2017-03-24 / Letters

Letter writer too close to subject?

To the editor:

I’m writing in response to Don Russell’s tirade last week

decrying my and Ralph Zieff’s impassioned and, dare I say, eloquent letters calling into question the motives behind Portland Pipeline’s suit against South Portland, and my advocating their closure. He also felt the unnecessary need to rise in defense of John Howard, whose letter to the editor elicited Ralph’s and my separate responses.

I wonder what other motive there is for Mr. Russell’s disjointed and somewhat rambling attack; whether, or not, there is a connection between him and that which he defends – Portland Pipeline. Of course, that’s for him and his conscience to answer. Burt Russell, Mr. Russell’s brother, is the vice president of Sprague Energy, after all.

However, in his assault, he made a number of erroneous and misleading claims – alternative facts, if you will.

Point one: He suggests that I’m attempting to “subvert and disregard due process, fairness, mediation, the rule of law and a public vote.”

In the first place, neither Ralph nor I were suggesting that anyone subvert and disregard the law. Mr. Russell, like his leader in the White House, appears to obfuscate by tossing in lies, with a dash of truth. I am heartily recommending that South Portland kick out a “good neighbor” who has chosen to bring suit against our city, after the implementing of an ordinance to keep our skies clean. It spent years falsely stating that they had no intention of piping in tar sands and burning off the effluence, thereby releasing toxins into our air. When South Portland took them at their word and drafted an ordinance to ensure that there would be no change to this policy, Portland Pipeline shed their sheepskin of lies. However, I am content with letting the courts decide the outcome – hopefully in our favor.

Mr. Russell also alludes to the disregard of the “public vote.” This is in reference to the referendum on the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, which lost by about 200 votes, thanks in large part to huge amounts of money pouring into the opposition’s coffers from the likes of the American Petroleum Institute, and the subsequent propaganda they were able to spew to the public (the potential loss of 6,000 jobs?). The voters then voted down the ordinance, not in acceptance of tar sands, which it sought to protect us from, but to “save the waterfront,” which the opposition claimed would be endangered with its passage.

However, the likes of Mr. Russell, and his ilk, whose motives are dictated by their wallets and greed, would have you believe that South Portland subverted the people’s will when it was the will of the people themselves that dictated the next move by the city council. Councilor Linda Cohen suggested a moratorium be placed on the importation of tar sands, after the council heard from many residents who had voted against the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, that they did not want tar sands, but believed the ordinance was flawed. The vote against the ordinance was, by no stretch of the most fevered imagination, an endorsement for tar sands. The council then formed an independent body to draft an ordinance that addressed the issues raised by the Waterfront Protection Ordinance (the misperceived threat against the working waterfront), and ensured all parties could be satisfied. And the Clear Skies Ordinance was passed 6-1. This ordinance only seeks to ensure our skies are kept safe from airborne toxins and poisons (which Portland Pipeline’s plan for tar sands would jeopardize), and ensure that any waterfront expansion is neither inhibited, nor curtailed. Gosh, a wise and equitable win-win.

Next, Mr. Russell seeks to vilify Tom Blake, for having the integrity, fortitude and farsightedness to champion the cause of clean skies over South Portland. He impugns his good name by stating Tom led “the assault on decency... hijacking a democratic vote.” I wonder if Mr. Russell is on some really strong meds. An “assault on decency”? Tom Blake is one of the most courageous and decent people I have ever had the honor and pleasure of knowing. He valiantly found all the legal means at our disposal to combat a true assault on decency, perpetrated by Portland Pipeline and its minions. Rather than concern himself with the short-term benefits of financial considerations – like Mr. Russell – he sought to provide residents of South Portland and outlying areas with the preservation of our air, water and land. He, and all the other councilors, bar one (the ever-myopic Michael Pock), put the health and well-being of people ahead of the financial gains of business. Bravo.

William Duffy-Dufris South Portland

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