Saturday, May 3, 2014: Welcome LePage veto, Dennis Dechaine, Bangor police at Color Bangor

Posted May 02, 2014, at 6:04 a.m.

Applaud the governor

Gov. Paul LePage did Maine youth justice with the veto on LD 1747. The act of governance ensures the best possible education, and this veto is a win despite the opprobrium his policies and beliefs have generated.

The Education Commission of the States shows the findings of a study done between 2001 and 2009 concerning the teachers in the Cincinnati public school system. Teachers were evaluated four times a year by trained individuals using a rubric with four fields, which looked at skills and practices both in teaching and classroom management. The crux of the study rested on the following: “Quality observation systems should be based on clear, objective standards of practice; be conducted by multiple, trained evaluators; and consider multiple observations and sources of data considered over time.” The finding showed that the better the teacher, the better the student, bar none.

As parents, teachers, individuals and Americans, we would be remiss to not demand the highest possible standards for our educators. To propose something less is an injustice to us all. Education is a foundational human right, and according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “It is for governments to fulfil their obligations both legal and political in regard to providing education for all of good quality and to implement and monitor more effectively education strategies.”

Allowing a stakeholder group (two-thirds of which are teachers) to determine evaluation strategies, which will inevitably vary from district to district, opens the door to a host of problems, the least of which being proper oversight and statewide continuity of teaching practices. I applaud our governor and hope that he remains vigilant on this topic.

Jessica D’Alessio

Bangor

AARP award

There are many ways each of us can help others by volunteering and by giving back to our communities. As part of AARP’s commitment to volunteerism, and, in the spirit of our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, we recognize outstanding individuals who are making a powerful difference in the lives of others. Each year, we accept nominations for the AARP Maine Andrus Award for Community Service, which is AARP’s most prestigious and visible state volunteer award for community service.

If you know a volunteer who is using his or her skills and experience to make a significant difference in your community, please nominate them for the 2014 Andrus Award. Nominees must be Mainers 50 or older; their accomplishments or service on which nominations are based must have been performed on a volunteer basis (without pay); and they must reflect AARP’s vision: A society in which everyone ages with dignity and purpose and in which AARP helps people fulfill their goals and dreams. Nominees do not have to be members of AARP.

The AARP Maine Andrus Award acts as a symbol of how much we can all work together for positive social change. AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities and neighbors. The application deadline is June 1. For nomination forms and further information, go to http://bit.ly/YtuvRl or call 866-554-5380. We look forward to honoring an individual in Maine whose experience, talent and skills enrich the lives of others.

Rich Livingston

AARP Maine volunteer state president

Auburn

Truth searching

In 1989, Judge Carl Bradford rejected Dennis Dechaine’s request for DNA testing before his trial for the murder of Sarah Cherry because Dechaine could not guarantee exculpatory results.

Recently, after having finally allowed the testing of the by-now old and degraded DNA, Bradford ruled that the exculpatory results obtained did not outweigh evidence of Dechaine’s guilt presented at trial. This included claims by two detectives that Dechaine had obliquely confessed to them.

Bradford, following his own narrow interpretation of a statute, which might have been written by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, would not consider compelling evidence — evidence never given to the defense — that the original notes of these two detectives contradicted their sworn testimony.

And because this evidence could not be included by Dechaine in his appeal, the state Supreme Court will not be considering it either. Bradford is a master crafter of legal Catch-22s. Would that we could believe that his formidable legal agility was employed in the search for the truth, rather than obscuring it.

William Bunting

Whitefield

Clear the air

The latest report from the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was compiled by 1,250 scientists and supported by nearly 200 governments, provides the most exhaustive evidence yet that our climate is rapidly warming and that the risks to future generations likely will be severe unless we act now — and boldly — to reign in carbon pollution.

For Maine, climate change means threats to so much of what makes Maine home: Lobstering, maple syrup tapping, our rugged coast, our mild summers.

The good news is that Maine has vast reserves of clean energy in the wind, the sun and the waves. In particular, wind power projects that are well-sited and supported by the local community can and must be an important part of the solution to climate change.

However, that will only happen if Maine’s regulatory agencies make decisions about specific wind projects based on the evidence before them and not on political ideology.

Maine should be a leader on climate change, and we certainly have every obligation to future generations to put to work the many clean energy solutions that are at our fingertips, including wind power. The result will not only be a safer climate for generations to come but cleaner air and local economic development.

Emily Figdor

Director, Environment Maine

Portland

Police thanks

A big “hats off” to Bangor police for their participation in and support of the Color Bangor event held last weekend on the Bangor Waterfront. They have further proven their collaboration and support of community through building relationships with the “average Joe and Jane.”

So often when we think of law enforcement we see police as the people on TV talking about the “bad guys” or pulling us over because of an expired inspection sticker. In both cases, it is not necessarily the feeling of an officer who is caring and concerned about making our communities a better place. Bangor PD made a lot of new friends and reinforced old relationships at Color Bangor.

Where police are so often removed from casual and friendly exchanges because of centralized dispatches and vehicles decked out like offices, police officers often seem untouchable. This participation went a long way in community building.

Kelly Cotiaux

Brewer

 

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