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Tuesday, May 8, 2012: Bipartisanship, priest abuse allegations and student loans

Bipartisan state

I was heartened to read in Tuesday’s paper that Sen. Roger Katz and Rep. Patrick Flood spoke out against Gov. LePage’s most recent diatribe against our state workers. As the Republican chairs of the Appropriations Committee, such a protest is both brave and appropriate. Lawmakers from either party are in a difficult position when they feel their party leader has misspoken.

Early in my work on behalf of very young children and their families, I went to our state Legislature from time to time as an advocate. Sen. Katz’s father, Benjamin, was then a Republican senator. He, too, was a man of honesty and integrity. I have been gratified and not at all surprised to find his son Roger, to be following in his father’s footsteps.

I have always been a committed Democrat. However, I plan to support Angus King as an independent in our upcoming Senate race. Reasonable people from both parties need to come together to support thoughtful and reasonable legislation. I find the hostility between the two parties, at both the state and national levels, most disturbing.

I anticipate that I will support Eliot Cutler as an independent if he runs for governor in 2014. If Maine ultimately elects independents to the U.S. Senate and as governor, it seems likely that other states will take some notice. “As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” may be heard again and become a bellwether for finding common ground and levels of compromise that will benefit all of us.

Jane Weil


Misleading letter

Letters to the Editor, by their nature, are mostly opinion. But stating falsehoods as if they are fact is beyond misleading; it is damaging and irresponsible and must be corrected. Bishop Malone is not keeping secret a list of priests who are credibly accused of sexual abuse as stated in a recent Letter to the Editor. On the contrary, every claim is reported to law enforcement and all substantiated claims are made public (example: Bishop Names Accused Priests, BDN, Jan. 29, 2007). Cases where priests are removed from ministry pending investigations of claims are also made public by the diocese, even if the reports ultimately are not substantiated (see Two Maine priests accused of sex abuse, Portland Press Herald, March 18, 2010).

As a result of the Diocese voluntarily opening its files in 2002, offending priests were named by the attorney general’s office (see the attorney general’s report “On the Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Children by Priests and Other Clergy Members Associated with the Roman Catholic Church in Maine,” Feb. 24, 2004). Their list was not complete but rather named priests who authorities believed may have posed a public risk.

The church in Maine has reported all claims to authorities, removed all clergy with substantiated allegations and widely publicized those cases. Bishop Malone encourages anyone who has been harmed by a church representative, no matter how long ago, to report to law enforcement and the church. How could this process be keeping anything secret?

Stating anything else is beyond reckless speculation, it is completely untrue.

Sue Bernard

Communications director

Diocese of Portland


Student loans

I was reading an OpEd in the May 2 BDN, ” Student loan debt not government’s fault” by Sam Adolphsen, and wanted to send him along some kudos. Isn’t it time that individuals stop relying on the government and taxpayers and take personal responsibility for themselves?

The example of the social worker having student loans for $97,000 clearly shows that the program is out of reality and in need of repair. It would be interesting to see where all $97,000 went. I know of a person who received student loans and purchased a car. I also know of a few young ladies that received money that funded spring vacations. Student loans should be paid directly to the respective schools so abuse can be limited.

The schools are another issue. It seems like they are more and more like businesses than educational systems. A very large number of colleges are sitting on millions and millions in endowments, yet they keep increasing tuition. Why?

The student loan program is out of control, just like the welfare system and just like the mortgage industry when it almost brought down our economy.

When will our elected officials do the right thing?

Dave Kennedy


All hunters are not alike

How refreshing to read the intelligent and humane comments of a hunter about his injury from a coyote bite ( May 2 BDN, “Coyote Bites Down East Hunter”). Instead of the usual ranting about exterminating the “varmints,” Bill Robinson figured “I don’t blame the coyote. It was doing what coyotes do: hunting.”

If more hunters took that attitude toward the coyotes, wolves and foxes that are so essential to a healthful, balanced ecosystem, what a different world it would be.

Cherie Mason


Get involved

The Medicare Savings Program and Low Cost Drug Program are vital to Maine’s seniors and need to be protected from the cutting block. Without these programs, many people, both elderly and disabled, would not be able to afford Medicare part B, which essentially pays for all medical services not administered as an in-hospital patient. Potential side effects of this would be that many people would not go to the doctor for routine preventive care but instead wait until they are very sick or develop a chronic disease, warranting hospital admission.

For those who qualify, MSP pays the $99.90 Medicare part B premium that would otherwise be deducted from their Social Security check and also pays their Medicare Drug Plan monthly premium, keeping their co-pays at the pharmacy low. Those who qualify at the lower income level would also receive MaineCare as a supplement to fill in the gaps for what Medicare does not cover or pays a share. The Low Cost Drug Program for the elderly and disabled program wraps around their Medicare Drug Plan and reduces their co-pays even more at the pharmacy.

Mainers are traditionally a proud people; for them to actually accept this help speaks volumes, because really, if they did not “have to” they would not. The Appropriations Committee is due to vote on these programs May 9. Get involved and let your voice be heard.

Gloria Rhode

Spectrum Generations

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