Great sighs of relief around the bay as wiser and more skeptical heads prevailed in the Maine legislature's Transportation Committee January 13, 2009.
An attempt by Senator Dennis Damon to ramrod a deal he'd secretly hammered out with Governor Baldacci through the committee, to reverse the Committee's November vote on Sears Island, has been derailed. At least until Thursday, when it comes up again....
Listen to complete audio clips of the meeting.
At the hearing, a clearly nervous Senator Damon admitted that his request to both introduce and vote on a brand new proposal was irregular, but attempted to assure committee members that he'd considered their points of view while dealcutting with Baldacci.
This displeased a majority of committee members who felt jsut the opposite, that their views were being ignored. Veteran committee members were mystified as to why they should reverse their earlier vote, as nothing proposed in the new deal decreased the likelihood that environmentalists, even those like Sierra Club that signed onto partitioning the island, would fight any incoming port developer wannabes. Not to mention the myriad other groups large and small that successfully fought off earlier Sears Island port attempts under McKernan, King, and present governor Baldacci's unsuccessful LNG port effort in his first term.
For new transportation committee members, this was their first encounter with Sears Island, and opinion ran among them that this was too much too sudden, too soon. As if Damon had become a frantic snake oil peddler, trying to hurry them into an uninformed vote.
A sufficient number of legislators objected to the Baldacci/Damon Plan, that Damon was compelled to agree to table it for future conderation - specifically this coming Thursday.
Between now and then, opponents of the Baldacci and Damon Plan, the"BaD Plan" will educate new Transportation Committee members as to the downside of the Governor's plan, reassure veteran committee memberrs that their november vote was right and just, and need not be brushed aside.
Island huggers will also put Senator Dennis Damon in the doghouse for falling in line with Baldacci's secret effort to thwart democratic process in the Maine legislature, going so far as to exclude Transportation Committee co-chair Ed Mazurek from their repeated behind the scenes dealmaking get togethers. Monday evening, Mazurek was unaware that Sears Island would even be on the Tuesday agenda, let alone a vote taken.
In a further sign of contempt for opposition, critics of the plan to split Sears Island were kept inthe dark about Sears Island decision being on the meeting. In November Damon said he would be sure all interested parties would be kept informed of upcoming committee action on Sears Island. Then January rolls around and Damon sets transportation committee final action for Sears Island, but DOESN'T tell anyone. Not the committee members, nor port oppos. Just port partisans and pale green groups.
Shame on you, Senator Damon, Governor Baldacci!