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Monday, April 21, 2014: Homelessness, Eliot Cutler, heat pumps, welfare changes

Community thanks

The board of directors would like to thank all those who participated in or supported our 19th annual Hike for the Homeless. From the volunteer committee that invested hundreds of hours in planning, to corporate supporters, to the host communities and their schools, the Hike resulted in more than 800 people gathered at the Bangor waterfront to show support for people experiencing homelessness.

Unfortunately, the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our state as well as across the country continues at an unconscionably high level. The issue of homelessness is not a simple one but generally includes risk factors such as poverty, disability and lack of affordable housing. We know that homelessness could be dramatically reduced through the development of affordable housing partnered with services as needed, but there does not appear to be the political will required to make the necessary investments.

While there continues to be a need for the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, we will continue to need the support of the community in operating an emergency shelter that is safe and truly impactful. It is the community that has made the shelter what it is, and it will be the voice of the community that will ultimately make the difference in public policy necessary to reduce and end homelessness.

Scott Blake

Board president, Bangor Area Homeless Shelter


Pump performance

After installing a heat pump this winter, I have been very impressed with its performance and the oil it saves. I am buying a second heat pump. I note that the bill to allow low-income families up to a $2,000 rebate on heat pumps and solar installation would have cost the average electricity user 5 cents per month extra on our bills.

I do not know about solar energy, but the time for heat pumps has arrived. With many low-income families needing assistance to buy oil to keep warm, it should have made sense for all the legislators in Augusta to support this bill.

The foreign firm that was prepared to invest millions of dollars in Maine’s world-class electricity-generating capabilities was chased away by Gov. Paul LePage. It did not appear that the University of Maine, which was working with this company, asked for this action.

If the Senate had over-ridden LePage’s veto of this heat-pump bill, it would have generated millions of dollars in new business for Maine’s business and saved these struggling families thousands of dollars on their oil bills.

It is time for some legislators to wake up and do something worthwhile to help Maine’s people and economy, rather than sit on their duffs in Augusta.

Bob Tweedie


Welfare motivation

I applaud Gov. Paul LePage on his efforts to recommend efforts to attract business to the state of Maine. As a native of this state, I know that we have lost considerable businesses to economic distress. I believe it is time for our representatives to truly consider the people of Maine and not just the powerful ones. We all want to keep our state’s pristine countryside, but the time has come to recognize that our people need good jobs.

In addition, I am amazed that our Legislature will not support LePage on reducing welfare. Limit use of EBT cards to Maine only. Do not allow use of these cards for items other than necessities, food, etc. We certainly should not be letting cards be used outside the state. If people have money to travel, then perhaps they do not need the EBT card in the first place.

You only have to look around to see the abuse of welfare. It is time that our representatives take a real look at the cities and towns and the numbers of people on welfare and/or out of work.

We cannot educate people and have no jobs for them. We cannot keep giving welfare to them either; where is the motivation to get a job and support themselves and their families?

Bud Butterfield


Ring a bell?

This morning, after reading about another bill that the majority wants and our governor has, once again, threatened to veto, I’ve been looking up a few definitions in the dictionary.

The first word I looked up was “tyranny.” The definition: “Arbitrary, unreasonable or despotic behavior or use by authority.” Does this seem to ring a bell? Does it sound like what is going on in Augusta? I think it does.

I then looked up the word “democracy.” The first definition: “Government by the people or their selected representatives.” This is what I was taught democracy was when I was in seventh grade civics class. We were taught that the majority (and a simple majority at that) was who got their way.

I can’t help but wonder how democracy, as our forefathers designed it, has changed so much that a two-thirds (or larger) majority is needed to speak for the general population. And that one person can deny the wishes as expressed by the people and their representatives. What’s happened?

Carol P. Gater


Vision and plan

In Blue Hill’s town meeting this year, we faced a situation together with many towns. Our budget was up, support from the state was down, and quite a few folks in our community have modest incomes and struggle to pay property taxes. There was considerable support voiced for both keeping taxes low and keeping our education strong. As a town, we couldn’t make both of these happen, and our property tax will rise after voting to approve the school board’s recommended education budget.

A few days later, independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler released a plan that would address these very issues. By increasing the Homestead Exemption substantially, in addition to making other tax changes detailed on his website, Cutler’s plan would lessen the tax burden of the majority of year-round residents, and it would increase education support from the state. Shifting our tax base towards visitors and those with expensive real estate seems like a good compromise to give relief to those who most need it, keep our basic services funded, and help our young folks stay here and even buy land.

This is the kind of forward thinking we need to secure Maine’s future. I hear a plan is in the works to assist low-income Mainers who rent, too. Stay tuned and watch the Cutler campaign. He’s got vision and a plan. All Michaud has is a party.

Colin Sarsfield

Blue Hill


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