2016-05-06 / Letters

Column wasn’t fair or identified

To the editor:

I am writing regarding the April 22 Sentry column, “My Side of the Bridge,” by Don Russell.

As an avid reader of the Sentry, I was quite disturbed to see Mr. Russell’s commentary. In particular, the section related to “...what on earth is going on within the SP City Council?” was quite troubling.

Historically, I’ve found the Sentry to be relatively fair and balanced; this tirade by Mr. Russell is anything but.

For far too long, there has been a very vocal group of people who insist on denying various realities in South Portland – including the hard work of true activist-residents and leaders who consistently support genuine progress. Many of these critics are not even from South Portland, having revealed their tactics relative to the very real plan to reverse the Portland Montreal pipeline. Fortunately, progressives in South Portland – including a thoughtful city council – realized the propaganda tsunami that was being foisted upon us (led by the American Petroleum Institute and other fossil fuel interests) and insisted on doing the right (and the legal) thing, which led to the Clear Skies Ordinance. Fortunately, especially in light of various oil market realities, that ordinance (and other South Portland-protective actions) has resulted in exactly what needed to transpire: South Portland is protected from the destructive impacts of further fossil fuel infrastructure development (including at Rigby Yard).

I recall Mr. Russell’s presence at the protect-the-entire-waterfront (not just business interests) hearings: he was often articulate but ultimately, as per the article, blew a gasket. He was – and still is – a significant purveyor of misinformation; his ability to distort facts is consistent with the American Petroleum Institute playbook – and the Donald Trump/Paul LePage style of an angry, inaccurate rant.

I’m quite disappointed that the Sentry would provide him a platform to reignite the hostile tones experienced over the last number of years in South Portland. Encouragement to develop a “petition drive to ouster Councilors Brad Fox and Eben Rose” – two popularly supported and effective leaders in the community – while supporting the campaigns of other individuals, amounts to political commentary or a very angry letter to the editor (which I initially thought it was). At the very least, the column should be clearly identified as such and arguably be confronted by an opposing view (though I fear that this would only increase the tension in the city even further).

Ultimately, I would encourage the editors of the Sentry to reconsider their choice to provide Mr. Russell such a disruptive soapbox.

Bob Klotz South Portland

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