Archive for March 2011
To the Editor:
I don’t recall any news story exposing retirees and union workers rigging political elections. Neither was there any mention of school teachers making risky investments that threatened to topple Wall Street.
Unemployed Americans didn’t urge the world powers to battle in the Middle East by means of fictionalized claims of WMD and false claims of their supporting of the terrorists who toppled the Twin Towers. The only conspiracy exposed has been schemes between American billionaire businessmen and elected American officials, but nothing is done about it.
Yet all the above-mentioned Americans have been forced to pay the price for investment firms whose operating procedure was based on greed and speculation in ill-advised investments in extremely risky mortgages on such a scale that world markets were endangered when it all started coming apart. We are footing the bill to keep Wall Street liquid.
Unionized state workers have been blamed for increases of property taxes, and they are losing their collective bargaining rights. That word, “rights,” is a sticking point for me. State governments want to take away citizens rights? States want to break contracts they’ve agreed to? Remember, union members are taxpayers, too.
To the Editor:
What’s the best way to make sure the public interest is the primary interest of our elected officials? By making sure that candidates don’t rely on special interests to win campaigns.
Maine’s Clean Election system, funded by Maine people, allowed the majority of newly elected legislators to run for office without raising private money. Eighty percent of the 125th Legislature now serves without the usual ties to special interests.
To keep that system in place, it’s important to check Yes for Clean Elections on Line 1 of the Maine income tax form.
$643 million in disaster-assistance fraud
By U.S. Senator Susan Collins
Our hearts go out to the people of Japan. All of us watched in horror as a tsunami wiped out entire communities following a devastating earthquake, killing thousands of people and leaving hundreds of thousands of others homeless.
In the midst of overwhelming shock and grief, the people of Japan are now facing a nuclear crisis that has displaced thousands more families and complicated humanitarian efforts. The people of Japan are understandably alarmed and frightened about what might happen next and wondering how they will ever recover.
In the wake of the disaster, my offices throughout Maine have received telephone calls and emails from worried relatives of Mainers who are living in Japan. Limited phone and Internet service made reaching their family members impossible. With the help of the U.S. State Department, my staff was able to help reconnect several families, calming their fears, and reassuring them that their loved ones had survived.
By Glenn E. Aho
Auburn City Manager
The City Council has started the budget season, and it has a tough job ahead while it evaluates each department’s budget. As there isn’t a single dollar spent in the city’s budget that doesn’t affect one person or another, cutting even a single dollar is sure to spark an emotional debate: everyone suggests that someone else’s dollar should be cut.
This is the same situation our state legislators are in. Put simply, it’s tough to cut budgets amidst emotional appeal, and it’s even tougher to explain why budgets may be increasing.
The City Council asked administration to suggest policy changes that may reduce our budget. Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough information to provide that answer. Fortunately, however, we eventually will have that information. The city is changing its culture from being service-centered—where all services are provided, regardless of cost—to a cost-centered service, where financial consideration of services is made.
By Rachel Morin
I have always loved beautiful, old historic buildings and have taken photos of them all over Lewiston-Auburn and in many near and far destinations during my travels. Something just grabs my heart when I see these buildings from yesteryear and a calmer time.
The Lewiston United Baptist Church was one of my favorite buildings locally. I was saddened when the parishioners were forced to leave, unable financially to restore and maintain the deteriorating building. The multi-hued stone façade was spectacular. I admired the old church every time I drove by—the beautiful old stones were simply magnificent.
I went to many a Christmas Fair there over the years. I enjoyed listening to the organ as Bob Caldwell, longtime organist, played in stocking feet so he could “feel the music” that much better.
By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.
Mayor of Lewiston
Pwoje Espwa, an orphanage and school in Haiti, was founded by Father Marc Boisvert, a Lewiston native who became a priest in the order of the Oblates of Immaculate Mary. Formerly a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, he arrived in Haiti in 1998 and has been there ever since.
He first started by taking in six kids from the streets of Les Cayes, Haiti. The numbers grew immensely at his place, called La Madonne in downtown Les Cayes, to the point of where eight years ago he purchased some 140 acres of land on the outskirts of Les Cayes.
He then started building on the property. There are houses in which the 645 children live and a large Quonset hut, which serves as a workshop, dining hall and church. There are classroom buildings for children from pre-school to 12th grade. There is an outdoor kitchen where some 3,500 meals are served daily. There are several other vocational training buildings, storage buildings, a clinic building and a guest house with about a dozen rooms. Father Marc has his own residence.
To the Editor:
Maine State government is flawed; an example of this is the underfunded state employee pension fund.
State government claims it would be too expensive to honor existing pension and benefit agreements. The state has proposed a fix that includes no cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for three years, a two-percent employee increase in the retirement fund and, for new employees, delaying retirement until age 65.
This problem and the proposed fix have generated a dust storm of opposing views, making it difficult to fairly judge the problem. The various stakeholders are attractive, articulate and equally persuasive. I have heard that previous legislatures robbed (“borrowed,” if you prefer) pension funds to balance state budgets, heard that other legislatures lavishly modified pension and benefit agreements, freely and excessively obligated state (taxpayer) money to gain the favor of the state employees (voters).
To The Editor:
I pulled up to the gas pump the other day and commenced to fill my gas tank. Ten dollars … twenty dollars … nervously into the 30s, and finally stopping in the mid-40s. I watched others around me anxiously filling the tanks of their vehicles, most carefully stopping at 10 dollars. I looked at their total and looked at mine.
I thought, “Thank God I’m collecting a state pension; otherwise I might not be able to afford a fill-up.” Then I thought, “Instead of saying it with flowers, I’ll say it with gas.” I went home, got my wife’s car and filled the tank.
Thanks to my state pension, I am blessed with an enormous amount of free time. Heading to coffee to meet with my friends I made my daily stop, picking up a couple of scratch tickets and a couple of out-of-town newspapers.
To the Editor:
In a movie I was watching, a young autistic boy was complaining about bullies in his school: “Mom! They’re getting older, and when bullies get older, they get meaner.” Smart kid.
I guess everyone has had to deal with at least one bully sometime in their life. In my case, I had to live with a bully. My older brother enjoyed bullying me. I complained to my parents, but they seemed unable to control his behavior, or perhaps they didn’t understand how bad it really was. Maybe they didn’t want to admit they had a son who was a bully.
My brother physically abused me, punching, hitting, pushing and tripping me. Then he would laugh about it. He must have felt very poorly about himself if it made him feel good to push me around, demonstrating his physical superiority over the skinny little kid that I was then.