Wednesday, June 18, 2014: Big money in politics, gun law reform, yard trash

Posted June 17, 2014, at 11:30 a.m.

Fat cats

Big money in elections and politics is bad for democracy. Recent Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon characterized corporations as people and struck down limits on what corporations and people can contribute to political campaigns.

The Maine Ethics Commission has since suspended the $25,000 limit on how much an individual can give in aggregate in Maine elections. Big money has already started flooding into Maine elections, and it will only get worse.

Sen. Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, apparently couldn’t be more pleased, stating, “Most of our candidates are funded through donations from aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and friends.”

In 2012, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in a single Maine legislative race, and if you think this money is coming from relatives and friends, well, Thibodeau has a bridge to sell you.

Democrat Jonathan Fulford of Monroe thinks big money in Maine politics is bad for democracy, bad for regular people and bad for Maine. That is why he is running as a Clean Elections candidate. As such, he will not accept contributions from big donors.

Instead, he’ll be knocking on doors throughout Waldo County to meet us and listen to what we care about. When you meet him at a local event, a public meeting or your front door, tell him what matters to you. He’ll be listening because the only people he’ll be answering to when he is elected to the Maine Senate are you and me, not corporations or fat cats.

Mallery Dalto

Belfast

 

‘Stuff’ contest

I was born in Houlton, so no disrespect intended. On a recent vacation trip that saw a lot of small rural towns from Eliot to Fort Kent, I could not help but notice what appeared to be an ongoing “contest” between residents — to see who could cram the most stuff in their yard.

I saw old unregistered autos, trucks, wrecks, junks, campers, 4-wheelers, 6-wheelers, bulldozers, steam shovels, woodpiles, snowmobiles, boats, trailers, old motors, furniture, sinks, toilets, tubs, all kinds of livestock, laundry drying, and, well, by now you may ascertain where I am going.

I guess many Maine towns have no preventive ordinances, or, if they are in place, nobody pays any attention. Just a flatlander’s observation, nothing more.

Philip Sharp

Rehoboth, Mass.

 

No joke

I know many jokes about God or Jesus playing golf. Most of them are pretty funny. However, the comic strip “Close to Home” by John McPherson, published in the BDN on June 16, is not one of them. The depiction of a God who kills over a golf game is not only in hideously poor taste, it is immensely offensive to anyone who is a Christian, regardless of their denomination.

I realize it has become fashionable to disrespect Christians these days; however, for McPherson to have drawn such a “comic,” and for the BDN to have published it, is outside the bounds of decency. If I should see this kind of disrespect in the BDN a second time, I will immediately cancel my subscription.

Donald Lodge

Southwest Harbor

 

Stark choices

After the horrific shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Isla Vista, California, the American people face a stark choice: Accept the National Rifle Association leadership’s urging that all law-abiding citizens be armed and cave in to its cynicism about federal gun laws; or convince Congress to pass measures instituting universal background checks for all gun purchases and to outlaw the private ownership of all weapons with a magazine containing 10 or more rounds.

Such laws would safeguard the right to own weapons with restricted firepower while eliminating the most lethal semi- and automatic ones; thus, in school or on-street shootings fewer victims and fewer wounds to any single individual would likely result. Moreover, the police could more easily focus on seizing unlawful guns in a shrunken black market. NRA members have long uttered the clichés that “people, not guns, kill people,” and “if guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns,” but the point has always been that guns with high-capacity magazines create more victims, and our society has long deemed it necessary to arm our law enforcement officers.

Gun enthusiasts can still exercise their Second Amendment rights by hunting and target practicing with single-shot or limited-capacity weapons. And if they wish to enjoy emptying the magazine of an assault rifle, then they can volunteer for the military or seek employment on a police SWAT team. Public safety must take precedence over an individual’s right to own what are truly weapons of mass destruction. We must pressure our elected officials to curb easy access to them.

Dave Witham

Bangor

 

Clean water

Many people take clean water for granted, but what would we do without it? We need to maintain the pure water that we have. Contaminated water affects aquatic organisms and affects humans.

Pure water is critical for aquatic plants and animals. Pollutants can kill these organisms or make it hard for them to grow and reproduce by preventing them from photosynthesizing. When water runs over warm pavement, the water rises in temperature. When it gets to the bay, it can kill fish because of warm water’s lack of oxygen.

Additionally, towns and cities like Portland rely on tourism and seafood. Therefore creative ways are needed to reduce polluted runoff. In the past, thousands of acres of clam flats have been closed to harvesting along the Maine coast because of poor water quality. If we continue to pollute, our waters will get much worse, resulting in loss of revenue for Portland.

Not only do we need uncontaminated water for the economy, but also for everyday needs. This includes drinking water. If we consume water that has contaminants, we could get ill. This is a major reason why we need to sustain water quality for future generations.

There is a substantial price to pay for polluting our waters. We need clean water for many uses. As a result of pollution, it is predicted that in 2050 more than a billion urban residents will face serious water shortages worldwide. If we don’t stop polluting our waters, the damage will affect generations to come.

Mara Wyman

Portland

 

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