Support for ranked-choice voting
I’ve done my due diligence. I’ve read about the Condorcet cycle, proportional representation, range voting and single transferrable voting. I’ve reviewed approval voting and the Borda count. I’m exhausted. So I took another look at ranked-choice voting — Question 5 on the November ballot.
The plurality voting system we use now frequently produces results in which the winner receives less than a majority of the vote. It causes vote splitting, and that is its central flaw. That’s when you and I think that two candidates are essentially alike and the third is way out there. So, I vote for one and you vote for the other and the third guy wins. We both caused that, and neither of us wanted him. Too bad for us.
How about a runoff system? Well, it’s expensive, suffers from low voter turnout, and can disenfranchise overseas military voters.
Here’s a better idea: The voters use their ballot to rank candidates in order of preference. If there are three candidates running and no one gets a majority of first choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who supported the eliminated candidate now have their second choice votes applied accordingly to one of the two remaining candidates. This produces the same effect as a runoff election, without having to go back to the polls.
People say that we would be first in the nation to do that. Well, “as Maine goes, so goes the nation.” I’m voting yes on ranked-choice voting.
Give Maine workers a raise
The federal minimum wage reached peak earning power in 1968. Adjusted for inflation, that 1968 minimum would be almost $11 today. When old folks grumble that they don’t know what’s wrong with young people today — they paid their bills while earning minimum wage — it’s because they could.
Maine’s minimum wage is a lot lower — $7.50 per hour. Working full time and year-round at this rate, a worker’s take-home pay will be about $1,000 per month, just above the official poverty level for one person, hopelessly below it for a single parent with even one child.
Making this minimum wage, relentlessly frugal single adults can pay basic bills — rent, utilities, groceries, transportation. New shoes, auto repairs or Mother’s Day presents are frills they may have to do without. People raising children simply can’t make ends meet without public assistance.
By setting our minimum wage below the point of economic viability, we are setting thousands of hard-working Mainers up to fail.
We can correct this on Nov. 8 by voting yes on Question 4. This would raise Maine’s minimum wage, in stages, to $12 in 2020, about what that 1968 minimum would be if it kept up with the cost of living.
Fully implemented, Question 4 will give a raise to some 159,000 Mainers, many who are working as firefighters, EMTs, ed techs or child care workers. Let’s make a principled decision that no one who works full-time should have to choose between applying for welfare and sending the kids to bed hungry.
Poliquin is no Michaud
I can’t believe I have to explain this, but Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s record does not resemble Rep. Mike Michaud’s. Michaud was a tireless champion for working families. Can anyone imagine Michaud voting to turn Medicare into a voucher system? I can’t. But that’s exactly what Poliquin did when he voted for an austere budget bill last year.
That budget also would have raised taxes on the middle class while giving a huge tax break to the rich. Poliquin is a multimillionaire, who would have benefitted from that vote. In fact, self-serving behavior is a trend with our congressman.
He used the Maine Tree Growth Program to skip out on tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, and we learned earlier this year that he regularly pays his taxes late. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Poliquin also constantly votes on his own behalf. I can’t imagine Michaud doing the same.
A selfless teacher
Jesus was a teacher. Gandhi was a teacher. Plato and Socrates were teachers. Catherine Anne Gordon also was a teacher. The world will little acknowledge or remember the latter with her 30-year contribution to thousands of Bangor High School students in mathematics. But I will. Gordon quietly resigned from the profession of teaching last week and departed the red brick building where she has taught Bangor’s students since the fall of 1986.
The little Aroostook County girl from Presque Isle excelled academically graduating from high school and the University of Maine in Orono at ages 16 and 20, respectively. She could have gone to medical school, law school or excelled in practically any field fortunate enough to recruit her intellect and sterling character to match. She chose instead to be a teacher and made the world a better place for all of us.
She will now go on to give back to the veterans’ community she loves as a registered Maine guide with Gold Star Outfitters, a pro bono guide service that provides healing to Maine’s Gold Star families and veterans in the great outdoors.
I wish to thank Gordon for her selfless contribution to generations of Maine children and for her volunteerism to many of Maine’s most vulnerable residents.
Retired colonel, U.S. Army
Recognizing classified information
At the request of the Department of Defense, the FBI investigated my family, friends, neighbors, employers, military and the university where I received my engineering degree, before I was granted a Q clearance. I felt very privileged to be trusted by my country to work with important atomic secrets. As a result, I protected those secrets at all costs; I still do.
The idea that I would not recognize a secret or confidential document, labeled at the top or not, is preposterous. Certainly, all senior government officials know classified information when they see it. If they don’t recognize it, or treat classified information in a careless manner, they should be removed from office and prosecuted.
Richard de Grasse