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Monday, May 6, 2013: Richard Connor, tax credits and Bush bashing

Connor’s side of the story

Most folks recognize that differences of opinion and disagreement about distribution of assets are not unusual when business or personal relationships are terminated.

Last week’s news stories concerning Richard Connor’s departure from MaineToday Media focused on character assassination, not on explaining the differences in points of view concerning ownership stakes.

Bangor native Connor has been a friend for 25 years, commencing when his older daughter worked at The Ellsworth American two summers. At that time, Connor was publisher of a prominent metropolitan newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, owned by Capital Cities, a large media firm owning newspapers, television and radio stations.

In Fort Worth, Connor earned recognition for energizing a lethargic newspaper. He became a respected community leader, invited to serve on the board of the famous Fort Worth Rodeo, and enjoyed a wide circle of friends and admirers.

Following acquisition of Capital Cities by the Disney corporation, backed by willing investors, Connor organized a company to purchase and manage newspaper properties, eventually buying the Maine newspapers previously owned by the Gannett family and, for 10 years, by the Blethen family of Seattle.

On leaving MaineToday Media, Connor was asked by the owners of Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H., to join them as a business consultant. Subsequently, he has been named chief executive officer.

Connor has been, and continues to be, an accomplished newspaper executive, respected and trusted. The public deserves to hear his side of the story.

Alan L. Baker, Publisher, The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander


Reinstate tax credit

Maine entrepreneurs recently testified in support of LD 743 to reinstate the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program. Created to encourage private investment, the program is one of the most successful in the state, yet has been allowed to expire.

According to the Finance Authority of Maine, in 2012, the Maine Seed Capital program provided $2.74 million in tax credits to investors, who invested $4.67 million in 12 Maine companies. Pelletco was one of those companies, and, as a result, we created jobs.

We weren’t alone. FAME also reported that from 2004 to 2011, the program created some 1,800 jobs and retained another 5,000. At the same time, tax credits attracted $176.9 million in private investment, money that otherwise would have left the state, the organization said.

That momentum has stalled as funding reached limits established when the program began. No additional credits may be issued unless the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage act. This program is revenue positive and should be continued.

Let’s face it, we’re not Silicon Valley, nor should we be. Maine is woefully behind the curve in investing in small business. FAME also estimates that the state invests $11 per capita, which is the equivalent of three gallons of gas, per year in business start-ups, compared with Massachusetts at more than $400.

Maine is a leader in the preservation of our natural resources. That long-term view ensures a place to live and play for future generations. Shouldn’t they also have a place to work?

James Knight, CEO, Pelletco


Bush bashing

I was surprised, first, that anyone would write such a malicious May 2 OpEd article as Robert Klose, titled “The oxymoron of a Bush library,” and secondly, that the BDN would print it.

His implication that former President George W. Bush has no right to build a library because he has nothing but contempt for learning, books and considered thought is offensive and untrue. The same is true for his argument that the Bush presidency was the most catastrophic in modern recollection and that Bush disdained history, had little life of the mind and acted on impulse.

Klose should look into the compassion of Bush — the many generous things he did that were done privately. But, of course, Klose would say that I am a gullible chump for admiring a man who is kind, moral and humble.

Sandra B. Leighton

Mars Hill

Making the grade

Gov. Paul LePage is now grading our schools. What makes him or the commissioner of education experts on what makes a good school? How much time have either of them spent in a classroom?

I, personally, am very tired of people criticizing education in the state of Maine. I spent 33 years in education and 90 percent of the colleagues I ever worked with were dedicated educators who gave 110 percent.

Ever since LePage has been governor, teachers’ benefits have been cut and attacked by his administration. I always thought an education commissioner’s job description was to promote education, not degrade it.

Enough already. Let’s support our teachers and educational system instead of constantly tearing it down. I hope many of you send in the “Grade the governor” political cartoon in the May 2 BDN. An F is too good.

Bertand R. Levesque

Fort Kent

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