Nov. 1 Letters to the Editor

Posted Oct. 31, 2010, at 6:39 p.m.

A better way to vote

When the race for governor is over, a lot of people may wish the Legislature had approved “ranked choice voting” in Maine. With five candidates on the ballot, Maine could elect a governor who receives less than 30 percent of the ballots cast, and may very well elect a governor who receives less than 40 percent of the vote.

If the process of ranked choice voting (instant runoff voting) had been in effect, the winning candidate would be required to receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast. The ballot gives the voter the opportunity to name their preferred candidate and also their second, third, etc. choices. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate first have their votes recast to their second choice candidate. This process is repeated until one candidate garners 50 percent plus one votes.

This process avoids the “spoiler effect” and voters are able to vote for candidates they approve of rather than the lesser of evils. This method is used successfully in a number of jurisdictions around the nation (see fairvote.org). A bill to authorize a pilot program in Maine municipalities, LD 1344, failed in the Legislature last session. The vote this month may give new urgency to the effort to get away from the current “winner take all” policy.

Edward F. Snyder

Bar Harbor

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Dispatch debate

The debate over regionalizing Bangor’s police and fire dispatch appears to have taken an urgent tone recently. We have heard very little from the dispatchers themselves. I am a full-time dispatcher for Bangor police and fire. While some may think my letter comes solely from a perspective of keeping my job, I can assure it is not.

There is no argument that regionalizing dispatch will change the dynamic with both the police and fire departments and their relation to their dispatch and how it services them, and that is where my concern lies.

The nature and volume of calls that Bangor handles on a daily basis is unlike any other town in the region. Merging will result in service getting lost in the cracks — both to the residents and to the firefighters and police officers.

Having immediate backup for an officer in trouble, EMS arriving to a choking baby in less than five minutes, having on officer on scene within minutes of a woman being beaten — these are all real experiences of a dispatcher. These are made quicker and more effective because we know our officers, their locations, where our fire units are at all times and know how to tap into the well-oiled machine that Bangor has developed over years of work.

Merging Bangor into a regional dispatch center will water down this well-oiled machine, resulting in a sad prediction for the well-being of the public safety personnel and the residents of Bangor.

Leanne Parks

Kenduskeag

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Costs increasing

On Tuesday Oct. 12, I read two articles of interest in the daily paper. The first one was about people on Social Security not getting a raise in 2010 and now 2011. The other article was about the department of corrections wants nearly $2.5 million more for the current budget year, more than half is for fuel, food, and utilities increases. More than $980,000 is for pay increases and retroactive pay.

One quote in this article is, “These are cost increases we have all seen when we go to the grocery store.”

I guess people on Social Security are blind or don’t go to the grocery store. I’m not on Social Security yet so I hope the people who are supposed to be working with the people for the people stop slapping before I get there.

Ron Beaupre

Rockport

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Unhealthy lessons

Concerning Lorraine Morin’s miscarriage settlement from EMMC, we should all keep in mind that those without health insurance do not have access to a doctor’s advice nor do they have anything but an ethical understanding with a hospital. EMMC may well have given her greater care, and Ms. Morin may well have been a better advocate for herself, had both parties agreed that concern for her health was not a privilege, but a right.

Universal health care will come, eventually. These unnecessary “lessons,” unfortunately, appear to be part of the process.

Douglas M. Coffin

Stockton Springs

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Service dog education

As one who once served on an accreditation committee at Presque Isle High School, I always considered SAD 1 to be a rather progressive school department. I was totally taken aback by the recent letter in the BDN about how the system totally mishandled the situation involving a service dog. Having worked in the Madawaska schools with their director of special education further confused me as to her lack of preparation and education about service animals. Luckily this little girl had a proactive grandmother.

Roger A. Martin

Madawaska

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Disclose spending now

It’s just wrong. Spending from unnamed sources has no place in our American democracy. Huge sums of money from secret sources went into campaign advertising this year, much of it for negative advertising.

Special interests spent millions and millions of dollars in the election, drowning out the voices of individual voters. Because of changes in the law, there were no disclosure requirements — even for foreign governments and corporations that could fund political ads.

The League of Women Voters has been calling attention to secret money being spent on political advertising for months, but the U.S. Senate hasn’t acted on a disclosure bill, even after the House of Representatives passed one.

We just saw the largest campaign expenditures in history, as organizations accepted tens of thousands of dollars from both American and foreign corporations. Essentially, these organizations functioned as political action committees without having to follow the laws requiring disclosure of donors. It should come as no surprise that many of these corporations and organizations lobbied against the Disclose Act, which would have stopped manipulation of elections by fly-by-night anonymous hit groups and prevented the infusion of undercover expenditures.

These activities are detrimental to our democracy. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. Until a Disclose Act is passed, the League of Women Voters calls on candidates to disavow secret advertising and asks local media not to accept ads unless the names of the true donors are made public.

Barbara McDade

president

League of Women Voters of Maine

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