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Justin Alfond’s ’emergency’

Dear President Justin,

Do you mind if I call you that? We’ve never met or spoken so “Justin” seems a little too familiar. “President Alfond” seems a little too presidential.

LD 1750 – “An Act to Amend the Maine Administrative Procedure Act and Clarify Wind Energy Laws,” which you are very, very quickly trying to push through as “emergency” legislation – is not very presidential.

Do you really want the observations of citizens of the state of Maine to be completely disregarded by state agencies making regulations? The bill says, state agencies may only accept “the testimony of qualified experts, data gathered by objective and reliable means, and testimony and other evidence supported by independent confirmation of reliability.”

Really? That smashes the credibility of regular folk sitting in their backyard one day who can no longer hear the blue jays chirping 50 feet away because of the noise a wind turbine makes, or an asphalt plant that’s begun operation a half-mile away.

Do citizens have to hire an audio consultant before their testimony is deemed credible by President Justin’s bill? If they can’t hear the birds anymore, wouldn’t you think they’d know that?

“Truth and reconciliation” becomes a mockery under this bill – and returns it to what it always has been, the domain of the power holders who, President Justin, have always been designated by sexist, racist and ethnically and class-biased rules. The bill smears the idea of truth and reconciliation, which says the dignity and credibility of hearing, thinking, touching, feeling, smelling, speaking human beings is respected.

LD 1750 says that only the power holders decide whether human beings can trust their own perceptions.

I will tell you, as a psychologist, the degrading of human beings’ ability to trust their own perceptions is the root cause of many mental illnesses and cultural atrocities.

LD 1750 neglects the need for good government and legislation to respect citizens’ perceptions no matter who demands that they “say it ain’t so.” By admitting only state agencies as truthdeciders gives them permission to dismiss the credibility of anyone if they don’t like “the proof.”

I like “proof,” President Justin. For five-plus years, I did data analysis on research projects at Boston Children’s Hospital then at the Center for the Study of Lives at Radcliffe, then taught “Testing and Measurement” to graduate students several times. I know statistics can distort the truth, especially to people who are afraid of them.

Laws that undermine citizens’ trust in their own perceptions (to say “That could not be right”) fundamentally demean “proof.” Concepts like “average” are the result when tests and measurements don’t capture enough variation in a group.

Everyone is above average in some way. It just doesn’t show up in the way variation is being measured by a particular test. Nor do statistics predict the future. They are a model for making a guess, among many unknowns, called “variance.” If you’ve ever gone to race track, you know how good guessing goes.

Still, truth begins with an observation – one person who notices it and speaks up. That could be a 10-year-old or 5-yearold or just you or me. Many’s the time I’ve heard an honest 5-yearold tell a truth that nobody wanted to hear. The truth deserves better than LD 1750.

SUSAN COOK lives in Bath.