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Friday, June 13, 2014: Traffic safety, cemetery thief, Bruce Poliquin, Trek Across Maine

By George Danby, BDN Cartoonist

The cemetery thief

Just prior to Mother’s Day, my husband, father-in-law and I ventured to the family cemetery plot where my mother-in-law was laid to rest. Our mission was complete after we planted two bleeding hearts and hung a beautiful hanging flower basket on a shepherds crook; the plot was well manicured and beautifully adorned in honor of Mother’s Day.

Later, my father-in-law arrived at the family plot to water the bleeding hearts and hanging flower basket and, to his dismay, discovered a cemetery thief had visited their property, dug-up and stole the bleeding hearts, along with the beautiful hanging flower basket. What, oh what, possessed the cemetery thief to trespass on my in-law’s property and commit such a shameful act?

Stephanie Perkins


Poliquin support

I think we can now see how the fall elections will turn out. The Republicans have probably shot themselves in the foot again. Democrat Emily Cain should take Republican Bruce Poliquin by a margin of about three to two.

If Kevin Raye had been the nominee, the race would have been much closer with Raye quite possibly winning. While Poliquin may have played well with the registered Republicans, his support among the general population is probably much weaker.

Tom Robinson


UM expense

The hiring of Dan Demeritt, a former LePage staffer, by the University of Maine System is the latest sign that the office is fattening itself at the expense of the seven universities it is supposed to strengthen. Demeritt was hired in haste, with the usual procedures waived, because the system office badly needs an energetic spin doctor to defend its actions. A relatively poor state like Maine cannot afford CEO salaries for public officials. Demeritt will get $125,000.

I suspect the reason Paul Ferguson left the UMaine presidency after only three years, a short tenure for a university president, is that he can see the future: declining enrollments, cuts in programs and the resulting further decline in enrollments. The seven universities are slowly suffocating. They will never recover and thrive as long as the system office diverts state funding to itself.

The core problem is that our universities do not need an office of more than 150 people to run them. Press accounts of the crisis have not identified that problem. It deserves far more scrutiny than it has received.

Candidates for the presidencies of USM and UM should ask tough questions about their role in relation to the system office. How much power will they have? Can they protect their universities from a central office willing to cut programs to enlarge itself?

A review of UMS in 1986 concluded the seven universities and the system office do not work well together. They still don’t. The system office has swelled considerably since 1986, while the universities have declined.

Those who care about the universities must defend them against an increasingly powerful central office that promotes itself at their expense.

Peg Cruikshank


Helpful service

The Appalachian Mountain Club recently sought a license for a new two-way radio system for operations and emergency response on our remote conservation and recreation lands and at our Maine Wilderness Lodges in the 100-mile wilderness region.

After initial challenges in getting the license approved, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Whitten’s two-way service in Brewer, were extremely helpful. Thanks to their efforts, we were granted a license at the end of May. We will be installing a new radio system this summer to better serve all visitors to AMC’s 66,500 acres of conservation and recreation lands, which are open to the public to enjoy.

Casey Mealey

AMC Maine Woods Programs and Recreation Manager



Trek Across Maine

As the American Lung Association gears up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its renowned Trek Across Maine, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the communities across Maine for being welcoming and cordial hosts to the more than 3,000 cyclists, volunteers and staff who descend on our roads each Father’s Day weekend to enjoy world class cycling while raising money to find better treatments and cures for all lung diseases. I’d also like to remind Mainers to please be on the lookout for cyclists and volunteers as you share the road with them this Father’s Day weekend.

Without the support of each and every community along the trek route, our event would not be the success that it is today. With lung cancer being the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S., and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease being the third leading cause of death, the Lung Association’s fight for healthy lungs and healthy air is more important than ever.

It is because of the generous spirit of Mainers that the Trek Across Maine has become the Lung Association’s largest and most successful fundraising event in the nation. If the Trek Across Maine meets its $2 million fundraising goal this year, the trek’s 30-year contribution to the Lung Association will reach $22.5 million.

The Trek Across Maine is an event the people of Maine should be proud of. Thank you for your ongoing support of our event and for your efforts to keep our cyclists safe as they embark upon this incredible three-day journey to promote lung health.

Paul Shapero

Leadership Board Member

American Lung Association in Maine



Drive safe

A tragic accident killing comedian Jimmy Mack and injuring Tracy Morgan catapulted the issue of trucking safety into the headlines.

About 169 people are killed in Maine each year in traffic crashes; about 10 percent involve big trucks.

Now, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is looking to make the roads an even more dangerous place by removing safety regulations preventing truck drivers from working more than 70 hours a week.

These standards are designed to keep motorists and truckers safe and prevent companies from turning rigs into mobile sweatshops.

Collins should be working to prevent traffic fatalities, not increasing the likelihood of them. Maine deserves a safety advocate in Washington, not a senator in the pocket of lobbyists.

Atima Omara

President, Young Democrats of America

Arlington, Va.


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