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Monday, Sept. 26, 2011: Voter rights, Rick Perry and ALEC

Damon’s smoke and mirrors

Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, creates an aura of smoke and mirrors in his continuing attack on voter rights, this time, through Doug Damon, the representative from Bangor.

In a Sept. 21 BDN Op-Ed, Damon calls legal, same-day registration an “exploitation of our voting laws.” He fans resentment against the college students who were attending St. Joseph’s College in Windham, failing to mention the partnership between St. Joseph’s and their medical school in the Cayman Islands at the time. Since the students’ facilities were destroyed by a hurricane, they finished up their academic year in Maine. Their stay in the hotel was as an extension of St. Joseph’s dormitory space. As Maine college students, they were allowed to vote in Maine, just as the Supreme Court said they were.

Back in 1961 I stayed at the Penobscot Hotel on Exchange Street. Husson College had rented an entire floor of that hotel for dormitory space. According to Damon, those students at Gov. LePage’s beloved alma mater should not have been allowed to vote in Bangor.

Rep. Damon quotes our state law as to establishing residency, but fails to note the U.S. Supreme court’s decision allowing students who live in a dorm to vote in that location — a constitutionally guaranteed right. The smoke and mirrors of this anti-voting campaign dissipate in the light of reality. There was no exploitation of our laws, just people voting — a habit more of us should get into.

Frank Booker

Armaments to the world

Regarding the Sept. 21 Editorial, “Warships to Saudi Arabia”: The U.S. is the leading arms merchant to the world? Why, yes. I’m glad to hear that more people are aware of that fact now.

But how many citizens take the time to examine — as the BDN Editorial did — the true costs and consequences of having extensive government contracts for armaments? The cost and bidding process which no competitively operating business would accept; no allowance of the “learning curve” to cut the future costs of multiple numbers of the same armament over time; strategically locating factories as to their political value; and enough lobbyists in the mix to permanently make for unbelievable waste of taxpayer dollars.

How about making education a priority, or passenger trains, or efficiency in just about anything that tax dollars pay for? Or where is the deep concern for the shameful treatment of injured military, or health maladies which outpace our ability to stay ahead of them, or new retirees left high and dry while the big investment banking industry isn’t even given a slap on the wrist.

Is it any wonder that there is so little trust, and an over-abundance of folks who are looking for their free ride?

Pat Felton

Allegedly pro-life

If you had any questions about the values of presidential candidate Rick Perry and his followers, you only had to hear the chilling applause at the GOP presidential debate after Perry bragged about not losing sleep over the 234 death row executions that have been carried out in Texas since he has been governor.

Perry and his supporters are allegedly “pro-life.” They claim to follow a religious teacher, Jesus, who preached love, compassion and mercy. In reality, these folks are about hatred of those that are different, fear and revenge.

The only countries that had more executions in recent years than Texas are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea. Is this the kind of society we want to live in? Is this the kind of man we want for president?

Linda Buckmaster

A bitter Democrat

A recent news story and Editorial in the BDN left the impression that Republican legislators are taking directions from an outside organization — the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

Perhaps the most egregious comment came from Ben Grant, Maine Democratic Party chairman. Writer Eric Russell quotes him saying “Paul LePage and his allies in the Legislature had no idea what to do when they took office, so they outsourced their agenda to corporate interests and the national conservative movement.”

Mr. Grant is understandably bitter that Maine voters last year overwhelmingly rejected his party and its policies, which have left our state in poor financial condition. However, his comment shows he also has no comprehension of Maine’s political environment over the last decade.

The fact is the Republican “agenda” consisted primarily of ideas we have been presenting for years. We did not need ALEC or the “national conservative movement” to enact common sense measures designed to get our economy moving again. Republican legislators have consistently pushed for more affordable health insurance, genuine tax relief and removal of burdensome and unnecessary red tape to help prompt job creation — all of which were accomplished during this Legislature’s first session.

Over recent years, Republicans also advocated for full MaineCare payment to hospitals, welfare reform to mesh with national norms and solutions to the unsustainable debt in the public pension system. Those things, too, were successfully addressed this year.

In each case, we sought Democratic support. The state budget and the health insurance reform bill, for example, were passed with bipartisan backing.

Rep. Pete Johnson

Stolen land

Regarding the Sept. 19 Letter to the Editor by Rosalie Welch Johnson, “Once united, now divided”: If I remember my history books, God didn’t give us this land. We stole it from the Indians.

Ruth Bunt

A law worth having

In response to Matthew Gagnon’s Sept. 16 BDN column, “There ought to be a law,” I’d like to affirm that headline.

There ought to be a law that requires wearing a life jacket while in a kayak or canoe in Maine’s cold waters.

Mr. Gagnon was not involved in responding to two people in our waters — one alive and one dead. Nor was he there to experience the devastating reality that the life jackets were right there — they just weren’t being worn. These two people and others this summer were not Maine people; they were visitors and they were not familiar with our cold waters, our afternoon change in sea conditions nor the specific equipment appropriate for our varied waters.

We advertise all over the state on our license plates that we are “vacationland”; we invite people to come play in our state. Tourism is a huge business here. I believe, therefore, that we have a responsibility to our guests to educate them and to help provide them with the safest vacation possible; and if we can save lives with this legislation for our visitors as well as for our natives, it will be legislation, like the seat belt law, worth having.

Diane Sanderson

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