By Carol McCracken (Post # 735)
“This bill bypasses a proven, effective and respected process that the State of Maine Legislature itself researched and established. It defines how secession was to be approached – fairly and methodically – so that all parties would be represented. There is no reason to violate the statute for Peaks Island, where there exists no overwhelming support for secession,” according to a press release issued by the Peaks Alliance early this morning. The original bill introduced to the state legislature five years ago was written by Mike Richards, former PIC Chairman and past Chairman of Peaks Island Independent Committee (“IIC”).
The press release goes on to say that “the small, unelected IIC group who wrote this bill has appointed itself the sole representative for the residents of Peaks Island in negotiating the terms for transfer of all the island assets. The IIC points to an outdated petition (collected in 2005-2006 – actually just a “Petition for Public Hearing” as granting them this authority–although this petition no longer even exists in the public record–The City Clerk’s office destroyed the original document after 2 years (2009) and it is not archived in Augusta. IF the IIC even has a copy, it has not been made public.”
Specifically, the bill states that IIC (an unelected committee) will negotiate with the City in private and closed to the public. According to the respected American Association of Arbitration’s definition: “Mediation sessions and related mediation communications are private proceedingss. The parties and their representatives may attend mediation sessions. Other persons may attend only with the permission of the parties and with the consent of the mediator.” Another criticism of the IIC’s bill is that negotiations with the City of Portland over debts/assets/property transfer agreement, MUST BE COMPLETED BY NOVEMBER 1, 2011, or the matter will automatically go into binding arbitration.
Additionally, famililes with school age children on the Island School are alarmed by this fast-track bill. That’s because the island school administration has publicly informed the Peaks Island Council “PIC” that the entire faculty and staff of the Peaks Island School would not be able to work for an island-run school. That’s the case because their contracts/tenure/seniority/pensions/benefits were all tied to city employment. ( For clarification on this, please read Comment 1.) This would apply as well to Peaks Library librarians, police, firefighters and public works crews. In this recession, it clearly would not be wise for these employees to be forced to look for employment elsewhere.
The above-numbered bill was released officially from the revisor’s office in Augusta yesterday. A public hearing will be scheduled for sometime AFTER the 27th of March. Notice of the hearing date will be made two weekends advance on the Kennebec Journal (newspaper) website.
The entire name of the bill is: An Act To Authorize Peaks Island, House Island, Pumpkin Knob and Catnip Island to Secede from the City of Portland. Copies can be downloaded from hhtp://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/search_ps.asp If doing an online search, at www.mainelegislature.org pls. use the keyword – “secede”.
Please view peaksalliance.org and Peaksislandindependentcommittee for more information. Please also view: Post # 706, herein, dated 2/8/, 3/8 Post # 731, and post # 728, dated Marach 4th, for more background information.
editor’s note: Spokespersons for the proponents of the bill have been invited to comment on the above.