Proud to say no

I am a Republican who readily admits we are the party of “no;” no to doing away with overseas wiretaps that go through our own lines, which even liberal Intelligence Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller supported as one of our most effective means to gain intelligence.

No to bringing to trial CIA agents who under orders participated in waterboarding under closely monitored conditions and whose trial could critically expose our methods of gaining intelligence to the benefit of our enemies. No to cutting funds for our missile program even as Iran steps up its uranium-enrichment program.

No to showing weakness to Russia and China, who have no intention of joining the West in significant sanctions at the cost of endangering their lucrative business deals. No to a civilian trial for the masterminds of the 9-11 attacks in New York City, its place of origin, at a cost of multimillions for securing a multiblock periph-ery around the courthouse, requiring even residents who enter its confines to be viewed with suspicion and its attendant delays to each individual.

No to the government fostering of irresponsible issuing of mortgages with no questions asked to those obviously unable to keep up payments; and above all, no to the appalling disconnect from reality of doling out an endless flood of stimulus (the latest under the euphemism of “jobs” after rejecting the suggested alternative of directing the sizable remainder of former stimuluses for the purpose, or paying down the deficit), which may lead to our nation’s bankruptcy and a total alteration of our heretofore successful system.

Didi Hundley



Animal alert

I would like to thank Cherie Mason for her recent letter to the editor on the brutal killing of wild horses and the bill that would stop this from occurring. I had no idea this was going on. I am an avid animal lover, and this hurt to hear.

The letter hit the nail on the head: “Where money is to be made, compassion and common sense cease to exist.” It is also like the slaughter of baby seals and other animals that are here to give us pleasure and love, and who trust people.

Animals depend on all of us to speak up and defend them, as they have no voice. I immediately e-mailed Sens. Snowe and Collins to pass that bill and not to have it deadlocked; they need to hear from all of us.

Denise Odell



Enchanted afternoon

On a recent Sunday afternoon, we who reside at Sunbury Village Retirement Community in Bangor were treated by our activities director Renee Smith to a wondrous afternoon — our very own “senior prom.”

Our partners were young men and women who are students at John Bapst Memorial High School and members of the school’s various sports teams and the Key Club.

We were most impressed when the students arrived casually but properly attired in dress and slacks, white shirt and tie, some sporting the school colors of purple and white.

As Jerry Hughes began his magic on piano and sang songs old and new, the young people fanned out among us to choose their partners.

Theresa Laliberte led the dancing and cheered us on. Walkers were abandoned temporarily as they held tightly to their partners, swaying gently to the music. How long since any of us had danced? Smiles appeared on faces often stoic. Someone cared!

What a heartwarming scene and how proud the parents of these young people must be, as are we.

It was truly an enchanted afternoon for us all.

Anna Guesman



Collins is courageous

I wholeheartedly disagree with claims made in Phil Merrill’s Feb. 10 OpEd column, “Put nation before the party.”

Sen. Susan Collins recently courageously has stepped forward to point out mistakes that the Obama administration made while handling the alleged Christmas Day bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab and she did not do so to score political points, she did so to help prevent a future attack. Intelligence officials recently testified that such an attempted attack is certain to come in the next three to six months.

As Sen. Collins has pointed out, FBI investigators interrogated the bomber for just 50 minutes before the Justice Department decided to give him a lawyer and he stopped answering their questions. I don’t think it is “playing politics” to say, as Sen. Collins has, that the FBI should have consulted with intelligence agencies before making this decision.

Information they could have obtained could have been extremely valuable in helping to prevent a future attack.

The Obama administration is playing politics and trying to divert attention from the fact that its Justice Department failed to consult intelligence officials about the detention and questioning of a foreign terrorist who tried to kill at least 300 people.

What is their explanation? “We’re just doing what the Bush administration did.” Well, I never thought I’d hear Democrats admit that maybe the Bush administration did something right.

We are fortunate to have Sen. Collins to ask the tough questions that need to be asked. I would argue she is not putting her party before the nation, instead — she is putting national security above politics.

Sen. Carol Weston



Economist on LD 1

I am Maine’s state economist and author of the LD 1 report referenced on the BDN’s Feb. 9 OpEd page column, “Using LD 1 report to bash school districts is insulting,” by Christopher Galgay, Ashley O’Brien and Shannon Welsh. The column suggested that the State Planning Office used its LD 1 report to criticize school dis-tricts for exceeding the cost guidelines outlined by Essential Programs and Services.

The objective of the LD 1 report is to present the data. It is then up to school administration officials, taxpayers and other stakeholders to decide whether that data support the goal we all share — to provide a first-rate education for our kids in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

EPS is a benchmark and report requirement set in law upon the bipartisan enactment of LD 1 in 2005. Data for 2009 shows that, on average, school districts overspent EPS by 10 percent. But some overspent by much, much more. For example, 8 percent of school districts exceeded EPS by more than 50 percent.

The strength of the LD 1 law is its transparency. It allows taxpayers to view their governments’ spending choices. For school districts, it provides taxpayers with information to ask questions: Why is my school district spending more or less than EPS?

The LD 1 report provides the data to help answer this and other questions. It is a tool to help make realistic and responsible decisions on how to provide the highest quality classroom education in the most administratively efficient way possible.

Michael LeVert