Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Bath forum eyes state’s reliance on military spending

A newly-formed citizens’ coalition based in Bath, Midcoast Citizens for Sustainable Economies, will host a forum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. June 27 for the exchange of information and ideas about the diversification of Maine’s military manufacturing sector.

At the forum, which will take place at the Winter Street Church, experts will review what other states are currently doing to move beyond their dependence on military spending and seed a discussion about the possibilities for Maine.

“In 2013, the state of Connecticut passed a law creating a statewide planning commission to help the state prepare for conversion from their heavy reliance on military contracts,” it was stated in MCSE’s event announcement. “Additional states are following suit, with Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Michigan, among others, working on similar legislation. As we prepare to have statewide discussions about Maine’s future and prepare for an important election in November, we invite our fellow Mid-coast citizens to enter into a conversation about our spending, our economy and our communities.”

The expert panel includes:
  • Miriam Pemberton, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., who writes and speaks on demilitarization issues for the institute’s Foreign Policy In Focus project.
  • Leslie Manning of Bath, an advocate for economic and social justice and the Quaker representative to the Maine Council of Churches. A former union representative and organizer, Manning served as deputy director of the Bureau of Labor Standards at Maine Department of Labor in a previous administration.
  • Sen. Margaret Craven of Androscoggin County and co-chair of the joint legislative committee on Health and Human Services. Craven represents an area where there are many Bath Iron Works employees and, as a former member of the Appropriations Committee, understands the state budget process and reliance on federal dollars for a variety of programs and services.
  • Moderator Rev. Bill Barter is the executive director of the Maine Council of Churches and senior pastor at St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church in Portland. Barter was born in Bath, lives in Brunswick, and has friends and relatives employed in defense industries.
“Good-paying jobs with decent benefits are essential to Maine’s economy and communities, and many of our state’s current jobs are with defense contractors here in Maine,” the press release states. “Almost 10 percent of our state’s GDP is dependent on military contracting, producing everything from destroyers to footwear and apparel, and providing services such as submarine repair and health care contracting. That reliance on continued spending ($3,303.53 per capita, the fourth highest in the country) makes Maine especially vulnerable to expected reductions in Pentagon spending.”

MCSE argues that data shows that defense spending is not a reliable jobs creator: “In a recent study compiled by the University of Massachusetts, $1 billion in Pentagon spending results in 11,200 jobs, while comparable investment in education results in 26,700 jobs being created,” the event release states. “Other sectors fared better, as well: clean energy results in 16,800 jobs, health care creates 17,200 jobs, and even returning that money to taxpayers could result in 15,100 new jobs.”

The public also is invited to take part in the potluck from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 27, just before the event. The Winter Street Church is located at 880 Washington St., across from the Patten Free Library in Bath. Admission is free and donations will be accepted to cover costs.

This is MCSE’s first event produced under the auspices of Vital Connections, a public forum that meets quarterly in the Mid-coast area. For more information on MCSE and the June 27 forum, contact Carol Huntington at 443-5777, or find “Ships, Shoes and Submarines” on Facebook.


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