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Oct. 27 Letters to the Editor

Not quite ‘chutzpah’

Erik Steele’s columns are invaluable when they combine his vast experience as a physician and hospital administrator with his progressive values — as with his recent eloquent defense of Maine’s gay marriage law.

But his Oct. 20 column, praising Sen. Olympia Snowe for her alleged “chutzpah” in voting with the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee to move health care reform forward, misses the mark.

The classic definition of chutzpah is the young man who murders both of his parents and then pleads mercy before the court on the grounds that he is now an orphan. Insofar as Sen. Snowe antagonized her conservative Republican colleagues by her vote, it was hardly an example of chutzpah. Rather, it was a modest act of rebellion by someone who is so highly respected by many Mainers that her Senate seat is surely hers for as long as she wants it.

Moreover, Sen. Snowe avowedly reserves the right to oppose future bills that might upset the insurance industry that has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaigns over the years. When Sen. Margaret Chase Smith denounced Sen. Joseph McCarthy on the Senate floor, that was an act of genuine political courage, though not of chutzpah. The same holds true for Rep. William Cohen’s vote on the House Judiciary Committee to impeach President Richard Nixon.

Dr. Steele’s plea that we “circle around” Sen. Snowe as her fellow Republicans assail her vote cannot be taken seriously.

Howard Segal



The air that I breathe

Everything I read about medical marijuana pertains to patient rights.

What happens when someone who uses medical marijuana requires hospitalization? Has anyone considered the legal implications if a patient asserts the right to smoke marijuana in the presence of health care workers who refuse to be exposed to high levels of carcinogens and other substances that damage health (paraphrasing Guy Cousins, director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse)?

Whose rights will trump whose? Does the state’s sanction of medical marijuana override a hospital’s policy not to permit smoking on its premises? Are health care workers’ jobs protected if they refuse to be exposed to known carcinogens? What provision in the current law or in Question 5 identifies the rights of health care workers? Can it be that since 1999, this issue never arose? Can I be the only one who thought of this?

I’m a new Mainer who won’t vote to expand the legal use of medical marijuana until I know that health care workers have rights, too. We don’t need to broaden the population of people who may legally expose others to carcinogens. As long as marijuana remains one man’s medicine and another man’s poison, limits must be imposed on its use.

Marie Sims, R.N.

Presque Isle


No on marijuana

Most doctors agree that marijuana offers no medical treatment of value, beyond temporary pain distraction or relief. A handful of doctors have enabled their patients to consume marijuana under the present law. Most have not.

Question 5 goes well beyond the issue of medical marijuana. Question 5 allows for California-style dispensaries (marijuana growing operations) with no limitation on their size. It allows people convicted of drug trafficking to dispense up to 18-20 pounds of marijuana each year to authorized patients. It requires you to hire or rent to these people or face legal action. It even injects the special protections for marijuana patients and distributors into child custody proceedings.

Question 5 goes way too far and well beyond what the voter will see on Election Day. I urge you to reject Question 5 because it is a bad law.

Evert N. Fowle

District Attorney

Kennebec-Somerset counties

president, Maine Prosecutors Association


Catholic persecution

So, marriage is a God-given sacrament, according to the Catholic Church. Where is the space for a deity’s signature on the license? I personally do not believe in the Catholic Church or its pope. To Bishop Richard Malone, I say “Malone, Malone, why persecute me?” Did not your Jesus say, “Whatsoever you do unto the least of these you do unto me,” or am I reading the wrong book? You are doing unto me, pal, and according to your Jesus it will be done unto you.

Am I wrong, or was it in 1695 that the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed legislation allowing clergy to conduct marriages? We in the then-called District of Maine were a territory of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when the law was passed. This is why marriage is a civil matter, to be regulated by the state. In Malone’s world, oughtn’t Mormons be allowed to practice their polygamous religion?

Why is it illegal for native people to practice their religion, which, in some tribes, allows for polygamous marriage for males (and recognizes homosexual marriage as well)? If the state has no business regulating religion, how have we arrived at this place and time where churches of different creeds unite in depriving residents of rights exercised by other residents?

What if I do not believe in God or religion? Am I then exempt from the so-called people’s veto?

Jonathan Roberts



Invest in our roads

Mainers have an opportunity to go to the polls Nov. 3 and pass something that will benefit our economy, make our families safer and our daily lives more convenient.

Question 6 is the transportation bond, which has $55 million for highway and bridge work. Anybody who lives in Maine knows we have a long way to go to fix our roads. The best part about the bond is it will create or retain more than 4,500 jobs in Maine. This at a time when thousands of Mainers are unemployed.

It is important that we help our friends and neighbors by supporting Question 6. Question 6 also generates more than $148 million in matching funds from the federal government, making this a $219 million jobs program.

Vote yes on Question 6. Maine needs the boost this bond will bring.

Rod Gillespie


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