I was shocked and saddened to read of Gov. LePage’s proposal to zone three million acres of Maine’s irreplaceable North Woods for development. My family has vacationed in the state since the 1930s and owned property here for most of this time. As a result of the governor’s actions, we have unfortunately placed our future plans on hold, including a major new investment in the state.
These are difficult economic times, but this is exactly the wrong approach to solving them. Maine has one defining characteristic that sets it apart from most of the East Coast — its quality of life. This is the Maine “brand” that supports a $10 billion tourism industry and is a major draw for new businesses. How can a proposal that detracts from the current economic base, hurts our ability to attract progressive growth businesses (and their high paying jobs), and permanently destroys the very definition of Maine be a step forward? Are strip malls and condos the vision we all share for Maine’s future? I think not.
First shot in class war
As a taxpayer, I take offense to Hayes Gahagan’s characterization that class warfare exists between taxpayers and public employees (“The battle lines are drawn,” BDN op-ed, March 8). He writes, “It’s unfortunate and unnecessary for this money-matter to become an adversarial class-warfare confrontation…”
His column is clearly designed to accomplish exactly that. He attempts to vilify public employees and depict them as the enemy of Maine taxpayers, implying that they are socialists and support of them will lead to “tyranny, loss of individual liberty, property and death.”
According to Mr. Gahagan, the way to avoid this is to cut back on unessential services. It is not clear what he believes are the unessential services. Is it the public employees who educate our children? Is it the public employees who clear our roads? Should we cut back on firefighters, police and game wardens?
What worries me most is that scapegoating public employees for budget problems will drive the best of them away. Asking them to contribute more to fix problems created by others will cause bigger problems. Portraying them as overpaid and threatening their livelihoods is not an effective way to attract and keep highly skilled, educated professionals.
I have children in the public education system. I consider it absolutely essential. Attempts to wage war on public employees will discourage the most competent and talented teachers. Some of the ones I respect most are already leaving.
Problems are not solved by exaggerating the issues, turning friends into enemies, or creating false “battle lines.”
Clarify, don’t relax
It’s been implied by the current state administration that “environmental groups” are standing in the way of job creation in our state. At the Roundtable on Maine People and the Environment in Augusta on Jan. 20, that was not the opinion expressed by this sampling of business and industry leaders who spoke to the governor about their concern that in the rush to create jobs, we not jeopardize what sets Maine apart — its unspoiled environment.
Those included William Bennett, president of Oakhurst Dairy; C.D. Armstrong, president of Deering Lumber, Inc.; Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers’ Association; John Cooney, vice president of finance and development at Reed and Reed, Inc.; Harry Dwyer, a 30-year veteran of the forestry and logging industries; Horace Hildreth Jr., former Republican state senator, who reminded the governor that most of the environmental legislation now on the books was put in place under Republican administrations and enjoyed broad bipartisan support; Glen Libby, president of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative; Ashley Richards, president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Maine; Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association; and Stephen Rich, CEO of WBRC Architects and Engineers.
The panelists called for more clarity, consistency and coordination in environmental regulations, while explicitly stating that they did not wish to see the regulations relaxed. Don’t be misled by the simplistic dichotomy of “jobs or the environment.” In Maine, they are inextricably linked.
Vengeance is God’s
For me, Feb. 28 was a day of sorrow and a day of joy.
To read the BDN’s editorial “Marriage for everyone” was my sorrow for it is clear that the paper’s position is anti-God and that is the same as anti-Christ.
We have danced around the so-called compassionate view of these people long enough. This sexual behavior is abhorrent to the God of creation and all who advocate it are as guilty as those who practice it.
A few have stood up to the ridicule and insisted that we are living the end-time prophecy that God promised and have not been influenced to say it’s OK.
God is the God of love, God is love and those who think sex is love are in error.
My joy is that those of us who know better because we have been taught better are a distinct minority, but those who have a deep enough faith will leave it to God to fulfill his “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.”
More Irish history
I’m writing today to acknowledge and wholeheartedly agree with the opinion of the other Mr. Walsh (Dreading St. Patricks Day, BDN letters, March 7.) Well stated, sir! If I may be allowed to add a few points.
Though I have never lived in or visited Ireland, I know from my family history the racist suppression Mr. Walsh speaks of. Ancestors on both sides of my family made their way to an outport in Newfoundland, Canada, having been starved out of Ireland as a result of English indifference. There they learned what parts of a codfish you could cook to feed your family after the company kept and sold the fillets, much the same as the English would have done with your corned beef.
St. Patrick’s Day is the day of my mother’s birth. She’s here now in spirit only, and that’s what we Irish honor and celebrate. As for Patrick, he was Welsh not Irish and was held in Ireland as a slave until he escaped, was educated in Rome and returned to Ireland. Those and other facts I suppose are of little interest to the green beer drinkers who perpetuate a racist stereotype with the drunken leprechaun hats, shirts and pins.
As the other Mr. Walsh said, stay home. To that I would add, “because you are embarrassing yourself.”
Patrick J. Walsh