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May 2, 2011: Mural, double tax, marijuana


Headline, cultural shift

I had to do a double take when I saw the headline “Divorce threat leads to slew of domestic assault charges” on the front page of the Friday, April 22, BDN. I have long been aware of the dangers behind subtly blaming victims for the behavior of abusers, and since educating myself about the dynamics of domestic abuse, I have become more sensitive to how truly pervasive these attitudes still are.

A woman threatening divorce is not what leads an abuser to violence. But a culture that excuses violent behavior sure might have something to do with it.

Addressing the problem of domestic violence requires a cultural shift. Until everyone looks at that headline and sees a problematic emphasis, there is work to be done.

Meaghan LaSala


Mural case victory

Judge Woodcock’s decision to deny a temporary restraining order in the mural case came as no surprise; federal courts are reluctant to interfere in state affairs and inclined “to allow the status quo to exist while a more thorough process is completed.” Though Gov. LePage declared that “We won,” his claim of victory is as premature as Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech.

We won when the U.S. Department of Labor wrote that LePage was out of order with the terms of the federal funding when he seized the mural. We won when [artist Judy] Taylor stated publicly that LePage had not consulted her. The injunctions are about the disposition of the mural and what happens next.

Judge Woodcock did not “throw the case out.” He  predictably denied a TRO seeking to restore the mural. The legal and moral fight for justice in the mural censorship case will continue.

Still to be answered are the U.S. Labor Department’s demand for the mural to be re-hung (or funds returned), LePage’s breaching the artist contract and whether he violated VARA.

If Woodcock orders the LePage administration to allow members of the public to check on the disposition of the mural and either LePage refuses or the mural is damaged, there will be serious consequences.

Maine’s political leaders are responsible to the electorate. Who ultimately wins the battle may not be decided until the next election. We have already been proven right in the court of public opinion, but we do not intend to wait four years for justice.

Natasha Mayers, Joan Braun, Robert Shetterly


Dual, double tax

I’m writing to bring attention to an unfair situation that dual-sport motorcycles are facing. Dual-sport motorcycles are those able to operate on public roads as well as on dirt surfaces like multiuse trails such as the Downeast Sunrise trail and the Newport-to-Dover-Foxcroft trail.

Until recently it was the policy that dual-sport motorcycles did not need to be registered as ATVs because they already had paid the fee, excise tax and insurance to operate on the road. Now the state is requiring that any vehicle that operates on trails requires an additional registration. So now dual-sport motorcycle are required to pay the fee to be registered twice to operate on 5 percent of the available trails.

The reason for the policy change is because the Department of Conservation does not get a dime from the registration fees to maintain trails and wishes to gather as much money as possible. This is an unfortunate situation that could more easily be addressed with an annual permit for a lesser amount, or an agreement between the Secretary of State and the Department of Conservation.

ATVs statewide are allowed to operate on public roads within ATV designated access routes maintained with our excise tax dollars. Yet ATV funds are not allocated to keeping these routes maintained.

Until ATVs are required to pay to operate on our public roads, dual-sport motorcycles should be given a free pass to operate on their multiuse trails. The percentage of use is the same on both surfaces.

Adam Paul


The pot solution

Maine is losing jobs steadily. Asia is our competitor and it seems our own government hasn’t woken up to that fact yet. Everything you buy seems to be coming from China.

Maine needs a new, natural resource to compete for sales dollars. Why should the big pharmaceutical companies get all the money? Their drugs, like oxycodone, kill people. Marijuana doesn’t.

I don’t think pot is any worse than alcohol. Alcohol is taxed and brings money into our state. People smoke anyway, so why not make it legal and get some tax money out of it instead of having the state pay $30,000 a year to support someone who’s been incarcerated for growing or dealing in it?

Personally, I don’t smoke it because I don’t need it for pain, but lots of people do. Why should dispensaries be the only place to get it? Why not sell marijuana cigarettes with restrictions on it, just like for alcohol, such as not allowing people to drive or fly airplanes after smoking it and not letting minors have it?

It’s hypocritical of us to say it’s OK to get drunk because you paid a sales tax, but it’s not OK to smoke pot because you didn’t.

Leona Ross

East Wilton

Flawed drug law

On May 5 the Legislature will hold a public hearing on LD 1491, “An Act to Strengthen the Laws against Driving under the Influence of Drugs.” Any strengthening would come at the expense of ordinary citizens engaged in the benign daily activity of driving after taking their prescription medication.

The bill would subject those over age 21 to a license suspension of the same duration as an OUI suspension on an administrative finding that, more likely than not, they drove a motor vehicle with any detectable drugs in their blood or urine. Absence of impairment is no defense, and in the motor vehicle code the term “drugs” is defined to include all prescription drugs.

Drivers under age 21 would have an affirmative duty to submit to a drug test on probable cause to believe they have any drugs in their system. If a urine sample discloses the presence of their prescription Ritalin or antidepressant, they will be suspended for one year. If they refuse to provide a urine or blood sample upon demand, the suspension will be for 18 months.

So if an officer stops your daughter and asks if she’s been drinking, she honestly answers no. Does she take prescription meds? She honestly answers yes. Goodbye license.

If the thought spikes your blood pressure, look out, because driving after you take blood pressure medication calls for a suspension.

If the OUI-drug law is weak, the answer is not to punish those who aren’t impaired when they drive. Kill this bill.

Edmund Folsom


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