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Tuesday, March 20, 2012: Tax loopholes, DHHS and east-west highway


New Bible needed

Sean Faircloth’s call for the realization of separation of church and state (BDN, March 16) may be seminal for leading the religious right out of its rut in stone age law and early evolution.

Maybe society needs the religious right around as a relic of our origin of thought, just as the Museum of Natural History in New York offers us a fascinating glimpse of our physical origins. But “the right” has no social or spiritual right to stagnate progressive mentality and physicality with its ancient animal-control doctrines and laws.

Adaptability is the key to societal survival. We need a new Bible, not just the 36 new versions now competing for future leadership of the psychic species.

Val Vadis


Brewer residence requirement

I just read a story in the BDN about the Brewer City Council proposing to require that future school superintendents be residents of Brewer.

There is no mention of Councilor Larry Doughty’s reasoning behind his proposal, but all I can say is that I think it is ridiculous to limit Brewer’s choices for a potential leader of our children’s educators, just to force some show of loyalty, or make a few extra tax dollars, in exchange for our children’s quality of education.

I hope the people of Brewer will vote this down by a landslide.

Steve Campbell


Close the loopholes

Businesses should compete on the quality of their products, not on the cleverness of their tax attorneys. Yet General Electric, Wells Fargo and some of America’s largest corporations have been able to so deftly exploit loopholes in the tax code that they paid no federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, a recent study found.

Small businesses can’t afford to hire the armies of well-paid tax lawyers needed to use these gimmicks and are left to shoulder the tax burden skirted by big companies. One of the most egregious corporate tax dodging schemes is when large corporations shift the profits they legitimately make in this country to shell companies in places such as the Cayman Islands, where they don’t have to pay taxes.

A recent study by US PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice found that Wells Fargo has nearly 60 subsidiaries in tax haven countries such as the Cayman Islands.

As a small-business owner, I have to pay taxes, so Wells Fargo and GE should do the same. Sens. Snowe and Collins should stand up to these companies by supporting the Cut Loopholes Act which would end the worst of these offshore tax dodging schemes.

Michelle Souliere


No role model here

As the Legislature winds down its session it is drawing closer to passing LD 1422, which pretends to fix Maine’s educational system.

As a parent in RSU 2, the inspiration for this misguided bill, I have seen first hand the incessant failures of this grand experiment run amok: standards-based reporting. How our former superintendent, now working for Education Commissioner Steve Bowen, can showcase RSU 2 as a success is beyond the pale. During his tenure our district floundered, causing many of our brightest to flee for better schools and our test results to fall.

As parents of RSU 2 ask questions, our administrators refuse to listen. Their blind faith even impacted our children this past week when a student was stripped of his God-given right to solicit signatures for a petition questioning the efficacy of this “reform.” Apparently, the Constitution no longer applies to our future leaders.

This latest abomination continues a pattern of arrogance toward anyone with the temerity to ask: Why are we doing this and why so fast? Instead, we should replace our administrators and oppose LD 1422; the faster, the better.

Why is our governor looking at RSU 2 as the shining city upon a hill? If he wants Maine open for business, he should be promoting excellence, not the mediocrity that standards-based education propagates.

Is this still America? In my America, George Washington couldn’t tell a lie. Unfortunately, RSU 2 continues to live a lie. I hope Maine learns the truth, before all RSUs become as “proficient” as ours.

Jeff Romano


More oversight of DHHS

Every day I read another outrageous proposal by Paul LePage and his administration. The latest one: 47 jobs to be lost from the Department of Health and Human Services.

This agency needs more oversight and accountability. A special investigative committee should be appointed without the interference from LePage to find out what exactly is happening to cause so many problems. This department is funded by U.S. and Maine taxpayers and we have a right to know.

In this proposal LePage wants to restructure and reorganize DHHS but will this restructuring address the budget gap or the computer error that paid 19,000 ineligible people? I question how DHHS and especially the people it serves will manage with a “leaner” organization. Does “leaner” mean fewer and fewer employees and less money for those in need?

LePage has been attacking DHHS policies since he took office. He has dismissed managers who had years of knowledge and experience about its inner workings. The loss of these employees caused many of the current problems.

It seems to me the governor, with the help of some of his legislators, and lobbyists who represent callous corporations, prefer taxpayer money be available for their own specific projects such as the east-west highway rather than programs that will aid vulnerable Maine residents.

Phyllis Coelho


East-west questions

Why do a handful of corporations want to invest $2 billion in an east-west highway corridor through the middle of Maine that would connect Quebec and New Brunswick?

If they can swing $2 billion, why are Maine taxpayers being asked to fork over $300,000 for a feasibility study? Have these corporations done their own study to determine whether this project is feasible? How does this influx of public money into a private enterprise affect laws regarding land acquisition and eminent domain? Why is the LePage administration pushing this through as an “emergency,” according to Sen. Doug Thomas?

Are short-term jobs worth the destruction of forests, rivers, lakes and streams in Central Maine? What about access to drinking water and agriculture? Who will be responsible for the inevitable accident or spill — the U.S or Canada? Ask these questions of local and state government. Get some answers. Are we willing to sacrifice our communities and way of life to enrich corporations and politicians?

Lisa Laser


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