Saturday, June 28, 2014: Bangor budget, Rockport library, bear referendum

Posted June 27, 2014, at 9:13 a.m.

Bear articles

Could the plethora of articles about black bears in Maine have anything to do with this November’s referendum against bear baiting, snaring and hounding that more than 75,000 Maine people signed? Maine is the only remaining state in the nation that still permits all three of these inhumane, unfair hunting practices. The only one.

On June 19 we were shown a front-page photo of the bear “Big John” with Randy Cross, who comments on the “power that a bear this size exudes,” how “immense” he is, and how Cross “bears the scars to prove” how much he’s “wrestled with plenty of bears.” The article was prominently displayed next to another one entitled: “Bear attacks woman in Florida.” Scare tactics that are so obvious it’s ludicrous.

On June 24 we were told that a distinction should be made “between urban bear attractants and the annual practice of baiting bears during hunting season.” Really? The bears are proliferating. Could it be that the practice of bear baiting contributes to this — leaving piles of doughnuts, chocolate syrup and other slop in the woods for a month before shooting them at point blank range after they’ve become habituated to the site?

BDN writers and others should be a little less obvious in their attempts to sow fear regarding these beautiful creatures. It’s a disgrace that Maine is the only state that still treats bears in such inhumane ways. The referendum does not prohibit bear hunting — just Maine’s unfair hunting practices.

Jennifer Goldenberg

Orono

Crocodile tears

The headline for the story of the Bangor City Council’s passage of the municipal budget, which will increase every homeowner’s property tax by one dollar per $1,000, amused me.

Council “grudgingly” passes budget.” Crocodile tears! With only two votes against passage — and there should have been three or four — it was abundantly clear that the council lacked the will, or the courage, to demand further cuts to the school budget, the “sacred cow” of all budgets.

When I attended the last workshop meeting between the council and the school committee (represented by Betsy Webb and Warren Caruso), I asked a direct question: “Please tell us exactly what programs or activities will be cut if you reduce your budget request by $178,000.” I got no answer. And not one councilor picked up on that. In fact, several councilors spent their speaking time defending the school budget.

I wasn’t sure whether I was listening to councilors or school committee members. But I suppose the final blame rests on the 80 percent of registered voters who failed to express their opinions on the school budget. And so, the municipal budget had to take further reductions, as usual.

I have other deep concerns about this council’s ability to serve the general welfare and the common good, but I’ll save them for later in the year. Perhaps after nomination papers are filed. (By the way: I will not be running again.)

Hal Wheeler

Bangor

More to story

I’m writing in response to the June 25 BDN article about the report presented by a special committee of the elected Rockport Library Committee.

As chair of the library committee, I can vouch for the many layers of complexity Rockport faces in planning for the library’s future — layers that were largely ignored in the article. Though the library committee has sought and heard public opinion in many ways and at many times, the article mentions only a single public meeting held last summer.

It neglected to mention the work done since then, including a series of five listening tour sessions held last fall and a culminating public meeting held in January 2014. Those sessions were led by an experienced, independent facilitator, who helped identify community-wide themes in what Rockport wants and needs from its library. Complete transcripts are available on the library’s website.

We learned that Rockport values its library as a lifelong learning center, where patrons gain knowledge, experience and information through books, programs and personal connections; as a gathering place where patrons of all ages and backgrounds interact by design and by happenstance; and as a community icon where everyone is welcomed and appreciated. The steering committee’s work, which included research and consultation with experts over a period of three months, was guided by those themes.

Given the broader context and the diversity of public opinion expressed at multiple meetings, the conclusion that the committee’s report is “contrary to public opinion” is simplistic and misleading.

Kathleen Meil

Rockport

Radical tax increase

Gov. Paul LePage and Republicans in the Legislature have been steadfastly opposed to any increase in taxes; but soon after he became governor, LePage pushed through a huge tax cut for the wealthy that was almost entirely at the expense of the poor and the state university system.

Little attention has been given to the huge LePage-approved 2013 income tax increase occasioned by legislation of a maximum income tax total deduction of $27,500 — for medical expenses, real estate taxes and charitable contributions.

Our experience is illustrative. Figured by 2012 law, we would have paid no Maine income taxes in 2013. The new cap on deductions resulted in an income tax of $2,385.

The effect of this change, which is, I am told, being partly rescinded this year and further rescinded next year, is that we will be making more than $2,000 less in contributions to charity this year by virtue of receiving no refund on withheld state income taxes, making this change yet another hit on the poor. And next year a significant amount less.

We agree that all who can should pay some fair share of state taxes, but a change to assure that should not be at the expense of the poor, and it is is extremely radical, as the rush to rescind most of it confirms.

William H. Slavick

Portland

 

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