Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 29-30, 2011: Clean Election Act, casinos and university employees

Posted Oct. 28, 2011, at 4:26 p.m.

Election Notice

The Bangor Daily News will stop accepting letters to the editor and OpEds related to the Nov. 8 election on Wednesday, Nov. 2. We will continue to publish election-related submissions through Saturday, Nov. 5, though due to the volume of submissions, not all can be published.

Clean system works

Former state Sen. Ed Youngblood is right when he says the Clean Election Act deserves to be fixed after a court overturned the matching funds system (“Lawmakers consider fixes to Maine Clean Election law,” BDN, Oct. 18).

This law is one of the best things about Maine. Here, people from all walks of life can run for office, and they can do so without relying on wealthy backers to fund their campaign, as long as the voters where they live support them. I wish all candidates would use it.

There are plenty of special interests that would love to get back into the campaign funding game, and that’s just what will happen if the Legislature fails to make the needed changes to Clean Elections.

Today, my senator and representative rely on people like me to give them the $5 qualifying contributions that allow them to access Clean Elections funding. I much prefer that to the alternative, in which these folks would have to find people who could give them hundreds. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to spend time with Mainers like me under a system like that.

Make the changes to keep Clean Elections working for Maine people, including the people who represent us.

Sean Weber

Orrington

No on 2 and 3

I happen to agree with the BDN’s recent editorial that the Legislature has neglected its responsibility by not setting some structure around where and how many casinos should exist. I even agree with the locations the editorial suggested.

However, the decision has been made for the Legislature by the voters for gambling facilities to be located in eastern and western Maine — that is, in Bangor and Oxford. All that remains is Southern Maine.

The measure needs rewritten to remove Washington County. Let’s not dilute a valuable resource. Vote no Questions 2 and 3.

Ken Huhn

Bangor

O’Connor for mayor

I would like to offer my support for Jim O’Connor’s mayoral candidacy in Belfast.

I have known Jim for a number of years and found him to be an individual who highly values civic participation. In putting his hat in the ring, Jim is only taking another step in his continuing support of all aspects of life in Belfast.

I worked as a volunteer with Jim while he was directing the volunteers at the Chamber of Commerce during his six-year tenure on the board of directors. I also worked with Jim for a number of years on the Maine Celtic Celebration board of directors.

As a graduate of the Midcoast Leadership Academy, a local self-employed businessman who has served on numerous committees (municipal Capital Planning Improvement Committee, United Way Allocations Committee, Waldo County General Hospital Community Advisory Council and a Member of the Belfast Historical Society), Jim is committed to offering his time, energy and talent to a wide range of activities that benefit the residents of our city.

Not only is Jim committed to public service but is well qualified to provide it. He will put a friendly and welcoming face to all of our residents (longtime and brand new) and the many visitors to our fair city. Jim believes strongly in the presence of the mayor at the numerous public events which take place throughout the year.

I believe Belfast would be extraordinarily well served by Jim O’Connor as mayor.

David A Ruberti

Belfast

Scapegoated workers

The Oct. 12 BDN reports that University of Maine System employee pay and benefits increased 29 percent between 2002 and 2010. The same article highlighted salaries of over $100,000 and seemed to imply that university system workers were getting rich at the expense of taxpayers and tuition-payers.

For the 800-odd unionized clerical, office, laboratory and technical (COLT) employees who work at university campuses, University College centers and Cooperative Extension offices across the state, this is simply not true.

Between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2011, COLT employees received negotiated cost of living raises averaging 1.6 percent per year totaling 16.3 percent, which almost brought total wage increases up to the overall rate of inflation of 26 percent for this period.

COLT employees see to it that bills get paid and students get registered. We work in libraries, bookstores and offices of all kinds. We monitor scientific experiments that bring in millions of dollars in grant funding. We unravel red tape for students and faculty. We are essential to university system functioning.

We are highly skilled. We are not highly paid. Our median annual earnings are about $27,000. The university’s own studies show that many of us are paid at below-market rates.

What the article might have said more accurately is that over the past decade hundreds of hardworking, modestly paid men and women who work for the university system fell a little short in the effort to keep up with increases in the cost of living.

Timothy Pinkham

State president, ACSUM

O’Connor for Belfast mayor

We enthusiastically endorse the candidacy of Jim O’Connor for mayor of Belfast.

Three years ago, we retired from federal service with the U.S. State Department, relocated to Belfast from Washington, D.C., and opened The White House Inn, a boutique occupying the historic manor of John Patterson White, an illustrious forebear of Belfast. The first person to welcome us to Belfast was Jim O’Connor who at the time was serving as director of the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce.

This was not a rote welcome; Jim introduced us to the community and made every effort to assist in our acclimation.

We came to know that Jim O’Connor reaches out to everyone, new and old residents alike. His mantra is to create civic pride, grow the local economy and encourage the discovery of this small authentic Maine town. His actions as a private citizen have been prodigious and already show tremendous results. We can only eagerly anticipate what he can do for our town as its mayor.

Diana and Santiago Rich

Belfast

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