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Letters to the editor, March 16, 2011

Support the Bangor arena

I have followed the debate over the new arena and convention center closely. From my view, it seems the city council has been very careful. They’ve studied the issue for a long time, perhaps too long. They have come up with a good plan.

The people who oppose this arena say it could cost taxpayers. But I don’t see that in this plan. Hollywood Slots will cover the costs of building it, and it will be a great asset for this community.

To that, the opponents say, what if Hollywood Slots goes away? That seems unlikely. We can come up with a million “what if’s” to keep us from progressing to make Bangor a better place. What if the Bangor Mall closes? What if there’s an earthquake?

We can’t let fear of the unknown keep us from being a better place to live.

Vote  “yes” on May 4.

Denise Reed, Bangor

More useless posturing

LD 34, “An Act To Require Candidates for Public Office To Provide Proof of Citizenship,” proposes an amendment to state law to read: “A candidate for nomination by primary election shall show proof of United States citizenship in the form of a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate and the candidate’s driver’s license or other government-issued identification to the Secretary of State.”

“Birther”-inspired legislation of this sort is percolating in several other states. In Maine, the bill would apparently exclude any naturalized citizen from running in primary elections. If there is a loophole in current state law, isn’t there more appropriate wording? Do we actually have a problem with non-citizens running for office or is this more useless posturing? Shouldn’t our representatives have more gumption and better things to do than to curry favor with or avoid slander from fringe elements?

David Lambert, Orono

Solve homicide, please

It has been more than six months since Ralph Greenleaf was killed, outside a bar, by some young men in the Bangor community. They were identified by witnesses. No charges were ever filed against them. Greenleaf died three days later. The Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. A case was opened.

Several weeks later a police officer was quoted in the BDN as saying the case was “not unsolved.” OK, the case was still “open.”

Several weeks later the case went to the Grand Jury. It refused to indict. The public does not know if they were charged with murder only, or if lesser charges were offered, such as manslaughter, aggravated assault, etc.

The thing is this — after the non-indictment, the police chief was quoted in the BDN as saying the Greenleaf case would be filed as a “solved homicide.” How can that be? The case was not “solved.” This is a homicide.

Maybe the chief has a good reason for putting the file away. If he could explain it to the community we could understand. If not, reopen the case. Talk to the witnesses again, look at the evidence again, ask the public for help. A lot of information has been on Facebook.

There is no statute of limitations on a homicide. The police department looks bad on this case. Please make it right.

Robert Hoke,  Bangor

Family values gone

We should all be ashamed of ourselves. We give the oil companies billions of dollars in tax breaks but we can’t even give Sesame Street a few million? Where have our family values gone?

Terry Connolly, Dresden

Irresponsible cuts

Gov. LePage’s budget changes the income criteria for eligibility for a critical program for the elderly and disabled called Medicare buy-in. The proposed change will devastate some older people by eliminating entirely the prescription drug assistance they now receive. It also hurts financially by requiring them to pay $115.50 monthly from their fixed Social Security pension for Medicare Part B as well as pay $180-$200 monthly for a Medicare supplemental insurance.

These people are already low-income, old and have no ability to return to work or otherwise make up the 25 percent to 33 percent reduction in their income.

The governor has proposed no savings to the Maine taxpayer in this budget provision. The savings from cutting poor old people shows on page A-273 of the governor’s budget — $7,852,950 in 2012 and $7,852,950 in 2013. This savings in the DEL (Drugs for the Elderly) program transfers the money to “provider payments” and is intended to help cover MaineCare debt to hospitals and offset future increases to hospitals.

Cutting prescription drugs to the old to send the money to hospitals is not fair nor is it right.

This is not a complicated issue. Some old people who are able to get by with the Medicare buy-in benefit will be made destitute and that is not an exaggeration. Transferring this money produces no savings to the state and causes harm to some elderly people.

Stephen Farnham, Executive Director, Aroostook Agency on Aging

Hermon rescue costs

Hermon has been served for over 40 years by the Hermon Rescue Squad, an independent nonprofit organization. It doesn’t get any better than local people serving local people.

The ongoing effort by town management to bring rescue service under the town umbrella has effectively polarized the town council and Hermon Rescue Squad. The issue has been clouded with so much information that it’s impossible to sort through it. One thing for certain, though, is that going with fire-based rescue in Hermon will cost the taxpayers a lot more money.

The members of Hermon Volunteer Rescue Squad would like to continue to provide top quality service to the citizens of Hermon, and are willing to enter into a contractual agreement with the town to operate status quo at zero cost to taxpayers. At a time when state and

federal subsidies to schools are decreasing, it seems like the best deal in town.

The town’s recent vote to move forward with a fire-based EMS model not only puts the community at risk financially but, more importantly, we believe it unnecessarily jeopardizes the safety of our residents.

Residents are encouraged to contact the town manager and members of the council to let them know that you support and appreciate the quality service provided by Hermon Volunteer Rescue Squad and that you see no need to place an additional financial burden on the taxpayers.

Citizens are urged to show their support at the 7 p.m. Thursday, March 17 town council meeting at the Municipal Building.

Karen Schacht and Bob Duran, Hermon

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