April 19 Letters to the Editor

Posted April 18, 2010, at 6:42 p.m.

Keep grads in Maine

As a public administration student at UMaine, it bothers me to read articles in the BDN relating to the proposed cuts. The fact that part of the proposal calls for the elimination of the Department of Public Administration (the only department to be completely eliminated) is hardly ever mentioned is a disservice to not only its students but the public servants of Maine who rely on this critical program.

In fact, although my photo was part of your coverage of last week’s student protest, the story made no mention of my program.

While cuts to the music and theatre programs you like to write about so much will surely affect more students, cutting the public administration department will have lasting effects on the state as a whole. Most graduates of this program stay in this state as town managers, county managers and government advisers — people who make our society work.

As public administration students we learn to truly manage government.

We learn how to allocate resources efficiently in the public sector; we work with difficult concepts such as the redistribution of wealth across society. Most importantly, we learn how to be good public servants. These are the skills that are in demand right now.

In this modern day where public opinion of government is plummeting, we need more people with this type of education, not fewer.

Jacob Baker

Old Town

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Poliquin for governor

Maine’s toughest challenges are economic, fiscal and financial. Our state government spends too much, and our private sector can’t generate enough revenue to cover it.

Businesses are driven away to states with more competitive business climates because the taxes and regulatory costs are too high. The politicians in Augusta respond by keeping failing and expensive programs intact and driving taxpayers deeper into debt.

That’s why I’m not supporting a career politician for governor. I’m supporting Bruce Poliquin. Bruce has spent his entire professional life in the private sector properly managing businesses, balancing budgets and creating jobs. He understands our economic, fiscal and financial challenges in a way no other candidate does. He is a common sense business manager who knows success means spending only what you take in, not mounting debt for future generations to pay.

We need experienced professionals running our state finances. We need someone who will make the tough decisions about what we can afford. Bruce has spent a lifetime doing that in the private sector, and I am confident he will bring the same qualified experience to Augusta as governor.

Dana Edwards

Hampden

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Stigma doesn’t help

The BDN’s April 8 editorial (“Schools Face Choice”) claims that “far too many of Maine schools are not showing adequate academic progress in key curriculum areas.”

This issue presents an opportunity to the BDN, as one of the state’s leading newspapers, to explore the reasons that students are not doing better instead of jumping on a questionable bandwagon. How valid are the No Child Left Behind requirements? What about factors outside of school? What innovative ways have other school systems pursued to involve parents in their child’s schooling?

As your guest columnist Arnold Greenberg recently pointed out, studies have found that the child’s home plays a greater role in school success than the school. Put another way, parental involvement highly correlates with student success.

How terribly sad and shameful that what is billed as a pro-education initiative has branded schools, teachers, students and communities as failures.

Living in Deer Isle, I know some of these people and places personally, and I know this sweeping label does not fit, although I do agree there is room for improvement. But how will money and-or radical staff changes fix problems rooted mostly in factors outside of school?

Mary Offutt

Deer Isle

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Cost of no sick days

Dr. Eric Steele’s April 6 column, “Health costs driving new partnerships,” correctly points out that we need a sea change in America’s workplace to successfully control health care costs. He is also correct that part of that change must give Maine workers the basic right to paid sick time. Every day people in Maine go to work sick, risking their health and the health of others.

Why does this problem drive up health care costs? I recently served on a work group studying hospital emergency department use in Maine. One key factor contributing to this costly problem is that workers without paid sick time can’t get to their family practice clinician when the office is actually open. If these workers need medical attention, their only real choice is a go to an emergency department after hours. Clearly, all of us recognize that this is not how our health care system should work if we want to reduce costs. But, without this basic workplace protection, workers are left with the untenable choice between going to the emergency department or jeopardizing their paychecks, and even their jobs.

As a nation we are about to embark on implementation of the most significant health care reform in decades. Our success will depend on ensuring that the promise of this new law will be realized for all of us.

That means guaranteeing workers that they will be able to take time off from work without losing pay so that they can actually use their new health insurance card.

Christine Hastedt

Maine Equal Justice

Augusta

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Breaks irresponsible

It is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible to give away billions in tax dollars to some of the most polluting companies on Earth.

Exxon Mobil paid zero tax dollars to Uncle Sam in 2009. Sellers of dirty biofuels received more than $5 billion in tax giveaways in 2009.

Why are billions of our tax dollars supporting the richest, most polluting companies in the world? It’s time for Congress to end these giveaways.

Oil, gas and biofuels result in the release of various types of pollution, including the release of heat-trapping gases that destabilize the climate. Better alternatives exist.

Congress should focus on fuel efficiency and smarter growth that makes driving less necessary in order to reduce fuel consumption, and on technologies such as plug-in vehicles that pull power from solar-powered fueling stations. These are real solutions to our nation’s energy needs.

Bill Fowlie

Harmony

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