Keep it clean
Thanks to Pat LaMarche for her Nov. 17 BDN column noting our celebration of Maine Clean Elections. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Clean Elections in Maine.
At the same time, we have a long way to go to address the problems of money in politics. In this year’s legislative campaign in Maine, one out-of-state 527 organization opened a political action committee in Maine and dropped $400,000 in the final week of the campaign to oppose five state Senate candidates, averaging $80,000 in spending per race, where a typical Senate race might cost $20,000.
An examination of funding sources shows this group raised more than $62 million nationwide. Their donor list includes six-figure donations from big pharmaceutical, big agriculture, big oil, big tobacco, big insurance, big telecommunications, etc. While this spending was decried by both Republicans and Democrats in Maine, all the candidates targeted went down in defeat.
We hope the new majority will stand by their denunciations of this out-of-control spending and help work to reign in the wild West of PACs and return control of Maine elections to Maine people.
For people who are concerned about money in politics, and I believe Pat LaMarche is one of those, Maine-style public funding is a shining example of how citizens can push back against wealthy special interests.
Bill Moyers recently said, “The only way to defeat organized money is with organized people.” That’s what Maine people did when they passed the Maine Clean Election Act, and that’s what it will take to push forward the additional reforms we urgently need.
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
A time for love
Two more young Mainers died in combat operations in Afghanistan earlier this month. According to the BDN, Hamid Karzai, that beleaguered nation’s president, threatened to join the Taliban unless the U.S. stopped “interfering” in his country. We have spent more than $1 trillion on these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years. Most of these funds have been borrowed from overseas creditors, including the Chinese.
Thousands of innocent civilians have died in both countries and hundreds of thousands more, perhaps millions, have been forced to flee their homes during the fighting. At home, we are losing our small schools, our roads are crumbling, Maine children are living in poverty, our medical centers are cutting services, and aid for the poor, the unemployed and the mentally handicapped is continually cut for lack of funds. Meanwhile, we give tax relief to the wealthy and 59 cents of every taxpayer dollar goes to the military establishment.
It is time to bring those young men and women home.
As we approach these holiest days in the Christian calendar, let us remember the Beatitudes and put Christian love into practice. Let us feed our so-called enemies, let us put our young men and women to work in their own country insulating homes, building roads and caring for our own people. To quote William Penn, “Let us now see what love can do.”
It is by now almost a given that Republicans will choose Rep. Robert Nutting as speaker of the state House of Representatives. The party campaigning for fiscal responsibility, reduced government spending and elimination of waste and fraud is expected to select as the leader of the Maine House a pharmacist who improperly charged the state and federal governments $1.6 million dollars in overbillings for Medicaid reimbursements, filed bankruptcy to avoid repaying $1.2 million of the overpayments (money just lost to the government), and now brushes it off as an “honest mistake.” Sort of like making the wrong change at the cash register, only for $1.6 million.
He said he sees no contradiction between his role as leader of the body which oversees programs such as MaineCare and the money he wrongly received from those same programs and never repaid. The House leadership apparently agrees with him.
The problem is not exclusively with Republicans, Democrats, independents or Greens. It is with elected officials who place themselves so far above the rules of conduct expected of the rest of us that they are almost delusional in their perception of their self-importance.
And yet, we continue to elect them.
Brent R. Slater
On Nov. 17, the U.S. Senate voted 74-25 to pass S. 510, the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” widely described as a massive government power grab over the food industry.
This is the food safety version of ObamaCare and is not so much about food safety as the destruction of the rights of small farmers, hobbyist food producers and farmers markets.
The American Thinker describes it as: “a dangerously broad regulatory bill giving extensive discretionary power to the FDA over the entire food supply chain without proper checks and balances to avoid abuse of power,” imposing “one-size-fits-all-regulations on thousands of small and mid-sized farmers, small-scale local farms, and would drastically burden, to extinction, basic natural and organic food suppliers, thus endangering the lives of Americans who depend on local wholesome foods.”
It states: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the U.S. is a party.”
S. 510 puts all U.S. food production under the control of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. We lose not only private-citizen control of our food supply, but also our sovereignty.
And Maine Sens. Snowe and Collins, voted in favor of this horrendous bill.
Boomers against arena
I would like to weigh in on the issue of the new Bangor Arena. I have been waiting for the city government to publicly announce the amount of monetary support that the Bangor taxpayers are contributing to the current auditorium and civic center complex.
Would upgrades to the auditorium and civic center improve the profit potential and possibly, in time, earn enough profit to contribute to an arena complex? If the taxpayer is supporting the complex, would we not be better served to invest in upgrading what we already have?
Will we, the taxpayers, be asked to carry a bigger debt load than we already have? Could the found money that we have in the slots revenue be better used to lower the property tax base which may in fact attract jobs to our community? Remember urban renewal — new is not always better, it is just new.
Please don’t let our city councilors be blinded by a bag of money as the city fathers did for urban renewal dollars, evidenced by the loss of Union Station, Bijou Theater. Baby boomers unite; enough is enough, stand up and be heard, let’s save what we have.