Weston must go before Bangor ethics board
Councilor Cary Weston’s assertion in his recent OpEd that his perceived mistake, in not declaring a potential conflict during council business, should be taken up by the Bangor City Council and not the Board of Ethics is incorrect. Let me say upfront that I have a lot of respect for Weston and consider him a friend but, as a six-year member of the Board of Ethics, three as chair, he’s wrong.
The Board of Ethics was established to assure the people of Bangor that any unethical behavior by a public employee or office holder would be examined objectively. The fact that this hasn’t happened in 20 years has been a continuing frustration to the board. Having the council examine the conduct of its own members has the appearance of the proverbial “fox guarding the hen house.”
I’m not suggesting that what occurred with Weston will be found to be any big deal, merely that there is a process for examination that hasn’t been followed in a long time.
The people of Bangor deserve better, and if and when the Board of Ethics clears him, the public will have a lot more confidence that nothing unethical occured. When the council deals with these things directly, there is always a danger of perceived cronyism.
America needs Clean Power Plan
Many Americans have been passionately defending the benefits of the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants, protect public health and stimulate the growth of renewable energy. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Donald Trump are working to repeal the plan. They’ve only held one public hearing, and have stated that they may hold another hearing after the public comment period is over.
That is definitely not good enough for Maine, and the strong environmental values that we’ve grown up with. That’s why leaders throughout the U.S. are holding their own hearings and giving Americans the opportunity to stand up for the Clean Power Plan. The opportunity to defend the up to $54 billion in health and economic benefits it provides, and the 4,500 deaths it will prevent each year until 2030.
These hearings are a good representation of the vehement public support for the plan, as a majority of American citizens in every state support setting strict limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Not only that, they are the latest example that states, local governments and businesses are driving the fight against the climate inaction in Washington.
It is up to us across the country and here in Maine to try to ensure that we continue to move forward with policies that address climate change, create jobs and protect public health.
Let Iran decide its destiny
The BDN recently printed an OpEd by Vice President Mike Pence in which he advocated for encouraging the Iranian dissidents to overturn their conservative religious government. He is wrong.
First, what gives him the impression that we have the right to incite revolt in that country? Pence needs to remember the golden rule, and consider how he would feel if a bunch of Iranian secret agents were deployed in the U.S. to stir up anti-government protests (even if, as in Iran, the protests are justified).
Second, we’ve interfered in Iran before. Lots of times. Most of the problems there are due to the CIA overthrow of the Iranian democracy in 1953. Years of oppression followed, and continue today. Let’s not repeat that tragedy.
Third, it’s about a lie. The Rouhani government is moving toward a freer society without our help. If our goal were really to oppose an oppressive government, or to stop state-sponsored terrorism, we would apply those standards to Saudi Arabia, our ally, which has much worse human rights than Iran, and is a leading sponsor of terrorism.
No, the people who are pushing for regime change in Iran are not trying to improve Iran. Especially when you look at previous examples of that strategy, such as Libya and Iraq: the purpose is to weaken Iran, not help them. That is the desire of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for their regional influence, but a weakened and chaotic Iran is definitely not in the national interests of this country.