"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
2005 April 5
"At a February 22nd meeting at Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation, attended by members of the tribal community, Quoddy Bay LLC leadership and lawyers reminded tribal leaders that the success of Quoddy Bay, in their attempt to locate an LNG terminal at Gleason's Cove, required the elimination of three obstacles: (1) the town of Perry's Article 40, (2) the lease agreement on the land they desire for LNG terminal siting which has already been leased to a consortium of investors for a 28 unit housing project, and (3) the strong local opposition," summarized Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay. "The obstacles have not been eliminated, and in fact, they have become stronger, higher, deeper, and more formidable than ever," Godfrey concluded, "and we intend that Quoddy Bay LLC act in a professional, ethical, and lawful way in regard to each of these obstacles they have named."
On February 17th, at a meeting with Perry selectmen and residents, Donald M. Smith, General Manager of Quoddy Bay LLC, and acting locally for the Oklahoma City corporation, responded to a question raised by recently-elected selectman, Jeanne Guisinger, about his intent to honor the Perry vote. Smith responded that Perry was his biggest problem, and that he intended that the decision of the Perry voters would direct the future course of the project. "I won't put my name on a project that the community doesn't want," Smith said.
"Well," Guisinger commented on Tuesday, "the Perry voters have rejected the LNG project. The vote is in. Perry voters have spoken and they don't want the project. Mr. Smith should keep his word. Instead of paying more to his public relations mogul, Dennis Bailey and his Savvy Inc. crowd, and instead of paying for phone polls designed to intimidate local residents, Mr. Smith needs to admit LNG lost in Perry. This obstacle is firmly in place. Done. Over. No LNG. Final," Guisinger said.
Regarding the phone polls, Guisinger was referring to two telephone polls conducted over the weekend by Quoddy Bay LLC: one to Perry area residents asking if they were confused by the vote, and another to a broader group of residents in Washington County, asking them to rank local organizations for credibility, and seeking responses related to LNG.
Members of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay organization who are also members of the tribal anti-LNG forces known as "People Who Protect the Homeland" are holding firmly in their resolve to protect the legality of a housing project underway at Pleasant Point. "For months it has been known that a land lease agreement already existed on the property desired by LNG proponents, " said Vera Francis, a leader in the tribal anti-LNG work. "This $7.2 million project is already underway. Infrastructure is in place and construction has begun. Private investors, federal agencies, state government entities, private foundations and development corporations, and local and state banking interests all have legal commitments to this land lease. Our people are awaiting their homes on this land."
Francis said that she and other members of the anti-LNG organization are requesting copies of the land lease agreement, the LNG exclusivity agreement with Quoddy Bay LLC, and the draft of the 130 page document tribal lawyer Craig Francis referred to as being developed related to the tribe's involvement in the proposed LNG project. "We will invoke the federal Freedom of Information Act locally," Francis said, "We have a right to know what is being considered for our future and the future of our homeland. We expect that no fraud, conflict of interest, or other under-the-table deals exist anywhere in this process, and we will find that out for ourselves." Francis concluded. "We have plenty of legal assistance at our disposal. We will not be intimidated in this pursuit to know what is being offered up or traded away."
Francis said that her group encourages the media to investigate this land lease part of the LNG project and its relation to the housing program. "Since so many partners are invested and involved in this housing program, it is important to shed some sunlight on the whole project," Francis said. "With federal, state, and private corporations and banking investors, this is not an internal tribal matter. It calls for scrutiny," she concluded.
Talking about the third obstacle, the elimination of local opposition, Save Passamaquoddy Bay coordinator Godfrey spoke about actions taken over the weekend to ensure the safety and security of people and property involved in the Save Passamaquoddy Bay organization. "Following the Perry vote, two Perry residents who are part of our organization had their mailboxes demolished. That action was reported to the Washington County Sheriff and to the State Police," Godfrey said.
"Over the weekend, I received at my home the first aggressive message of this campaign, from a person identifying himself as a Tremont resident. Happily, Verizon offers the option to secure the phone number of such a caller, and we have reported that to the Easport Chief of Police."
On Saturday, an individual with the pro-LNG group a Pleasant Point resident was observed videotaping The Commons, a business co-owned by several leaders of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay organization. "We're pleased to have people appreciate the renovation we have done to the historic building, and we want people to visit our gallery," Godfrey said, "but driving by multiple times, repeatedly videotaping our building and one of our partners in an abnormal way is not appropriate." This behavior has been reported to the Eastport City police and also the Pleasant Point Police.
"We call upon Quoddy Bay LLC owners W. Stuart Price and William Pritchard of Oklahoma City, and Augusta attorney and Quoddy Bay partner, Jim Mitchell, as well as Quoddy Bay partner and General Manager, Donald M. Smith, the company's front man to put out the word to their employees and supporters that bullying, threatening behavior, intimidation, and fear tactics will not be tolerated toward any members of our organization or any members of the Passamaquoddy Bay community," Godfrey said.
"We are especially committed to the safety of, and property of, the courageous Perry residents who have asked for a District Attorney investigation into the business practices of Smith and Quoddy Bay LLC on a charge of Statutory Bribery related to Smith's last-minute million-dollar offer to the voters of Perry in exchange for a pro-LNG vote on Article 40.
"These are American citizens, Maine residents, Washington County neighbors, Perry voters, and none of us will be treated this way," Godfrey said. "We see on the internet that this is the way many global LNG-related corporations treat local, often indigenous, communities when those companies want their way to prevail and they are after big profits for themselves. We have asked law enforcement to provide extra security for our members, and this behavior must cease immediately," Godfrey said. "We have endured Smith's lies, half-truths, empty words, and groundless accusations for long enough. This latest behavior has put everything under the magnifying glass. The local opposition, Save Passamaquoddy Bay U.S., Passamaquoddy, and Canadian will not be on Smith's list of obstacles to be eliminated," Godfrey concluded.