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Archive for March 2011

Op/Ed: Cutting Community Services Block Grants is wrong

Submitted by Western Maine Community Action

“For every human problem there is a solution”—wrote the journalist H.L. Mencken almost 100 years ago—“neat, plausible, and wrong.”

We have watched in disbelief as President Obama put Community Action programs on the chopping block, targeting Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) and slashing heating assistance in his budget proposal. The House of Representatives has cut even more deeply into the services we provide.

While the Senate has yet to weigh in on the cuts it will endorse, the drumbeat of “cut the budget, cut the deficit” is all we hear. It’s neat, it’s plausible, and it’s wrong. This is not a tenable solution to the problems our country faces. In a democracy we look to our elected officials to set priorities so that problems may be solved or ameliorated.

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LETTER: Maine Republicans strive to make good on historic opportunity

To the Editor:

Last fall, for the first time in 50 years, Maine Republicans were given control of the Maine Senate, House of Representatives, and the Governorship. It would have been easy to mistake this for a mandate.

Instead, Republicans realized that voters wanted a change in direction as opposed to the status quo. It wasn’t that they were particularly enamored with Republicans, just willing to try a new approach in the face of dire economic circumstances. In the words of Walt Kelly, we are now “confronted with insurmountable opportunities” that need to be addressed this legislative session.

These difficult issues/opportunities include: A budget shortfall that, at one point, was estimated to be $1 billion; a projected Highway Fund Budget shortfall of $720 million over the next two years; an embarrassing $400 million debt to our hospitals; and a Retirement System that will cost Maine $916 million over the next two years (up from $629 million the previous budget cycle).

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LETTER: LePage won—“The times they are a-changin’!”

Letter to the Editor:

They complain he only garnered 38 percent of the vote. But alas, he won.

They say that if it weren’t for the “Cutler Files,” Eliot would have won. But the alleged “dirty politics” said to be contained in these files would not rise to the start of a pimple on the rear end of American political history.

Perhaps victory was the result of a group of angry taxpayers introducing a WMDD (Weapon of Mass Democrat Destruction)—Tea—into Maine’s water supply.

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LETTER: We’re losing L-A’s architectural soul

To the Editor:

What does it profit a man if he gains a parking lot, but loses his architectural soul? The paraphrasing of an oft-quoted Bible verse easily applies to the current tragedy taking place in Lewiston: the demolition of the building formerly housing the United Baptist Church.

The main photograph on the front second-section of Sun-Journal’s February 15 issue illustrates the crime against our cultural heritage!

And then there is the removal of the beautiful stained-glass windows from the former St. Patrick’s Church for transport clear across the globe to Japan (Sun-Journal, February 19)! Twice in one week, this daily newspaper revels in the wanton destruction and systematic dismantling of vital parts of the Twin Cities’ architectural landscape and history!

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LETTER: Time to cut away some of the burden

To the Editor:

Welcome to the jungle! Having nearly obliterated the Maine private sector, the crushing weight of government excess has now shifted to bear on those accustomed to public support.

It’s not a pretty sight, and the squeals of the affected will be heard throughout the state. It’s a simple but painful choice. Either our government crumbles under its own weight or we cut away some of the burden.

Most of us know what has to be done because we have been forced to do it in our own lives. Our government has “been run like nobody’s business” for too long. Private-sector survivors have already done what was necessary. It is time to apply these same efficient methods to government.

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LETTER: Butt-kicking the military/petroleum complex

To the Editor:

Lately, I have been doing some research about the decreasing amount of liberty and democracy we Americans enjoy. The more I dig, the more I find out about the disgusting corruption in our government of, for and by big business.

Not all that long ago, Americans envisioned a glowing future with our country as a home of dream-like qualities: comfortable, well-educated, well-fed, well-paid citizens living a life of relative ease (compared to our ancestors’ lives of toil) in clean cities and towns. There was a prophesy of freedom earned by thousands who died in wars for democracy, earned by the compassionate dedication of a society willing to share with those less fortunate among us. Given the progress we had made already, it seemed a certainty when we thought of flying cars, manicured cities and peace.

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Obama Needs a Roadmap to a More Efficient Government

By U.S. Senator Susan Collins

(R-Maine)

Our $14.5 trillion federal debt is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation, and one that Congress must address as an urgent priority. I was disappointed when the President recently proposed a budget for October 2011 through September 2012 that does far too little to rein in federal spending and to bring the debt under control.

The President’s plan spends and borrows too much, and it would put further financial burdens on families and small businesses at a time when we should be doing all we can to make it easier for them to create much-needed jobs.

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Mayor’s Corner: Voter fraud in Maine—why fix what isn’t broken?

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

A good rule for anyone working in government is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” There are enough problems for any good legislator, mayor or city council member to worry about these days without adding to the list.

On the list of problems facing Augusta right now is Maine’s budget shortfall, the higher-than-usual unemployment rate, an infrastructure badly in need of repair and numerous attacks on the environmental protections that have made Maine a top destination for travelers and a green leader for the whole country.

One problem that isn’t on the list is voter fraud. Maine has had just two cases of voter fraud in the past 30 years. We have a strong election system and the second-highest rate of voter participation in the country, second only to Minnesota. In Presidential election years, almost 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots, and that’s something we can be proud of.

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Weekly Review: APD is on the move; Engine 2 is down; Ingersoll Arena is up

By Glenn E. Aho

Auburn City Manager

Local government is able to do things right. The question is, “Is it able to do things right repeatedly?” A one-time, flash-in-the-pan success is easy. But to repeatedly be successful is difficult. To be successful repeatedly, a local government needs to be managed; as conditions change, how the local government is managed needs to change. In Auburn’s case, new management systems are being put into place to get repeated successes intended upon meeting the public’s expectation of financial and operational accountability.

The way Auburn had been managed was service-oriented: as the public requested services to be extended or expanded, so too did the cost of providing those services. That system worked as long as the economy continued to grow. As the economy declined, no longer could Auburn be managed in the same service-oriented manner, which only added costs to the budget.

Even more challenging is that the managerial skill sets necessary to extend or expand services are not the same skill sets necessary to reduce, reverse or retract services in a declining economy. This means that staff has had to learn new managerial skills.

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