Don’t rush development rules
I have concerns about Land Use Planning Commission’s proposed rule changes for development in the Unorganized Territory because there has been very little notice to the public from the state. With such a huge area of Maine being affected, people need more time and opportunities to voice their opinions on this.
What effect would these rules have on communities like Caribou, Ashland and Woodland? These communities already struggle to raise enough money to fix their roads. Would the new rules draw people away from these communities and into the unorganized townships? That will cost town residents more money to provide services.
I also have to wonder what these new rules would do to our scenic areas. Tourism is a major industry in Maine. If we end up with houses up and down our scenic roads, will people be as likely to visit? One of the most beautiful drives in the country is Route 11 in autumn. Now add much more development along that corridor and it’s not so pretty anymore.
What would happen if an industrial farm or chemical waste facility was placed near Scopan Lake under the new rules? Not only would it forever change the area, but it could potentially damage the watershed.
It doesn’t seem to me like there has been enough time to study this. I encourage the commission to slow down and spend more time on outreach to the public on the new proposal. The old rules have been working just fine, so there is no reason to rush.
Noise complaints spur no action
Regarding the recent Impact Music Festival, Bangor police Sgt. Wade Betters suggested that “people are getting used to the concerts or they are just tolerating [the noise] more.” I suggest those of us who listen to the concerts over and above our own music, movies, or TV programs, even up to a mile and more away from the venue, have found that complaints do nothing to change the situation, so we no longer bother.
Health care should be a right
The Trump administration’s recent freeze of payments to insurers with sicker customers is another swipe at Obamacare. According to the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans, this freeze will cause escalating health care costs especially to those who need it the most.
Ever since failing to totally repeal Obamacare, the Trump administration, along with Republicans, have taken steps to make it increasingly difficult for Obamacare to function and to be affordable. Candidate Donald Trump touted how Obamacare would be repealed and replaced with a better and cheaper health plan. The replacement plans the Republicans proposed did not even come close to being better or cheaper. The only strategy they seem to have is weakening Obamacare until it collapses with no replacement plan.
Many Republicans complain of the costs of health care for all. Meanwhile, if members of Congress meet certain requirements they can get retiree health coverage. Perhaps if they had to be concerned about how they would pay for their medical care they would be more motivated. What if they had the constant worry of how to pay for their insurance? Even worse, not having it at all and forgoing preventive care as well as needed prescriptions and treatment?
We are the wealthiest nation in the world, and it’s a disgrace that tax cuts to the wealthy supersede caring for the basic needs of its people. Affordable medical care should not be only for the elite as members of Congress and the wealthy, but it should be a right for all of its citizens.
Golden for Congress
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Rep. Bruce Poliquin indicating he’s working hard to protect Social Security and Medicare. He wrote: “Maine seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare for many years and have earned and are counting on their retirement and healthcare benefits.” Yet, in April he was one of the 96 percent of House Republicans who voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would have required all annual revenue and spending to balance every year. This amendment would have ignored the accumulated Social Security surplus of $2.9 trillion, acting as if it didn’t exist.
Was this Balanced Budget Amendment an attempt to offset tax cut criticism for adding billions to the deficit?
I support Jared Golden, a Democratic candidate for Congress. He is totally committed to saving Social Security and Medicare. He would not sacrifice a Social Security surplus by voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment that would jeopardize earnings that belong to retired Mainers.
Kavanaugh and the environment
As the U.S. Senate considers the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, it’s important that Mainers across our state make their voices heard about a decision that could shape the court for an entire generation.
As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh repeatedly wrote opinions against the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to address toxic air pollution and climate change. With Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, bedrock public health protections like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act would be endangered. Mainers don’t want more pollution, but that’s what Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead to.
Climate change is already making an impact in Maine. Warmer oceans, sea levels rising and ocean acidification — all fueled by carbon pollution driven climate change — threaten our economy and the livelihoods of Mainers in communities across our state. And then there’s the more than 131,000 Mainers who suffer from asthma, one of the highest asthma rates in the country.
Worsening air pollution and climate change could greatly threaten their health, too. We need to keep Maine’s best interests at heart. We need Sen. Susan Collins to vote against the confirmation of Kavanaugh and be the independent voice for Maine that she once was. The future of Maine’s economy and culture is directly connected to the health of our natural resources. Ignoring the dangers of climate change is not an option for Mainers.