Thursday, April 17, 2014: Searsport dredging, Medicaid expansion, Dennis Dechaine

Posted April 16, 2014, at 1:43 p.m.

Five feet of muck

I was very disappointed to learn that nearly all of the members of the Bangor City Council

did not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a full environmental impact study on the effects of dredging Searsport Harbor. I hope they’ll reconsider.

The folks down on the midcoast deserve their own extra margin of safety in the form of a

full study. There were lots of questions asked at the second dredge meeting. The Army Corps claimed its recent determination of “no dredge, not even maintenance” needed for the large DCP Midstream LPG tankers (in 2012) had originated with a report done by the Coast Guard. We are left wondering if an environmental assessment can perhaps be tailored to fit the political pressures prevailing. A larger study might be an instrument that is not so easily manipulated.

A recent pronouncement that this project is “too small” to warrant the study is surely a cavalier and misleading assessment. The scale of this project is unprecedented in Penobscot Bay. Besides the immediate effects of the dredge, which could be substantial, the Corps needs to look deeper. An expanded and more industrialized port could have a variety of benefits and hazards, and all these futures must be examined.

Sure, folks down in New York City or Boston wouldn’t bat an eyebrow about a million cubic

yards of dredge spoils, but we have things here that those large metropolitan areas have lost. Change is inevitable, but this change needs to be accomplished transparently and responsibly.

 

Sally Jones

Bangor

Lifesaving health care coverage

I am a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network here in Maine. We support evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.

We support increasing access to health care through MaineCare to cover more hardworking, low-income Mainers using federal funds that have been already set aside for Maine. People who receive health coverage through MaineCare have better access to health care than do the uninsured. They are more likely to receive lifesaving cancer screenings such as mammograms or colonoscopies; they have better access to outpatient and hospital care and prescription drugs; and, if they get cancer, it is more likely to be discovered at an early stage. Improving access to MaineCare coverage in Maine will save lives and reduce health care costs.

Last week, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would provide nearly 70,000 Mainers with access to health care coverage here in Maine. On Friday, Maine lawmakers failed to override that veto.

The good news for Mainers is that there are two more bills running this legislative session that, if passed, would provide access to lifesaving health care coverage for those who need it most. This issue is too important to give up on while there are still options on the table.

I encourage all lawmakers in Augusta to come together this week and do what Maine voters elected them to do: Reach across party lines, and work together. The health and wellness of Maine residents rests on their shoulders.

Mike Hart

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Brewer

Paying for expansion

I see in my paper that Gov. Paul LePage has once again vetoed Medicaid expansion. Kudos to the governor for sticking to his promise and vetoing this bill. All we have heard from the proponents of this expansion is how great this would be, especially since the federal government would pick up 90 percent of the tab for the next three years.

To date, I have not heard one single word as to how the state is going to pay for the other 10 percent. Until such time as I hear a plan to fund this that does not include raising taxes, I will be opposed to this massive expansion of yet another program to give away my tax dollars.

I find it interesting that the article on the veto of Medicaid was right next to an article about how lawmakers are struggling to deal with a $30 million budget hole. We had a pending $30 million budget gap, and yet we wanted to add thousands to the welfare rolls with no plan to pay for it? Sounds like business as usual in Augusta, and the one voice of reason seems to be the governor’s veto pen. The Legislature needs to face the reality that this state is broke and stop all of the spending and giveaway programs.

Timothy Grant

Glenburn

Support Dechaine

Once again Dennis Dechaine has been victimized by Judge Carl Bradford. The retired active justice remains very much in character, wrapped in an aura of infallibility, oblivious to the progress of science in the application of justice.

At the 1989 trial that resulted in Dechaine‘s conviction for the murder of Sarah Cherry, Bradford denied Dechaine’s request for DNA testing, saying that the testing was not reliable. For his information, more than 300 inmates have been exonerated over the past three decades because of DNA findings just through the Innocence Project.

Bradford is not alone in his belief that Dechaine is guilty of murder, no matter what the evidence. The attorney general’s office for the past quarter of a century has stubbornly wrapped itself in the mantra of infallibility: “In Maine we’re different.” No matter that DNA tests fail to tie Dennis to the crime, that time of death eliminates Dechaine as the perpetrator, that no trace of Cherry was ever found in his truck, that 54 percent of Maine registered voters polled in 2005 supported a new trial, as does former Attorney General Jon Lund, the miscarriage of justice continues.

The Dark Ages of Maine’s judicial system is in stark contrast to the Enlightenment Age throughout the rest of the country. The Damon Thibodeaux case in Louisiana stands out. There the presiding judge in the rape-murder trial and the attorney general agreed that DNA and other evidence proved Thibodeaux’s innocence, and the 15-year death row inmate was released.

Ross Paradis

Frenchville

 

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