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Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014: Camden zoning, Second Amendment, education costs, flight bumps

Town voice

I have been a resident of Camden since 1978 and, although often ill-informed on matters involving land use and zoning variances, I have always appreciated the opportunity to become educated on an issue and then exercise my right to vote.

It appears on the issue of allowing zoning changes on upper Bay View Street, any attempt to learn more about the McLean program and its impact on the town, both the physical geography and the more important effect their beneficial educational programs might provide to our community, are fruitless. At this point, the select board has decided not to allow the residents of Camden to examine and vote on this issue.

This is not a good precedent to set. It is always easier to be an apathetic citizen than to become informed and act. Please give the town back its voice.

Pam Bardon


Costly education

Laying off workers from mills in East Millinocket and Lincoln, forming a school district that has resulted in increased taxes, reducing MaineCare payments and intentional sabotage of the Affordable Care Act are causing havoc on the area of Maine north of Bangor. A medium-sized trucking company in Lincoln has also failed.

Roughly 500 people are on indefinite layoff, and this number is going to climb the longer the mills idle. Imagine being a homeowner in our economy. These closures are just the most recent, and without companies to tax, we as homeowners take on the burden of paying for local government. Our state keeps making laws without regard for who will pay for them.

Education hides behind cliches like “It’s for the kids.” Any town official can tell you education takes the lion’s share of the budget.

Getting unemployment and basic health care for the growing out-of-work force is getting progressively harder due to reductions in benefits and the commonly held belief that these people are lazy and don’t want to work.

What to do? State government should review all nonfunded programs and make them optional. It should identify companies wanting to come to this area and make it worth their while to do so. Make the necessary changes to Medicaid and open insurance to out-of-state agencies, so the Affordable Care Act can properly function. Towns allow tax deferrals to homeowners whose jobs were lost due to company closures.

David Robinson


Wake up

With all the assaults on our Constitution over the last several years, we have got to keep up our defenses. Attacks on our energy policies, medical policies, personal property rights, military strength and international standing have now been followed by the most egregious attack of all.

This is especially true for us here in Maine. The founders found this right so important, it wrote it as an amendment second only to the sacred right to free speech. The Second Amendment guarantees every American the right to bear arms. That right is not just for hunting but includes the right to defend yourself against anyone posing a deadly threat, especially a tyrannical government. It cannot be breached without a new amendment, and that would take two-thirds of the states to ratify it.

In January, we just squeaked by another end run the executive branch took around Congress with the defeat of the United Nations Small Arms Trade Treaty, by a vote of 53-46.

Guess who cast a vote to enact the treaty. That’s right, our esteemed Sen. Angus King. For all you out there, it would be a good thing to remember this come the next election he runs in.

Unfortunately, we will have to wait another six years. Mainers have never had to fear losing their gun rights until now. Wake up.

James Lutz


Soy-based meat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still expanding the list of retailers carrying meat unfit for human consumption to Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and 970 locations in California alone. About 8.7 million pounds of meat from “diseased and unsound” animals were shipped by Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif.

The recall comes in the wake of USDA’s new “inspection” program that allows the meat industry to increase speed of processing lines and replace federal inspectors with plant employees. According to USDA inspector general, this has resulted in partial failure to remove fecal matter, undigested food and other contaminants that may contain deadly E. coli and listeria bacteria.

Traditionally, the USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The Obama administration should reallocate responsibility for all food safety to the Food and Drug administration. In the meantime, each of us can assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of soy-based meat products offered by our favorite supermarket.

Edwin Sanborn


Flight funnies

A major airline’s “breakfast” offers early-morning passengers a choice of pretzels, cookies and/or a .42 ounce bag of peanuts and a beverage. The menu received a 4 percent passenger approval rating, 3 percentage points higher than airline management had anticipated.

In a frantic search for additional income, three major airlines have announced that, beginning in October, the oxygen mask that falls from the ceiling over each passenger seat following a dramatic drop in cabin pressure will be coin-operated.

These same three airlines have announced that beginning in 2015, economy fares will have two classifications — one-cheek and two-cheek. One-cheek ticket buyers will be given a 20 percent discount. If two one-cheek ticket holders are on the same flight, they must share a seat. TSA personnel will be responsible for verifying that all one-cheek ticket holders qualify for the discount.

Congratulations to Anna Nesbitt, American Airline’s youngest flight attendant. Anna has become a great-grandmother for the third time.

Charlie Cameron



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