Changes for the worst

To the Editor:

Many months ago, the Islander published a letter I wrote to the paper that asked the question “Is something that is good for the community, but bad for business, still a good thing?

Conversely, is something that is bad for the community, but good for business still bad?”

Some may remember that I expressed some consternation that not one response letter appeared even though I’d written the letter to start the conversation. I’m sure that people talked about it. But no one talked with me about it. I have been assured that this is par for the course.

At the risk of instigating more stony silence, I have a new question. As a member of the Bar Harbor Town Council, I’d like to know who my constituents are. I’ve now asked this question in one form or another to several citizens in town – some business owners and some not. There is a third group of people that I’ve had less luck asking, and for two good reasons. They either don’t live here, and, hence aren’t residents, or they aren’t even people.

A review of the latest audit of the town’s financial records at the last council meeting shows that all but one of the top 10 taxpayers end their names with LLC or LTD or trust or association. I don’t know whether the sole individual on that list voted for me or not. But I’m quite sure the rest of the entities on this list didn’t vote at all since they aren’t residents, or even people.

Without fail, I managed to cause every person of whom I asked the above question to shoot their eyes at the ceiling for a few seconds before answering. Some eventually said that my responsibilities are to the taxpayers. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the case, though I do understand why people think it is.

In most towns and cities, the people that live there are the taxpayers. But the above paragraph indicates to me that this may not be the case in Bar Harbor. The overlap seems to be much less comprehensive, and can only be made up if enough residents decide that making decisions that promote the well-being of LLCs and LTDs is good for the community.

This would seem to indicate that my responsibilities are to the residents of Bar Harbor. They are the ones who voted for me. They are the ones who will vote for or against whatever the council decides about a great many things. They will decide if I keep my position in a year and a half should I choose to try and keep it.

I hope they are also the ones who will choose what their community will look like and how it will function.

I ran for council to do what I could to promote community; to try and recapture some of what the town looked like and felt like 30 years ago. I’m perfectly willing to go along with the idea that you can’t stop progress as long as we can agree that there is more than one kind of progress.

Many residents have told me that they feel like the town has changed for the worse in that time, and I agree. Let’s talk about it.

Clark Stivers

Bar Harbor




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