What, exactly, is the role of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services? I was completely appalled after reading the BDN’s Oct. 22 article about 70-year-old William Dean, who had been removed from his home and placed in the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. While he was a patient there, DHHS confiscated his two homes, his car and had his beloved cat euthanized. Dean had been left two homes from his deceased parents, along with enough money to support himself.
DHHS rooked this poor man of his livelihood, his beloved cat and all of the antiques that had belonged to his parents. How can this have happened? Who gave DHHS the right to sell off someone’s homes and belongings? If this can happen to a man like Dean, what’s to stop DHHS from stealing our personal belongings, especially after we become senior citizens?
I believe DHHS and this state have powers above and beyond their rights. Hopefully, DHHS will be made accountable for this outrageous act of thievery.
Women as conscientious objectors
In her Oct. 13 column, Sarah Smiley raised awareness about the mandatory registration for the Selective Service System for a draft — when enacted by Congress — within 30 days before or after the 18th birthday of all males. Penalties for nonregistration are a fine of $250,000 and/or up to five years in jail. Consequences for nonregistrants are denial of federal and state aid for postsecondary education and restrictions on federal employment. Late registrations are accepted.
Maine enacted legislation linking drivers licenses with Selective Service registration in 2011, which offers applicants for a driver’s license or other state identification card the opportunity to register. The information is then sent to the Selective Service System, if consent is provided.
Because then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced in January 2013 that he was lifting the military’s ban on women in combat, mandatory Selective Service registration may be in the offing for women.
Those who are interested in being classified as a conscientious objector or 4-F — not acceptable for military service — can no longer do so upon registration with the Selective Service. Only when the registrant receives notice in the mail to report for induction can a claim be filed for conscientious objector or 4-F classification.
For those seeking one of these, it is recommended that a file be kept of supporting letters from clergy/teachers/doctors. For further information, contact the Center on Conscience and War by visiting their website at centeronconscience.org. This organization also helps men already in the military who have developed conscientious objector leanings.
Harrison and Marilyn Roper
Big money talks
In her Oct. 19 letter opposing Question 1, the Clean Election ballot initiative, Paula Sutton engages in her own form of “hogwash.” Most people know that big money donors and corporations have corrupted the politics of our state and country. To claim otherwise is a deliberate effort to deceive the reader.
Public funding of Maine’s candidates for state office had worked well until a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidated a portion of our Clean Election law. The law had relieved candidates from the necessity of seeking donations from big money interests, thereby incurring future obligations which are not usually in the public’s interest. Question 1 will remedy that invalidation if enacted in the upcoming election.
Donald Trump exposed the role big money plays in politics in the Fox News debate when asked about his donations to Democratic candidates and liberal causes. He said words to the effect that he donates to all politicians including on-stage opponents. Then, when he later calls those politicians, they listen to him with the direct implication they owe him favorable treatment. Not one of his opponents rose up to deny Trump’s contention, admitting by their silence that big donors control their actions and votes. How sad.
I urge all to vote yes on Question 1 so our legislators and governors are beholden to the people and not to big money.
Clean Election funding works
Recent attacks on Question 1, the Clean Election referendum, have characterized the initiative as “welfare for politicians.” While I agree our elected officials have become too beholden to campaign cash, the addiction stems from the outsized donations, increasingly anonymous, flowing from wealthy individuals and groups, not the modest sums available through public financing of elections.
Question 1 and the Clean Election law it would strengthen mandate that program funds be available to candidates only if they agree not to accept large donations from private sources and if they can collect a qualifying number of $5 contributions from their constituents. Wouldn’t a politician intent on electability refuse public assistance on these terms? Courting a single wealthy backer would be easier on the legs and yield a more lucrative return on investment.
Nevertheless, as recently as 2010 roughly 80 percent of Maine’s Legislature, equally distributed among Republicans and Democrats, participated in Clean Elections. Why? Clearly these legislators were confident that if large numbers of them ran under this program, their opponents would likely also be Clean Election candidates. With equivalent funding available to both parties, campaign rivals could face off on policies benefiting their constituents, not the bottom lines of wealthy donors.
The increased public funding available to Clean Election candidates proposed in Question 1 encourages legislative independence from well-heeled campaign contributors and fidelity to the needs of constituents. It enhances the capacity of state government to promote the welfare of all Mainers.
The BDN will stop accepting letters and OpEds related to the Nov. 3 election on Wednesday, Oct. 28.