Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012: Taxpayer money, writing standards and old-fashioned towns

Posted Sept. 05, 2012, at 3:36 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 05, 2012, at 4:51 p.m.

Waste of taxpayer money?

In my mailbox recently, I received a copy of Nexus, a publication of the Brewer School Department. It was very informative to read and a well-put-together newspaper. I am sure many of my neighbors received one as well.

However, I do not understand why I received this publication at all. I live in Hancock County, a resident of Fletchers Landing Township, just outside of Ellsworth. Our students here attend either the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School or Ellsworth High School.

I do have some questions. Was this publication printed at the expense of the taxpayers of Brewer? Why was this sent to folks outside of Brewer and surrounding towns who also go to the Brewer School System? In my opinion, this was an example of government waste of taxpayer dollars, not to mention paper, ink and labor. In this tight economy, towns and cities should be good stewards of their budgets. This was not a good use.

Deborah Madocks

Fletchers Landing Township

Summer giveaway

Re: Shaw’s Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway — over $2,000,000 in instant-win prizes!

I’ve done my shopping at Hannaford in Ellsworth for over 40 years. When this fabulous offer from Shaw’s came about three months ago I couldn’t resist, so I started to shop there. I usually spend $100 a week for groceries.

Each time you shop, you receive tickets toward filling up boxes (4-6 per category) for 19 different prizes (from $2 to $1,000,000 each). In the first month, I filled every box but one in all 19 categories. After trading with friends and relatives and receiving more than a thousand tickets, I still could not fill up all the boxes for a single prize!

You folks at Shaw’s are really smart at marketing. I am not saying that this is a big ripoff, but I am saying that I’ll be back at Hannaford next week. Miss you guys there.

Kenny Stratton

Hancock

Blue Hill is unique

Blue Hill offers a unique way of life. Some might call it “old-fashioned,” but those are people who don’t understand that’s the way we like it.

Don’t mistake our sentiment for this simple lifestyle as a desire to ignore or impede progress. We are making the argument that expansion and development of business needs to be balanced with the impact on the town that surrounds it.

A large part of what makes Blue Hill so unique is the eclectic mix of culture that exists here. Fishing, music, farming, pottery and many other skills, trades and crafts coexist. The coastal location of Blue Hill provides its own unique and traditional impact on the community, drawing visitors from all parts of the world.

An expansion of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, which has its own 90-year-old local history, should not come at the expense of the historic properties that surround it and proudly represent more than 100 years of history themselves. A sprawling, “contemporary” medical campus will not provide the draw that has continued to bring people back to Blue Hill for decades.

We support the need for Blue Hill Memorial Hospital to modernize its business and improve the quality of services they provide to the residents and visitors of this town and the peninsula. We challenge Blue Hill Memorial Hospital/Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems to do this by partnering with the local community — balancing the needs of the hospital with the historic and economic needs of the village.

Bill Webb

Blue Hill

Think and write

Every day there are more articles about the decline of the American educational system, the problem with teacher unions, high cost of college tuition, the dropout rate in colleges and the effects of poverty. A major problem with the American educational system is that the students are not taught critical-thinking skills. This is reflected in their inability to think clearly and to write critical essays.

What I have found over the last eight years of teaching is that roughly 95 percent of my students did not know how to write a history essay or a term paper. In fact, their writing skills were limited. I had a chance to ask professor Stephen Walt (at the last Mid-Coast Forum) about the writing skills of his students: graduate and undergraduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School. He said the majority have no idea how to write a critical essay on a given history or foreign affairs topic. He spends the first week teaching them how to write using “A Rulebook for Arguments” by Anthony Weston as a textbook.

Students should learn basic analytical skills of argument, statistical modeling, and laboratory procedure. Professor Stanley Fish, in an article in the Yale Alumni Magazine, “Education: the Deflationary View” (July 2008), argued that these skills are central to politics, ethics, civics and economics.

The problems in our education system go deeper than science, technology and math. We need to teach students how to think and write critically.

C. Patrick Mundy

Spruce Head

EPA standard

Climate change is happening, and there is no doubt as to its cause: human combustion of fossil fuels. We just experienced the warmest July and warmest 12-month stretch on record! Over 27,000 high-temperature records have been broken this year alone! A recent opinion piece (BDN, Aug.) by NASA climate scientist James Hansen noted that we can no longer ignore the scientifically proven connection between climate change and this summer’s extreme weather. In that OpEd, Hansen said the scientific evidence is clear:

“Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no other explanation than climate change.”

More than 3 million Americans agree. That’s the record-breaking and unprecedented tally of comments submitted so far this year in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Pollution Standard for new power plants. If passed, this rule will help fight climate change, clean up our air and spur innovation in clean technologies.

This would be a good chance for Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to persuade their Republican cohorts to do something for the people for once, by supporting EPA’s new carbon rule and not succumbing to efforts in Congress to prevent it.

Thomas Varney

Argyle Township

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