Here’s why these 2 topics deserve more press

I told one of my readers in an email that sometimes blogging feels like getting caught swimming in a riptide. You have to work with the current, not against it. And you have to try not to panic.

I’ve found it’s hard to get to everything I’d like to write about, and it’s hard to keep up on subjects I’ve written about before. In that vein, I offer a couple thoughts I wish I had time to write full posts about:

Thank you, Sen. Susan Collins.

Stuck in DC due to blizzard. A real storm. Tough for DC to handle; Maine could! #blizzard2016

A post shared by Senator Susan Collins (@sensusancollins) on

 

I don’t mean to single out one member of our congressional delegation over others, nor do I mean to blanket endorse every position Collins has taken, but I do so appreciate the way she represents our state. Continuing in the footsteps of our great stateswomen like Margaret Chase Smith and Olympia Snowe, Collins has developed an ability to be a thoughtful voice of reason in the expensive, unproductive three-ring circus that is Washington D.C.

Kudos to her for her most recent admonition of both parties for politicizing the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia immediately after his passing. And encore kudos for saying she will consider a nomination from the Obama administration while her fellow Republicans are insisting the president delay the nomination until after the next election.

As Sen. Angus King said in his statement, the president is elected to a four-year term and should be supported in fulfilling the duties of office for all four years. It’s a harder position for Collins to take, though, as a leading Republican during this tea party period that seems to be characterized by contention and obstructionism.

Whether she’s reminding us what the proper response to the death of a longstanding civil servant should be or shoveling her own snow like a true Mainer, Collins is doing our state’s reputation well.

The very tired national park debate

When I first started blogging, I researched the proposal to turn land in the Millinocket region into a national park. For an extensive list of reasons (and I won’t waste the space with a bunch of hyperlinks here, but my archive is chock full of posts on the issue from a variety of angles), I decided that I, as one single individual, didn’t support the idea of a park. This position prompted a veritable tsunami of feedback from both sides, and months later I am still anti-park.

For me one of the more disturbing aspects of the debate is the way the word “paranoia” gets thrown around in reference to anti-park folks’ concerns about the reach of the federal government. I have been accused of suffering from this condition because of my opinion. When I was researching the issue, I found ample recent cases involving legal battles between the National Park Service and landowners — just Google it if you don’t believe me. There is precedent for concerns that a federal footprint will grow beyond originally agreed-upon terms, especially where the Appalachian Trail is concerned.

My favorite involves some feisty friars in New York. 

The accusations of paranoia imply that there are no grounds for concern that the federal government will do what it wants to do with the region once there. Accusations of paranoia are a way for park proponents to minimize very legitimate concerns about the reach of the federal government. Accusations of paranoia are a nice way to avoid talking about the very real instances of the federal government reneging on agreements with local officials and landowners.

Like the recent situation involving the acquisition of Schoodic Peninsula by Acadia National Park. The land was acquired by circumventing a 1986 law creating boundaries limiting how big the park could grow. Not only did officials circumvent the law, they failed to run the idea by the citizen’s advisory committee created by the1986 law to consult with the park service about “the acquisition of lands and interest in lands.”

Instead of relying on the stigmatizing effects of words like paranoia, I wish park proponents would have an honest, open discussion about this dark side of the proliferation of the park service.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.