Bath group to host forum on military dependence

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BATH — Discussion about the diversification of the state’s military manufacturing sector will be the focus of a forum on Friday, June 27.

The gathering will be held at the Winter Street Church, 880 Washington St., following a 5:30-6:30 p.m. potluck. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

“Ships, Shoes, and Submarines: Maine Jobs and Our Dependence on Military Production” will be presented by Midcoast Citizens for Sustainable Economies, a new Bath-based citizens’ coalition.

A group of panelists will discuss what other states are doing to move beyond dependence on military spending, and engage a discussion about what Maine can do in this respect, according to an event press release.

For instance, Connecticut passed a law last year that formed a statewide planning commission, to aid the state in veering away from its major reliance on military contracts. Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio are among states developing similar legislation, MCSE noted.

“As we prepare to have statewide discussions about Maine’s future – and prepare for an important election in November – we invite our fellow Midcoast citizens to enter into a conversation about our spending, our economy and our communities,” the release stated.

The panelists will include Miriam Pemberton, a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She writes and speaks on demilitarization issues for the Institute’s Foreign Policy In Focus project.

Leslie Manning, of Bath, who advocates for social and economic justice and is the Quaker representative to the Maine Council of Churches, will also speak. Once a union representative and organizer, Manning was also deputy director of the Bureau of Labor Standards in the Maine Department of Labor.

Also participating is state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, who co-chairs the joint legislative Committee on Health and Human Services. She represents an area where many Bath Iron Works employees live, and through her time on the Appropriations committee, knows the state budget process and Maine’s reliance on federal funds for services and programs, according to MCSE.

The Rev. Bill Barter, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches and senior pastor at St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church in Portland, will moderate the discussion. He was born in Bath, lives in Brunswick and has relatives and friends who work in defense industries.

The event will be held in conjunction with Vital Connections, a public forum that meets quarterly around the Mid-Coast area.

Call Carol Huntington at 443-5777, or log onto facebook.com/BathDiversificationForum, for more information on the forum and MCSE.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.