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Wednesday, April 23, 2014: Welfare reform, Rebecca Wyke, virtual schools, ‘lunatic’ standoff, dogs with porcupine quills


Ticket to work

I was surprised but pleased to see Gov. Paul LePage’s commissioners write about the merits of my Ticket-to-Work law, which will truly improve our anti-poverty programs.

The law, which went into effect in September, bolsters job training and education for struggling Mainers seeking temporary help from the state. It recognizes the many reasons Maine families seek temporary help and takes a realistic approach to job training and education so those families may ultimately support themselves. It’s a policy that stands in stark contrast to the governor’s version of reform, which is simply slashing programs and vilifying those who need help. His approach has led to greater homelessness and higher child poverty rates at a time when Maine ranks among the worst states in the country for job creation.

In an April 22 BDN column, “We’re reforming welfare in Maine through job training, placement,” commissioners Mary Mayhew and Jeanne Paquette claim the governor championed this approach to reform — an approach they now say builds “stronger, more self-sufficient families.” The truth is that Gov. LePage refused to sign the bill into law despite the strong bipartisan support it received. I introduced the bill after hearing directly from struggling people who face incredible challenges to getting back to work — many who are women with children escaping domestic abuse.

Democrats believe the right route to reforming our anti-poverty programs is through job training and education. I’m pleased to see the administration is putting the life-changing law into place.

House Speaker Mark Eves

D-North Berwick

Government worth

Regarding University of Maine System Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Rebecca Wyke’s $40,000 raise: Working for the people is not intended to pay at a scale that creates wealth. The business people who lay it all on the financial line on a daily basis are the risk takers whose reward should be wealth — not the government workers they pay. There is not a government employee in Maine worth $205,000 per year.

Robert L. Graham


Brick and mortar schools

It is true that virtual schools have lower overhead than brick and mortar public schools, but that is still not a good reason to have the state decide to give them less money, as Rep. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, wants, especially in the initial stages of opening online education in Maine.

There are two main reasons for this. First, children who attend schools online are not worth less than children who attend them in person. Each deserves to have the same resources available from the state. Second, it is bad policy to have bureaucrats trying to decide what every education institution needs to carry out its work rather than the institution itself.

A way to resolve these problems is to give every child access to his or her state education funding, like Arizona does, so they and their families can decide what mix of programs best fits their individual needs. That provides an equal playing field for everyone and avoids the economic problems of a centrally planned market.

Joy Pullmann

Education research fellow, Heartland Institute


Lunatic fringe

It is very disheartening to me to see the article written by Jonathan Allen from Reuters printed in the April 18 edition of the Bangor Daily News. It appears as if there is a systematic attempt by the news services nationwide to portray the individuals involved in the quoted “ranch standoff” in Nevada as the lunatic fringe. I strongly disagree with the tenor of the article and would instead pose a question to the American people: Did you know the Bureau of Land Management had its own “armed police force”? This revelation should send a chill down the back of every freedom-loving American citizen. Nowhere in the article did Allen raise the possibility that the federal government had overstepped its bounds resulting in “normal” Americans standing up in the face of tyranny as they have since the founding of this great nation.

Phillip Pitula


Act of love

How sad that the BDN couldn’t see the positive side of the people who dropped off two dogs at an animal shelter in Waterville. The title “Dogs hurt by porcupine abandoned,” (April 18) should have read “People seek good home for dogs they can no longer afford.” I wish more people would do what they did. Would the BDN staff prefer that they “abandon” them in a field somewhere? Or just shoot them? I have a great deal of respect for the people who did this. They clearly love their dogs and sought help and, instead, were accused of “dumping” them. Obviously they could not afford the vet bill to remove the quills and took them to a place they knew would take care of them. They have nothing to be ashamed of, and my heart goes out to them for having to make a difficult decision. We should be encouraging others to do this if they can’t afford their pets, not making them feel worse than they probably already do. I hope the people who left them see this and know that some of us see it as an act of love.

Holly Boutot


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