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May 23, 2009, Letters to the Editor

Snubbed again

The May 16-17 BDN included the latest color brochure from the Maine Office of Tourism, “Authentic Maine Staycation.”
If folks from Rockport to Stonington and Castine are wondering why their business is not mentioned, look at the brochure and then directly to the Maine Office of Tourism.
The midcoast is portrayed by a golfer — evidently, the Samoset is a big contributor — and the only things it talks about are places from Rockland south. What happened to DOT’s Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, which cost taxpayers $75 million dollars and was supposed to bring in thousands of tourists? There isn’t even a mention of the observatory.
What happened to all the towns between Rockport and Bar Harbor, which the tourism office designates as the start of Downeast? Top that off with with no photo of the observatory or Fort Knox.
The midcoast has much to offer, yet the office of tourism has been blind to it for many years. We have sights and sites that can’t be found anywhere else, but you’d never know that from their publications.
Take consolation at least this time they didn’t mention a private winery as they did last year, forgetting that there are other fine wineries in the midcoast.
All that hullabaloo about how the observatory would bring in so many tourists is panning out the same as the Heritage Museum in Calais. The museum had no backup from the Maine Office of Tourism, received a lot of taxpayer money and turned into a bankrupt, closed museum!
Nancy-Linn Nellis
Stockton Springs

Hispanics face hurdles

The BDN’s recent editorial titled “Old, White Maine” (May 19) contained this observation: “It is difficult for emerging minority groups, such as Hispanics, to land in a small town and find work and affordable housing.”
This understates what has been taking place in the Washington County community of Milbridge. Over the past several years, dozens of Hispanic families have been settling in Milbridge. Most work seasonal jobs, a strategy that makes ends meet and allows these families a level of social and personal stability that being part of the migrant stream, by definition, does not afford.
By some estimates, Milbridge’s population of 1,400 is now at least 10 percent Hispanic, a rare demographic in rural Maine. A community-based support group – Mano en Mano (in English, “Hand in Hand”) – assists these families in making the transition into rural white America. To that end, the agency proposed seeking a $1 million federal grant to fund the construction of a six-unit housing development.
Enter, stage right, racism. Ever since the proposal was announced, a litany of half-baked objections has been voiced, concerns about the impact on traffic, groundwater and property taxes. Some opponents are blunt in saying local jobs are needed by “local people,” not Latinos who, they say, will bring drugs to the area. Sheer racism.
Perhaps the editorial should read: “It is difficult, if not impossible, for emerging minority groups, such as Hispanics, to land in a small town infected with racism and find empathy, work and affordable housing.”
Tom Walsh

Budget for long term

The governor’s proposed budget tries to find a balance between spending cuts and revenue increases, yet more should be done so Maine can prosper.
Proposed cuts would put Mainers at great risk. Cutting programs would provide a quick, short-term solution, however these cuts are only a short-sighted, ineffective approach to our budget problems and will further weaken our essential public structures.
Eroding our public infrastructure does not serve to create a healthy work force or help to sustain our valuable natural resources. Reductions to children’s mental health services will disrupt successful efforts and cuts to these programs would make it harder for them to achieve independence.
One of the reasons why this is such a big issue for me is because I grew up a ward of the state of Maine. With these budget cuts several of the places where I was able to find shelter will be shut down without funding. How can we stand by and watch these children lose their homes?
There has to be another way to balance the budget rather than further weakening our essential public structures. Raising taxes particularly on those with higher incomes, and closing tax loopholes and exemptions would make better economic sense as we position ourselves for economic recovery.
If these programs are not covered at the state level, we will just have to address them in more expensive ways such as institutional care and jail.
Now is time to recover from practices where short-term benefit is given priority over long-term prosperity.
Ashley Zook
Board Member
Maine Peoples Alliance

‘Cling to what is good’

Opponents of gay marriage are missing some obvious points. The current marriage law in Maine doesn’t require any religious official to perform any marriage they or their religion objects to. The law doesn’t force any individual in Maine to marry someone they don’t wish to. The law simply says that the state doesn’t care whom you wish to marry as long as they are outside of the fourth degree of consanguinity.
Simply put, as long as the person you wish to marry is not your sibling or related to you as a first cousin, you may marry them. Furthermore, the law allows that if an individual has an objection to a marriage they have been asked to perform, they can refuse with no legal consequence; this includes judges, priests and public notaries.
No one in this state is being forced to do anything against their will in regards to this law, except accepting all individuals and couples in this state as being equal. Perhaps if some people cannot accept that everyone can be equal regardless of sexual orientation, sex, or age, they should perhaps close their heart and minds to the concept that love can exist anywhere.
As the Apostle Paul said: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
If the opponents to gay marriage cannot accept that two individuals can love regardless of gender, how can they say that they’re defending anything having to do with love in God’s name, including their own marriages?
Wolf Gray

Words of wisdom

Dr. Erik Steele’s commencement column (BDN, May 19) should be copied and carried by every graduating senior. He hits home with each paragraph.
His ability to reach his audience in just a few words is exemplary. I would not be surprised if he is contacted by next year’s graduating classes to participate.
George E. Wildey

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