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Feb.12, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Don’t forget the arts

As Congress considers the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the arts and culture sector must be included. The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. They enhance community development.

Consider the case of Rockland, a depressed town 30 years ago that now has a vital, lively downtown again.

Nonprofit arts organizations are members of the business community — employing people locally, purchasing goods and services within the community and involved in the marketing and promotion of their towns.

In fact, nationally there are more full-time jobs supported by the nonprofit arts than are for accounting, public safety officers, even lawyers and just slightly fewer than elementary school teachers.

According to Americans for the Arts, a $50 million investment to the National Endowment for the Arts will provide critical funding to save 14,422 jobs from being lost in the U.S. economy. This is based on the ability of the NEA to leverage $7 in additional support through local, state and private donations for every $1 in NEA support.

There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for the nonprofit arts industry, experts expect about 10 percent of these organizations (ranging from large arts institutions such as museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) to shut their doors in 2009 — a loss of 260,000 jobs.

Siri Beckman


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Driver’s license law

Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, wants to change the law that now exists. What’s wrong with proving you are in this country legally? What’s wrong with proving you are a Maine resident?

Does Sen. Damon forget the events leading up to Sept. 11? How many of the terrorists had U.S. driver’s licenses?

Leave the law as it exists now. A driver’s license is a privilege, not a God-given right.

Sue O’Brien


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Solidarity needed now

When there was a perceived national threat — weapons of mass destruction hidden in Saddam’s Iraq — and in the post-Sept. 11 era, Democrats in Congress rallied behind a Republican president. Look where that solidarity got all of us.

Now, Democrats and their president are asking for the same kind of cooperation in the face of far more real threats: global economic collapse and global warming.

The more you look into these related catastrophes, the more you learn that people have been trying to warn our leaders about the impending crisis.

Why were they ignored?

The Economic Recovery Act will change as it moves through time and circumstance. But it will drive resources further down the line to people who are doing the work of recovery.

At the local level, with modest infusions of money, large numbers of jobs can be created. Give farmers access to land, trained labor and some infrastructure, and they can produce our food. Train people in the technologies of renewable energy and “green” constructing-retrofitting. Set up provider-owned and run care services for the young, the elderly and others in need in their own communities.

Jane Livingston


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Sears Island swindle

Thank you, BDN for reporting on DOT’s proposed statewide mitigation bank scheme. The public should realize that this issue has long-term ramifications. All wetlands in our state would be at risk, not to mention those around Moosehead Lake or on Sears Island. If the Army Corps of Engineers approves DOT’s prospectus for this mitigation instrument (called the Umbrella Mitigation Bank prospectus for Transportation), DOT could assume unparalleled power in New England. Why is this issue being discussed in Searsport and not Augusta?

The plan to use 598.8 acres of the conservation easement portion of Sears Island as the initial mitigation credit in this long-lasting tool is embedded within the JUPC’s final report. Yet a discussion of it was mysteriously absent from the Transportation Committee’s recent deliberations over the agreement. Nor was the mitigation bank mentioned in Gov. Baldacci’s recent executive order or the future of Sears Island.

Environmental experts have been trying to notify Maine residents about this serious issue for some time. Despite what the Army Corps or DOT may say, it has been shown that these statewide mitigation tools are not innocuous — they result in a disastrous net loss of wetlands. Please come to the “Mitigation meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, at the town office in Searsport, and demand that the Army Corps hold a full hearing on this issue.

Sally C. Jones


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The Feb. 9 letter “Sully still a hero” contained a typographical error. It should have said: “He knew darn well he was going in the water.”

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