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Letters for Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011: Low-cost energy, ALEC

Low-cost energy needed

It was disturbing and distressing to read the Sept. 16 article relative to the decision of the Board of Environmental Protection to lower the allowable decibel level of noise from wind turbines.

Every man, woman and child in Maine and, indeed, throughout the United States, depends upon electricity. Without it, life here in the U.S. cannot be imagined.

There are only a few areas where wind is adequate, both velocity and frequency. To be told that it can operate turbines only at an extremely low speed is, to the industry and to all affected rate-payers, a decision that shuts the door on many new projects.

One can have sympathy for land owners whose homes were built before the installation of turbines within hearing distance.

Such homes are reduced in value to the extent that condemnation of the properties should follow. Unfortunately, most development groups are not classed as utilities and do not have the power of condemnation.

It is to be hoped that the Legislature will consider carefully how important it is to all rate-payers to have a ready source of low-cost electricity, to reject the board’s decision, and to grant developers the same right of condemnation enjoyed by utilities.

Frederick M. Reed

ALEC is effective

The American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Approximately 2,000 legislators nationwide pay $100 biennial membership dues. The bulk of its $7 million budget, however, comes from corporate annual dues of $7,000 to $10,000, plus tax-deductible donations from other supporters. ALEC is a very effective conduit between legislators and corporations.

Rep. Pete Johnson may be correct in his recent column (BDN, Sept. 26) asserting that ALEC’s influence in Maine is minimal. We do however, have its nonprofit, tax exempt clone, the Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC), which appears to be hardwired right into the governor’s cabinet and has the exact same goals as ALEC.

IRS rules for tax-exempt organizations such as MHPC prohibit it from being an action organization, and it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities. A blatant violation of this rule is the quasi-legal welfare sting operation it recently conducted and brags about on its website. The pro-active role MPHC is exerting in the governor’s office deserves closer scrutiny by all concerned.

Gene Wilbur

Sprague for city council

I am among the thousands of young Bangor expatriates living elsewhere — Portland, Boston, New York, Washington and beyond. We choose to do so for many reasons, but chief among them is the prospect of finding jobs. Jobs are rare anywhere in the U.S. these days, but rarer still in central Maine.

I am also one of those who hope to return to Bangor to raise my young family, if and when these jobs are available in my home city. And that is why I support Ben Sprague for Bangor’s City Council. Ben is the candidate who best understands the need to bring modern-day jobs to the region — and how to do it: by heavily promoting Bangor’s existing resources and actively recruiting new opportunities from across the northeast and Canada; through assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs who desire Bangor’s unique sense of place and pivotal geography; and by serving as a partner to help new companies establish roots in our community.

In addition to his commitment to creating a growth-oriented economy in Bangor, Ben is also dedicated to a number of issues that are important to Bangor: the promotion of Bangor’s first-rate school system; the city’s burgeoning creative economy; and truly transparent city government. I hope you will join me in supporting Ben Sprague for Bangor’s City Council this fall.

Matt Grondin
Boston, Mass.

Loyal reader, headline balk

I enjoy reading my Bangor Daily News and miss it while I am away. But tough love requires me to stop reading poorly drafted headlines and say nothing. The Friday, Sept. 30 edition’s bad headline put me over the top and led me to write this letter in hope that at least one editor will bring it to the attention of his headline writing staff.

“Francona: Red Sox lacked loyalty,” was the headline on the front sports page. Terry Francona was not mentioned in the AP story until the eighth paragraph and loyalty was not mentioned until the run over on the jump page. On the other hand, the first seven paragraphs were principally about GM Theo Epstein’s opinion of the Sox and their future.

That’s your headline?

Barry Connelly

Questions for UMaine system

I urge the Bangor Daily News to follow up on the Sept. 30 editorial “‘Bolder University System’” by an investigative report on the System office.

Some questions worth pursuing:

Why do several administrators there make over $100,000?

What has the system’s budget grown while the seven universities have been forced to make cuts?

Why has the system grownn to the point that it is now the third largest “campus” but educates no one?

Why can’t the system create one academic calendar for the seven campuses?

Why does the system get to evaluate itself rather than submit to evaluation by experts in higher education management?

Why did the system spend several hundred thousand dollars for Midwest consultants to advise on student retention?

This last mind-boggling waste of taxpayers’ money made me wonder if there were ties between the consulting firm in the heartland and people at the stem office. I did a bit of sleuthing. After repeated inquiries about the consulting firm’s board of directors, I finally obtained some names but nothing that would suggest involvement by the system office here. Miss Marple I’m not.

The story of the system office remains to be written. Citizens of our state deserve answers to the questions listed above, especially now that a search for a new chancellor is under way.

Margaret Cruikshank

Bold or bullying?

In response to Matthew Gagnon’s column in the Sept. 30 edition of the BDN, I would say that “bold and visionary” is not always for the good of the people. His ideas seem to be far right of center and, I would guess, not supported by a majority of Mainers.

To suggest that his fellow Republicans are soft “allodoxaphobes” (a Wikipedia reject — not in my dictionary) for working with Democrats to reach a decision that Matthew Gagnon disagrees with, sounds to me like something a poor loser would say.

Would the columnist suggest to school children that they should not learn to try to work together to solve disagreements and conflicts? Would he suggest that whichever group or individual seems to have an edge on power should “bully” through their ideas over the weaker group of individual? If so, Mr. Gagnon is wrong. And if he would not advocate “bullying” in school, why would he advocate “bullying” for the Republicans in power in Augusta?

Gordon Canning

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