October 17, 2017
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017: Protect whistleblowers, let Massachusetts build windmills, Collins a senator with integrity

Protect whistleblowers

The passage of LD 1044 will protect a potential whistleblower who does the right thing without the fear of losing the disability retirement benefits she has worked so hard to procure. A public servant who is brave enough to speak out on the behalf of the people of Maine, who has the courage to come forth exposing a wrongdoing, should be rewarded, not punished. This bill will ensure recruitment of high-level public servants with integrity who will uphold the moral values of the people of Maine.

This would go a long way in restoring hope to a former state employee who, in her single-minded purpose to expose a wrong doing, has had her life turned upside down. Sharon Leahy-Lind spoke up about the document shredding order related to the financial award of Healthy Maine Partnerships at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

I have known Sharon for 47 years. In her mission to serve and protect, she lost a career she valued and worked hard to achieve, her health from the stress she endured and access to the benefits she had spent her career paying into. We do not treat people this way. If she had not been forced out for being a whistleblower, she would have been and should be eligible for disability benefits.

I am proud to be a 12th-generation Mainer. Mainers believe in integrity, professionalism, support for speaking the truth and for upholding what we know is morally right. We look to our government employees to uphold these values.

Kimberly Skillin Traina

Edgecomb

Let Massachusetts build windmills

In light of the fact that an company is halting a proposal to construct a pipeline to carry liquid natural gas from the shale fields in Pennsylvania to the Northeast because the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state can’t require utility customers to subsidize its construction, why should Maine continue to deface its landscapes in order to provide “clean” electric power for Massachusetts?

Let that state load its Berkshires with windmills.

Perhaps residents there don’t want the landscape defaced. But then again, Maine used to be a part of Massachusetts. Perhaps the thinking is that it still is, at least the areas necessary for providing resources for the state.

N. Blake Bartlett

Hallowell

Collins a senator with integrity

One cannot read a newspaper or turn on the television without being reminded of the challenges facing our country. While there is much to cause concern, I believe we can take comfort in knowing that Sen. Susan Collins is a person of integrity with a deep commitment working on behalf of Maine.

She has supported programs such as low-income heating assistance, Head Start, housing programs and funding for public health. Her concern for those struggling to meet their basic needs motivates her interest in new, more effective approaches to fight poverty that fund programs addressing the underlying causes of poverty rather than merely its symptoms. Collins is a national leader in promoting a two-generation approach to addressing poverty that Maine Community Action Agencies have endorsed and our working actively on across Maine.

Despite my ideological differences with Collins on some issues, I always find her willing to listen to different points of view and prioritize the needs of the people of Maine. Collins has many attributes that seem to be lacking in many of our elected officials in Augusta and Washington. Her thoughtful consideration of the issues facing our country is especially valuable in her important Senate committee work.

The people of Maine are fortunate to be represented by someone who values collaboration and compromise as highly as Collins. It is critical for our elected officials to put principles before politics, people before party. Collins should know her efforts to find common ground and meaningful compromise are appreciated.

Shawn Yardley

Bangor

Poliquin quiet

As a boy, I imagined righting wrongs. That boy would somehow walk into “government” and talk to them and use my democracy, freedom of speech and so forth. Years passed.

Recently, I needed to let my government know how I saw things. I succeeded with Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins by going to their offices and making phone calls. It wasn’t as easy as the boy imagined, but it got done.

I also tried to contact Rep. Bruce Poliquin. His office has been closed each time I come to town, and his phone answering machine has been full.

King writes what he thinks where I can see it. Collins at least hints at what she thinks. Poliquin stays quiet, not speaking nor hinting about important issues, though he speaks firmly about easy political things.

The boy and the man are disappointed his representative to the nation is missing. Poliquin and I would likely disagree on much, as is true for King and Collins, but I felt I had a chance to be heard with the latter, but the former is simply lost to me.

It is not a good feeling.

Ronald Welch

Calais

Taking on fake news

In this day and age, fake news is increasingly prevalent, particularly on social media. Facebook seems to be especially swarmed with fake news stories circulating from questionable sources, and even with all the knowledge now about it, I still see my friends sharing these outlandish stories.

I am concerned about fake news and the discredit it is giving journalism and the media in general. Not everyone seems to have a keen eye for sorting the fake news from the real, but thankfully a new tool has just emerged from Facebook.

Facebook recently put out an educational campaign tool, which will appear at the top of news feeds to give advice on how to spot fake news. The campaign will take place in 14 countries. Some critics question whether the tool will really change anything, as it is likely to be read by those who are already skeptical and wary of fake news. Those who click on the ad will be directed to the help center on Facebook where the tips for spotting the fake news stories will be. Some of the tips include looking at the URL, the source and headline as well as applying more critical thinking.

Fake news could have been a culprit in swaying social media users during the election. It will be interesting to see if this campaign has any real impact.

Chloe Dyer

Orono

 


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