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Thursday, May 28, 2015: Alewives, Hippocratic Oath, UMS failure

Clean elections

Are there any good reasons for someone to oppose clean elections? Today, concerned citizens of all political persuasions believe there is too much money in our political system, too little transparency on where it is coming from and growing suspicion on what the donors expect for their “investments.”

Maine has a decent clean elections law, and several newcomers to state races for the House and Senate bravely chose to run under the rules of that law. The result? More vigorous contests with lively town meetings and energetic volunteers working to get their candidate’s message to the voters. This is what a healthy political system looks like.

Come November, Maine voters will have another opportunity to stand up and be counted. They can vote to strengthen our clean election law and protect it from the special interests, outside organizations and millionaire “king makers” who want their money to speak louder than the words of the voting public. The ballot initiative will beef up Maine’s Clean Election Act, expose the “dark money” of super-sized political action committees, close corporate tax loopholes and raise penalties for those violating the law.

If Maine residents and registered voters are sick of feeling that they don’t matter, then cast they can vote this coming November to strengthen Maine’s clean election system.

Andrew Stevenson


Invasive alewives

Natural waterfalls are known to be barriers to upstream fish passage. Alterations of these natural falls by man can and has allowed native Maine fish to become invasive fish species into previously unoccupied habitat. These invasive fish, though native Maine species, will compete with the existing fish populations for food and space in their new habitat.

Such may be the case with sea-run alewives into West Grand Lake. In addition, non-native landlocked alewives and largemouth bass are now present below the West Grand lake dam and also would gain access through free upstream passage for the sea-run alewives.

It is questionable whether sea-run alewives had access over three sets of natural waterfalls in the St. Croix drainage to have ever had access to this lake before the dam. It is a fact that West Grand Lake contains one of only four original landlocked salmon populations in Maine.

Shouldn’t we be more concerned with protecting one of only four original historic populations of landlocked salmon than increasing habitat for sea-run alewives and the non-native landlocked alewives and largemouth bass?

David Basley


Between killing, curing

In 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who generally is considered the “father of medicine,” crafted by his own hand or through a pupil the Hippocratic Oath. The oath was revolutionary in its unyielding devotion to the preservation of human life, which contrasted with previous primitive medical traditions that blurred the lines between killing and curing.

For more than 23 centuries, newly graduated doctors have taken the Hippocratic Oath. In recent years, it has been revised to accommodate legalized abortion and euthanasia. In its original form, the oath included the following:

“I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to procure an abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.”

On May 19, the BDN published an editorial favoring maintaining the current relaxed standards for minors seeking abortions using the end justification that “abortions will be performed whether they are legal or not.” The same page included a letter to the editor favoring the passage of LD 1270, legislation that would legalize euthanasia in Maine.

More than 55 million abortions have been performed in our nation since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that access to abortion is a constitutionally protected right. According to a 2014 presentation by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a Planned Parenthood affiliate, 69 percent of those aborted were killed because the new life was inconvenient. Hopefully our society is not ready to blur the lines between killing and curing.

Gerald Thibodeau


Power of wind

I read with care and interest all BDN pieces about wind power. I have never seen a report on the actual power generated by the wind. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the annual output of wind turbines in Maine was 1,048 thousand megawatt hours in 2013.

When the Maine Yankee nuclear plant was having a bad year, it was capable of producing 5,000 thousand megawatt hours. If we keep slogging away at this wind business and increase the present number of turbines by a factor of five, we may eventually reach the level of electricity once delivered by Maine Yankee.

Richard C. Hill

Old Town

UMS failure

The University of Southern Maine’s recent problems are the system’s and the board of trustees’ fault. Earlier this year, USM presidential candidate Sartarelli dropped out of the running because it was likely that budgetary control of the University might shift to Rebecca Wyke of the University of Maine System.

“During an open meeting with faculty at USM’s Portland campus, Sartarelli said he wouldn’t take the job if he felt the system office wouldn’t leave him with control over the university-level budget. The system’s central administration is exploring a plan to take more control over the individual budgets of the system’s seven universities,” that BDN article said.

USM’s incoming president, Harvey Kesselman, just withdrew from his new position, ostensibly to return to his prior beleaguered university in New Jersey. It may not, though, be a coincidence that his withdrawal occurred immediately after the board of trustees voted to remove budgetary responsibility from each campus president’s hands and place it in Wyke’s. Without financial authority, a leader will be hampered from achieving goals — failure is guaranteed.

I am an accountant and appreciate the information it can provide, but to run any entity entirely from its financial books and records is to court disaster. The trustees know of the concerns of faculty and administration and seriously should reconsider their actions. Frankly, it is stunning that they, many of whom are businessmen and women, would think taking financial authority away from institutional leaders might be a good thing.

Gloria Vollmers

Professor of Accounting

University of Maine


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