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Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 8-9, 2011: Voting, town government and war spending

Summers out of bounds

Secretary of State Charlie Summers has seriously overstepped the boundaries of his post in asking 200 individual UMaine System college students to sign and return a document dealing with complying with DMV regulations or risk scrutiny of their voter registration.

Unless Mr. Summers delivers every registered Maine voter, or voter registrant, the exact same message and in exactly the same manner, he has clearly contravened the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that college students, simply by the nature of being students, cannot be held to a different standard than any other registrant or registered voter.

Susan Burnham


Much ado about nothing

Hearing recent news stories on the radio at work each day, it has become clear that the current leadership in Augusta has passed several things only to make it appear that they are getting things done.

The first example is allowing commercial fireworks within the state. It seems like every week, I hear of a new community that is looking at continuing the previous ban on fireworks, usually citing safety concerns. I would think that these safety issues would have been considered when the state approved their sale. It almost appears to be simply a way of shifting the blame from the state to the individual communities as to why they are not allowed.

A more recent example is the entire bath salts issue. While I am not in favor of them being legal, according to an article written by Sen. Susan Collins just last week, a federal ban is only days away, if it has not already taken effect. Was there really a need to make a big deal out of LePage signing a bath salts ban, which almost immediately got preempted by the federal ban?

Let’s give credit where credit is due, and not get caught up in the flag waving, “I didn’t really do anything, but give me credit for it like I did,” mentality.

Nate Smith


Surry charter needed

On Nov. 8 Surry residents will vote on a local referendum question concerning whether they would like to have a charter to guide their town government.

I would like to encourage my neighbors to vote yes to establish a charter commission. Now is the time to protect residents’ rights and to bring well-organized structure to our local government. A lot has changed since 1820 when Maine became a state and even more since 1803 when the Massachusetts Legislature made Surry a separate town.

A charter is a template by which we organize and manage our government. It’s a flow chart of the specific powers and authorities that we as taxpayers vest in our elected officials and the many administrative offices that serve us.

Today we function on a hand-me-down, one-size-fits-all relic designed by legislators. Fortunately, these same legislators provide us with an orderly and lawful process to create a home-rule form of government that allows us to address challenges that are specific to our town and its needs.

A home-rule charter will empower Surry residents to incorporate a number of best practices in government, among them centralizing authority in the town office (which has not been reviewed since eliminating the town administrator), eliminating some committees and appointments and professionalizing others, improving constituent representation and government transparency and broadening the scope of services our government now provides.

Surry can begin this process by voting yes on Nov. 8.

Valerie J. Moon


Wasted dollars, lives

Last month, I asked the father of a soldier who had served multiple tours in Afghanistan what his son thought of the war — “Lost lives, lost money” was the son’s answer.

According to the National Priorities Project’s website (Oct. 4), almost $461 billion American tax dollars have been spent in Afghanistan. What could the U.S. have done with $461 billion dollars in our country? Think of how we might use that money to reduce our national debt or to rebuild our roads and bridges and sewer systems. Adm. Mullen, just-retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the biggest security threat to the United States is our national debt.

One-thousand, eight-hundred U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and over 30,000 have been wounded. Many tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed or wounded. Imagine what the dead might have been able to do for their families and communities if they were still alive.

No one anticipates “success” from our war efforts in Afghanistan — reduction in terrorism or Afghan corruption, abolition of Sharia law or removal of the Taliban. The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. The al-Qaida attackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia. Our Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan this year. Many other al-Qaida leaders are being killed in many other counties.

The misalignment of priorities and denial of reality and draining of tax dollars has got to stop.

Pam Person


Maintain responsible voting

The Egyptian and Libyan mobs are extreme forms of democracy in action; the Wall Street protests spreading nationwide are less extreme forms democracy in action. News articles about the former chronicle the actions of a very large majority, but that’s not the United States.

The U.S. is a republic; a nation of laws. Responsible citizens of a republic take their right to vote very seriously. They inform themselves on the issues and candidates and they pass on these responsibilities to those newly eligible to vote by telling them how to register and where to find a polling place.

Same-day voter registration proponents should all get cold chills reading the BDN headline, “Orono police seeing ‘a ton’ of fake IDs.” A “ton of students” at the flagship campus of the University of Maine apparently do not have the ethical standards needed to inform themselves wisely on the issues and candidates in an election.

A ton of fake IDs could easily produce van loads of students in a “game to win an election.” Small-town Mainers are not in favor of rewarding irresponsible behavior, be it same-day welfare, subsidized car companies or same-day voter registration.

Denial of a ballot to the nonregistered is a responsibly designed process. Increasing turnout of uninformed, irresponsible voters by same-day registration isn’t in the best interest of the republic.

I urge BDN readers to vote to block the new law. Reward those of us who are responsible residents of the state of Maine.

Theo Nykreim


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