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Jan. 10 Letters to the Editor

Drug abuse in context

Perhaps the large number of people seeking treatment for prescription drug addiction is a positive sign rather than an indicator or indictment that our state is No. 1 in prescription drug abuse. Given the fact that Maine is one of the least populated states in the U.S., it is likely easier to identify and track sellers and users of illegal drugs than it might be in a larger population.

Before I moved to Maine a dozen years ago, I lived in my hometown of Los Angeles, and I feel qualified to say that Maine is far from having a corner on the illegal drug market. In the big cities, people can be much more underground about their habits and behaviors, whereas in small-town America, individuals’ behaviors and habits generally are known and thus stigmatized and prosecuted, which would be more likely to result in those individuals seeking treatment.

In the larger metropolitan areas, violent gangs and organized crime entities control the drug trade, and bringing them down is impossible as compared to busting some local yokel peddling grandma’s cough syrup on the street corner.

I’m not implying that Maine does not have a serious drug problem, but it seems unfair to label Maine the No. 1 state in the U.S. when it comes to drug abuse.

Kathleen Rogers


• • •

Through snow, cold …

So often, people go unrecognized, whether through oversight or that we forget, but I couldn’t let another day go by without recognizing our paper carrier, Ken Allen.

On the Monday of the recent snowstorm, I arose early. No paper. Figuring it would be “one of those days” when I drink my coffee without the comfort of the Bangor Daily News, I resigned myself to reading my novel and then going out to snowblow. It’s hard to function when you are a creature of habit.

However, about two chapters later, I looked out my dining room window to see Ken trudging through the snowdrifts that seem to form in my driveway to carefully place my paper where it wouldn’t blow all over the neighborhood. Before I could get outside to thank him, he was gone to finish his route. Now, I could really enjoy that cup of coffee.

Without a doubt, Ken is the best paper carrier we have ever had. Before him, service was sketchy, and I spent a lot of time on the phone with circulation. Now, I can count on him to be there early in the morning, and it is so refreshing to go outside and see the headlines waiting for me.

Even though Ken refers to himself as “your old paperboy,” I appreciate that he went over and above to see that my paper was delivered and kept safe until I could read it. Next time, I will have the driveway cleared for him.

Sharon Spaulding


• • •

Trash bag tax

I am strongly opposed to any plan to have citizens pay for trash bags when we already pay extensively through our property taxes to have rubbish removed.

Rubbish removal is a basic service and is essential to public health. Taxes already are collected to provide essential services, and addition of any “buy a bag” program imposes yet another tax and is an inconvenient imposition on citizens already busy caring for children, keeping a job and trying to get out to shop in Maine’s winter weather.

Folks who don’t have the extra cash in hand will have to resort to illegal dumping, resulting in roadside trash and illegal use of private dumpsters. I urge Bangor’s leaders to soundly reject this ill-conceived plan.

We do not impose school fees, we do not have a poll tax and we provide for streets to be plowed — these are essential services. The very point of tax is for provision of services for the collective good, and a new point of rubbish collection surtax, which is what the proposal is, is a poor idea.

Single-stream recycling is a great idea that provides needed work in an indoor environment and is much safer for our hard-working collection people. As for the bag tax, I don’t think it’s a matter of “education” — I get it already — it’s a new and inconvenient tax.

Jane O’Loughlin French


• • •

Bring back busy signal

If our new governor wants to do something to help save government waste, a good place to start would be the telephone service at all state-financed and-operated offices. I am so sick of talking to machines when you know the party you want to talk to is sitting near their phone. The existing service is nothing more than a convenient way of screening all incoming calls. Bring back the busy signal, please.

If I am willing to make a long-distance call to talk to someone, I don’t have a problem with calling back if they are on the line. Too many times, this is not the case. I understand that answering machines are a very good tool, but make it mandatory that when any employee that is paid with taxpayers dollars and is sitting at their desk and not on the phone that the answering machines must be turned off and that they must answer any incoming calls.

Just imagine the dollars that could be saved if the caller was paying the telephone toll calls and not the state paying for all of the returned calls that have to be made. Simplify this ridiculously complicated system and get back to real people answering real phones.

Wake up, Augusta, and save us time, money and breath talking to a machine.

Robert Beaulieu


• • •

Philomena appreciated

I’d like to thank the BDN for the recent series about Philomena, the German-born woman who escaped the war and immigrated to Maine.

I moved here a year or so ago after 30 years in Kittery, and to say the least, it’s refreshing to read a local daily with real substance. Kudos for running it and to Ms. Olmstead for making the spirit and strength of these beleaguered women breathe life.

This war-shredded epic journey, featuring a family of women with brains, brawn, beauty, connections, a ton of serendipity and a miracle or two, is worthy of a Hollywood script. It’s the Princess Bride set at a time when the world was at the mercy of the insane.

David Balkin

Bar Harbor

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