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Wednesday, March 20, 2013: Hugging, health care and sexual predators

Protesting hugs

Two County schools protest a hug in a school one-act play. What about the hugs given during sports games? What about hugs exchanged between old friends or relatives, be they male or female?

I am astonished that this sad incident would be given front-page space.

Sherrill Osgood


Community support

Growing up in a small town has made my experiences and opportunities seem a bit limited. However growing up in an Aroostook County community has recently become the greatest blessing for my family.

My father was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a genetic liver disease that can affect the lungs, in 2004. He has been put on numerous medications, has made drastic lifestyle changes, and his current lung function is 18 percent.

Following medication, weekly protein infusions and increased exercise, my father was still unable to stop his lung function from decreasing. Thus he began the lung transplant process.

Following the start of this process, family, friends and community members began planning a variety of fundraisers to raise money for my dad. In the last few months, the community has raised almost $10,000 for my family.

This money, this support, is something my family will never be able to repay. It is something we cannot thank everyone enough for. It means so much to know that even in an economic crisis, community support is still growing.

It is estimated that Alpha-1 affects one out of every 2,500 people, but because of complex symptoms it can take many doctors and years before a proper diagnosis is made.

If readers have a family history of lung or liver disease, shortness of breath, wheezing or nonresponsive asthma, recurrent infections or rapid deterioration of lung function, I urge them to get tested. People can also visit for more information.

Amber Pelletier


‘Certificate of Need’ support

I was quite pleased to read the March 14, BDN article “ Legislative panel opposes bill to loosen health care expansion requirements” about opposition to weaken Maine’s “Certificate of Need” program, “which closely regulates the expansion of hospitals and other health care facilities in Maine.”

As argued by Steven Brill in his recent Time magazine article called “Bitter Pill,” and by Dr. Philip Caper in a March 14 BDN OpEd piece, “Selling expensive health care lemons,” it is fallacy to think of ourselves as consumers in a health care market.

Health care facility management is driven more by revenue generation motives than by aspirations to provide high-quality, cost-effective health care services. And health care facilities do not publish their costs or prices.

Even if they did, could one comparison shop when suffering a heart attack or aneurysm?

Insurance companies are no help; they focus on payment services and do nothing to make service cost information available or to manage those costs. Americans do not have a health care market. They must engage a market for services, which negotiates and administers payments, if they can afford it.

Concerns about “stifling markets,” expressed by the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Richard Malaby, R-Hancock, are at best naive. If he is really concerned about “openness,” he might propose legislation that requires health care facilities to publish prices for their services.

For far too long, our general welfare has been undermined by a blind faith in “the market” and a near-paranoia of government involvement.

I completely support the state’s Certificate of Need program and would even like to see it expanded to include reviews of service costs and senior-level salaries.

Joe Rice

Southwest Harbor

Saponic Pond value

In 2000, I purchased Black Island, in the middle of Saponic Pond, because of the beauty and majesty of Passadumkeag Mountain. A little bit of Maine not covered with industrial sprawl.

This was before the discussion of wind turbines being built on Passadumkeag. I already see 14 wind turbines with their nightly red pulsating lights, aircraft beacons, to the north of my island.

Now Texas-based company Quantum Utility is appealing the decision of the Department of Environmental Protection to deny its permit on grounds of “unreasonable scenic impact.”

Quantum Utility and Reed and Reed propose to build 460-foot industrial turbines to the east and southeast of my island. How will I be able to enjoy the starry night sky? I will be surrounded by 28 turbines, a victim of the cumulative effect of industrial wind turbine proliferation. Do people think they will stop there?

In reading Jackson Parker’s March 18 OpEd, “ Let wind turbines stand on Passadumkeag Mountain,” I took offense at his comments on water quality. We cook, swim, fish and wash with Saponic Pond water, and we have since we purchased our island.

It’s interesting to note that his piece primarily addresses the financial aspect of the wind development. His position is off source; the issue at hand is the denial of a permit by the DEP, on grounds of “unreasonable scenic impact.”

My question to anyone who reads the OpEd: How would you like an industrial wind turbine development surrounding your vacation dream spot?

William Wilson


Zero tolerance

Maine must improve current policies to protect minors from sexual predators in positions of authority. There are some basic truths about this type of abuse that are escaping public discussion to date.

First, the problem is larger than most think. For every criminal case that makes the newspaper, dozens of civil cases are settled out of court, quietly, with nobody admitting to wrongdoing.

Insurance companies and risk pools pass the cost of these claims back to the taxpayers.

Second, our law enforcement and prosecution model for dealing with predators in positions of public authority is flawed. Most public policy changes in recent years have been aimed at finding new and better ways to punish sex offenders who have already been prosecuted.

Offenders are not usually the “lone perverts.” The truth is that sexual predators tend to form well-financed organizations that more closely resemble drug cartels or organized crime. They groom prey for each other, exchange ideas, materials and techniques and cover each others’ backs.

I have seen the degree to which many people accept child abuse as normal behavior. For some it’s a form of denial. For others it appears abuse is accepted as long as predators pick prey from the proper socioeconomic groups.

While details of investigations are confidential, we have the right to ask what effective actions are being taken to ensure our children’s safety. We should give law enforcement and district attorneys more tools to catch and prosecute offenders.

We need to create a culture of zero tolerance and open reporting.

Peter Noddin

St. David

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