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June 6, 2013: Air quality and Bachmann

State of the air

The BDN did a great job recently covering the improvements in Maine’s air quality, as outlined in the American Lung Association’s 2013 “State of the Air” report. The report certainly encourages us that progress can be made, but it also reminds us that there is important work left to be done.

The report ranks Bangor as one of the 16 cleanest cities in the country for short-term and year-round particle pollution. In addition, every county in Maine held steady or improved its grades from last year. That’s the good news. But we still have too many unhealthy air days in Maine caused by high ozone levels.

Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas that burns the lungs and airways. It can cause chest pain, coughs, aggravate asthma and can increase hospital visits for respiratory problems. As my patients would tell you, an asthma attack can be a very scary and even life-threatening experience.

We need lawmakers to follow the lung association’s healthy air agenda. That means cleaning up the smokestacks and tailpipes that cause pollution, defending the Clean Air Act from rollbacks and delays, and adequately funding our monitoring and enforcement systems.

Specifically, it means moving forward with the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards.

Congratulations to Bangor for having some of the healthiest air in the nation. Now, let’s make that a reality for every child and adult in Maine.

Paul Shapero, MD



Vote yes

This is an important message for residents of Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville.

On May 30, at the RSU 20 school budget meeting, it took more than an additional $900,000 in education costs to ensure our children have languages, art, a school resource officer, library support, front office secretaries who help ensure school safety and more, according to information presented at the meeting.

Because we are a part of RSU 20, our six towns pay 75 percent of the costs. Financial analysis, according to school administrators past and present, show that if we were withdrawn into our own six-town district next year, we could save $1.5 million.

That savings would easily cover the costs to make sure our kids have important school programs and allow educational tax savings for residents. To help future school budgets, vote “yes” to withdraw June 11. Absentee ballots are available at town offices.

Evelyn deFrees



Gun digest

In reply to Mary Plouffe’s May 30 BDN OpEd piece, “If we can change the smoking culture, we can change the gun culture,” I suggest she read Gary Kleck‘s book, “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” on the subject.

Robert Nelson



Bachmann’s intelligence

In his embarrassingly glib celebration of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s retirement, Dana Milbank’s May 31 column cites a number of examples that I feel he thinks prove the narrative that Bachmann is crazy and stupid.

According to an ABC News story that ran in 2011, Bachmann, R-Minn., confused President John Adams with President John Quincy Adams. On the 2012 campaign trail, she confused Elvis Presley’s birthday with his date of death and John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy.

While these are certainly not mistakes one would ordinarily expect from an accountant, as Bachmann is, it is a dubious and fanciful claim, at best, to suggest that they prove neurosis, psychosis or stupidity. Or anything at all.

While Bachmann certainly has made errors, a quick and honest perusal of statements made by congressional Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, Patty Murray, Hank Johnson, Alan Grayson and Maxine Waters, would reveal far more bizarre and unfounded statements.

Bachmann, who has two post-graduate degrees, spoke eloquently and articulately on American foreign policy in 2012 presidential debates. I believe it is simply an article of faith in the mind of biased, unreasonable and intellectually dishonest critics that she is crazy and stupid.

David D. Wilson


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