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Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2014: Medicaid expansion, judging art, biofuel

Medicaid expansion benefits

As reported by the BDN on Jan. 14, nearly 60,000 Mainers signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act through Jan. 9, 2015. This number is way higher than the 40,000 who signed up during the previous open enrollment period. Clearly Mainers find that inclusion in a healthcare coverage plan is important to them, in spite of assertions to the contrary in some quarters. This shows the success of the ACA in making sure more Mainers have healthcare. However, Maine has decided to not expand its Medicaid program, limiting the full effectiveness of the act.

By not accepting federal dollars for Medicaid expansion (at essentially no cost to the state for the first three years), many Mainers cannot have health coverage. This means that many Mainers are not getting healthcare screenings on a regular basis. These screenings would make for earlier detection of illness and earlier intervention for those illnesses. Quicker diagnosis of illness would result in better availability of Mainers to the workforce and would also result in less costly interventions for those same illnesses.

It is difficult to understand why Gov. Paul LePage feels that Mainers do not deserve to have their healthcare needs accommodated, especially when those tasks could be completed at such little additional expense to the state.

Richard Bissell, RN


Mill project progress

I appreciate the coverage of the progress of the Dover-Foxcroft mill project. I have been patiently waiting since September 2013 when I first signed the lease. I believe I was the first one to sign and choose my space. The expected move in date was October 2014.

There have been several delays due to weather, funding or other unexpected events. Not surprising on a project of this size. The developers have been diligent in trying to keep potential tenants informed of progress and delays. Christian Arnold has always responded promptly to my questions and concerns.

I look forward to the day I can finally move in. I am grateful to be part of this forward-thinking development for a vibrant community.

Joan Shapleigh



Wither the grown-ups?

The U.S. Constitution requires candidates for the U.S. Senate to be 30 years old but it doesn’t require them to be grown-ups and it ought to. Perhaps it wasn’t an oversight on the part of the founders; perhaps they and their compatriots were all grown-ups and behaved accordingly and it never occurred to them that 200 years later we’d find ourselves having to contend with folks like Speaker John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.

You’d think that I’d stop whining and just abandon the GOP, but so many of my ancestors were proud Republicans I can’t quite manage it. Even after the relentless stream of embarrassing moments that began six years ago when, in spite of an economic crisis that had left thousands of Americans in desperate straits, McConnell declared that my Republican Party and the Senate had nothing more important to do than to concentrate their energies on denying President Obama a second term.

The latest of the embarrassing moments was Speaker Boehner’s infantile decision to circumvent diplomatic and long-standing convention by inviting Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington without consulting the White House. Contacts between heads of state are customarily just that — between heads of state, with good reason. To do otherwise diminishes the stature that presidents and prime ministers have — for the most part — earned and employ to advantage.

Boehner behaved like a 10-year-old who has invited one kid to his birthday party but not another just to be spiteful. I’m embarrassed for us.

Phil Crossman



Biased judgment of art

A few years ago, I, as a painter and art teacher, was invited to be one of three judges for the Bangor Outdoor Art Exhibit. To do so, I had to drive 125 miles to the city. This was necessary, since I did not feel I could judge the art on display until I had viewed the works and discussed with the other two judges the merits of each piece displayed.

It appears that no such diligence is required by Fritz Spencer, for he can condemn as graffiti work that has not yet been created, as he did in a Jan. 22 column. He calls this a “wound in the heart of the city, an excursion into the primitive and pathological.” Such condemnation is at best unfair and smacks of a preconceived bias.

I am certain that the artist creating the proposed piece will submit detailed models for the floating sculpture that can move the project from idea to actuality.

David Orrell



Wood biofuel better than wind

While I do not agree with Reuben Hudson’s Jan. 24 BDN analysis of the carbon neutrality of wood-burning heating plants, wood biofuel has a much smaller overall carbon footprint than wind power. My quibble with simplistic carbon-neutrality arguments is that no energy source could ever be totally “carbon neutral” (CO2 in = CO2 out.) It’s really a question of how much extra CO2 is expelled to get renewable energy to market. Harvesting and transporting wood expels extra CO2 from skidders and trucks. If you convert wood to pellets, more CO2 is expelled.

By comparison though, wind development expels an enormous amount of extra CO2: in building and transporting turbines, clearing mountain tops and roads far from population centers, and installing carbon-intensive concrete bases needed to support 500-foot tall turbines. In addition, more CO2 is expelled as traditional power plants must stay online, ramping up and down inefficiently to produce electricity when the wind does not blow.

Unlike wind power, wood biofuel is easily stored and dispatched as needed. A wood-burning power plant requires a fraction of the land used by wind projects. Harvesting and transporting Maine’s indigenous biofuel provides a much needed boost to the forest products industry and forest landowners, especially as paper mills are shuttered. By my calculation, wood biofuel is a much better renewable energy investment for Maine — and the planet.

Paula Moore


Flying Supremes

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled 7-2 in favor of former Transportation Safety Administration air marshall and whistleblower Robert MacLean, who was fired after leaking news of a TSA plan to drop, at least temporarily, its air marshal program. Embarrassment over the leak caused the TSA to immediately reinstate the program.

Given the Supreme Court justices’ unwavering propensity for ruling in their own self-interest, I guess we now know how many current Supreme Court justices fly.

Lawrence Reichard



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