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Tuesday, March 31, 2015: Land for Maine’s Future funds, distracted drivers, states’ rights

Great snow job

I would like to give two thumbs up to the snow crew at Bangor International Airport. With one of the worst winters almost behind us they have proven again that they are one of the best snow crews around. They do not get publicly thanked often enough. I got great satisfaction knowing that flights got out safely. You never know if is someone going on an important business meeting, going on a vacation they have saved for years for or a family member going to see a sick relative. It’s nice to know they do not have to worry about getting out of Bangor.

I know that in the middle of April in Buffalo, New York, at the International Aviation Snow Symposium, Bangor’s small two crews will again be at the top of the best snow crews in the country.

Bill Lander

Green Lake

Don’t ruin public lands

We applaud forestry professor Robert Seymour for clearly articulating the long-term value of conservative management of our public forest lands in his March 23 BDN OpEd. These lands have provided high value timber, excellent habitat for many species of wildlife, and recreation for Maine residents.

Gov. Paul LePage wants much faster cutting of these lands to provide more money for his administration. If he is allowed to get away with heavier cutting, he will be stealing from our future. This is no different than running a big deficit now and passing the costs onto later administrations. In fact, this may be the first step in a right-wing agenda to destroy the value of our public lands. When the lands are no longer able to produce their current level of revenue, the right wing will push for sale of these lands to private interests. We hope the people of Maine will demand that our legislators stop LePage’s exploitation of our public lands before extensive damage is done.

LeRoy and Barbara Bandy

Brownville

 

Release LMF funding

Last week, the administration confirmed that the governor is withholding $11.4 million in voter-approved bonds for the Land for Maine’s Future program. As a result, the funding for at least 30 projects that were approved is now in limbo.

Over the years, the Land’s for Maine’s Future program has protected land of statewide and regional significance for recreation, wildlife habitat and open space. But important conservation efforts, such as the approved Cold Stream Project in northern Maine, are now at risk due to lack of funding. This project would protect 8,000 acres that includes habitat for wild native brook trout, threatened Canada lynx and a dwindling northern Maine deer herd valued by generations of hunters, naturalists and fishermen. In the south, another threatened project would have protected over 200 acres in Cumberland and North Yarmouth. This area includes one of the best inland wading bird and waterfowl habitats in southern Maine and a rare oak-hickory forest in the surrounding uplands.

It has been reported that the LMF funding is being withheld pending approval of the administration’s plan to increase timber harvest on Maine’s public lands and use the funding for projects in other state departments. LMF funding has been and should continue to be a bipartisan effort and should not be held hostage to unrelated issues. We urge the administration to release the LMF funding so that Mainers can benefit from these valuable land conservation projects.

Robert Bryan

Harpswell

 

Distracted driving

The negative consequences of distracted driving concern us all. It is expected that this legislative session will see some attempts to further prohibit driver actions that contribute to highway crashes. It is a concern that some of these proposed solutions will seek to carve out exceptions for various classes of drivers that may be unwarranted.

With one of our major missions being traffic safety, Maine’s law enforcement community is acutely aware of the problems caused by distracted driving. Many agencies have moved to minimize the law enforcement community’s own contribution to this problem by implementing policies that govern staff activities while law enforcement vehicles are in operation upon the highway. These generally include shutting down screen and keyboard functionality of in-car computers, prohibiting text messaging with any device and restricting cell phone usage to hands-free operation only.

Many of us in law enforcement feel strongly that our actions in controlling distracted driving within the ranks is a matter of “walking the talk” and not only provides a role model for other drivers, but also amounts to a significant step in the personal protection of staff members and the public that they serve. With this in mind, we certainly would not wish to see the law enforcement community included in general exceptions to any upcoming distracted driving countermeasures adopted by the Legislature.

We hope that you agree and that you communicate these sentiments to your legislative representatives accordingly.

Robert Schwartz

Executive Director

Maine Chiefs of Police Association

South Portland

 

States know best

A growing number of states are seeking to hold a convention for proposing constitutional amendments under Article V of our Constitution. Our congressional delegates have voiced thousands of amendments, and 27 were ratified. For the first time in our history, the states are now poised to send their delegates to a separate meeting with the same authority to propose amendments, and they aim to reduce the size of the federal government. Congress clearly has no desire to even discuss limiting federal power, and it shows.

The prospect of restoring state sovereignty has inspired many citizens to offer suggestions, such as repealing the 17th Amendment. Another idea also likely to receive wide support addresses the federal government’s usurpation of states’ rights. Called “exclusive jurisdiction,” it would unequivocally remove the federal power that dictates how we spend our money on matters that are within the jurisdictional competence of our state.

Federal bureaucrats surely know how spend our tax dollars, but they haven’t near the knowledge about forestry and fishing acquired through generations of hands-on experience. We are fully capable of passing state or local laws we deem them necessary to protect our environment. Exclusive jurisdiction will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies from telling states how to conduct their own affairs. States are meant to be sovereign. With a convention of states, we can make it a reality.

Kathy Johnson
Monson

 


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