits program” proposed by the UN. In researching some estimated true costs of this program, it turns out the people of Maine, along with the rest of the Nation will pay dearly if the US caves into the latest One World Government scheme.

In my 17 December post I posted an article about the summit. In the article, a UN supporter by the name of Othmar Schwank, of Switzerland, was quoted as saying “Finally somebody will pay for these costs…” The article goes on to say that Shwank took great glee in saying the US and other developed nations should “contribute significantly more to this Global Warming fund.”

Further in the article, an Emma Brendal, of Friends Of The Earth Australia was quoted as saying “A climate change response must have at it’s heart a redistribution of wealth and resources.” True Socialism my friends. The UN wants to control the Earth. Every last one of us, and it will succeed by taxing us all into compliance with its goals. Global Warming is a FARCE. Al Gore supports it simply because he has heavy investments that will pay him very well as sales of the products and services his investments deal in as more sheeple buy into this garbage. By the way, is it just me, or is Al slowly morphing into Pizza the Hut?

Maine people are pretty cold this season. Oil heat prices are climbing on a weekly basis. At just over three dollars a gallon, many people cannot afford the cost. If this plan goes into effect, the taxes the US will have to pay to the UN will add well over one dollar to each and every gallon of heating oil you buy. The next time you have to put $600.00 into the oil dealers hand for two hundred gallons of fuel, remember that the taxes imposed by the Global Warming plan will have made that cost you $800.00.

The taxes to be imposed on a gallon of regular gas here in Maine will, if some predicted estimates are correct, Will add over two dollars per gallon. These so called Carbon Credits they keep bouncing around are actually dollar figures in the real world. I paid $3.07 per gallon the other day. As I was watching the numbers go around, I envisioned how much faster they would be going so much faster at the five plus dollar amount it would be if the UN had their way.

The smart thing for Maine to do would be to fight this with everything we’ve got. The coffers are being drained because of the Leftist programs we are already paying for. When are we going to wake up? More than 400 scientists with evidence to prove that Glabal Warming has no basis in fact were censored and ridiculed by the UN at the summit. The truth is more important than having to get media attention with the terror impied by the supporters of this bogus theory of Global Warming. We Mainers deserve to no what the truth is.