Follow the money

Let’s be glad the first half of the 126th Legislative session is over, only because it is over and not for anything good that was achieved, especially since they failed to penetrate the governor’s wall of obstruction and the Republican legislators’ failure to override his will. Nor can we be hopeful about the second year, which will be obscured by the gubernatorial election that is already underway.

I write as one of the hundreds of clean election volunteers who tested public opinion last year and followed the proposals by the Legislature to strengthen the Maine Clean Elections Act. As a July 2 BDN editorial explains, every effort to provide transparency in the coming election has been thwarted in Augusta.

Do we have to have a rerun of the 2012 election when voters felt overwhelmed by the flood of political action committee-financed TV campaign ads, stuffed mailboxes and robocalls? Little of it clarified leadership ability, and none revealed big-money sponsorship.

I suggest that we the voters do what the legislators could not do. With the help of the BDN editorial board and reporters like Christopher Cousins, we can form citizen committees to follow the money from PACs and party/or special interest committees.

The instructions for what needs to be done are in the bills that passed with bipartisan support. Our representatives can help us.

Three would-be governors each has $250,000 or more in his campaign chest. Let’s find out how and from whom they obtained that kind of money.

Carmen Lavertu


Everyone friendly

As Rockland and Bar Harbor work to provide better public bathrooms for tourists and local customers, may I suggest that in this day and age, a multi-stalled “men’s” room and “women’s ” room do not address the needs of many. A private, handicapped accessible, single-stall “family” bathroom should be included in all plans.

Single parents traveling alone with children, handicapped folks or anyone who seeks more privacy than the multi-stall configuration allows should be accommodated.

I have seen tourist reviews specifically mentioning which restaurants and towns have “family friendly” facilities. I have noticed more and more restaurants are now on board and provide two unisex bathrooms, both equipped with changing tables.

Please, let’s accommodate all people and make public restrooms “everyone friendly.”

Marjory Russakoff

Southwest Harbor

A win for society

As a current member of the board of directors of the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, I want to thank the BDN for publishing the July 10 article about this gem of a program. Before serving on its board, I had the great good fortune of working for two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with RJP.

During that time, I coordinated and helped facilitate many of the Community Resolution Conferences described in the story. I witnessed personally the power of bringing together, in a respectful and controlled environment, the offender, family, victim and community members to discuss in depth what took place and to come to an agreement on how the offender can repair the harm he or she had done. It is a profound moment when the offenders “get it” and realize it’s not just about them.

I have often heard it said that a youth in this program gets off easy with just a “slap on the wrist.” I have seen it to be just the opposite.

Imagine yourself as a 14 year old sitting in a circle with at least eight adults and having to describe in detail what you did, answer pointed questions and then listen to the effect it had on others. It is often an emotional, life-changing experience.

Even harder is doing the serious work of making amends. But in the end it’s a win for the offender, for the victim and for society.

Donna M. Gilbert