Time to raise Bangor’s minimum wage

Our two retail stores, Central Street Farmhouse and Maine Cloth Diaper Company, have always paid our employees well above minimum wage. Our success is directly related to their hard work, and it is only right that they be compensated fairly. We wouldn’t define our business model as “successful” or “strong” if we paid minimum wage.

We struggle daily to survive against larger companies with increasingly downward pricing pressure. Low-paying jobs in our city sap from our economy and create unfair business models. We work hard to earn a living and provide one for our employees; it is not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

Is it not truly shameful that companies that post million-dollar profits don’t do the same? Do you know where our profits go? Back to our employees and back to the community.

To those who argue this conversation should happen at the state or federal level, it would be fantastic if we could affect change on a larger level. But how long do we wait for change? The proposal going to Bangor City Council would raise the local minimum wage incrementally over two years. The proposed rate for 2018 is below 2015’s living wage in Maine.

If you are running a business in 2018 and cannot afford to pay your employees $9.75 per hour, you’re doing it wrong.

We strongly encourage the council to vote for a minimum wage increase and support family owned businesses that treat their employees the way they should be treated.

Zeth and Betsy Lundy

Bangor

Ranked-choice voting benefits

Next November, Maine has the chance to lead the nation again. Ranked-choice voting will be up for a referendum vote. It is a 19th century invention that allows voters to include backup choices on their ballots — in other words, rank their choices 1, 2, 3. Adopting this simple option is the best way to achieve majority rule, eliminate vote splitting and give small parties and independents a fighting chance.

In Maine and the U.S. at large we face an unprecedented amount of political gridlock. It wastes our tax dollars and prevents legislatures from passing common sense legislation. At the root of the problem is an electoral system that often panders to extremists, promotes negative campaigning and renders agreement with an opponent a sign of weakness.

In contrast, ranked-choice voting promotes the compromise necessary for an efficient government. Because candidates may need first- and second-choice rankings to be successful, civility, not personal attacks, will win elections. Candidates once again will discuss issues of consequence and emphasize their similarities as well as their differences. Those candidates who garner broad respect, not just from their base but from all voters, will be most successful, limiting the often unintended influence of extremists.

It is time we returned respectability, efficiency and civility to politics, and that the government started working for us again. By adopting ranked-choice voting next year, we can reclaim our citizen democracy. To learn more, please visit rcvmaine.com.

Maggie Clark

Montville

Protect landline service

The Dec. 10 BDN article, “FairPoint drops residential listings from Maine phone book,” points out that although allowed to remove residential listings from its phone book, FairPoint is still required to provide a hard copy of the phone book to customers who receive “provider of last resort,” or POLR, telephone service. This is of particular concern to us. We testified against FairPoint’s proposal to eliminate POLR for a variety of reasons, and this article highlights one more reason to protect POLR.

If FairPoint’s proposed elimination of POLR were approved by the Legislature, not only would the affordability and reliability of landlines be in jeopardy for thousands of Mainers with low income and disabilities, but these customers would no longer receive phone books with residential listings. Many Mainers, including POLR customers, are unable to access residential listings online. When we called the number listed in the article, we were answered by a recording that the system is down. This is unacceptable.

We believe that wherever you live, you have the right to a reliable, affordable landline phone. Now we have one more compelling reason to protect POLR. By protecting POLR, we also are protecting the ease of access to something as simple as a phone book without having to go online or make a phone call. In a rural state such as Maine, landlines are lifelines and keep families and communities connected, and the phone book itself is an important part of our connection to one another.

When the legislature returns in January, we urge them to vote against proposals to eliminate POLR.

Bob and Carol MacDougall

Augusta