Courier-Gazette Editorial Oct. 29

Oct 29, 2020

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Little things matter

Thomaston Selectman Peter Lammert was at one point quoted in this newspaper as saying that when you see something that needs doing, do it. He and town employee Donna Culbertson lived up to that principle recently.

They noticed some sort of discomfort on the part of our reporter Christine Simmonds as she tried to take notes at select board meetings and decided to do something about it. A table complete with a nameplate for her was procured and reserved.

In some ways, this has almost been an awkward situation for us, being newspaper people. The normal human response to an action such as this is dangerously warm and fuzzy. It gives the impression that Thomaston town officials appreciate the work we are doing, believe it is important and wish to encourage transparency by being welcoming to the press.

The fact Donna worked for The Camden Herald and The Courier-Gazette for many years, and the further fact we have known Pete Lammert for decades and quoted him in many stories made this somewhat less than surprising.

But it is important in its own way. This simple little moment of kindness stands out in stark contrast to what we have been seeing in the national and even state news. The climate has been, for some years now, one where journalists are seen as being pitted against government officials. Just this week, many of us watched President Donald Trump walk out on an interview with 60 Minutes.

We at the newspaper are watchdogs of local government, and we take that role seriously. But we are also part of the community, and it is a tight-knit community where people help each other out.

Some of us, who have worked in the newsroom a long time, know the political climate in Midcoast Maine was not always so volatile. Our local Republican and Democratic representatives often worked together to get things done for the community in Augusta, they all talked openly to the local press and used it to get their messages out and few harsh words were spoken about any local politician.

Certainly members of the local press have dealt with hostility from government officials in the past, and we expect to see it here and there in the future. It comes with the territory.

We should note that after we ran a brief article about Thomaston’s kind act, we received a note from a resident worried we were getting a little too cozy with town government. Now that’s more what we’re used to!

Does giving a police officer a cup of coffee mean you won’t ever get a ticket? It’s a fair question.

For the record, we are not all so cynical as to believe Pete and Donna were trying buy us off, but they did clearly succeed in creating good will. Should last us all from now until the next time we have to write something critical of town government right here in this space.

Perhaps a worthy policy would be to take the good things personally, and figure the tougher interactions are just business.

Remember to vote

It’s important. You know that and you know many people around the world would love to have the right to vote. So if you have not voted yet, be sure you do!

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