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Wednesday, March 1, 2017: Voting restrictions erode democracy, Belfast bag ordinance is weak, officer-involved shooting investigations

Trump not a true Republican

Republicans used to believe in smaller government — the less a government governs the more individual freedom the citizenry enjoys. Republicans used to believe in avoiding federal deficits.

Today’s Republicans see a president ruling by executive decision. They see an economic plan to increase spending and cut taxes, a proven recipe for economic disaster, yet so many Republicans are falling in line. No true Republican would argue with my conclusion that endangering national security is an impeachable offense.

My father and father-in-law were registered Republicans, but I fear President Donald Trump for many reasons.

He wants to bring back low-paying, high-labor jobs to make us compete with developing nations instead of economic powerhouses such as Dubai, where they plan to deploy flying, driverless taxis. In Japan and China, they have busses powered by fuel cells, and in the U.S. Trump wants to bring back coal. This old company store mentality breeds dependency, something a dictator would do because when the next meal depends on government, the population can be expected to be loyal.

He wants to limit freedom of the press. Again, what dictators do.

Just a few years ago, the Republican cry was “read your Constitution.” Today, Trump fires individuals who have performed their constitutional duties as in the case of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates when she refused to defend his travel ban. What Trump has done is much worse than losing emails, and he deserves to be impeached. Any true Republican would agree with me.

Keith Newman

Addison

Plastic bag ordinance weak

While I congratulate the Belfast City Council for passing a draft version of an ordinance to curb single-use plastic bags, the ordinance falls far short of what is needed in order to change our addiction to plastic.

As written, the draft ordinance only applies to three large stores. Also, by placing a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, many people will either pay it or simply ask for paper, which is free and requires resources to make and dispose of. The proposal also has no enforcement teeth, such as a fine for failure to comply.

Plastic bags litter the landscape, clog sewage pipes, break down into microscopic particles in the water and contaminate the atmosphere when incinerated. City government can provide a nudge toward reducing some of this by acting decisively, not timidly. After all, the seatbelt law helped nudge us toward lower highway death rates, and no-smoking laws have helped reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Like tobacco, the mindless use of plastic can be controlled, if not eliminated — but only through courageous political action.

Jeff Shula

Belfast

Hold a town hall

It was very disappointing to hear Sen. Susan Collins tell constituents during her brief Facebook Live meeting on Feb. 21 not to call her office because her phone lines are clogged and constituents needing help can’t always get through.

We are also constituents, and we are calling and writing about our profound concerns and worries for our country, health care, education, a rise in hate crimes, Russia’s potential involvement in the presidential election, the environment, human rights, animal protection and many other issues.

Collins later told the Associated Press that she didn’t mean that her constituents shouldn’t call her but to reach out to her office through its website. This is why so many of us keep asking Collins to meet with us. We believe that as a moderate Republican, Collins has one of the most critical and important roles to play at this moment in history, and we want to talk to her.

Hearing a staffer at her office tell me that at town hall meetings only a couple of people get to speak is ridiculous. Such meetings can be moderated and managed well so that many get to speak — unlike at the Facebook Live meeting, where only a couple people got to ask a question. Collins works for us, and if she wants us to stop calling, the best thing she can do is hold meetings where we can speak to her directly.

Zoe Weil

Surry

Police should avoid lethal force

The recent BDN article about how the Maine attorney general’s office investigates police shootings stated that investigations don’t look at how a shooting could have been avoided. Shouldn’t avoiding a shooting be the ultimate goal in the first place.

As it stands, the attorney general’s office has found every officer-involved shooting justified no matter the circumstance and no one tries to determine if the situation could have been avoided. In my opinion, if police knew they would be held accountable for their actions, there would be less shooting of civilians by the police.

Chuck Arrigoni

Winterport

Voting restrictions erode democracy

I attended the two recent public hearings on voter restriction bills: LD 121 and LD 155. Maine legislators should be wary of both.

It is important, in this time of misrepresentation and “alternative facts,” to be clear that there is no evidence that Maine has any kind of election “integrity” or “voter fraud” problem. No one at these hearings — including the sponsors — were able to present any evidence to the contrary. Deputy Secretary of State Judy Flynn testified against both bills, saying “In the 22 years that I have worked for the Secretary of State I am unaware of any evidence being presented to the State of voter impersonation at the polls.”

An investigation into double voting by out-of-state college students, who LD 155 specifically targets, by former Republican Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers found no evidence of voter fraud on the part of students.

A professor at Loyola Law School in a comprehensive 2014 study found only 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014 out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.

In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Maine ranks only behind Florida for the oldest population in the United States while also having the smallest population in the country for children under age 5. Wouldn’t it make sense — for the economic health of Maine, for building a future workforce, to address the needs of the state’s aging population — to embrace these young people while they are here and make them more connected to Maine rather than less?

Lauren Henkin

Rockland

 


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