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Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013: Homelessness, bad publicity and teachers protecting students


Chamber comments outrageous

Having been homeless at one point in my life, I know the pain and shame connected to this experience. The recent comments reported in the BDN on Dec. 22 by the Portland Chamber of Commerce is truly outrageous.

They indicated in their 11-page report that Portland is too attractive to the homeless. Do the Chamber authors of this report realize that living in a shelter is miserable? There is very little privacy, very limited space to store belongings and living with total strangers can be alienating and frightening.

Do the Chamber officials know that it is nearly impossible to receive public assistance since the governor and republican legislators made extreme cuts to programs for the poor?

Instead of complaining about the “visible” homeless and how they are interfering with the number of tourists visiting Portland, they should focus on helping them by starting a fund in partnership with corporations from the Portland area that will begin to build affordable/supportive housing units. Rather than complaints and criticisms, Chamber personnel should try living in a shelter for several nights. Then maybe their tune will spark some empathy for those who are less fortunate.

Phyllis Coelho


Remote control help

I believe lives could have been saved at the Sandy Hook Elementary School if the principal would have had a remote control with which, at the sign of an intruder in the school, she could have locked the doors of all classrooms, including the gym and lunchroom, with a click of the button.

This device would be analogous to your garage door or TV remote. All the locks would be programmed to the same frequency.The teachers and their students would be offered a second wall of security and may have been able to get out of the shooter’s line of fire by hiding in the corners of the classroom.

Paul Turcotte


Stop the publicity

There may be no perfect solution to the frequent mass killing of our fellow citizens but we should absolutely stop making celebrities of these characters. Not celebrities by our definition, but by theirs.

We should stop putting their pictures on the front page of the newspaper and the 6 o’clock news. Don’t advertise their names, where they’re from or their dark past.

There will be protests of course from some who feel they have the right to know, but sorry, your morbid curiosity can’t supercede another person’s right to live another day. Some of these guys crave publicity.

We’ve all seen Jared Loughner’s sadistic grin as he smiled at the camera knowing the world finally knew who he was. James Holmes dyed his hair orange for his court appearance, and Timothy McVeigh felt it was his finest hour as the whole world hung on his final words as he became a martyr.

We need to show that senseless killing will only put them on the fast track to obscurity, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll look elsewhere for their fame.

Henry Deshane


Teachers protecting students

I would like to thank Dr. Erik Steele for writing the article published in the BDN on Dec. 21, “Honoring the teachers of Newtown who stayed with their children.” I am now retired from teaching for 40 years.

I was trained to do “lockdown drills,” and while watching the news about the terrible events in Newtown, I remembered a day at my school when we had a supposed intruder in the building.

We were alerted and followed lockdown procedure. My students and I sat in a corner of the room with lights off. We stayed there until the classroom door had been unlocked by school security and we were told it was over.

We left the corner of the room where we had been sitting silently. One of the students asked me what I would have done if someone tried to enter the room and succeeded.

I calmly said, “I would have to stand between the intruder and all of you.”

She asked, “You would give your life for us?”

I explained that all the teachers regarded the children in such a situation as if they were their parents away from home.

My 25 students then all came over and we had a group hug. I will never forget it. Steele and the BDN published a powerful and poignant tribute to all teachers who quietly with love and dedication stand up for children everywhere. It is what we have to do.

Karen E. Holmes


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