On behalf of retired generals and admirals in Maine and across the country, I want to express appreciation to U. S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Second District Congressman Mike Michaud and First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for supporting the recently passed bipartisan national child nutrition legislation.
It had been more than 16 years since Congress had updated school nutrition standards, and during that time, we have sadly seen our nation, especially our youth, become more overweight and less physically fit. The 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act takes positive steps to change this, providing a mechanism to update our public schools’ breakfast and lunch nutrition standards based upon recommendations by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. It also establishes similar science-based nutrition standards for school foods sold a la carte and in vending machines.
As a father and grandfather, I worry about the issue of obesity in today’s youth. I also worry about it as a retired military officer, especially after learning of a national report by Mission: Readiness showing that one in four young adults are too overweight to serve in the armed services. That does not bode well for our military or for our nation.
In addition to creating a recruitment barrier for every branch of service, obesity presents serious medical risks and is a contributing factor to skyrocketing medical costs.
This new law is a step in the right direction, not only in providing more nutritious meals to our children at school but also in helping ensure our long-term national security.
U.S. Air Force, retired
The handling of the Greenleaf incident disturbs me. I was surprised to read in regard to the Greenleaf matter that BDN legal counsel “agreed the documents could be withheld from the public based on the reasons cited by authorities.” How can that be? The ground for withholding information at this point is “privacy,” as there is no longer an ongoing investigation.
This event transpired on a city street with at least 14 witnesses speaking to the police. How does such an event give rise to a privacy expectation for the young men involved? It was a public place and in the Fourth Amendment context, it is understood that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in what transpires in plain view on a public street.
Why is the BDN shirking its duty here by caving in to this privacy excuse?
Moreover, whatever happened to investigative journalism? Is it really impossible for a reporter to gather reliable information without having the Bangor PD’s investigative file?
Sick of sex talk
The BDN editorial board, which has been on a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rant for several editions, should read Dear Abby’s Dec. 10 column under the heading “Woman, 80, in no rush to talk about sex.”
It might help the BDN to better understand that many of us are sick and tired of having to be aware of everyone’s personal, private choices in sexual behavior. Everywhere I turn, people are insisting on telling me what I don’t want or need to know.
So-called gays need to get off this “rights” kick they are on and go back to being discreet in their personal behavior. That’s what “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is all about.
City-built civic center
If the business of operating a large civic gathering place were both straightforward and consistently profitable, then the city of Bangor would have no role in the construction of the proposed Maine Center. Private industry would happily undertake the project.
But across the country, such facilities depend on the public sector for support. And that’s reasonable. If the role of the public sector is to do those things that are essential for our health, well-being and economic growth that the private sector cannot, then the Maine Center, www.themainecenter.com, is a worthy undertaking for the city.
The Maine Center, featuring both an event venue and convention center, will generate $26 million in new annual economic activity and create 400 jobs. Half of this growth will occur right here in Bangor.
That, in turn, will fuel business expansion and growth of the city’s tax base, taking pressure off residential taxpayers.
Alternatively, if the Maine Center is not built, the current Auditorium complex will draw fewer and fewer events. Even if renovated, the current facility’s footprint would render it noncompetitive and unworthy of the city’s support.
So the choice is to build the Maine Center or to knock down the Auditorium.
If the Maine Center is not built, not only will Bangor miss out on the new tax revenues, its tax base will shrink as businesses close and downsize for lack of any civic gathering place in the region.
For the sake of Bangor taxpayers, the city should build the Maine Center.
Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce
Leave Social Security
President Obama reached an agreement with Republican legislative leaders on Dec. 6 that, if approved by Congress, would extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless for another 13 months. Regrettably, part of the bargain is a proposed one-year drop in the payroll tax with which workers fund their future Social Security retirement benefits.
Many people know that the Social Security program now is fully funded to the year 2037 — funded by those payroll taxes and by surpluses accumulated in a dedicated trust account. They are what will allow Social Security to pay promised benefits to the big baby boom wave retiring over the next decade and to workers well beyond that.
But any scheme that reduces revenues into the system weakens Social Security. And, like the costly tax breaks for the wealthy that we may be stuck with for two more years, this “temporary” decrease in the payroll tax may be hard to terminate. One easily imagines politicians framing any proposal to restore the current rate as a tax increase, ending in a permanent reduction.
The Obama administration and Congress have multiple ways to reduce the deficit and stimulate the economy. This focus on Social Security, like efforts to introduce private accounts or raise the retirement age, is simply a red herring — an opportunistic attempt to undermine confidence in a successful, fiscally sound program that has provided the bulk of Americans’ retirement income for 70 years. Once again, we need to tell our politicians loud and clear: Leave Social Security alone.