‘Twas I who called to register my objection to The Forecaster’s plan to give a sitting elected official (Tony Payne) a bi-weekly opinion column. I deliberately made this call before a single opinion of Falmouth Councilor Payne’s was printed because I object on principle and I wanted to avoid debate over my opinion vs. Payne’s on any particular topic. That didn’t prevent the editor from accusing me of partisan motivation within the first two minutes of the conversation.
So let me accept the editor’s invitation and enumerate the beliefs that underlie my objections:
State politics is local politics. While the editor and Payne claim that his column is all about Payne’s day job (executive director of the Alliance for Maine’s Future), the line between state and local issues is drawn in a completely subjective way, if one exists at all.
A level playing field best serves the public good. By favoring the voice of one elected official, The Forecaster has shifted the communication landscape and given one voice more power. Example: the Falmouth Charter gives the Town Council the authority to approve the School Department’s annual budget. If I were a School Board member, I’d feel nervous about going toe-to-toe with a councilor who has at his/her fingertips a half-page editorial to review the performance of locally elected officials. This unequal dynamic concerns me.
Cathy Breen, chairwoman
Falmouth Town Council