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Friday, June 15, 2018: Broken coastal food chain, development in the Unorganized Territory, no public funds for abortion

Broken coastal food chain

Remember when seagulls and cormorants were a pest? Remember the last time you had a smoked alewife? Remember all the smelts? When is the last time you looked out at the ocean and didn’t see one bird? Go now and do it.

There are no seabirds. No ducks. I used to count how long they could dive, 15 seconds. Gone. No more loons. All gone. The only thing I see are crows. If you’re a tourist looking for seabirds, forget it. I’m sure other coastal sea towns will say the same thing, the shorebirds are gone along with our foot-sized alewife and smelts. I can attest to all of this, and I blame it on the cutting of our seaweed.

When you cut that seaweed, it is the same as taking the topsoil from our gardens. You will not hear them coming, they’re in little blue camouflaged boats that hold up to three tons of seaweed. The cutters make $55 per ton. They work hard for a day’s pay. I know they cut where they’re not supposed to — I’ve watched them. God knows it’s hard to make a living Down East, and I don’t begrudge these workers a day’s pay.

One game warden told me that the courts could come up with something the landowners could “put their teeth into” to stop them. But you know something folks, it’s too late. The food chain has been broken, and there’s not one thing any of us can do.

Cheryl Sawtelle


Development in Unorganized Territory

I’m concerned about Land Use Planning Commission’s proposed changes to the adjacency principle to expand the current “one-mile rule” governing subdivision and development in Maine’s Unorganized Territory. It proposes to expand development to a larger footprint, 2 to 5 miles wide and up to 10 miles from retail hubs.

The commission’s map scheme looks like a “business park and subdivision plan” for Maine’s Unorganized Territory. It has yet to explain what’s emerging in the rural economy that warrants this level of expansion. What and who is driving this change?

I’m not anti-development. I’ve managed forests and have been engaged with tourism initiatives involving Maine’s Unorganized Territory. We need to manage where development ought to occur adjacent to rural small towns. But the footprint of this proposal is mind-boggling to me.

I’m surprised the commission is not taking an active role in evaluating nature tourism assets within the Unorganized Territory, including their vulnerability to degradation from “adjacent over development.” Expanded development in remote, marginally protected landscapes diminishes solitude and outdoor recreation, cherished by residents and visitors alike. People are not coming to Maine to view wind farms and power lines.

If we give away our natural assets willy-nilly, then Maine will lose the natural, cultural and scenic values that bring folks to Maine in the first place. These treasured natural assets support rural tourism and small-business economies in and around the Unorganized Territory.

Anticipating, planning and managing for future rural development makes good sense, but the proposal’s expanded footprint is too large in scope. Such a significant change in longstanding policy should not be a rushed decision.

Roger Merchant


No public abortion funding

The hindsight of history has made evident the phenomenon of righteous injustice humans are capable of doing. Good folk get swept up in the winds of change. Many of us can remember the unjust mass extermination of Jews due to hate. Others will recall black slaves — human beings — unjustly being considered property because of discrimination.

And today in our “what’s best for me” culture is it any wonder that many believe in their justifiable right to kill powerless and defenseless unborn babies for economic or convenience reasons?

Indeed, today, there’s more clamor that public funding must pay for that. Along those same lines in the news, clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, argue against a proposed gag rule.

Are we being short-sighted? Should we insist on upholding our laws, especially championing the rights of and giving voice to the voiceless unborn? And, accordingly, is Title X’s proposed gag rule such a bad idea?

Although the 15th Amendment passed in 1870, it wasn’t until nearly a hundred years later that the Voting Rights Act in 1965 further helped disenfranchised black Americans receive their public voice to vote. Cultural winds seems to shift slowly. Sadly, laws are often unjust.

Does not every human being, no matter the era, have priceless dignity value and purpose in life? In the end, the questions are the same: do our rights come at the expense of another’s life? Is it not a crucial obligation that our voices are heard? Do we want to fund abortions publicly?

Linda E. Pletka


Expand access to palliative care

When it comes to a serious illness, such as cancer, there’s only so much one person can do. That’s why it’s so important that patients have an interdisciplinary team coordinating care and focusing on treating the person and not just the disease. Currently, not all patients battling chronic diseases such as cancer have access to this type of critical care, also known as palliative care. Our lawmakers can help change that.

The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patients and their family, and it’s appropriate at any age and any stage of any chronic disease. It puts the patient in the driver’s seat for their care and can help address symptoms like pain, fear, anxiety and make treatment and recovery easier. As a medical social worker, I see the need for this more person focused care every day. As a daughter of a woman who died of Stage 4 breast cancer, I felt the need for this care everyday but did not know how to ask for it.

I know how to ask for that care now. Right now, there is legislation in Congress that would improve access to this type of care through an increase in research, training and public outreach. I urge Sen. Susan Collins to commit to action for S. 693, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, and help improve the quality of life for families like mine facing cancer.

Mikala Thompson


American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network



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