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Friday, March 13, 2015: Leadership PACs, school budget cuts, US and Nigeria

Special interest money

A recent article and letter to the editor addressed the growing worry about leadership PACs — the political action committees formed and controlled by Maine House and Senate members. This is an important issue, and it’s good that there is legislation pending that will address it.

For a long time this has been framed as a problem of our Clean Election system, but I see Clean Elections as part of the solution. After all, the goal is to reduce the influence of special interest money in Maine elections and in the State House. These leadership PACs do just the opposite. They allow sitting legislators and candidates for office to raise and spend unlimited money outside of their own campaigns.

Our Clean Election system has been damaged by court decisions and legislative inaction, and fewer candidates use it now. That means more candidates are raising money from private interests to fund their campaigns. That’s more special interest money in our elections. More than half of last year’s leadership PACs were controlled by these candidates, the rest by Clean Elections candidates. In all cases, candidates were allowed to raise unlimited donations from any source.

That’s even more special interest money in our elections. We should ban leadership PACs for all candidates and legislators and get the special interest money out.

Cindy Todd


Expendable people?

I was in Augusta last week to voice my opinion to the Legislature against the cuts proposed by the governor to the Medicare Savings Program. It was very moving, yet tragic, to see a 90-year-old man, who could barely stand, and his 87-year-old wife ask for the assistance they need to stay healthy and alive. Has America actually reached a societal and political point this low that we now have “expendable people” after they work and pay taxes their whole lives?

Medicare does not cover all medical costs for people who are elderly or disabled. There are monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance. This also includes the 20 percent of hospital, physician and lab work that Medicare doesn’t cover. Thanks to the Medicare Savings Program, people who don’t have enough income to cover these costs receive help. The Legislature has already made cuts to this program in recent years. Any further cuts to the Medicare Savings Program will mean even more people will go without medical treatment. Some may even lose their homes to pay for necessary health care.

I encourage everyone to call their state legislators and ask them not to allow any further cuts to the Medicare Savings Program. It’s a necessary program to help elderly and disabled people get the care and treatment they need to stay healthy and out of more expensive treatment options such as nursing homes. This life sustaining program has been reduced enough. It’s time to look elsewhere for the revenue needed to run our state.

E. Jeffrey Barnes


Christian nation?

A Nigerian bishop, Emmanuel Badejo, has charged that the U.S. government’s dedication to population control and Nigeria’s law against homosexual activity is holding back military support to fight against Boko Haram. Boko Haram has been killing Christians by the thousands in its war to have an Islamist caliphate in Africa. It has joined with ISIS, which killed 21 Christians in Libya and President Barack Obama would only say they were Egyptians, I guess, not wanting to say they were killed only because they were Christians.

Badejo said the U.S. and other western countries are willing to do anything to reduce the population in Africa. He said Africa is suffering from “cultural imperialism” that threatens to erode cultural values. He also said the U.S. stated it would only help fight against Boko Haram if Nigeria changes its laws against sodomy, abortion and birth control. Both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have said that these issues are top priority for U.S. policymakers.

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas said that the U.S. has information that would help find the 200 girls kidnapped by the Islamists. The problem is we have laws preventing sharing the information.

We once were a Christian country. Today even our Pledge of Allegiance is under attack because of our words “under God.”

Thomas Coleman


LePage budget hurts students

I have the unique honor of being both a public school teacher and on the RSU 3 board of directors. As a teacher, I’ve seen my school continue budget cuts. We’ve cut seven positions from math, language arts, foreign language, social studies and career preparation in the high school setting alone. In addition, we have cut foreign language and educational technician positions. We have restructured to a single bus run system, despite being the second largest school district in the state, covering over 334 square miles.

It worries me as a parent and a teacher to think about the reality of Gov. Paul LePage’s budget. Under the proposed budget, RSU 3 stands to lose more than $518,000, according to figures from the Department of Education. The loss of funding will force me to make more hard decisions, and I just don’t want to make them again — not because it’s too difficult but because more cuts to schools are wrong for our students.

If we, as a state, say we are serious about every child’s future, then we need to get serious about resourcing our public schools. Students need more one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms and a well-rounded curriculum. All students deserve learning opportunities that will foster a love of learning so that this state’s economy can improve in the future. LePage’s budget proposal will only continue to vicious cycle of program cuts, robbing students of the courses and enrichment that invigorate and inspire. Now is the time for parents, students and educators to speak up and support our students.

Jesse Hargrove


Phone hurdle

Regarding the March 7 BDN article “Phone driving ban hits hurdle” about LD 185, which would outlaw cellphone use while driving, the Transportation Committee narrowly voted against the bill.

Research by neuroscientists has shown that even with hands-free car phones, and eyes on the road, the mind is elsewhere —- distracted. They have a phrase for it, “inattention blindness.”

Researchers found that distracted driving, even with hands-free phones, is as bad as drunk driving.

LD 185 will reduce cellphone usage while driving and with it your chance of being creamed.

Diane and Ian Walker



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