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Friday, Feb. 27, 2015: Pledge of Allegiance, mining in Maine, Clean Election

No loyalty oaths

I fully support what Lily SanGiovanni, Gaby Ferrell and Morrigan Turner are trying to achieve at South Portland High School regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. I actually applaud whatever Maine Legislature made sure students were “not forced to say” the pledge. Loyalty is not something that should be forced, but freely given. When loyalty oaths were common in the 1950s, because some were trying to root out alleged Communist sympathizers, even the anti-Communist leaders believed that loyalty oaths did nothing to protect society because “Communists lie.”

There are so many other ways to demonstrate loyalty to one’s country — voting, attending town meetings, participating in civic activities such as coaching softball, tutoring, helping out in a food pantry — that simply reciting an oath pales in comparison.

Besides, what these young women are trying to do is promote freedom of thought and speech, which, frankly, is the point of democracy. How better to demonstrate patriotism than by exercising that right? Yes, this is what people have fought for and died, both here and overseas, not for an obligatory oath. These students have learned their civics lessons well, and their teachers should be proud of them.

Allison Hepler


Welcome back Emmet

Thank you to the Bangor Daily News for bringing Emmet Meara back. We missed him.

His column always adds a sparkle to the day. Makes a subscription to the BDN worth the money.

Ruth Halliday


Mining is destructive

Metallic mining will create an environmental disaster that will pose a major threat to Maine’s clean water. Last year, the Legislature overwhelmly defeated the proposed mining rules. Why is the same mining bill being considered again?

Mining for metals in sulfide rock deposits creates sulfuric acid and toxic runoff (acid mine drainage), which devastates water quality, kills aquatic life and could jeopardize the habitat of Maine’s native brook trout. Metallic mining in sulfide deposits has caused major environmental disasters in the United States and Canada. Sulfide mines generate pollution that requires treatment in perpetuity, deferring cleanup costs to future taxpayers not yet born. There are no new mining technologies that prevent mining pollution.

Maine taxpayers are still paying cleanup costs ($23 million to date) for the Callahan mine in Brooksville after owners went bankrupt and closed the mine 40 years ago. Just this year, $1.7 million is budgeted to continue the cleanup at the mine.

The North Woods of Maine are a national treasure and are far more valuable to the people of Maine than any minerals beneath the mountains. It is the duty of Maine’s legislators to preserve Maine’s environment for future generations.

We have to ask our legislators why we would risk an environmental disaster for the benefit of corporate greed. Maine citizens, voice your opinion to your legislators. We need to protect Maine from the destructive practice of metallic mining.

David Wood



Support flat tax

Let’s stop arguing about which tax to implement or get rid of. Why not have a flat tax, say 7 percent on all sales with no exemptions or loopholes. Every person and business would pay the same rate.

The state would have more money than even our Legislature could spend.

John L. Clark



Asking for directions

Letter writer Kathleen Rogers (BDN, Feb. 21) should consider either her guardian angel or good luck in her travels to date. Columnist Erin Donovan, who referenced asking gas station attendants for directions in her Feb. 15 column, tries very hard to be “cool” and achieves it on paper. I could tell her of a late-night station attendant who seemed dangerous to me.

Sarah Smiley, who wrote about not asking for directions in her Feb. 15 column, doesn’t indicate repression or boastful pride; to some of us, she is a hero for her forthright columns.

Margaret Coolong


Clean Elections work

This past week, the secretary of state announced that the Clean Elections initiative qualified for inclusion on the November 2015 ballot with over 18,000 signatures to spare. But for those of us who would like to see the end of dark money in our political process, our work is only half done. This second phase involves educating our fellow citizens regarding the reasons for and the importance of this important addition to strengthen our Clean Election law.

To that end, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is hosting a free volunteer summit conference 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Thomas College in Waterville. The keynote speaker will be David Donnelly, a key member of the first Clean Elections campaign back in 1996.

You will learn how to convince voters to pass the initiative into our already-existing, Clean Election law. You will be taught valuable communicating, messaging and organizing skills that will prove valuable to you in other areas. Come and join other like-minded people from around the state for a day of learning and connecting.

If you are able to attend, please sign up, by Feb. 27, on the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections website at mainecleanelections.org.


Susan van Alsenoy



Searsport election choices

Come March 3, another election will be upon the folks in Searsport. Once again, there are many touting their economic development suggestions and, as usual, there are many schools of thought regarding what is really needed.

Interestingly, many never consider that not “all” development is necessarily good for the whole community.There are usually winners and losers and it’s often about Maine’s favorite four-letter word “jobs, even when there are few or even none in the offing.” Nevertheless, it’s very likely that the candidates will say they are in favor of this.

It’s even more interesting that there is apparently little attention being paid to what is going to happen to local property taxes with Gov. Paul LePage riding high on his tax-reform chariot. P.T. Barnum was right, but I digress.

Among the candidates to be considered are two proven individuals with many years of municipal involvement behind them. Both have been moderate and thoughtful in their performance, doing what they believed was best for the majority of citizens.

If I were betting on this horse race, the runners that would get my $2 are Doug Norman and Aaron Fethke. Having worked with both individuals for several years, I can say that they have consistently worked to achieve the best compromise with an equitable outcome. We should carefully consider the kind of leadership needed as we go forward into what could be some difficult times for the taxpayers of this small municipality.

Roland LaReau



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