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Friday, March 16, 2012: Oversize salmon, Occupy trial and law enforcement

Paul is no Angus

BDN columnist Matthew Gagnon makes daring assumptions in inviting comparisons between Paul LePage and Angus King. “Where where the 68 percenters then?” he wonders. Well. Paul LePage is no Angus King.

Angus is intelligent and articulate. He knows the big picture of politics. He can communicate effectively without using his office as the bully-pulpit and he realizes that parties have to work together to accomplish the common goal of improving the status quo for our citizenry.

Gov. LePage behaves as though he’s received a mandate. “The people have spoken,” he insists, beating his ample chest with both fists. Well, actually, it was more of a whisper. He would do well to remember that.

Clyde Tarr


Size matters with salmon

The Atlantic salmon recently caught and pictured on Facebook provokes dialogue on many levels, but what made this particular tale a felony?

Like any fish story, size matters. The 25-inch limit differentiates two subspecies of Atlantic salmon — the smaller, landlocked variety and the larger, sea-run strain. Landlocks fully adapted to freshwater life when barriers from the last Ice Age forced them to abandon migrations for a marine phase of development. Instead, they adjusted to glacially created lakes, where they have since become a popular sport fish ranging from 16-18 inches in length and 1-1.5 pounds in weight.

In contrast, the sea-run, or anadromous, Atlantic salmon return to freshwater for temporary spawning and rest. Postspawn anadromous salmon, known as kelts, often overwinter alongside landlocked salmon, but at averages of 28-30 inches and 8-12 pounds, they are clearly distinguished.

While this divergence in size is the gradual result of evolution, brief centuries of overfishing and habitat degradation prompted the state and federal endangerment of anadromous Atlantic salmon in 2000, making any take illegal. Nevertheless, 2011 showed the highest returns to Down East rivers since the 1980s, including the East Machias watershed where the 29-inch, 8-pound salmon was poached.

As salmon finally begin to thrive on common waters like the East Machias River, knowing and cherishing each fish never mattered more. Whether we are anglers or plain citizens of salmon watersheds, these will be important stories to tell.

Rob Rich


Sleazy politics

A short time ago, a local newspaper printed a letter from someone who said, “With Snowe’s departure, Republican principles will take a big hit,” and that he was, ”hard pressed to find other Republicans whose principles had not become bizarrely skewed concerning today’s issues.”

After reading Sen. Snowe’s column in the Washington Post about the ideological obstructionism taking place in the Senate, it seems that the concerns of the letter writer and Sen. Snowe are well founded. And the four candidates running in the Republican primaries are doing nothing to make their party’s future look any brighter.

Their goal and that of the Senate is to sow dissension among the Democrats with lies and subterfuge. What they have accomplished is to create a backlash that has made their party look like a bunch of negative buffoons. Nick Kristof in a column from The New York Times wrote, “This Congress is so paralyzed and immature, and even sleazy, that we reporters leave a politician’s press conference feeling the need to take a shower.”

Bob Roffler

North Yarmouth

Wrong response for occupiers

A trial will take place in Kennebec Superior Court next week. It bothers me that it’s happening at all.

The “Augusta Nine,” who “occupied” the Blaine House area, were not a threat to public safety. They are citizens voicing legitimate concerns about the state and the nation in which they live.

I’m distressed our government chose mindless power to deal with a group of sincere and peaceful demonstrators objecting to a political environment that holds corporate well-being above individual well-being.

Some say the hours spent on the lawns of the Blaine House last fall by a swarm of law enforcement officials (from Capitol Police to game wardens), by the district attorney’s office, court officers and a Superior Court judge were necessary to maintain our system of justice.

My feeling is that pomposity is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

The incident is a classic case of governmental bravado. In cities throughout America, public officials have dealt with far more difficult situations without resorting to bullying.

In 1968, I witnessed the occupation of an administration building for 70 hours. The matter ended when the president of the university sat with the occupiers and listened attentively to their concerns. No damage was done. No charges were proffered. The dignity of both the institution and its administration were elevated.

Maine’s executive leadership fails to understand that solutions to difficult problems aren’t found in the application of force or threats, but by engaging reason and concern for legitimate opinions which may differ from its own agenda.

Cris Edward Johnson

Old Orchard Beach

Heart of the matter missed

The March 13 BDN article “Cancer funds collected for deputy’s wife had to be returned, sheriff says” isn’t about a police department that made a mistake, it is about a Maine state organization with no concept of sympathy or camaraderie.

This woman died very young after a three-year battle with cancer. At the end of this battle, her husband, a police officer, took time off from work so he could be with his wife for what little time she had left. As we all know, the bills don’t stop for cancer. This is why the donations were necessary.

These police officers didn’t donate because they felt pressured. They donated because of the camaraderie they have with their fellow police officers. Let’s say Penobscot officers were in a situation where their lives were in danger and needed backup from outside law enforcement. Their fellow officers would show up with no hesitation. Is this because they feel pressured? No, it’s because as the unnamed officer said, “This is family.” To think that an officer can ask another to help save his own life, but can’t ask for a donation to an officer in need is almost too much to grasp.

Let’s be honest, these officers are going to have their money returned only to give it right back, but if the attorney general’s office really is doing its job, it should be too busy to point out these technicalities in a kind-hearted email sent between law enforcement officers.

Derick St. Peter


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