Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013: Letter carriers union, the debt fix

Posted July 31, 2013, at 3:08 p.m.

Windy response

In his response to the Department of Environmental Protection’s denial of the Bowers Mountain Wind Project, John Lamontagne of First Wind reminds us of the old saying: “Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.”

In his July 25 statement, he said: “This draft decision runs contrary to the views of the people of Carroll Plantation and surrounding communities who were very supportive of this project. … The Department of Environmental Protection instead adopted the position of a small minority.”

Really? The public hearing testimony on the Bowers Mountain project, at last review, yielded the following statistic: 345 of 379, or 91 percent, giving oral or written testimony opposed the project. Evidently, a Land Use Regulation Commission denial, the DEP denial and public hearings that reveal overwhelming opposition aren’t enough to stop First Wind, in its desperation, from stating bald-faced lies.

Jack Gagnon

Lakeville

SNAP to it!

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives, on a party-line vote, broke with tradition by stripping from the farm bill the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. What’s left in the bill are billions of dollars in subsidies mostly for farming conglomerates. The U.S. Senate passed a much more balanced bill last month. The farm bill sets U.S. agricultural, food and resource conservation policy for the next five years.

Over the past 18 years, our government has doled out an average of billions per year of taxpayer funds to support the livestock and dairy industries. Instead, their products should be taxed to reimburse state and federal governments for the uncounted billions in increased medical costs and lost productivity associated with their consumption. Conversely, a sound national nutrition program based on vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits and nuts can save additional billions in reduced social costs.

I am all in favor of reducing our national deficit, government waste and medical costs. But that’s not going to happen by taking nutritious food from the mouths of 47 million of our society’s least privileged members.

Edwin Sanborn

Bangor

America’s debt

After reading “ America’s debt: Where a Democrat, Republican see eye to eye,” by former Gov. John Baldacci and Rick Bennett in the July 24 BDN, it is important to set the record straight about what their so-called “ Campaign to Fix the Debt” really is.

Fixing the debt is the latest incarnation of a multi-decade effort by billionaire Wall Street investor Peter G. Peterson to cut core social programs. It is a Washington, D.C.-based, corporate-backed group masquerading as a bipartisan grass-roots campaign. These huge corporations are spending $60 million funding this fake group, pretending it arose from “the people,” to pressure Congress and the White House to adopt its corporate agenda. These phony grass-roots campaigns are known as “astroturf.”

The corporations that fund Fix the Debt are pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for us and even bigger tax breaks for themselves. Fix the Debt plans to weaken the economy by drastically cutting public investment in domestic programs such as education, infrastructure and research and development. Yes, cutting the very investments we need to make our economy strong again while pocketing our tax money.

Mainers deserve to know that the Campaign to Fix the Debt is pushing greed-driven proposals that would undermine the economic security of every low-income and middle-class family. Their plan is not balanced: It would help big business while hurting our businesses and ordinary folks looking for good jobs with good wages, health care and education they can count on. They ought to be ashamed.

Melanie Collins, RN

Falmouth

Maine development

Michael Aube discussed the Maine Economic Growth Council in a recent column about economic growth strategies.

The Growth Council, of which I am co-chairman, is an independent body created in statute in 1993 to develop a long-term vision for Maine’s economic growth and a range of indicators assessing our progress.

The council’s annual Measures of Growth in Focus report, now in its 19th year, is a trusted source of data for Maine’s policymakers. The report focuses on the economic indicators critical to achieving the council’s vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people.

The Legislature in 2012 passed a bill charging the Maine Economic Growth Council with developing a Prosperity Action Plan. The legislation recognized that many recent reports on Maine’s economy, from an array of sources, showed considerable overlap in their major themes and recommendations. The council was tasked with synthesizing these findings and recommendations into specific action steps for achieving a sustainable Maine economy.

The resulting report includes long-term objectives and recommendations for immediate action in key areas like health and wellness, energy, government reform, taxation, education, connectivity, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Prosperity Action Plan has been presented to the Legislature, and the council intends to track the state’s annual progress on its recommendations. The council looks forward to continuing to work with policymakers on this action plan.

Measures of Growth 2013 and the Maine Prosperity Action Plan are available on the Maine Development Foundation website, www.mdf.org.

Tim Hussey, CEO, Hussey Seating Co.

North Berwick

Union rules

The National Association of Letter Carriers is the union representing letter carriers throughout the United States. Membership in the NALC is voluntary and very popular, judging

by the 92 percent of letter carriers who have freely joined up. Their dues support our work to negotiate with the Postal Service on their behalf to secure decent wages and benefits, to ensure fairness and dignity in the workplace, and to advocate for a viable Postal Service.

When members chose to withdraw from our union, there is an established method for doing so. They must enter the date they were hired along with other personal information on a form supplied by postal management and then file the form with a management representative within 10 days of the anniversary of the date they were hired.

In a July 27-28 article, “ Holden postal worker files complaint over union paperwork,” the BDN states there is “a 10-day period — starting on April 10 each year — when they can withdraw.” This is not correct. The date is different for each member, as it is based on the anniversary of each member’s hire date. The BDN got in touch with other parties with an interest in this story, but not with the NALC. We could have supplied the BDN with more accurate information.

Local NALC reps provided the withdrawing member with the information he needed to complete his paperwork on time. His delay in withdrawing was not caused by the union.

John Curtis

Education Director, Maine State Association of Letter Carriers

Surry

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