2016-06-10 / Letters

Reader takes on columnist

To the editor:

I am writing regarding the May 20 Sentry column, “My Side of the Bridge,” by Don Russell.

I was a little troubled to see that I was called out by Mr. Russell in his column and wanted to respond.

As an avid bike commuter (with apparently shared concerns and hopes for South Portland related to optimal transportation), I was pleased to see his balanced considerations regarding bike-supportive efforts.

I also appreciate Mr. Russell’s subsequent reference to the left blurring into the right (or vice-versa). Such considerations are very much akin to – and intended via – the impressive black-and-white imagery of the Chinese yin-yang symbol. Though commonly seen as a one dimensional image, it does contain black within white (and vice-versa) and is intended to be viewed, consistent with the larger philosophy it represents, as a dynamic, fluid, multi-dimensional process – acknowledging the ongoing challenge of the pursuit of elusive balance.

From there, there’s the issue of interpretation and perception – both of which are at play in my ongoing “dialogue” with Mr. Russell – and within the South Portland community.

There is nothing in my May 6 response to Mr. Russell’s April 22 introductory column that had anything to do with “suppress(ing) contrary thoughts.” In fact, I was speaking to concern about the editorial choice to not clearly identify an extreme opinion piece as being such. As was the tone of his first missive, reference to “(s)teamrolling a town with a one sided, well-organized and vocal effort is no way to govern” provides a perfect summary of what actually happened, relative to Big Oil’s manipulation of the facts – which continues to this day, including via the ongoing legal assault on the city.

The reality is that I and many other actual residents of South Portland have repeatedly invited many to be in a fair, balanced and inclusive conversation around the many issues that impact us all. The record shows the response of those who have opposed progress, no matter Mr. Russell’s suggestion of an agreed-upon overdue need for many to “engage in much needed debate and freedom of opinion.”

I would invite Mr. Russell – and those who agree with him – to review the facts regarding repeated invitations and opportunities to be in a genuine conversation about the issues important to all of us. I guarantee that the invitations to such a much-needed dialogue remain. I look forward to continuing to be part of such a process – and hope that Mr. Russell and others agree to engage in a friendlier debate than the historic style of those who have aggressively opposed the Clear Skies Ordinance and other progressive efforts in the city of recent. A lack of name calling, hostility and misinformation is an experience akin to not using profanity: it offends no one.

I remain hopeful for optimal civility in our community dialogue; we can afford nothing less.

Bob Klotz South Portland

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