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Friday, Feb. 17, 2017: Lead ammo harms birds, Collins faces challenges as moderate, judges also play politics


Lead ammunition harms birds

In a Jan. 30 BDN letter to the editor, Don Kleiner expressed his concern about the Obama administration’s rule mandating non-lead containing ammunition. He lamented the extra cost, pointing out that hunting license fees go toward conservation of wildlife and environment.

I would like to point out that lead and its lethal effects on wildlife has been a nationwide issue for years. I’d also like to point out that shortly before his letter, the famous Bangor eagle was once again found suffering from lead poisoning and this time could not be saved.

A week later, an eagle in Calais suffered the same fate. Other birds that have had fatal doses of lead are ospreys, loons and ducks. I wonder what happens to a human who eats lead infected ducks or fish?

It seems we would be not only conserving wildlife and the environment by not using lead ammunition, but maybe even ourselves. Just something to think about.

Linda Gralenski


Collins votes to silence Warren

Sen. Susan Collins has shown the state her true colors by voting to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the debate on Sen. Jeff Sessions nomination to be attorney general. Rule 19 was intended to promote order and civil discourse among fellow senators. But, in this instance, the discussion of Sessions related to his qualifications as the nominee for attorney general, not to Sessions as a peer within the Senate.

There will be favorable and unfavorable discussion about any candidate (who just happens to be a sitting senator in this case), and Collins should have supported Warren’s right to freely speak her piece. Misappropriating Rule 19 to shut off the opinion and evidence being presented by one senator is undemocratic.

In silencing Warren, Collins showed that she is not the independent thinker who values open debate that she would like her constituents to believe. This Senate vote is disturbing, and it is unacceptable that Collins is not adequately upholding the democratic values that make our country truly great.

Paul Lavallee


No one relies on tips alone

Amy Halsted, campaign manager for Mainers for Fair Wages, sent an email titled “LePage’s latest lie about the minimum wage” urging supporters to contact their representatives. When calling someone else a liar one should be especially careful not to lie. In her email, she wrote “Restaurant servers won’t have to rely solely on tips from their customers for their wages.” That is not true. No restaurant server ever has to rely solely on tips.

She refers to “subminimum wage for service workers,” which is misleading at best. Restaurants may pay waitstaff half the minimum hourly wage if that combined with tips is no less than full minimum wage. If it is less than minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. In other words, no server ever makes less than minimum wage.

Why do restaurant owners care? It is not because we are cheap; it is because we need to keep all our staff happy. Tips, by law, cannot be shared with kitchen staff. Our concern is the disparity between front of the house and back of the house. Ironically, when we raise our prices to cover higher salaries it increases tips, which are usually based on percentage of the bill.

Mort Mather




Collins faces challenges as a moderate

After 20 years of serving Maine, Sen. Susan Collins demonstrates moderation, collaboration and getting results that does not warrant two dueling BDN letters to the editor on Feb. 11. These contradictory letters illustrate the challenges moderates in Congress face in today’s hostile political climate. The authors of those two BDN letters were on opposing ends of the partisan spectrum.

One accuses Collins of “ cowardice” for allowing the full Senate to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. The other accuses Collins of “ disloyalty” to the president for ultimately voting against DeVos’ nomination on the Senate floor.

These authors ignore that Collins always eschewed the use of parliamentary tactics to scuttle Cabinet nominations, regardless of which political party holds the White House. During the Obama administration, Collins was the deciding vote in allowing the nomination of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to be considered by the Senate even though she ultimately opposed him. Consistently, she has demonstrated that every senator should have the opportunity to evaluate nominees’ qualifications and suitability for Cabinet positions.

Must we continue to feed the harmful effects of debilitating partisanship? It is destroying our country, society and economy. Do we want to move our country forward? Why are we ridiculing those seeking to reach across the aisle and make a good-faith effort to overcome gridlock? Those of us in the ideological center must work to counteract the voices of the partisan extremes and speak up for leaders like Collins who stand for moderation, common sense and bipartisanship.

Kelly Cotiaux


Judges play politics, too

We may criticize the executive branch for being too political, as well as the legislative branch. But we can’t criticize the judicial branch for being political. Why not? Is it because they think of themselves as beyond politics?

In the perfect world, judges would rule according to the text of the law. In that world, we would get the same opinions from the vast majority of the judges. That does not happen in the real world. We may ask ourselves, “why did they rule that way when the law specifically says this?” I have found myself in that situation.

There is a block of four judges on the U.S. Supreme Court who seem to vote as a block on most issues, especially ones that have a political component. In fact, most political opinions are either split five-four, or now four-four. Why will they not all vote the same way — politics.

It is commonly held that you shop for a judge who is sympathetic to your cause. I am sure that is what the attorney general of Washington state did when he challenged the travel ban. The 9th Circuit Court is widely deemed to be the most liberal in the country.

Douglas Flagg


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