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Thursday July 4, 2013: Sen. Roger Katz, displaced galleries and passenger rail to Bangor

Hats off to Katz

My hat is off to state Sen. Roger Katz, R- Augusta, for having the objectivity and courage to offer a complimentary opinion of Gov. Paul LePage’s legislative program while at the same time properly addressing what he called “the unfortunate tone being set by our chief executive.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve said, or heard from others, that if he could keep his mouth shut, or at least put a filter on it, LePage could have ended the current legislative session and his tenure as governor as a goal-oriented chief executive moving the state towards what he and many others feel are more appropriate funding and programmatic directions.

Instead, he has become the butt of jokes of national late-night comics and political observers. That’s not what Maine needs.

Katz addressed this issue fairly and bluntly in his column in the June 27 BDN, in the face of retribution, we are now all too well aware of, that LePage is capable of delivering.

Katz’ column addressed the leadership tone of another era during which his father, among others, contributed to a respectful and productive bipartisan legislative atmosphere. I knew Bennett Katz as a hardworking and thoughtful representative of his senatorial district, and

it’s clear that his son, Roger, has become a “chip off the old block” who clearly is bringing

relevancy to a state party that’s sorely in need of it.

John P. McCatherin

Carrabassett Valley

Incorrect caption

Regarding the BDN June 27 article “Sangerville group outlines community bill of rights to halt east-west highway”: Informative article with an accompanying photo that was incorrectly labeled.

The caption suggested Jim Roberts and Harry Akkerman were native Mainers, which is untrue. Akkerman is originally from Germany and Roberts from Canada.

That said, it was an interesting and informative meeting, and it was obvious that those in attendance cared very deeply about the issue and were very frustrated by what they perceived to be, at best the indifference, and at worst the outright antagonism, of their elected representatives in Augusta.

Jim Roberts


Republican Re-Hab

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, strongly castigated the sitting Republican governor in the pages of the BDN. Obviously, Katz is a successful graduate of Republican Re-Hab. If you would like to wake up (columnist Matthew Gagnon, this means you among many others), call Republican Re-Hab at 1-800-GET-FAIR.

Geoff Goodwin


Laissez faire

Our country faces a potentially catastrophic economic decline because our elected officials continually refuse to deal with the burgeoning national debt. Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Barack Obama, has gone on record as stating that, “Our national debt is also our greatest national security threat.”

If only there were a change in the national economic landscape that could boost the economy, leading to job growth, less dependence on the welfare system, and increase the number of workers paying into the system each week …

And so there is — the United States is in the midst of an energy boom! As new discoveries and advanced technologies increase oil and natural gas output each week, the United States is poised to become a major energy exporter to the world marketplace. This will not only increase domestic economic opportunities, it will also decrease the strength of unstable foreign producers (Iran, Russia and Venezuela).

Congress and the Obama administration must provide a regulatory landscape that allows the market to correct our past failures. This will require a laissez faire approach to energy regulation in the short-term, to ensure the economic future of the country and free the U.S. from foreign oil in the long-term.

Austin Smith


Displaced galleries

In order to facilitate their move to Rockland from their home in Rockport, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art will displace three galleries at 21 Winter Street, a vibrant little arts district off Main Street in Rockland. Jonathan Frost Gallery and Frame Shop, Somewhere on Winter Street and Yvette Torres Fine Art together represent 80-plus artists who depend on these galleries for their livelihood.

The manner of CMCA’s announcement was unsettling: CMCA was very careful not to mention the address of the building, nor that the “tenants” were galleries, in any of their press releases. They assumed, apparently, that they would be automatically welcome in an arts community they had no hand in shaping. More important, a few days after their announcement to the public, CMCA announced to the three present gallery owners that they would be expected to vacate their spaces within months.

We do welcome CMCA’s move to Rockland; however, the current home of the Winter Street galleries cannot be the only suitable location in Rockland.

Olive Pierce


Passenger rail to Bangor

With its expansion to Freeport and Brunswick, Amtrak’s Downeaster is bringing economic growth and greater transportation options to the Mid-Coast. Southern Maine is reaping the rewards of reliable rail service with little focus northward. I believe it’s time we start to look seriously into expanding passenger rail to Bangor.

In 2008, MDOT released a study on the possibility of expanding passenger rail service to Montreal from Portland via Auburn; this train would only benefit a few Maine towns. What the DOT should really be studying is the feasibility of expanding passenger rail service from Portland to Bangor via Lewiston — connecting Maine’s three largest cities with Boston and all points south. It would provide much needed transportation options to communities along the line, and Mainers everywhere.

Trains help promote growth and investment: In Old Orchard, $22 million has been invested within blocks of the train; Biddeford-Saco is seeing $300 million in investment within walking distance of the station, more than $30 million was invested in the Brunswick Maine Street Station by private developers, and a $2.5 million project is moving forward in Freeport.

Although it is not the sole catalyst for development, passenger rail makes the cities and towns it passes through more appealing for investment, while increasing quality of life for those work and live there. A train to Bangor would benefit Mainers more than one to Montreal, while attracting more commerce to our area. It is a great opportunity that should be seriously considered.

Eben Sweetser


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