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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012: Energy debate, Question 1, data mania

Maine’s strong future

The recent Senatorial Energy Debate at USM was an opportunity to gain a sense of our candidates’ abilities as leaders in a time where energy, climate change and Maine’s future are inextricably linked.

Democrat Cynthia Dill’s ability to express truth was conveyed through answers that were science-based, and did not cater to fear. She spoke up against the XL pipeline, pointing

out its environmental and economical risks. She also reminded us of the dangers of

hydrofracking. She was the only candidate who wasn’t willing to compromise her views using the idiom of a “fragile economy” to negotiate away the importance of our water, our air and our health.

Though Independent Angus King was not a proponent of the XL pipeline, he seemed more concerned with economic gain than the risks. He called natural gas ‘America’s second chance,’ without acknowledging the dangers. Natural gas hydrofracking, and tar sand extraction and transport are dangerous Band-Aids and must be labeled as such.

Republican Charlie Summers appeared out of touch and disrespectful of science. He stated that there was “no clear evidence” why we shouldn’t use nuclear energy, denied human impact on climate change, deemed the pipeline and drilling in ANWR necessary, and voiced his support for oil subsidies.

Dill won me over with her respect for truth and the courage to use a voice unfettered by

fear. In my view, she is the only candidate willing to make honest decisions today, so that

Maine will have a strong future tomorrow.

River Payne


Yes on 1

On Nov. 6, Maine residents will vote on whether to allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Jesus reached out to those on the margins of society and taught his followers to love one another. An old hymn goes, “For the love of God is broader that the

measures of our minds; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.” (Frederick William Faber).

In 1995, my family gathered on Southport Island to celebrate the love my sister had found; in the presence of family and friends, my sister married her female partner. Their union was blessed by clergy and the love of family and friends but does not have the legal standing of marriage. Their love has weathered the ups and downs of life and has been a blessing both to my sister and our extended family.

If a majority of Mainers vote yes on Question 1, no clergy or church will be compelled to marry same-gender couples or to recognize their marriage as sacred. If a majority of Mainers vote yes on Question 1, I will then have the religious freedom as a Christian clergy person to officiate at the marriages of all couples whose love reflects my understanding of the love of God. Join me in voting Yes on Question 1.

Nancy Duncan


Civil union

Marriage, the union of a man and a woman, has existed well before the founding of the USA. In the debate on whether the definition of marriage can be changed, I have not yet seen a thorough answer to the following question — Who has, or which institutions have, the authority to change the definition of marriage and where does this authority come from?

State legislatures have authority to develop contractual relationships (e.g., civil unions). These legislatures have the authority to attach benefits and responsibilities to any specific contractual relationship (e.g., to declare that within a state all state benefits and responsibilities attached to a “marriage” also shall attach to a “civil union”).

The U.S. Congress also can attach benefits and responsibilities to relationships, so could, if the members wished, direct that federal benefits and responsibilities attached to “marriage” also apply to any “civil union” authorized by a state.

What is not clear to me is what authority the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, the federal or state judiciary, or the people generally have to change the definition of marriage and where that authority comes from? If such authority exists, someone should be able to explain who has that authority, what the authority is, and whence it comes.

Perhaps a team of attorneys or constitutional lawyers, who intend to “vote yes on 1”, could prepare a guest column explaining such authority for readers of this newspaper.

Michael McCabe


Desperate party

It appears the Maine Democrat Party has disseminated nonfactual mass mailings to 19 “must-win” Maine House and Senate districts smearing Republican incumbents and also the Republican candidate for district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties.

If the aforementioned smear literature has graced your mailbox, please feel free to fact check the allegations prior to shredding, then vote accordingly. The ‘Party’ is desperate.

Carol Kemmerer


Data testing

In reading “Testing is about data” ( BDN, 10/12), a letter from Leonard C. Harlow, it reminded me of my years teaching (1957-1995) when nationwide testing as a result of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reared its intrusive head into my busy teaching day. Dr. Harlow zeroed in on how today’s testing data is being misused, misinterpreted and misguided by 20th-century educational leaders.

If counting student test results is important in helping to test hypotheses and verify generalizations, why hasn’t this quantification analysis become apparent in today’s institutions? It is well to remember that although quantification can often settle facts, it does not always tell us what they mean. Historians must still interpret the results of calculation. If you can’t count to form a generalization about a group or class, admit you are guessing.

Harlow observes, “Today’s public school leaders must have missed literature and history in college” because of not remembering the old adage of “Those not learning or remembering the past are condemned to repeat it.” As much as this generation exaggerates the novelty of data testing and collecting, I wonder if the rapidly changing societies of the future will chuckle at our data mania now infesting schools.

The lessons found and learned in literature, history, philosophy or art do not always provide abstract civic lesson(s), because they simply help us to understand ourselves better. If data testing is the prescription for our ailing schools, prepare the last rites and eulogy.

Elizabeth Jalbert Pecoraro

Fort Kent

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