Letters to the editor for Dec. 6, 2010

Posted Dec. 05, 2010, at 6:46 p.m.

Don’t punish patriots

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” punishes patriotic men and women who want nothing more than to serve our country. It discriminates against those who are trying to protect us. And it harms us, by preventing qualified and much-needed Americans from serving. It’s time to repeal this senseless and harmful policy.

Lisa Hassam

Oakland

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Curb youth smoking

The BDN’s recent editorial (“Maine’s Tobacco Campaign,” Nov. 3) about a lack of recent progress in the effort to eliminate youth smoking demonstrates the need for more resources and attention on this important matter. However, there are a few additional points worth considering.

In April, states received $6.4 billion from tobacco companies in annual tobacco settlement agreement payments. The Centers for Disease Control has said that many states, including Maine, have not devoted adequate funding, as generated by the tobacco settlement agreements, toward youth smoking prevention programs.

Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, agrees states should devote more settlement funding toward these programs. Not only has the vast majority of states diverted billions of dollars that many hoped would be spent on underage tobacco use prevention and health-related initiatives, but now many states are seeking massive tax increases on tobacco products to help fund these very same programs.

In addition, the editorial’s mention of a $200 million “federal subsidy to the tobacco industry” last year left out a key point. These payments go to the tobacco farming community as part of the elimination of the tobacco farming quota system. The payments are funded entirely by tobacco product manufacturers — not the government.

Bill Phelps

Altria Client Services

(on behalf of Philip Morris USA)

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Truck your own potatoes

If you follow Harry Snyder’s logic in his Nov. 30 letter to the editor, in which he argues for letting the trucks pay for all the road damage with higher registration fees and smaller payloads, then perhaps we should address a few other issues to help our infrastructure.

For example, let’s have all law enforcement personnel pay for all the costs associated with putting a prisoner in jail; after all, they are the ones putting them in there.

Out of their pay, politicians could shoulder the cost of tax credits to insulate your own home or apartment complex, something you should be doing yourself if it makes economic sense.

I’ve read 80 percent of all our nation’s health care costs are related to obesity; there’s another group breaking our infrastructure. How about some kind of monetary cap on heroic measures to save your old grandmother? This could save taxpayers a ton of money.

Let’s face it; Harry has come up with a real watershed idea this time. All we need to do is expand on it and identify more groups breaking things. These are just four things I have thought of in less than 30 seconds.

Next spring when California’s new potato crop is harvested, just jump in your Chevy or Toyota and run out there and get a bag and let us know how much that bag costs you. You may want to pick up one for your neighbor that will cut your cost in half with very little damage to the roads.

Kevin Davis

Plymouth

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Shoe on other foot

Too often, the federal government’s subtle undertone of its actions and prohibitions rely on the view, “If you are not guilty, what do you have to hide?” With the release by WikiLeaks of diplomatic documents, I am glad that the tables finally have turned, and now we can say to our government, “If you are doing nothing illegal, immoral and unethical, what do you have to hide?”

It is too bad that the false calls of treason have over-shadowed the wrongdoings revealed in the leaks.

Dan Lemik

Milo

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Break ground now

The Bangor Daily News’ editorial about a new arena, “Bangor’s Opportunity,” articulated my thoughts and discussions with family, friends, neighbors and councilors exactly. Please allow me to add a few thoughts.

Many residents of my age realized about 50 years ago that the current auditorium was designed poorly or constructed poorly or both. Bob Hope called it a “cow barn.” Kenny Rogers had buckets of rain falling on him and on his elaborate stage on the floor of the basketball court.

Eight or nine years ago the council held neighborhood meetings about a new auditorium with an estimated cost of $30 million. Now that the project has been delayed eight or nine years, the estimate has soared to $80 million. Putting the arena out for referendum, doing more feasibility studies, seeking more proposals, petitioning recall of councilors who vote for approval will only delay this longer. Eight or nine years, $50 million more — well, you do the math.

Many great things have happened in Bangor over the last 20 years, such as the Maine Discovery Museum, Penobscot Theatre, American Folk Festival, Art Festival, Waterfront Concerts, the Senior League World Series, the Troop Greeters to name a few, and have given the city a good heartbeat. A new civic center-auditorium complex will add greatly to the pulse of that heart.

Let’s start digging now!

Gerry Turner

Bangor

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Greeting multitasking

I say, Merry Christmas to you, too (an answer to Linda Wilber’s Dec. 3 letter to the editor).

I would have her remember our Savior, Jesus Christ’s message of love and kindness. We say happy holidays because we are not the only people to celebrate at this time of year. In our country we show respect for all religions, not just Christianity, and many people came here and still come so they can express their beliefs without persecution.

So, I say at this time of year Happy Hanukah, Yuletide Greetings, Happy Kwanzaa, Ashura and Bodhi Day. And as a Christian, I say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mia Strong

Sedgwick

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