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Friday, Feb. 14, 2014: Searsport vote, LePage fiscal management, nursing home funding

Searsport selectman

Having previously served as a selectman for six years, I wanted to share my thoughts on the kind of leadership I believe the town deserves. Searsport is unique for many reasons beyond being the second largest commercial port in the state. You may remember the tank dispute as being most recent. There have often been outside influences and local groups with agendas that require oversight with sound and prudent judgment from the select board.

From my perspective, there is an incumbent with longtime local roots and important experience learned from being away that deserves your consideration. His knowledge, dedication and outspoken stance on many issues have served the town well. His insistence on transparency and accountability has been a welcome relief compared with the occasional “go along to get along” philosophy.

I am referring here to Doug Norman. His record speaks far louder than any of these words, and his knowledge and judgment have been an important asset to the town. I strongly support his re-election for another term and urge you to give him your sincere consideration.

Roland LaReau


Governor Fiscal

I beg to differ with letter writer, Ron Poitras’ Feb. 10 statement concerning Gov. Paul LePage “running our beautiful state into the ground.” Apparently Poitras didn’t mean financial ground because that was what many previous administrations had already done.

The state of Maine has been on a collision course with fiscal disaster for years, with literally hundreds of millions in fiscal mismanagement. The governor, in spite of his sometimes direct and rude behavior has, thank goodness, finally put the brakes on the most egregious examples: Fixing the unfunded mega-millions state pension problem, fixing the outrageous Maine Turnpike embezzlement — a few million — and paying the $183 million dollar debt owed to our state medical providers.

Moreover, he has attempted to restructure various state agencies and their programs but has been fighting with resistant legislatures who, I gather, just don’t get it. The governor did get rid of some toxic state middle managers who have been “running our beautiful state into the ground.”

Department of Health and Human Services audits continue to point out many additional millions being mishandled by the state. When will it end? What really worries me is that apparently none of the 2014 gubernatorial candidates are speaking to the challenges of prudent fiscal management of our state, and we are likely to get more of what we used to have until we are bankrupt.

Sadly, there appears to be no one with the vision of LePage waiting to save us, hopefully with a bit more civility.

Peter Duston


Low funding

In her Jan. 29 column (“Lawmakers finally discussing nursing home funding challenges, but now they need to act”), Beth Martin speaks for all nursing homes who see firsthand the effect of low MaineCare funding on our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Our elderly and disabled living in Maine nursing homes are critically ill with complex medical conditions. Many have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The care they require is beyond the scope of what their kids or grandkids can provide. When the care needs become too great, they turn to places such as Stillwater Health Care, where 60 percent of our residents depend on MaineCare to cover the costs of that care. But the truth is: It doesn’t.

In the last decade, food, energy and staffing costs have increased, but the state’s MaineCare reimbursements for nursing homes have hardly budged. Many homes are now facing painful decisions. Do we cap the number of residents we serve? How much more can we charge non-MaineCare customers to fill the gap? Do we consider wage freezes? These are hard questions with no good answers.

I am encouraged by the work that is being done in Augusta. My residents and their families deserve peace of mind knowing that lawmakers are making this funding crisis a priority. I couldn’t agree more with Martin — that it’s time MaineCare reimbursements to nursing homes match the cost of providing a safe, healthy environment where our most vulnerable elders can live with dignity. They deserve nothing less.

Kristy Thibodeau



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