Letters to the Editor March 29, 2011

Posted March 28, 2011, at 8:53 p.m.

 

The name game

Here are a few suggestions for renaming the offending conference rooms in Maine’s Department of Labor: The Gatling Gun Room, the Pinkerton Room, the Robber Barons Room. Maybe those names would make Gov. LePage’s “secret admirers” and corporate sponsors more comfortable.

Mary Lou Dietrich

Cape Rosier

Fund national parks

National parks like Acadia are part of what makes Maine a better place to live, visit and enjoy year round.

America’s national parks already suffer from an annual operations shortfall of more than $600 million and a maintenance backlog that is almost $11 billion.

We must ensure that Sens. Snowe and Collins and Rep. Michaud pass a budget that does not cut National Park Service funding, so our parks continue to welcome visitors and protect America’s heritage for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Anthony Kurland

Veazie

Something about a train

On March 18 the BDN published the story “The engineer who could” and on March 21 ran the story “Too few customers, logistics may seal rail company’s fate.” They are connected below.

The “engineer” is 95-year-old Cecil Miller of Milo, who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad in Brownville Junction for 44 years. If you read his story, probably twice, you learned something of railroad history from a dedicated CPR employee, a fellow with hundreds of memories of the way it was over 70-plus years ago, when trains were the major carriers of people and goods all over the world.

The story on “Too few customers” covers the currently questionable future of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad. Its problems are said to be “too little volume from too few customers who are too far apart.” That’s too narrow a view.

If you are interested — as you should be — there is a monthly magazine “Trains” — reliably and almost currently informed — with feature writers of broad experience and knowledge of the industry, national and international.

Since 1923 I have ridden thousands of miles on every kind of train with the exception of the 200-mph variety. Much of what you should know about rail travel in the U.S. and the world is in “Trains.” If you doubt the need for public and private support for our passenger and freight railroads, “Trains” offers solid evidence of how far behind the major nations in the world we are today.

Robert C. Dick

Castine

Very business friendly

There would be no labor movement if employers had acted with fairness toward their workers. Capital plus labor should equal decent profit for capital and decent wages for labor.

Well, sometimes.

The South said it could not survive without slavery. All profit, no wages at all. All they had to do was to keep the slaves alive. Very business friendly, I’d say.

How about child labor? When and where there are no child labor laws, even today, children are in actual slavery. Today, Gov. LePage, right here, on this same planet you live on, children are being used as slaves. They live in very business friendly countries.

We just had the 100-year memorial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; business friendly New York didn’t have any laws about locking doors or having fire escapes. Well, that was a long time ago. Couldn’t happen now.

Remember the North Carolina chicken processing plant in 1991? Twenty-five died because doors were locked. A very business friendly state.

And Turner, Maine? In 2002 DeCoster egg farm settled discrimination claims for $3.2 million. Nine hundred immigrant workers finally got paid and released from “the fear and intimidation which kept these workers in this unsafe, unhealthy atmosphere and living in totally unsanitary conditions,” as Labor Secretary Robert Reich said.

Maybe we should put a mural up to these business friendly businesses. We certainly don’t want to see a factual mural of Maine labor history to have any say at all. That wouldn’t be business friendly.

Marla Bottesch

Norridgewock

Move on, governor

I am sad for Gov. LePage; he is an angry, bitter man who has not overcome his professed unhappy childhood. Perhaps if he sought help from the counselors who worked in child protective services during his young life, his feelings toward those state workers who provide the services today would be different.

To be a happy, well-grounded and caring individual, one must move on and beyond “what was.”

Mary J. Richard

Bangor

History unvarnished

What is the value of history? My students often ask that question. Those who immerse themselves in the Great American story will realize there remain sordid chapters about the human condition: slavery, immigration, the lack of rights for women, the lack of educational resources for the poor and the unprotected laborers, including women and children.

What role does history play? It is through education that our story and our identity is preserved. For my students, points of interest often center on photographs, paintings and illustrations. Many of our Maine schools currently include murals which often tell the story of their communities while celebrating their culture.

The Department of Labor building belongs to the Maine people, not to “labor” interests. In judging our legacy, one cannot be selective. Our Maine workers labored long and hard to improve their working conditions as our Maine museum exhibits attest. The murals in the labor building were commissioned as a tribute to the sacrifices and travails of our Maine ancestors.

It is their story, and their story deserves recognition. It is fitting that this remembrance be based in the labor building. The governor’s directive belittles their memory, their diligence, their adversities and their sacrifices.

A rock thrown into a calm pond ripples far and wide. Once it leaves the hand, the course is set, never to return. This travesty has deepened the rifts between the governor and his constituents. Our beautiful state needs strong leadership, but not at the expense of destroying our historical identity.

Diana Dionne-Morang

2008 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Gardiner

Hostile reaction

I made a call to my state senator and a call to the governor to object about the mural being taken down from the Department of Labor, and also to voice concern about having the conference rooms renamed. The people I spoke to at the Maine House Republican’s office were very professional. The woman I spoke to at the governor’s office was argumentative and demeaning.

So much for putting people first.

Jim Alciere

East Machias

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