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Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013: Shutdown, Fox Hill, climate change

Extremist manipulation

I would like to respond to factual errors in the Oct. 23 letter by Phil Grant. President Barack Obama did not refuse to negotiate over the debt limit; he refused to negotiate over the government shutdown. The Republican demand was for a “delay” of the Affordable Care Act — a demand that was doomed from the beginning. Had Obama given in, no future legislation could be protected from this kind of extremist manipulation. Having expended their chips on the shutdown, the Republicans were forced to capitulate on the debt ceiling without getting anything in return.

Raising the debt limit does not incur debt. It permits the government to pay authorized bills that have already been incurred. The debt limit was instituted in 1917 and has been raised 79 times since — 49 times under Republican presidents and 30 times under Democratic presidents. The debt ceiling was raised 17 times during Reagan’s presidency and has been raised six times under Obama.

Skyrocketing health care costs are in part responsible for our increasing debt, and the Affordable Care Act has been designed to reduce health care costs over time. This is what a competent and responsible administration works hard to do. In the meantime, Standard and Poor’s tells us that the shutdown took 24 billion out of the U.S. economy. Retail sales, mortgage applications and consumer confidence were weakened, and an estimated 120,000 jobs were lost. I don’t see that as responsible.

Dereka Smith


Correcting the record

I have been reading with dismay the misinformation that has been circulated about Charlie and Julie Cawley and their use of Fox Hill. People are comparing the Cawleys’ activities to that of operating a convention center and using the site for corporate activity, claiming that they “held business meetings, seminars and social events” there. This information is wrong, and this letter is an attempt to set the record straight.

For over 13 years, I worked directly with the Cawleys, first as the caretaker for Fox Hill, and later as an employee of MBNA. My duties included helping to organize the events that took place at Fox Hill. At no time, to my knowledge, did any business activity take place there. MBNA established Point Lookout for commercial purposes, and that is where business meetings and lectures were held. While in town, the Cawleys entertained dignitaries at their home at Fox Hill, often inviting Camden area residents to join them. In addition, the Cawleys hosted social events for local nonprofits. These social gatherings at Fox Hill occurred about three times per summer.

Similar types of events occur in other large homes in Camden, too. As the former Camden fire chief, I was often asked to help ensure that large social events at private residences took place with safety in mind and minimal impact on neighbors.

Hosting large social events a few times a year at a Camden residence does not create an excuse to turn the property into a year-round commercial facility.

Bob Oxton


Am I missing something?

What sense does it make to shut down the government, send the workers home, and, when they are called back, pay them for the time they were not working?

What sense does it make for any business to dismiss its employees for 16 days, effectively shutting down the business and generating no income, and then bringing them all back and paying them for the time they were not working?

What did America get for sending its employees home for that time period and then returning them to their positions and paying them for the time they were doing nothing to help the government keep operating?

Am I missing something?

Yes, there must be a difference between what businesses have to do to survive and our U.S. government.

Business: Sell to generate income to pay employees and hopefully make a profit for the owners.

Government: Tax (to take) or borrow for future payments of its debts from taxpayers.

Verle L. Drinkwater


Kudos to Kelley

Kudos to Kevin Kelley for his terrific article affirming Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as a model of bipartisanship by highlighting how she helped terminate the government shutdown last week by working in a bipartisan fashion.

But politics is very much a world of “what did you do for me this week?”

Collins’ colleague, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, recently gave an outstanding speech highlighting how climate change is affecting our region, warming the ocean and chasing lobster away. King called on us to face the challenge of climate change just as an earlier generation faced the challenge of World War II.

As a model of bipartisanship this week, Collins can add her voice to King’s in the Senate discussion of climate change. She can also add her support to Senate legislation for a revenue-neutral carbon tax that is currently being crafted by her Democratic Senate colleagues from New England.

Judy Weiss

Member of Citizens Climate Lobby

Brookline, Mass.

MDI property

Two interesting articles in the BDN recently: On Oct. 19, a front-page article titled “ Mainers’ reliance on aid highest” noted that “Maine’s per capita personal income was $38,299 in 2011.” The next day’s paper had a front-page article titled, “ Another billionaire to build estate on MDI.”

According to the article, the billionaire Steven Rales will tear down the house on one of the two parcels he purchased on MDI for $7 million in 2012 and build something new. The assessed value of both properties is $5 million.

His brother, Mitchell Rales, owns property three miles away, with an assessed value of $24.5 million. The combined assessed value is $29.5 million. Divide $29.5 million by $38,299, the average per capita income of Mainers, and the the result is a shade over 770. The assessed value of the Rales’s properties on MDI is equal to the product of multiplying Maine’s average per capita income by 770.

Charlie Cameron


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