Guns, marijuana, bears and politicians were on the minds of BDN readers in 2013. At least that’s if you go by a list of the most widely read opinion pieces published by the BDN in the past year.
On the political front, the year was dominated by political division in Maine — with a Republican governor and Democratic Legislature — and in Washington, D.C., where government came to a halt on Oct. 1.
In the Maine State House, political battles over repaying the state’s nearly $500 million hospital debt, expanding Medicaid and hashing out a two-year state budget alternative to Gov. Paul LePage’s dominated much of the political class’ attention.
Then, there was the Zumba prostitution scandal, the arrest and trial of the North Pond Hermit, and the question of whether Searsport should allow a 14-story liquid propane storage tank to be built at the town’s Mack Point marine terminal.
The BDN’s opinion pages featured impassioned commentary on nearly all of these issues. Yet, here are the pieces that attracted the most attention.
10. “ ‘Bear knuckled’ politics come to Maine,” June 5: Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine executive director David Trahan relates what he describes as the hard-ball political tactics of Humane Society of the United States lobbyists working to ban bear baiting, trapping and hounding in Maine.
9. “ They’re lucky to be alive: How a Maine criminal’s gun changed hands 8 times,” Oct. 11: Steve Edmondson, domestic violence investigator for the Sagadahoc County district attorney’s office, urges caution in the handling of firearms through the tale of a gun seized by police during a road rage incident that later changed hands eight times, including among a handful of teenagers.
8. “ LePage feeds the cancer of racism in Maine,” Aug. 20: Hugh Magbie takes LePage to task for his reported statement at a political fundraiser that President Barack Obama “hates white people.” “It’s out there for all to see,” Magbie wrote. “We live in a backwater of political and racial thought.”
7. “ Setting the record straight on 6 myths about childless adults,” Sept. 17: Amy Blackstone, chairwoman of the University of Maine’s sociology department, debunks six commonly held myths about adults who choose not to have children.
6. “ The case against legalizing marijuana in Maine,” May 20: South Portland lawyer Dave Canarie warns that legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Maine will result in increased use, little tax benefit for the state and an increase in impaired driving.
5. “ Why I left the Republican Party,” Aug. 25: Mark Willis, former National Committeeman for the Maine Republican Party, explains why he and 12 Maine Republicans severed ties with their party.
4. “ Why one moderate Republican is embarrassed by LePage’s behavior, tone,” June 26: Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, the assistant Republican leader in the state Senate, decries “the unfortunate tone being set by our chief executive,” who happens to be from Katz’s own party.
3. “ Angus King presents his position on gun control,” April 4: Maine’s junior senator, independent Angus King, lays out his thoughts on gun control in advance of key Senate debate.
2. “ Stephen King speaks out on gun violence,” March 20: The famed author and Bangor resident wonders if America can find a middle ground in the gun debate: “The next Adam Lanza is out there somewhere, the next Seung-Hui Cho, the next James Holmes,” he writes. “The job we all have, as responsible Americans, is to make it as hard for these loonies as possible.”
1. “ Mike Michaud: Yes, I am gay. ‘But why should it matter?’,” Nov. 4: Maine’s representative from the 2nd Congressional District and a 2014 candidate for the Blaine House tells the world he’s gay. “For me, it’s just a part of who I am,” he writes.
Whatever your point of view, whatever the issue, we encourage you to get involved in the debate and submit your OpEd to the BDN in 2014.