Tuesday, October 29, 2013: Service dogs, political hostility and Bar Harbor tree

Posted Oct. 28, 2013, at 1:42 p.m.

Service dogs

Let me get this right? I can go see my doctor, spend $25 at least per co-pay (if you have insurance, $200 if you don’t), a visit to my vet for another $75, then go online and spend more than $120 for paperwork, tags and vest, etc., so I can save $10 for a dog license? If this wasn’t a serious topic, I might laugh.

Doesn’t matter how big or how small, a service dog is a necessary and important aid to a disabled person, whether that disability is visible or not. My husband has a small Pomeranian service dog. He has had two surgeries to repair a broken back and lives with constant pain.

It’s because of his dog that he’s able to go shop in your store, eat at your restaurant and function. Raven, his service dog, keeps his mind off the constant pain and helps his everyday outings. Without her, he would be heavily medicated and depressed. Thanks for insinuating in the Sun Journal article printed in the BDN — “ Increase in registered service dogs in Maine, but are some imposters?” — that we take advantage of the system.

Laurie Cole

Rockland

A misguided belief

In his Oct. 18 column, “Republicans don’t need this civil war,” Matthew Gagnon seems to buy into the myth that Washington Democrats have a uniform worldview that is starkly different from Washington Republicans. Really?

This dangerous fiction is an excellent way for media personalities to gin up their followers and generate hostility between people, but the notion is demonstrably false. Under which president did the country have a historic and unfunded expansion of Medicare benefits? George Bush. Under which president did the country achieve historic deficit reduction and welfare reform? Bill Clinton. Under which president have lawmakers adopted a Heritage Foundation plan to reform health care? President Barack Obama.

Which presidents authorized billions of dollars to bail out criminally inept mega banks? Bush and Obama. Under which presidents were Depression-era banking regulations relaxed? Almost every president since Jimmy Carter.

The rise of the tea party is the unsurprising result of the TARP bailouts. People feel frustrated with both parties. Republicans and Democrats in Washington share a common ideology: the pursuit of money. They need lots of it to be elected, and half of them become lobbyists once they “retire.”

What I find incongruous about tea party supporters is their unwillingness to challenge the corrupting influence of money in politics. They will take an ax to middle-class entitlements, yet oppose tax increases or regulations that might deter the bankers’ “freedom” to blow up the economy once again. I wonder if they have been manipulated by people such as Gagnon into a misguided belief that Democrats are the enemy.

Laurie Nicholson

Stonington

Therapeutic services

I encourage the Bangor City Council to consider that Bangor also has an inordinate number of physicians and hospital beds when they deliberate about limiting access to Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid dependence. Also known as buprenorphine or naloxone, Suboxone has a minimal potential for abuse.

As former CEO of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital and, now, Down East Community Hospital, I supported the establishment of Suboxone services in both Ellsworth and Machias, and we have made real and lasting progress in dealing with heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.

Last week I toured Acadia Hospital with my colleague, Dan Coffey, where they conduct a methadone program. Before city counselors judge these therapeutic programs, they should inform themselves about the real progress that such high quality, therapeutic services can provide to our communities.

Douglas Jones

Machiasport

Banned tree

The Bar Harbor City Council has banned the Christmas tree with lights commemorating World War II soldiers, having spent the holiday during the famous Battle of the Bulge in 1944 at war. The stated reason is to preempt offending some unknown person or persons.

Many possessing political correctness proclivities are ever vigilant in this endeavor. In their world view, no one should ever feel excluded or overlooked. This enlightened leadership assumes a duty to protect all from feeling uncomfortable or hurt. Sometimes it is difficult to ferret out a potential victim.

Hence when the council woman was questioned regarding removal of the Christmas tree by Fox News person Jessie Waters, her response was, “It’s complicated.”

Society knows that “what is offensive” is not whether people “should” or “may” feel offended. Rather the “offensiveness test” is: Would this situation or action be offensive to a reasonable person? Reasonable people know the vast majority of the population in the United States celebrates Christmas. No one should be offended by Christmas trees in December, be they on public or private property.

In their failed attempt to avoid offending someone, the city council not only offended U.S. military veterans and their families but embarrassed their town before a worldwide television audience.

Russell Patterson

Villa Park, Calif.

In service

The recent Homeless Veterans Stand-Down at the VA hospital in Augusta is an important event that provides support to veterans who volunteered to serve our country and are now in need of a helping hand.

I was encouraged to see the many volunteers who came out to show their support. I was also impressed by the VA staff who organized the event and the services offered, ranging from screening for oral cancer to help applying for housing assistance or new boots and winter clothing for the cold months ahead.

I had the privilege of spending the day with several veterans in my role as a “squad leader” helping to guide them from one service station to the next.

By far the greatest reward was the benefit of meeting the veterans, hearing their stories and learning about the challenges they face. As a legislator, hearing directly from these veterans was an invaluable experience. I will remember their personal stories and the viewpoints they shared with me as I consider matters before the Legislature to address homelessness in Maine.

A recent Bangor Daily News editorial about homelessness in Maine commented that the voices of those in poverty are unlikely to be heard by the lawmakers responsible for policy decisions.

As lawmakers, we need to hear their voices. Hearing their stories through face-to-face interactions makes us better legislators and can inform our decisions so that government can better serve them.

Rep. Ann Dorney, D-Norridgewock

https://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/28/opinion/tuesday-october-29-2013-service-dogs-political-hostility-and-bar-harbor-tree/ printed on July 10, 2014