Marriage talk

Regarding the BDN’s Jan. 14 editorial, “A Marriage Proposal,” let’s pause, momentarily, to look at one of the myriad of ramifications that would accompany Sen. Dennis Damon’s proposed bill.

Passing a law that redefines marriage will make it discriminatory speech if one, thereafter, in a public place (such as schools) refers to the union of a man and a woman as unique, right or special. Any such ideas may continue to be expressed openly in church, however.

Donald Mendell



U.S. crime trends

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has reported on 2007 statistics regarding crime trends in our country. Several points of interest are as follows:

Of the 73,062 new federal criminal cases, 72,865 involved individuals while 197 involved a corporation or organization; 81 percent of all federal crimes involve drugs, immigration, firearms or fraud.

In the past five years, the percentage of immigration cases increased to 24 percent from 18 percent in 2002; 62 percent of all offenders were U.S. citizens; 37 percent are non-U.S. citizens. Noncitizens are mostly convicted of immigration crimes (58 percent) or drug trafficking (27 percent).

Hispanic offenders outnumbered all racial groups at 43 percent, whites at 28 percent and blacks at 24 percent; 84 percent of Hispanic offenders were sentenced for drug or immigration crimes.

In the drug cases (34 percent of all crimes), marijuana accounted for 25 percent of the cases, powder cocaine for 24 percent, crack cocaine for 20 percent and methamphetamine for 20 percent; 40 percent of drug offenders were Hispanic, 29 percent were black and 24 were white. Weapons were involved in drug crimes 17 percent of the time; 24 percent of all crimes were immigration offenses, 88 percent of those offenders were Hispanic.

The clear trend is that illegal immigrants cause a great deal of trouble for our federal judicial system. Drugs and guns are costing us a great deal of resources. Gender, minority status, education and noncitizenship are all key factors plaguing the system.

N. Laurence Willey Jr. Esq



Collect correct tax

I refer to the BDN’s Jan. 6 article, “Housing transfer taxes declining — lack of fund hurts several programs.” The article said, “Maine officials project they will take in $18.9 million in transfer taxes for the current fiscal year, that’s a 44 percent drop from the peak three years ago. And this will hurt several programs.”

Although the state can do little to change the real estate market, I suggest that the Maine Revenue Service and the counties should be more active in collecting the correct tax by auditing and close review of real estate transfer tax declarations.

Although the declaration forms are prepared and filed with verification under oath, and the participants subject to the law of perjury, credible evidence shows the self-assessment of the transfer tax is egregiously abused. I submit that there should be a careful examination of these filings — select out the obvious abuses and investigate. Follow up with enforcement of the penalties. Understatement of the correct transfer tax is costing the state 90 percent and the counties 10 percent.

Robert T. Lawrence



Victims of dysfunction

Over the years of living and traveling, public radio and television have been a constant, and indeed, became integral to our lives. For nearly 40 years we’ve contributed consistently and generously because of that fact.

But now MPBN has dealt Washington County a traumatic blow. I feel as if we suddenly found ourselves victim of a dysfunctional family where the perceived powerless one is the target of abuse. The fact that during their “listening tour” last year more people showed up in Machias than at any other site in Maine evidently had no bearing on their decision.

Now where will we hear the measured talks and interviews on issues affecting us nationally and globally? What will be the price of depriving our children of “Sesame Street”?

In a healthy family, when times are tough, we all do with less. In an abusive family, someone gets left out in the cold, with nothing. We need further and wider input to devise a more inclusive solution. In the meantime, here’s to the new year and to “nothing” in Washington County!

Joanne Marian