Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Basketball officials, Israel, Bingham wind, mental health

Posted Feb. 24, 2014, at 1:57 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 24, 2014, at 2:23 p.m.

B-ball officiating

On Saturday, my family and I traveled 3 ½ hours to watch the Eastern Maine finals at the new Cross Insurance Center. We were impressed with the venue and how things were organized. We commented on how great it was to witness school spirit with talented bands and cheerleaders. Seating was near capacity with impressive fan support from each town.

What we were disappointed in was the quality of officiating. Basketball is a game that is fast paced with lots of ball movement and strategy. I know the game well. Unfortunately, basketball officiating in Eastern Maine seems more about the referee blowing his or her whistle and trotting in front of the scorers’ table than allowing the players to play ball. It is simply an exciting game made boring to watch because of stoppage by the officials.

They should be required to watch how Division I college games are officiated. The most talented players are just one step away from college ball but are still being officiated like they are playing in elementary school. The Eastern Maine Class C finals were the worst with the traveling infraction incorrectly called no less than 20 times. Both Class B and C winning boys teams scored less than 50 points. Defensive players were unable to contest a shot without being called for a foul even when standing still with arms above head.

Whoever is in charge of training and overseeing the officials needs to have them watch film of the game. They will witness the absurdity of their calls and see how the stadium emptied of fans who had no connection to either team, like myself, simply because of boredom.

Carl Chasse

Fort Kent

Israelis vs. Palestinians

In a Feb. 19 OpEd, Edward McCarthy complained about Sen. Susan Collins’ “bias in favor of the Jews and against the Palestinians.” McCarthy’s statement reveals not just the a bias but perhaps something more disagreeable.

McCarthy should realize that to disagree with the opinion of McCarthy does not constitute “bias.” Respectful disagreement is an essential element of democracy.

Also, notice his phraseology: Jews versus Palestinians. One’s religion versus another’s nationality. Should not it have been Israelis versus Palestinians, or Jews versus Muslims (which would have been inappropriate but consistent.)

The non-Jewish population of Israel, by percentage, is about the same as the non-Christian population of the U.S. (Israel is approximately 80 percent Jewish and 15 percent Muslim.)

By this logic (not mine), the next time McCarthy disagrees with a policy of the U.S. he should criticize the “Christians,” not “Americans.”

Norman Minsky

Bangor

AT and First Wind

We write to correct misinformation in a recent news report regarding the Bingham wind project, which incorrectly stated that Appalachian Trail organizations now support that project in return for future land conservation.

We do not typically lend institutional support to development projects that have the potential to impact resources of concern to our organizations, and it is inaccurate to say we “support” this project. We agreed to “not oppose” First Wind’s Bingham project, and First Wind voluntarily agreed to help mitigate the project’s visual impact to the Appalachian Trail.

We acknowledge that visual impacts of the project are expected to affect the Appalachian Trail, but at a distance greater than eight miles. Maine state law, the Wind Act of 2008, does not allow consideration of visual impacts beyond eight miles in the state’s permitting process. Our organizations have tried to bring this law up to date since turbines have dramatically increased in size, but the Legislature has not been so inclined to date.

In recognition of our concerns for future protection of the Appalachian Trail, First Wind voluntarily agreed to provide a dedicated escrow fund of $700,000 to be used for Appalachian Trail land protection in Maine. None of that funding is provided to our coalition organizations. First Wind also agreed not to erect additional towers closer to the trail than already proposed. Further, the company will minimize night-time light pollution from required aircraft warning lights by installing radar-activated lighting once the Federal Aviation Administration certifies its use by wind farms.

We believe this agreement provides the best achievable protection for Appalachian Trail resources.

Lester C. Kenway

Maine Appalachian Trail Club

Bangor

Fund mental health services

We have been following the proposed legislation submitted by Rep. Aaron M. Frey, D-Bangor, for LD 1580, An Act to Use the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center To Provide Inpatient Mental Health Services for Forensic Patients.

At face value this bill suggested an appropriate use of Dorothea Dix for forensic patients. However, testimony revealed concerns about the structural inadequacies of Dorothea Dix to provide a safe environment for forensic patients and staff.

Additionally, staff would require intensive training to work with potentially violent patients. Both training and structural renovations would cost approximately $3 million. LD 1580 did not pass this legislative session. There is more work to be done!

Forensic patients find themselves on the cusp of two categorical classifications: a criminal charge but no conviction, requiring the need for criminal justice involvement; and no conviction due to a mental illness, requiring the need for active mental health services. The most ethical choice would be an environment that would cause the least amount of stress to this population with staff who are well-trained to provide services.

We recommend that the Legislature consider extending funding for LD 1515, An Act to Increase Mental Health Services, beyond June 30. We understand this policy has already provided some relief to law enforcement. We also encourage the public to contact Frey with thoughts on utilizing Dorothea Dix as a detox center or transitional housing, two services the Bangor area desperately needs.

Jeanette Rogers

Danielle Chard

Master’s of social work students

University of Maine School of Social Work

Orono

Anathema

I am appalled that the national anthem was not played or sung prior to the beginning of the “Last Ditch” swim meet hosted at Husson University by the Hurricane Swim Club. This happened even though a child was permitted to silence the stadium to sing “Happy Birthday” over the loudspeaker. As an American, and particularly as a veteran, I am extremely disappointed in the club for not having played the national anthem.

Amanda E. Gleason

Bangor

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