A new climate of civility
Thanks to State Treasurer Terry Hayes and Gov. Paul LePage for reaching a deal on $600 million in transportation bonds.
Although I have a superficial understanding of the nuances of this situation, I understand that neither of them are completely thrilled with the outcome. From my perspective their actions have allowed the contracts for improvements in infrastructure such as roads and bridges to proceed.
I am most impressed that this conflict was resolved through adult civil discourse. They were able to put the best interests of the state first. Kudos to both of them. I hope this heralds a new climate of civility in Augusta.
LePage threatens devastation in Katahdin region
On one of last September’s most crystalline days, my companion and I headed north to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. We drove the southern loop, then hiked a small mountain for an exquisite view of Katahdin over trees that were just beginning to color.
Two weeks later, we went again, unloading bicycles at the north entrance to ride alongside the East Branch of the Penobscot River, where Henry David Thoreau had traveled. Balancing on rocks smoothed by the ages, we walked out to a tree-crowned boulder washed by the river, climbed to its top and crowed with joy that such beauty and wonder had been given to the people of Maine.
Then we visited a third time. The monument has captivated us. We’ve seen moose, goshawk, spruce grouse and a wild, mysterious creature that was quite possibly a wolf-coyote hybrid. And each time we visited, we needed supplies.
I even made a fourth trip to the region, purchasing a memento for my companion. Gas, food, souvenirs. We distributed several hundred dollars to Medway, Millinocket, Patten and Shin Pond. Clearly, we weren’t alone, for, as Gail Fanjoy and Larry MacArthur of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce wrote in a March 7 BDN OpEd, “homes are selling, investors are spending, businesses are enjoying new customers, wounds are healing and hope is growing.”
Years ago, the closing of paper mills devastated the region. This monument offers a renaissance — one with private funding, even. In lobbying against this gift to Maine, Gov. Paul LePage is threatening a second devastation. Why would he do that? What is he thinking?
Tax breaks not the answer
I’ve heard the Maine government could be heading for a shutdown because of hard lines drawn on our state budget.
In November, Maine voters used their constitutional right to approve Question 2, the 3 percent surcharge on annual incomes over $200,000 to bring the state in line with a previous vote by the people to fund K-12 public schools at 55 percent.
I feel the elected representatives of Aroostook County owe an explanation to the people they represent. As a voter in Aroostook County, I want them to please explain to me how asking a person making $250,000 per year to contribute $1,500 more to education will kill our economy.
I’ve lived in Aroostook County my entire life, except for the time I spent in the U.S. Army, and every politician has promised more jobs through less taxes on businesses and wealthy people.
Having a Pine Tree Zone didn’t produce miracles in Houlton. If tax breaks were the answer, Houlton should have two jobs for every person by now.
If, as elected officials, they are going to tow a party line to reverse the will of the people, tell us exactly what are the actual real benefits to the voters. The people deserve more than political speak. I look at Kansas and what is going on there, and I am very scared for Maine.
What huge benefit is Aroostook County going to get that is worth sacrificing the education and well-being of our children?
Poliquin’s health care vote bad for small business
Last week, I joined hundreds of other Mainers in telling Rep. Bruce Poliquin why I support the Affordable Care Act and why, because of his vote to repeal it, he deserves to lose his seat. I own a small business in Orono, and Poliquin has long claimed to champion the interests of small business owners like me.
The Affordable Care Act provides small-business owners and small-business employees the opportunity to access health care in a way they never could before. Small-business owners are now able to get health care for their families, often for the first time. They also get help paying for health care for their employees, and if they can’t afford to provide insurance, employees can access plans through the marketplace.
Poliquin, rather than standing with Maine workers and small-business owners, chose to stand with President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress on this extreme health care repeal.
This bill includes not only $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid and rollbacks that will cut 24 million people off from health coverage but also billions of dollars in tax break for the wealthy like Poliquin and a new tax cut for insurance companies and their executives.
He literally voted to strip health care from poor and elderly Mainers and small businesses across his district to fund a new tax break for the wealthy.
Poliquin has got to go.
Trumped up charges
I have heard the phrase “trumped up charges” all my life, but I never realized its full meaning until our glorious leader, Donald Trump, came on the scene.
Protect our national monuments
President Donald Trump’s recent imbroglios so dominate the news that little attention is being paid to his attack on the national monuments that have been created over the past 20 years. This include Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine and Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears in Utah. While the size and topography of these monuments are very different, they all deserve protection, as a quick Google search will confirm.
My fear is that while the public — preoccupied by the scandal of the day — is not pressuring Congress to protect these monuments, drilling and mining interests are lobbying to remove protection from some or all of these lands.
Please let Congress and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke know you want these lands protected. These monuments were created only after an exhaustive consultation process. The decision has been made — respect it.