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Tuesday, May 21, 2013: HIV, global poverty and consolidation


No support for change

The federal government sends funding for Human Immunodeficiency Virus services through the Ryan White Part B program, to be used for prevention and case management services across the state of Maine each year.

In the past, these funds have been somewhat fairly distributed across the state. According to a newsletter from the Down East AIDS Network, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has, however, decided that in the future, no money from this program will be used to fund case management services in northern or eastern Maine, an area with an already underserved population of people living with HIV. I find this most regrettable.

I have been a client of DEAN since 1996. In the following 17 years, I have witnessed many changes in the agency. Most were for the better. I served on the board of directors of DEAN for 12 years.

However, in the most recent DEAN newsletter, I was most dismayed to learn the current powers that be at DEAN have proposed to alter the mission of the organization, which has always been to serve those living with and affected by HIV.

They propose expanding the mission to serve many disenfranchised populations in eastern Maine. While a noble idea, I fear that it would be detrimental to the original mission of DEAN.

It feels to me that DEAN is relegating HIV/AIDS assistance to less importance, perhaps not worth its full focus and attention. This is a change I cannot, will not and do not support.

David Johnston



Combat global poverty

The United States needs to do more to address global poverty. Compared with other wealthy nations, I believe the U.S. does very little and ranks toward the bottom in international assistance.

We give more money to our largest defense contractor than we give to all aid efforts combined.

The Borgen Project lobbies members of Congress to increase United States Agency for International Development funding. Despite spending what the project estimates is $28 billion a year on foreign aid, the U.S. spends very little compared to defense spending.

The little amount spent has helped cut malnutrition in half during the past 20 years, and diseases such as smallpox and polio have nearly been eradicated, according to information from the Borgen Project. Foreign aid does not conflict with U.S. domestic issues.

I believe ending global poverty will have an effect in three areas: U.S. jobs, national security and overpopulation. Put simply, as poverty rates drop, the number of consumers of American goods increase.

I believe national security will also improve. Improving conditions for the world’s poor is a cornerstone of the United States’ national security strategy. Aid helps nations from becoming terrorist safe havens by building their capacity for responsible governance and security through development.

The third issue, overpopulation, can most easily be understood as less poverty equals less overpopulation. I believe a lack of education and contraceptives leads to higher birth rates.

In order to help combat global poverty, I urge readers to call their congressional leaders and tell them they support the Borgen Project and increased USAID. Also visit www.borgenproject.org, and donate.

Nick Mitchell



Vote yes June 11

I am writing this letter as a local business owner and a mother of two children in our school system, RSU 20. I have a direct interest in our schools, not only as a taxpayer, but as a parent. I believe the best path forward for our children’s education, for our communities and for our wallets is a yes vote for withdrawal on June 11.

It has been three years since SAD 34 and 56 were forced under threat of penalty to consolidate.

Since we have consolidated, we have seen our taxes skyrocket and the quality of our education fall. The numbers – as shared with the public by the past and current superintendents – show the former SAD 34 towns would have saved $680,000 in FY 2012-2013 taxes if we had not consolidated, and next year the savings are at $1.5 million.

The current administration has put forward a budget to cut our middle school foreign languages, arts and other positions and programs. In addition, at the last school board meeting, it was stated that if we do not separate, the closing of our local schools is inevitable.

One of the things that makes our towns so special is our wonderful small local schools of which we are all so proud. Come out to vote yes on withdrawal June 11 or pick up an absentee ballot at the town office and vote early.

Catherine Robbins



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