I just read, to my disbelief, that Sen. Brian Langley, Republican and owner of the Union River Lobster Pot restaurant in Ellsworth, has introduced a bill (LD 207) that would let restaurant owners like himself control the tips given to waiters and waitresses. Sen. Langley said that his bill would align Maine law with federal law. My question is, why would anyone want our state government to be run like the federal government?
I want the waitress that I tip to receive the money.
• • •
Good news for farms
As a person employed in Maine’s agricultural sector, I share the BDN’s interest in its health. However, I believe you may be suffering from “Chicken Little syndrome.” Maine’s small farms are far from being in an “inexorable decline” (“Maple Marketing,” editorial, Feb. 7). Indeed, hard work and innovative thinking have led to growth in Maine’s small farms.
According to the most recent U.S. agricultural census (2007), the number of all farms in Maine increased 13 percent since the previous census in 2002. That is a total of 940 new farms over a five-year period! Since only 5 percent of Maine’s farms are considered “large” by USDA standards (in 2007 Maine had 395 “large” farms), obviously most of this 13 percent growth occurred among “small” farms.
There is more good news. Over that same period, the market value of the state’s agricultural production increased by 33 percent, and at the individual farm level the value of products sold increased by 18 percent.
The 2007 census also shows that in Maine, 25 percent of farms’ principal operators are women, in contrast with a national average of 14 percent.
• • •
Fear not, build now
The effort and determination the Bangor City Council showed planning a new facility that fills the current and future needs of our region is impressive. The Council and city staff were able to work with the architect and builder to create a design that fits those needs without increasing the tax burden for Bangor residents. When history reveals itself I believe that we will look at this time as the tipping point for Bangor to establish itself as the true heart of Maine. This will not be due purely to physical location, but because of the vibrant heartbeat of our Maine Center along with all it brings: new jobs and people seeking the best our state has to offer as the preferred destination in Maine. Area businesses understand the abundance of opportunities we will all share as a result of our well deliberated investment.
It’s disheartening that those opposing Bangor’s future as an event destination use threats of property tax hikes as a scare tactic.
Our council committed to building only what the city can pay for out of the Hollywood Slots revenue stream restricted (by a city-wide vote) for a new facility as well as dollars designated for downtown improvements through the Downtown TIF District.
The cost of the proposed facility is $65 million. There is nearly $11 million of Hollywood Slots restricted revenue already in the bank.
The city’s finance department is comfortable we can finance $54 million without increasing property taxes.
Fear not. Be in awe. Build it right, build it now.
• • •
When Gov. LePage says that he is going to “put people ahead of politics,” or John Boehner and Mitch McConnell tell us that “the people have spoken,” they are not referring to you and me.
Instead, thanks to the recent Bush-Cheney right-wing Supreme Court ruling, they’re talking about Exxon-Mobil people, insurance industry people, chemical industry people, Plum Creek people, etc.
The ugly truth is that they could not possibly care any less for “we the people” or the planet that we all live on.
Lionel R. LaPointe Sr.
• • •
I read Sandy Butler’s recent BDN op-ed piece, “Understanding the welfare system with facts.” I am grateful that someone is debunking the common misconceptions around this vital public program.
It’s about time that folks looked past stereotypes and saw families. Because the decisions made by those who set policy about TANF will have a direct impact on the lives of 25,000 Maine children and on the future of Maine’s economy. I want those decisions to be founded in factual information.
The TANF program is critical for low income Mainers — 90 percent of them women — struggling to find stable and secure employment. For them, TANF is about the inadequacy of low paying jobs with inflexible hours that make it impossible to sustain employment or care for children.
As my legislators look to restructure the TANF program, I encourage them to focus on real solutions — based on credible information — to promote pathways out of poverty for Maine families.
• • •
Middle class misery
For a couple of decades, middle class incomes have been stagnant, and the only reason they haven’t actually declined is because wives went back to work full time. In 2000, when the Republicans took over, they assured us that when money from the tax cut started trickling down from the wealthy, we’d be off the economic ropes. In the meantime, middle class, you’ll just have to suck it up. What that gave us was the worse recession since the Depression.
Then Democrats came to our rescue, assuring us that when those billions being handed to bankers started trickling down, happy days would be here again. In the meantime, middle class, it’s suck-up time again.
Now Republicans are back with a dandy plan to let states declare bankruptcy. Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich explain it in the Feb. 10 BDN. Under the rules of bankruptcy, states could “reorganize their finances free from their union obligations.” Since state workers are almost all members of the middle class, they are surely used to sucking it up by now!
But what about the wealthy and their bankers who hold state bonds? Not to worry, Jeb and Newt say. States “will have every incentive to file a reorganization plan that protects state bondholders claims and their ultimate recovery.” True, the wealthy will have to wait a bit for states to develop those plans, but they can fall back on the new tax break Congress just passed for them.
In the meantime, middle class, you’ll just have to buy a smaller belt.
Paul H. Gray