The tactics from one side of the debate about the Maine Department of Transportation’s plans for downtown Wiscasset seem to sink lower every week.
On Monday, a spokesman for the most vocal opponent of the project attacked Wiscasset Board of Selectmen Chair Judy Colby because the town didn’t include his client’s offer of financial assistance with legal costs in the draft language of a referendum about whether the town should continue its lawsuit against the DOT.
Colby “hopes to … pave over town history and get her project,” the spokesman said in an email to members of the press. The language “borders on deception,” he said.
First of all, think about this fact: an opponent of a small-town project has his very own Sarah Huckabee Sanders running a campaign against the project and against a small-town public servant. It’s absurd!
Here’s some more of what Sanders – excuse us, Mark Robinson, spokesman for downtown building owner Ralph Doering III – had to say about Colby:
“She’s in the minority on the board, but if she gets that misleading language she hopes to override voters’ previous rejection of the project, pave over town history and get her project. For her and her allies, everything depends on keeping the voters from knowing that they don’t have to pay for the lawsuit. They’re banking on the fear of legal costs.”
Let’s take a step back here.
Colby has served the town as a selectman from 2010-2014 and again from 2015 to the present, and as a bus driver and substitute teacher in the school system.
We have observed her work for the last eight years. As with every public official we have encountered to date, we have not always agreed with her decisions.
But never once have we thought to ourselves, “Here is a corrupt politician who schemes to deceive her subjects and bring the land to ruin!” And what could possibly be her motive to do so?
Once again, give us a break.
We generally support any changes in Wiscasset that will – even slightly – improve the traffic problem, which affects the entire county.
We have expressed concern about whether this project will make things better or worse, though our concern focuses more on the impact of additional traffic lights and less on the removal of Main Street parking or the demolition of Haggett’s Garage.
Maybe there is room for improvement in the project.
Perhaps the DOT has made missteps.
But personal attacks are not going to bring about a better project. These kind of attacks only serve to deepen divisions and ensure bitterness all around, whether we get this project, a different project, or no project at all.
One of our letters about the Wiscasset project this week says we need to remember how to agree to disagree. We could not agree more – whether about downtown Wiscasset, the State House, or the White House.
We expect to see these kind of tactics in the latter two arenas. To see it in one of our towns saddens and disappoints us.