The Picture Becomes Clearer

Posted: 15/02/2008 in Uncategorized
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As we impatiently await the decision of the LURC regarding the proposed “Concept Plan” as provided by Plum Creek Timber under the careful tutelage of The Nature Conservancy, the puzzle continues to be pieced together. It’s interesting to see how all of the people are connected, and where they come from Hillary from Indy Media left a good comment on the entire situation. She was kind enough to lay out many of the names and how they are all interconnected. If you still wonder about the advantages of allowing this sham to take place here in Maine, take a look at it and start to see the bigger picture.

This is the text of her comments……………

hillary said…

First, the so-called conservation easement is a joke. It just provides a place for more development while giving plum creek a nice “green” shine and probably some tax write-offs, and more tax-payer subsidised income to the nature conservancy and other big scam “non-profits”. It allows for hundreds of acres of septage spreading, water extraction, gravel pits, genetically engineered trees, road building, wind power generators, cell phone towers, 45-person commercial “huts”, and unspecified general “development” deemed “necessary” for forest products extraction.

Second, plum creek’s connections don’t stop with Blethen, though that’s one of the more blatant pieces, and it’s good to see folks reporting on it. Here’s a sampling of the connections:

Plum Creek is the largest private landowner in the United States.

Plum Creek’s lawyers Severin Beliveau and Virginia “Ginger” Davis work for
the law firm Preti Flaherty.

The Senior Counsel of Preti Flaherty is former Senator George Mitchell.
George Mitchell’s mother is the sister of Governor John Baldacci’s grandmother.

Mitchell served for years on the Board of Directors of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the world’s largest hotel company. Starwood owns Westin Hotels, which is working to build a luxury hotel in Portland, and is being represented by Beliveau.

Two members of Plum Creek’s 8-person Board of Directors have close ties to Starwood:

Robin Josephs served as managing director of Starwood Capital, the Real Estate Investment Trust that created Starwood Hotels, before she went on
to serve on Plum Creek’s Board of Directors.

John McDonald, a Stanford Investment Professor, has served on the iStar Board since 1999. iStar was created by Starwood Capital and is the largest
publicly traded finance company specializing in commercial real estate financing. McDonald also serves on Plum Creek’s Board and is a founder of
4-person SPO Partners (along with 3 of his students from Stanford, Scully,
Patterson, and Oberndorf.)
SPO Partners is an Investment Firm that is the primary investory in Plum Creek.

SPO partners also effectively owns Crown Castle International, a cell-phone tower land leasing company. Plum Creek’s “conservation” easement would allow cell phone tower construction.

Plum Creek lawyer Beliveau is a lead fundraiser for the Maine Democratic Party, and meets regularly with Governor Baldacci. Beliveau’s
brother-in-law Robert “Buddy” Murray worked under Baldacci as the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation, before being nominated by Baldacci to become a Bangor District Court Judge.

Incidentally, Beliveau is the lobbyist for Catholic Charities of Maine, which is located at the St. Paul Center in Augusta, where the LURC
Intervenor Party Hearings on Plum Creek have been taking place.

Beliveau has also worked as a lobbyist for Larry Warren, founder of Western Mountains Foundation, and former President of Sugarloaf Corporation.
Warren is spearheading a 180-mile commercial “huts and trails” project which would be part of Plum Creek’s proposed easement. These huts would be up to 5,000 square foot dorms that could house 45-people.
Plum Creek lawyer Virginia “Ginger” Davis serves on the Huts and Trails Board of Directors, along with former LURC Commissioner Elizabeth Swain.
Swain is also President of Barton and Gingold, the Public Relations Firm hired by Plum Creek.
Randy Seaver, who works for Barton and Gingold doing the PR, was the editor of the Biddeford, Saco, OOB Courier newspaper before going to work for Plum Creek.

In the world of Maine media, Plum Creek isn’t hurting for connections.
Plum Creek President Rick Holley serves on the Board of Directors of the Blethen Corp. and the Seattle Times Co, and was reportedly invited to join the Board by Seattle Times Publisher and CEO Frank Blethen.
Blethen Corp. owns a majority share of Seattle Times, which owns Blethen Maine
Newspapers, which includes the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, Coastal Journal and the Morning Sentinel.

Plum Creek owners, SPO partners, also are the primary owners of ProQuest software. If you look up an article on the Bangor Daily News website,
you’ll have will use (likely at a fee) ProQuest to look up the article.
BDN Publisher Richard J. Warren also sits on the Corporate Conservation Council Steering Committee for the Nature Conservancy of Maine.

Maine Public Radio’s website says of its underwriting partners, “As we all
know, the company you keep tells a lot about you.” If you listen to Maine Public Radio, you’ll hear a sponsorship announcement on All Things
Considered/Maine Things Considered, Morning Edition, and The NewsHour
touting, “Plum Creek – Practicing Sustainable Forestry.” According to
MPBN’s website, Plum Creek has given over $25,000 to underwrite these Maine news shows, and money that businesses spend on underwriting is usually tax-deductible.

Speaking of “practicing sustainable forestry,” Plum Creek’s forestry practices are certified “sustainable” by the “Sustainable Forestry
Initiative” (SFI), a program created, monitored, and enforced by the timber industry that allows 120 acre clearcuts and genetically engineered
trees. Reviews of whether a company is following

SFI rules are usually done by the company itself, and the reports are kept confidential. The SFI
Board recently rejected calls to remove Plum Creek’s certification, even after the company received the largest fine in history under the Maine
Forest Practices Act for massive clearcuts, destroying deer wintering yards, and water pollution. Plum Creek President Rick Holley sits of the SFI Board of Directors.

Plum Creek Maine representative Doug Denico (formerly a representative for SD Warren, the company Plum Creek bought most of its Maine timberlands from) was appointed in 2004 by Governor Baldacci to the Task Force on Traditional Uses Public Access to Lands in Maine.

Back to Plum Creek’s PR Firm Barton and Gingold…
Barton and Gingold does the Public Relations work for Poland Springs water bottling, which is owned by Nestle, the largest water and food company in
the world. Nestle has partnered with and funded The Nature Conservancy on various land deals in Maine, including the Upper St. John River project
and the Katahdin Forest Project. The terms of the easement between The Nature Conservancy and Plum Creek allow for commercial water extraction,
which is a big interest of Nestle.

Nestle and the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy employ the same lawyer, Chip Ahrens, of Maine’s largest law firm Pierce Atwood. Ahrens is a former Deputy Attorney General to the Natural Resources Division of the
Maine Attorney General’s Office. He is also a lobbyist for Casella, the largest sludge and waste company operating in Maine (which used to have
George Mitchell on its Board of Directors.) Casella was also one of the largest donors to Baldacci’s
last inauguration gala, alongside Plum Creek.

Ahrens also sits on the Corporate Conservation Council Steering Committee for the Nature Conservancy. Jeff McGown is also on this Nature Conservancy steering committee. McGown is the district manager of the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill in Noridgewock, where Plum Creek plans to send its waste from the proposed developments. Waste Management is also in the business of sludge disposal. Plum Creek’s easement agreement with The Nature Conservancy allows sludge spreading on the conserved lands.

The Nature Conservancy headed up the Katahdin Forest Project deal that used Public tax-dollars to help bail out Great Northern Paper. LURC
Chairman and former Great Northern employee Bart Harvey was the local coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in this deal.

In 2004 The Nature Conservancy hired consulting group and law firm Eaton Peabody to help it push through a bond that allowed the State to borrow
$30 million for the Land for Maine’s future program.

Two million dollars of Land for Maine’s Future money was used to buy the Katahdin Forest Project land.

Eaton Peabody has also been hired by Plum Creek.
Eaton Peabody lawyer and shareholder William Ferdinand, a former State Planning Office Advisor on Environmental and Economic Development Policy, works as a lobbyist for Plum Creek.

The head of Eaton Peabody Consulting, Edith “Edie” Leary, was hired by
Plum Creek in 2005. Leary is the sister of Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
(SAM) director George Smith. Since that time, SAM received thousands of
dollars in donations from Plum Creek and came out in support of the
development plans.

Leary was also the original contact person for Coalition to Preserve and
Grow Northern Maine, which is largely funded by Plum Creek.
The Chairman of the Coalition is Thomas Kittredge, the executive director
Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC). Kittredge also
worked with the Maine Democratic Party on the election campaign for
Senator Joe Perry.

The President of PCEDC is Eric Stumpfel, a lawyer for the Eaton Peabody
Municipal Law and Finance practice group and general counsel to a number
of Piscataquis County towns, including Greenville. Stumpfel was
responsible for first of its kind legislation that allows public tax
dollars from the County to be used to fund so-called “economic
development.”

The lawyer for the Coalition is Thomas Federle, who formerly worked as the head legal counsel for Governor Baldacci. Federle also used to work as a lobbyist for Scientific Games along with Severin Beliveau. Scientific Games is the company that has the contract to operate Maine State Lottery electronic betting and instant win tickets. It also got the contract with the State to oversee slot operations at Hollywood Slots and John Martin’s Manor (which incidentally is owned by a subsidary of Scientific Games.) Now that Federle is no longer lobbying for Scientific Games, that position is held by Preti Flaherty lawyer Daniel Walker, who is also the lobbyist for the Maine Press Association.

(This information can be found with “Plum Creek and the Blethen Connection.)

But the connections don’t stop even at this level. The state of Maine is preparing to make a pact with a devil, and will one day, probably sooner than later, come to regret the decision. What started out as a simple subdivision in the Greenville area quickly became a project with global implications as soon as TNC became involved. And it was only a matter of time before that would happen. I made mention before of the close ties between the forest industry and The Nature Conservancy, and put the question out as to whether the activities were legal or not. In my own mind, I don’t believe they are. If we were talking about stock investments, the deals between TNC and Plum Creek, as well as other timber companies over the acquisition and control would be considered insider trading.

But even if this activity is considered legal, at the very least it is unethical. For Plum Creek Timber to be sitting on an advisory panel of The Nature Conservancy bodes ill will for the public. All across the country TNC is manipulating land deals to benefit the timber industry, and making huge wads of cash in the process by selling to not only private individuals, but the US Government as well. The taxpayers of this country, meaning you and me, are footing the bill, and allowing private companies to make huge profits from the sale of these lands and easements.

But what is even more sinister in all of this is the fact that The Nature Conservancy maintains membership status with the United Nations as a NGO member, or Non-Governmental Organization. They have been consistently making deals and swapping chunks of land resulting in habitat destruction just so they can obtain huge swaths of land across the US in compliance with the United Nations wishes.

Next time I will start to begin to outline why I believe this to be factual, and what I feel will be the ultimate outcome for the state of Maine if we allow this trend to continue. I am all for conservation and preservation of habitat, but there comes a point when bad policy needs to be brought to a halt. That point is now.

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