Action needed on drugs
Maine has set a precedent for finally recognizing that something needs to be done about the epidemic of drug poisonings in our communities, which totaled 418 deaths in 2017. The Maine House and Senate have passed several measures over the last month that meaningfully address this issue, including LD 1711, which looks at the crucial issue of homelessness and opioid-use disorder. Yet, our lawmakers find themselves mired in a political standoff while another life is lost each day.
Like the passing of Medicaid expansion, the people have spoken but nothing has happened. The money is in the budget, and it should be considered criminal that the Legislature refuses to act on making these bills a reality. Our budget excess is not to be hoarded away because of partisan judo but rather used for appropriate services for Maine people. In this case, programs to prevent opioid deaths can immediately begin saving lives. The suffering of Maine people continues with every day that goes by without action.
It’s time to protest loudly. As an alcohol and drug counselor in our state, I urge you to please write, call, email, tweet and shout. Tell our Legislature that every minute they delay is another father, mother, son, or daughter lost in a battle that is solvable by funding services to make every person a healthy, productive member of society who contributes to the well-being of the state, as well as to the coffers of its budget.
Come clean on St. Clair ads
If Lucas St Clair is a “clean” candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, he will immediately insist the best man at his wedding and the consultant who has been in his mother’s employ cease running for him $149,000 worth of ads about him that look like political advertisements. And he should insist they tell us exactly who has bankrolled the $149,000.
It is simply not credible to argue, as his campaign has, that they are not coordinating with his campaign. This is not ethical, and it is not smart. It is now added to the list of serious ways he would be vulnerable to attack in a general election against Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
Belfast ignores concerns over salmon farm
Last month, the Belfast City Council, under overwhelming opposition, approved in lockstep a zoning change for a massive monoculture salmon farm placed tight against the beloved Little River Trail, paving the way to clear cut a de facto forested greenbelt.
Not privy to the months of back-room sessions, it appears I missed the kool-aid. The public was told in a series of council speeches that we were ill informed. Their applicant’s information was “facts.” The public’s questions were “fears.”
They told us to trust them. That this large industrial feedlot would cut taxes and have few risks. It would provide 60 million pounds of glorious, tortured, pen-confined flesh for us to feed our kids.
Council and staff behaved as advocates for industry at a “public hearing.” Their minds appeared made up before coming. Our new mayor intimidated speakers and corralled the rubber stamp. The obvious was missing: Local economies recycle dollars in the community where outside corporations send dollars out of the community and rarely pay their way. That democracy means involvement of citizens, not backroom deals.
And the $240,000 subsidy the Belfast City Council promised Nordic Aquafarms? Shame on them. How about a discussion on removing dams, protecting habitat and returning wild fish stocks? We could create a Little River greenbelt and grow organic fruits and vegetables on the already cleared land. My guess is that they now have a fight on their hands.
Abandon high-stakes tests
The April 18 BDN editorial stated that the goal of proficiency diplomas is to ensure all students will be equipped to succeed in college or a career, as well as be a “citizen of a complicated world.” For 30 years, Maine educators and the Legislature have struggled to make proficiency diplomas a reality for Maine high school graduates.
For 30 years, this effort has failed. Last month, the Legislature’s Education Committee voted to allow high schools to issue such diplomas without a requirement to do so.
How to measure whether a student has met the proficiency requirement has been the problem. Searching for a valid measure became the focus of developing a senior year high-stakes set of tests to determine who should receive a proficiency diploma.
In my opinion, that focus was a fatal mistake for two reasons. First, no set of tests can in any valid way capture all of a student’s accomplishments over four years. Second, it is not fair to fail a student at the end of senior year, if the student has met all standards and requirements for graduation.
To me the solution to this problem is easy. Abandon high-stakes tests. Schools and Mainers should put their faith and efforts into designing course work and community service standards rigorous enough to demand proficiency in order to pass.
This should occur in freshman year and continue through senior year. Some teachers will have to “up” their game. Some students will need extra help. Continuous improvement over time will make high schools better and better at meeting proficiency goals.
Cote for governor
Adam Cote is a man of integrity, compassion and has the vision to make Maine the progressive state where our children will want to live and raise their families. The people of Maine have the opportunity to vote for positive change, new leadership, women’s rights, workers’ rights, health care, education and respect for all people.
I for one am very excited for the chance to vote for a proven leader, decorated veteran, a renewable energy entrepreneur and someone who is going to take Maine on a new path to prosperity. Cote is the only gubernatorial candidate with the experience to create jobs and give Mainers more control over our energy costs while conserving our incredible natural resources. His agenda is bold and well thought out for every part of our state. What more could we want?