Web-only Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Letters to the Editor

Posted Oct. 30, 2009, at 6:14 p.m.

Mills urges no on 5

Question 5, An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act, has received little attention so far in the ballot debates. However, there are serious implications to the public’s health if this initiative were to pass.

This initiative would require the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to help set up dispensaries for marijuana across our state.

This initiative would also greatly expand the qualifications to access marijuana to include many common conditions and symptoms. Current law, passed in 1999, already allows access to marijuana to those suffering from severe life-threatening conditions.

Children would be allowed access to marijuana with adult permission and dispensaries would even be allowed as little as 500 feet from our schools.

This initiative would mean marijuana dispensaries may be springing up in many communities and neighborhoods. In California, where a similar proposal is in effect, marijuana dispensaries have become so commonplace that some towns have had to place a moratorium on new dispensaries.

The main question is: do we need marijuana dispensaries sprinkled across Maine, and do we need to spend precious state health and human services dollars setting up this infrastructure?

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH

Director, Maine CDC/DHHS

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‘No’ protects faith

I was astounded by Bonnie Popper’s assumption, as expressed in her October 21 op-ed piece, “Standing up for traditional marriage,” that it is the job of government to make sure only her religious understanding is supported by public law.

She says the government has no right to change her religious doctrine.

Public law would have no impact on her personal religious doctrine. But to satisfy her, the government would clearly be challenging my religious faith and that of many others who believe God calls us to support justice for all, who believe marriage is about the quality of the relationship and not limited to heterosexuals.

Ms. Popper asks, “Where is the separation of church and state there?”

That separation is supposed to guarantee that her religious doctrine is not imposed on me or others, some of us with deep religious faith, ourselves.

Current state law does not require any church to perform weddings for same sex couples or, in fact, for any couples for whom a church prefers not to perform such a ceremony.

I will be voting “no” on 1, in part, precisely because I do believe the state should not impose any particular religious doctrine — including Ms. Popper’s — on all of its constituents.

Denise Goodman

Searsport

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TABOR bad choice

TABOR II will hurt nonprofits and the communities they serve. As the director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, a nonprofit that supports homeless men and women as they transition back into the community, I urge you to vote no on TABOR II (Question 4).

The economic climate has increased demand for services that support our communities, and TABOR II’s formulaic approach will make it more difficult for our state to sustain resources that currently serve our neighbors, friends and family in times of need.

TABOR II would add costs to our representative democratic processes.

The campaign appears to be built on emotional half-truths and is in some ways an appeal to our fears and frustrations. Instead of jumping on a “No New Taxes” bandwagon, we should advocate for more deliberate, bipartisan work to improve our tax system.

This would be a particularly risky time to support this proposal and would only exacerbate adequate investments in our state and in its citizens.

In this economic climate, as more and more people find themselves out of work and struggling to keep a safe home, we need to be generous, not self-preserving. While TABOR might sound like a good thing, I do not believe it supports the common good.

Dennis Marble

Executive Director

Bangor Area Homeless Shelter

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Support bond issue

The condition of Maine’s roads, highways and bridges continues to decline. That’s why a yes vote on Question 6, the $71.25 million transportation bond is so important.

The bond will provide for critical investments in highways and bridges, as well as rail, aviation and marine transportation. This necessary investment is only a small step toward meeting the state’s transportation needs.

In its recent study, “The Difference is Night and Day,” the Maine Development Foundation reported that Maine should be investing $225 million a year to address these problems.

The benefits of the transportation bond extend beyond the immediate result of better roads, bridges and other transportation facilities. For one thing, it provides good jobs here in Maine, something we desperately need with an unemployment rate that was at 8.6 percent in August and is rising. For another, this bond will secure $148 million in federal, local and private matching funds. In the long term, a high quality efficient transportation network is essential for Maine’s economy to prosper.

Maine’s distance from large markets is a perennial challenge and efficient transportation is essential for our businesses to compete. These improvements are also necessary for the safety of all of us who regularly travel in Maine.

Please vote yes on Question 6.

Rick McCarthy

Winslow

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Learning to hate gays

It’s hard to be gay, or even suspected of being gay, when you’re a teenager and in high school. Kids are mean, especially if you’re different.

Teachers and administrators aren’t always any nicer or more informed. I remember being told if someone was being bullied and harassed, then that person should talk to the guidance counselor.

If I was a gay kid at Nokomis now, I really don’t think I’d feel too comfortable talking to the current guidance councilor, Mr. Mendell, following his appearance in a Yes on 1 ad. It must be reassuring for kids who get harassed for being gay to know their guidance councilor is a voice for the campaign to make sure gay marriage isn’t allowed in Maine. I respect his right to publicly voice his beliefs, but I hope he realizes that this sends a message to the kids he’s supposed to be helping.

The messages I hear coming from Yes on 1 spokespeople is that if you’re gay, you shouldn’t have the same rights as a straight person. And why shouldn’t you have the same rights? Because their interpretation of the Bible says you’re bad?

Kids absorb these messages, and use them to justify taking out their anger on kids they suspect of being gay. And we wonder why young people are leaving Maine. I see far more kids being harmed by the hatred of anyone who might be gay than by allowing two people who love each other to get married.

Hillary Lister

Athens

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Consolidation works

Gordon Donaldson’s attack on school district consolidation (BDN OpEd, Oct. 27) is not unexpected. He’s been a constant critic of meaningful reform for nearly three years. What is unexpected is his use of faulty information to make the attack.

If he looked out his window, he would see that children in rural areas, far from being imprisoned by school district consolidation, are benefiting from the resources of a larger school district – specifically key educational programs such as music, art and advanced placement.

That’s the conclusion of the Superintendent of RSU 24, the newly consolidated school unit that serves 11 rural communities in the Ellsworth area. These same rural communities have realized more than $300,000 in savings from school district consolidation — in less than 4 months!

Donaldson’s claim that teacher salaries will cost more than the savings achieved is groundless. And it’s refuted by the actual experience in RSU 24 where annualized savings could exceed $600,000 next year, even after new contracts are negotiated.

Eighty-five percent of Maine students are in districts in compliance with the new law. The 116 districts that are not represent 15 percent of our declining student population – an average of less than 300 students per district.

Unless Question 3 is rejected, Maine will go back to this expensive, unnecessary system of 290 school districts. The voluntary approach that Donaldson suggests doesn’t work. Incentives have been available for years, but largely ignored.

Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be taken out of classrooms to pay for a bureaucracy we can’t afford, and don’t need.

Newell Augur

Campaign Manager

No on 3

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After vote, pray

It would be a great blessing if all the churches in Maine would open their doors for prayer on Wednesday, Nov. 4. With the charged atmosphere of the referendum on same-sex marriage, we need to be aware that a vote will not end this discussion and struggle.

May those who wish to repeal the rights of homosexuals to marry pause in prayer and hear the integrity of those who would wish to support this right – to understand that they find their meaning in the Bible, family values and are not just extremist liberals with a hidden agenda.

May those who wish to support the rights of homosexuals to marry pause in prayer and hear the integrity of those who would wish to repeal this right – to understand that they find their meaning in the Bible, family values and are not just extremist conservatives who hate gays.

We need to be as committed to praying for one another as we are campaigning against one another. There are larger issues lying beneath this political vote that also need to be addressed. There are devout people of God who love their Lord dearly on both sides of this issue and can not lose sight that we are still brothers and sisters.

We are all going to have to continue living with each other and wrestling with the implications and ongoing changes which are molding our lives. Let us start with open doors of prayer.

The Rev. Peter Jenks

Thomaston

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