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Aug. 1, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Charter schools public

Thank you for the article about Union 60’s consideration of developing a charter school and describing the current struggle for charter schools to be allowed here in Maine (BDN, July 24). A key point to remember is that charter schools are public schools.

Maine PTA supports charter schools as proposed by the bill that was before the Legislature this past session because charter schools expand public education options for schools, communities and families. Studies consistently show that the greater the level of family involvement in a child’s education, the more successful the child is at school. Taking part in discussions within the family and the community about which school a child will attend and why is a strong expression of family commitment to education.

Also, as pointed out in the article, permitting charter schools in Maine would make additional federal funding available, an important consideration in these times of tight local budgets. These additional funds would represent an investment in our children and the future of Maine.

Virginia Mott

Maine Parent Teacher Association


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Enough to sign

In the “A Better Union Bill” editorial (BDN, July 23), the paper rehashes the worn-down stereotype of a key provision of the employee free choice act — majority sign-up.

When I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and later the U.S. Army, I signed my name both times. When I bought a car, I needed to sign on the dotted line.

No one questioned my choices. I was not coerced nor tricked into fighting for my country, nor buying a car.

The BDN correctly recognized the stalling, abuse and harassment that workers often face when forming a union, so why not recognize my signature as proof that I want a union? Majority sign-up is based on a simple idea: If a majority of workers say that they want a union, they should get a union.

The Employee Free Choice Act also allows workers to form a union through a ballot election, but the point is that workers are in control, not the boss. The editorial needlessly questioned the status of majority signup in Congress. Majority sign-up is alive and well because it restores balance and is the best way for workers to form a union freely and fairly, without intimidation or harassment.

Speculating on what may be part of a bill that has yet to be introduced is both fruitless and counterproductive. Congress must vote on majority sign-up because we desperately need legislation to level the playing field for working people.

Ted Rippy


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Beware socialized care

A few years ago, I spent over two months making five days-a-week visits to the radiation center at Eastern Maine Medical Center. While I waited for my turn under the big machine I visited with many other cancer patients. About half were Canadians. Most were diagnosed with prostate cancer and told by their doctors they had to wait several months for radiation treatment in Canada or “next Monday” could begin treatment in Bangor at EMMC. Waiting several months is not an option if your cancer is aggressive.

Statistics report that if you are treated for prostate cancer in the U.S. the survival rate is above 90 percent. But chances for survival drop to 50 percent or less for those treated in England and Wales, because with socialized health care you have to wait to see a doctor and then wait longer for treatment.

Many Canadians live within a relatively short distance from U.S. medical centers. When their medical system becomes overloaded they can opt for care in the U.S. We will not have that option if our system becomes overloaded because of a change to socialized health care. Health care for everyone is a desirable goal, but is it compatible with the quality of health care that we have in this country now? Will we have too many patients and not enough doctors or well staffed hospitals? Can we ship our care to other countries as some self-insured companies do? There are sensible changes proposed other than what our liberal administration and Congress are trying to ram through without sufficient review, as is their style.

Hewlett Crawford


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Cheapening racism

Racism was found walking down the dusty street of a sleepy little town in the South. An elderly man steps to the curb, touching his hat respectfully. You nod to him as you pass. Two young toughs, showing off to three girls or angry because you nodded to him, kick him into the gutter and stomp him. Stunned, you want to help, but are dragged away. Since you “being a Yankee girl and all” don’t know how things are in the South, you will stir up trouble. That was racism.

Racism was August, 1965, Watts, Calif. Burning. You are hunkered down in your apartment, helicopters circling overhead, sporadic gunfire nearby, sirens wailing and a busy signal for 911. You could smell something burning, hear people running, and hear the sounds of glass shattering and wood splintering as nearby apartments were broken into. You prayed that the apartment underneath you would not be set on fire, because to venture out on such a night would not have been a good life choice. That was racism.

Perhaps I am jaded, but I think, the race card is used all too frequently and quickly these days. The threat of it is designated to intimidate, to blackmail, regardless of the devastation it will cause. The darkest use is for blatant political self-promotion.

Scream racism, get folks agitated, hope an incident occurs. If it does, gleefully announce how right you were, ride the wave of notoriety to political office and shrug off the wreckage.

BJ Seymour


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Lobster market prices

As we read daily about the dangerous condition of the lobster industry it occurs to me that help can start at home with Maine’s restaurant industry. They are attached at the hip and should work together to solve mutual problems.

My concern here is what restaurants advertise as “market price.” The real market price is low and the cost to the restaurant, depending on where they purchase their lobsters, is $2.25 to $4 per pound for shedders.

Industry standards ask for a three time mark up, which means that a one-pound soft shell lobster should cost the customer between $6.75 and $12. Hard shells are a few dollars more and it should be reflected in the price.

Why, then, are restaurants still charging high prices that have nothing to do with the “market price” that they print on their menus? I would like to suggest in this crisis time that restaurants lower their prices of a lobster dinner. It would generate more sales, thus creating a larger demand which would, in the end, help our lobster-men. It would also help the customer struggling during these tough economic times. It would be a win-win for all concerned

Addison Berkey


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