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Monday, Oct. 17, 2011: Voting, the American Jobs Act and wind power

No on Question 1

The BDN’s Sept. 22 editorial (“More Votes, Not Fewer”) opposing the recent sensible law passed by the Legislature prohibiting same-day voter registration asserts that what’s at issue is getting more voters to the polls. This avoids the main issue: Maine’s insecure and lax voting laws.

Forty-two other states, including such “blue” political states as New York, Massachusetts and Michigan, disagree and for very good reasons. They want to prevent political operatives from abusing the system and prevent avoidable clerical errors by overwhelmed town and city clerks on Election Day. Each of these states requires that new voters register anywhere from two weeks to a month prior to Election Day. Maine’s new law only requires that people register no later than two business days prior to Election Day, giving people around 247 days to register.

That does not deny the vote to any legitimate Maine resident and voter, student or the elderly. It’s just a good, prudent practice which protects the sanctity of the vote for all voters. No state is trying to weaken its standards for voter registration as advocates of Question 1 are trying to do.

A recent investigation by the secretary of state produced evidence that at least six nonresidents had been registered to vote and that 77 others had been registered to vote in two different states. Such a system needs to be made more secure. The new law addresses that problem. Let’s keep it. Vote no on Question 1.

Gayle Finkbeiner


Pass jobs bill now

There’s a lot to support in the American Jobs Act, President Obama’s plan to create jobs and help the economy right now.

The act includes new tax cuts to help our small businesses hire staff, invest and grow. It includes tax credits to support businesses that hire veterans and invests $35 billion to prevent the layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, support the hiring of tens of thousands more and keep cops and firefighters on the job. It invests in tens of thousands of schools and in rebuilding our rails, roads, bridges and airports — improving our infrastructure while putting workers back on the job.

But Republicans in Congress are blocking the President’s plan, putting the well-being of our communities at risk because of petty politics.

Join me in calling on Congress to support middle-class families and pass the American Jobs Act.

Fredrick Oney


‘These people’

First Wind’s lead attorney presented her closing statement in support of a wind energy project proposed for Bowers Mountain at the LURC meeting in Ellsworth on Oct. 5. Based on submitted testimony, Mainers oppose this massive, sprawling ridge-top development, which will tower above some of the most outstanding lakes in the state of Maine, by a ratio of 9:1.

Identifying those of us in the audience who were not First Wind employees, attorneys, lobbyists, contractors or consultants, First Wind’s attorney complained “these people” are running all around the state opposing wind projects.

“These people” opposed one facility due to its adverse impacts on endangered wildlife and opposed another due to excessive turbine noise. These people were opposed to the Bowers project based on its adverse scenic impact.

“These people,” Mrs. Browne avowed, will oppose every wind project because they don’t want them in their backyards.

In her final moments of debate, First Wind’s attorney dealt the coup de grace — in desperation, she used the “NIMBY” label. NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” is intended to be a scathing insult. But those who dare to stand toe-to-toe with powerful corporations wear that label with pride.

After years of independent research, they’ve come to realize that mountaintop industrial wind comes with high costs and low benefits; and it is not based on sound science or economics.

These people have done their homework and are standing up for what they believe is right. Cheap potshots from desperate wind developers won’t changes the facts.

Karen Bessey Pease

Lexington Township

Time for higher gas mileage

It’s a sign of the times when a drop in gas prices makes front page news (“Maine average gas price continues to fall”) as Maine families and businesses start to brace themselves for this winter’s heating bills. Our addiction not only threatens our pocketbooks and economic recovery, but it also takes a tremendous toll on our environment, with oil the leading source of our most intractable environmental problems, including air and water pollution and global warming.

Fortunately, the Obama administration is developing new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks through 2025 that will require new vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon. These standards, if finalized without loopholes, will cut gasoline use in Maine by 97 million gallons, saving Mainers more than $329 at the gas pump annually by 2030 and cutting pollution.

For the sake of our economy and environment, these new rules should be as strong as possible to start weaning Maine and our nation off oil.

Chris Gallagher


Construction is beneficiary

I read that Barber Foods is laying off 71 workers in Portland and Verso Paper is laying off 125 people in Bucksport. These are just two dismal examples of Maine’s current dismal economic picture.

Growing up in a mill town and watching the paper industry essentially dissolve, I knew my future career path would require looking into other fields and potentially out of state. To fulfill my career goals and try to live in this great state we love, I entered the construction field.

As everyone knows, this field is very cyclical and the workload often follows the trends of the economy. However, over the past eight years, there has been one industry that is creating jobs and investing in our state. It’s called the wind power industry.

Thank goodness for companies like FirstWind, Independence Wind and Patriot Renewables that are willing to invest money in developing wind energy. And it’s companies like Reed & Reed, Cianbro, Sewall and Sargent that employ Maine people like myself to design and build these projects.

Over these past eight years, the wind industry has invested almost $1 billion in Maine. This is a very real opportunity for continued economic activity — not to mention the chance for our state to see more stable energy rates if we produce our own, local power using our own, local fuel.

Let’s not send this industry packing.

Douglas Morrison


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