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Thursday, March 26, 2015: Immigrant support, fracking and climate change

LD 506

I am writing as a resident of Bangor to urge support for a bill being considered in the state Legislature that would preserve public oversight and control over transportation infrastructure projects and planning.

LD 506, “An Act to Improve Public-Private Transportation Partnerships,” would prevent private entities such as corporations and private developers from initiating their own proposals for massive infrastructure projects, such as the proposed East-West Corridor. This corporate proposal was originated by the Cianbro Corp., but it increasingly is being opposed by communities, individuals, groups and small businesses across Maine.

Instead, such huge infrastructure proposals must come from the Maine Department of Transportation. If passed, this law would protect Maine from corporate-initiated projects that primarily would benefit corporate shareholders and foreign investors. This bill would preserve public-state control, oversight and accountability in transportation planning and infrastructure development.

Please contact members of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee or come to the hearing on LD 506 currently scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the State House, Room 126, in Augusta.

Valerie Carter

Bangor

Minimum sentence

In response to Robert Gossert’s March 18 BDN letter on child abuse, I fully concur with his views. I am, however, deeply concerned that when these cases of child sexual or physical abuse are tried in our courts, the sentences handed down either are plea deal arrangements of a few years or, as in the case of Adam Metropoulos, are offers from the Penobscot district attorney’s office of 10 years with all but four suspended.

This is a further outrage perpetrated on the victims, as they already are living a life sentence handed down by their abusers. The victims have to live the rest of their lives with the emotional and physical trauma of the abuse. They often suffer a lifetime of post-traumatic stress disorder, and no matter how much therapy or counselling they receive, the nightmares never go away. I know the sentencing guidelines for child abuses are laid down in law, but that is not the same as justice being served. The Penobscot County district attorney and all other district attorneys should keep this in mind before recommending such minimum sentences for perpetrators of child abuse.

Mary Harney

Ellsworth

 

The wrong direction

Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed cuts to immigrants take Maine in the wrong direction. We are a nation of immigrants. That diversity has made us strong.

LePage’s proposed budget cuts eliminate food assistance for lawfully present immigrants. It is estimated that 420 households, comprising 709 individuals, would lose food assistance, according to Maine Equal Justice Partners. How can hungry kids learn in school? LePage’s proposal also seeks to eliminate Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for some immigrants. Thirty-five families, including 75 children, would lose this key support which assists in providing shelter, heat and clothing. How does pushing families into homelessness while they are trying to rebuild their lives strengthen Maine? We are better than this.

Nearly every faith tradition has the injunction to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Churches, synagogues and mosques know what these harsh cuts will mean for the most vulnerable among us.

We care for our neighbors in this state, but LePage seems to have completely forgotten this. Let’s rise above this to build a Maine where compassion and opportunity are truly for all.

The Rev. Allison C. G. Smith

Clergy, United Church of Christ

Harpswell

Out of mind

Gov. Paul LePage’s recent response to a question about oil and natural gas production using a technique known as “fracking” stunned me. While stumping for his budget proposal at a town meeting in Presque Isle, the governor stated there were more than $1 billion worth of gold deposits under Aroostook County. One attendee pointed out that the cost of controlling mining pollution might exceed the value of the gold extracted. The governor disagreed, defending his opinion by claiming the fracking industry does not pollute.

Here is the exchange, as reported by the questioner, Ms. Shelley “Chicky” Mountain:

LePage: “There is a billion dollars worth of gold in this county.”

Me: “It will cost more than that to clean up the pollution they leave behind.”

LePage: “Maybe if you are using 1955 mining technology, but not with 2015 technology. There is no pollution with modern technology.”

Me: “Do you know of any mines using 2015 technology that have not polluted?”

LePage: “Yes.”

Me: “Where? What mine?”

LePage: “Fracking. Every single fracking operation in this country does not pollute.”

The governor’s ignorance about the environmental impacts fracking is scary. Fracking uses enormous quantities of clean water, adding chemicals to make it “slippery.” Once used for fracking, the water is unfit for anything else. It must be treated or injected underground for our children and grandchildren to drink.

For the governor, the dangers of fracking truly are “out of sight, out of mind.”

Andrew Stevenson

Belfast

Coconut act show

“We all grumble about the weather, but nothing is done about it,” Mark Twain said. Wrong! We have messed it up. Observe the TV weathermen when they show continental patterns. Most of the moisture troughs begin in the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific. It begins as rain, but when the storms hit our Northeast it is snow and more snow. It used to be that the winter season was the dry season in the South.

At Miami’s Coconut Act Show, I recall an oil painting. The artist depicted the back of a dual-tired pickup truck on a mountain highway. The highway went down into the valley. A church steeple and a smoke stack were miniature in the background. The sky was cloudy, and the clouds were the major focus because tire tracks turned upward and backward throughout the painting. Turn the painting upside down, and it appeared as though a tractor were driving through 10-inches of snow. Perhaps the artist was telling us something about fossil fuel waste.

Florida is installing more than a million solar panels to tap the sun’s power. Maine is erecting wind machines — even though most of the electric power is being exported out of state. Yet our governor is opposed to the wind machines because they receive federal money guarantees.

However, we grumble and continue to live in the state of denial regarding weather happenings. Recently, on a trip through vegetable farm country in Florida, I noticed a hand-painted sign: “Forget global warming. Halt the burning.” Florida wilts while Maine plows snow.

Robert Fournier

Bangor



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