To the Editor:
The Islander’s July 26 editorial, “Too much of a good thing,” is premised on the notion that the town should not suffer from too much openness and too much democracy. It claims that the Ferry Terminal Property Advisory Committee (FTPAC) should cease to serve any function even though the town continues to need advice as to how best to develop the ferry terminal lot at 121 Eden St.
The town council on Feb. 12, 2008, formally adopted Robert’s Rules of Order for its proceedings and the proceedings of committees it appoints.
Henry Robert created those rules to preserve democratic government and the rights and voices of all. Those rules, at Page 502 of the 11th edition, make it clear that a special committee such as FTPAC continues its existence until it has completed every task before it. At that point, the special committee must approve a motion to “rise” which formally concludes its business and existence.
A brief review of FTPAC’s recommendations to the council reveals that two unfinished tasks remain as part of its advisory process. No. 1 is “developing a business plan with the help of Bermello Ajamil to accommodate a multi-use marine facility with optional tender boat landings from cruise ships.” No. 2 is exploring “whether Bay Ferries can be compatible with these uses and potentially financially beneficial. If the business plan or Bay Ferries’ needs preclude a multi-use marine facility with optional tender boat landings from cruise ships, the committee prioritizes marine uses, including a transportation hub at the property, over the Bay Ferries.”
FTPAC’s use of the present tense makes it clear that its duties continue.
The chairs of FTPAC should reconvene their meetings and finish the business left undone by the unambiguous words of its interim report.
The Islander should consider that the council, to the unanimous applause of all in attendance (a first in Bar Harbor’s governmental history), “accepted” the interim report of FTPAC.
Although one member of the council later claimed to the Islander that “accepting” a report meant little more than filing it, that is not what Robert’s Rules (which bind the council) provide.
At page 508, Robert’s Rules state: “As applied to an assembly’s action with respect to board or committee’s reports or any of their contents, the expressions adopt, accept, and agree to are all equivalent—that is, the text adopted becomes in effect the act or statement of the assembly.”
Robert’s Rules at that same page make clear that an affirmative vote on a motion to adopt “has the effect of the assembly’s endorsing every word of the report.”
The council acted wisely in adopting the FTPAC report. The FTPAC should resume its deliberations and ask the same tough questions of Bay Ferries that it asked of Bermello Ajamil and others.
Will a plan by Bay Ferries that keeps the original terminal building and original pier it abandoned nine years ago really advance the building of a multi-use marine facility and tendering operation? Will such a plan actually get in the way of the long-term plans the council unanimously adopted on Nov. 21, 2017?
Would we be better off earning $400,000 a year by increasing the per passenger cruise ship fees by $2? This increase is recommended by Bermello Ajamil in its 2018 business plan as a way to slowly build a tendering pier and multi-use marina.
Should we build on a cruise ship industry that has succeeded or a ferry company that has abandoned Bar Harbor almost 10 years ago?
Should we rush to accept the first offer, or take a long prudent look at all options, with ample public input, following a formal request for proposals?
The Islander, in its editorial, claims we are a government of “residents, property owners and voters.” Many property owners in town are corporations owned by nonresidents living in states such as Florida.
Should the interests of out-of-state and foreign corporations control how Bar Harbor frames its future, or should we heed Lincoln’s words that we are a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”?
Let FTPAC prove once again that open, democratic, proceedings lead to true local control of what our local community wants our town to become.