I am incredulous that the town manager of Millinocket — who represents the town and the council — would, in the Jan. 30 edition of the BDN, lay the blame squarely on the retirees for the budget shortfall in legal fees. The BDN’s story, “Millinocket manager sees funding shortfalls,” states that the town’s legal fees budget is 115 percent over budget at $13,803, mostly because the town is defending itself in a lawsuit filed by retirees who claim the town had no right to alter their health insurance deal. That suit is pending.
To blame retirees is certainly poor judgment on the town’s part.
One of Councilor Madore’s comments about the Democratic governor cutting revenues, “calling it ‘pass-the-buck’ politics.” Is this “pass-the-buck” politics?
The Town of Millinocket recently lost a major appeal, and the cost is now pending before a judge. How much did that lawsuit cost? How many lawyers did the town pay? This will include interest incurred since they appealed.
In talking about budget money, let us look at a new word for the last few years: in-kind. Another article in the BDN states that “$44,375 in town funds, of which some will be in-kind work done by town workers …” Is this a euphemism that means it will not cost the town of Millinocket anything? Who pays these employees? Who pays for the upkeep of these trails?
Bruce F. Leavitt
It’s just 545 people
The letter from Joe Anderson of Cushing, “Irresponsible America,” BDN, Jan. 29, stated that the “U.S. government is controlled by wealthy special interests getting richer by keeping Americans divided.” This is not correct.
The U.S. government is actually controlled by 545 elected officials — 100 senators, 435 congressmen, nine Supreme Court justices and one president.
They are collectively responsible for inflation, taxation, the federal budget, Department of Education, Social Security, Medicare, appropriations, the tax code, fiscal policy, foreign policy and monetary policy. They authorize spending, the budget, the war, etc. Forty-six new taxes in the past hundred years have done what? Made us better, stronger, more politically correct?
I partially agree with the letter writer’s final statement, that “change will come to America only when Americans start taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.” An uneducated public, too apathetic to hold their elected officials responsible, will never see change we can believe in.
Government is not the solution and never will be. Don’t blame career politicians — opportunists pandering to few at the expense of the many — be responsible; educate your friends, your family and vote.
Hold them accountable. Remove and replace them.
Is reform still worth it?
I am one of those who fought for a public option and other improvements to health care reform. The House and Senate have both passed bills, and it is clear that we are not going to get all we wanted. Can we support it anyway?
Roughly 47 million Americans are now uninsured. The Senate bill, the one most likely to become law, will insure 30 million of them. Right now, if you get sick and lose your job, you generally will lose your insurance. Often, you will never be able to get insurance again, because you have a “pre-existing condition.” Until you become poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.
Under health care reform as passed by the Senate, you get insurance, even if you’re sick. The insurance plan can afford to carry you, because everyone is required to join. For those who could not afford health insurance, there are subsidies, or an expanded Medicaid.
The opposition to health care reform is largely based on fear of the unknown, fueled by ignorance. The opposition has fanned that fear by outrageous falsehoods about the bill: That it contains death panels, or that it will add hundreds of billions to the deficit. Against that, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will reduce the deficit by $100 billion over 10 years.
We can have health care reform if we overcome fear and ignorance.
We paid for access
After reading the Jan. 25 BDN article by Diana Bowley about Roxanne Quimby, conservation philanthropist, who purchased several thousand acres in Piscataquis County, I almost lost my lunch. What’s nauseating is that the state isn’t defending the public’s right to access timberlands for recreational opportunities — timberlands that were previously owned by paper-company-associated entities.
The state has almost always reduced the taxes of corporation-owned timberlands. That tax reduction was supposed to be in exchange for the planting and nurturing of trees, for the jobs that the paper industry promised to provide and for recreational access to the public onto paper company-owned woodlands. Simultaneously, the taxes of everyday citizens were increased year after year in part to help compensate for that corporate tax reduction.
In short, for generations, Maine citizens have paid for their right to access much of the Maine woods for hunting and fishing and to act as co-steward of those lands. Shouldn’t they be able to retain their already-paid-for rights without having to ask permission from Roxanne Quimby?
Why don’t the hunting, fishing and snowmobiling lobbyists attack Quimby’s use-limit impositions? Then again, why should they have to? Shouldn’t Baldacci’s office be doing that?
Dr. John C. Frachella
Senators on climate
Sens. Snowe and Collins deserve our appreciation for their efforts to enact laws this year to combat climate change and jumpstart a clean energy economy that produces American jobs. Sen. Collins is co-sponsoring the “CLEAR Act,” which caps global warming pollution and helps move the Senate debate forward so the nation can benefit. Sen. Snowe is pressing to ensure that the federal FY11 budget includes funding to help the U.S. meet commitments hammered out in December’s Copenhagen climate change agreement.
Our nation’s commitment is crucial to world participation and success.
In addition, both senators have opposed the “Murkowski amendment,” which would have undermined the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to limit global warming pollutants. The science is clear that certain pollutants cause global warming and that they will have serious negative impacts on our health and environment. These pollutants must be controlled in order to protect human health and the future of our forests and oceans.
In a recent poll conducted by Critical Insights of Portland, 77 percent of Mainers said they wanted our senators to vote for legislation aimed at reducing the threat of climate change and promoting clean energy development. It seems that our senators are in tune with that sentiment.
We are counting on the continuing leadership and independence of Sens. Collins and Snowe as Congress works on climate and energy legislation that will create a cleaner, healthier, more secure America, and that will keep jobs in our new energy economy here at home. There is no more important action Congress could take this year to protect Maine’s, and the nation’s, environment.
Natural Resources Council of Maine