2016-09-09 / Letters

Reader didn’t like the way meeting was covered

To the editor:

On Aug. 19, a story published by staff writer Wm. Duke Harrington, reported on the first reading of the amended South Portland Pesticide Ordinance, which city councilors passed by 6-1 vote on Aug. 1.

Regretfully, Harrington presented a very sloppy, one sided and misleading report of this event. A sense of division came across in the article pitting the Integrated Pest Management employee/business owners against the members of Protect South Portland. The article marginalizes and minimizes the Protect South Portland and its efforts to protect South Portland residents and neglects reporting the community’s concerns about health, including the potential harm from possible drift of pesticide use on private and public properties around the city. Harrington also fails to mention the real purpose of the ordinance: Educating and guiding the community about the potential harms involved from the continued use of chemicals that are toxic to living beings, and gradually phasing out their use.

From a business perspective, it is understandable that Integrated Pest Management employees would have concerns about the impact of this ordinance on their profession. But the ordinance was carefully amended with their concerns in mind. Mr. Harrington failed to note that there is nothing in the revised ordinance that prohibits Integrated Pest Management from doing their conscientious work. The ordinance is not about pitting the use of organic chemicals against synthetic ones. What it does call for is the proven and safe use of any pesticide or herbicide, be it synthetic or organic.

Harrington furthers the controversy by including reference to the Clear Skies Ordinance. The Portland Pipeline, with the backing of the petroleum industry, is now suing the city. Harrington seems to be hinting that Protect South Portland’s endeavor to support the creation and successful passage of a Clear Skies Ordinance was a costly mistake. This ordinance, which has strong public backing and legal grounding, diverted the many health hazards and potentially devastating consequences to its port and people. It is true that the expenses incurred in defending this ordinance will be large and punitive – a tactic industry frequently utilizes to get what it wants. But efforts are ongoing to support the city financially in this endeavor and to discourage future corporate bullying.

Ethical standards are important when delivering the news. Large news agencies may feel it financially profitable to misrepresent the facts, but we residents in Maine expect better. We expect an unbiased report that gives the community a true picture of what actually takes place, especially in our city councils, the seat and soul of participatory democracy.

Dr. Priscilla Skerry South Portland

Return to top