Paying for wall in pesos

I can’t understand why President Donald Trump is harassing Congress over funding for a border wall. He told us Mexico would pay for it, so what is the his current plan for the pesos he plans to get from our southern neighbors?

Vincent Ghelli

Bar Harbor

Opossums are not pests

I am extremely disappointed in the titling of the BDN’s Dec. 14 article, “Meet Maine’s newest winter pest,” on opossums. Though Aislinn Sarnacki’s general tone is balanced, if superficial, to describe them as “pests” in the headline is to invoke bias and invite disagreement.

Opossums are low-level predators, eating insects and other vermin, carry few diseases transmissible to people, and posing no direct threat to people or property. “They aren’t pretty” is a subjective description of their appearance and serves no educational or constructive descriptive purpose, and exacerbates the prejudiced tone of the headline.

I’ve typically enjoyed Sarnaki’s articles, so I am surprised and disappointed to have someone who celebrates the wilderness of Maine disparaging a benign wildlife species and that the BDN’s editing process approved it.

Many of us live in Maine for the proximity to other species and would prefer to see their differences celebrated, not denigrated.

Carol M. Corkran

Livermore Falls

Ranked voting misnamed

Our way of thinking and talking about ranked-choice voting, I’m coming to realize, obscures the fundamental change to Maine’s voting rules that the new law entails. To win an election in which ranked-choice voting can be used, a candidate now must win a majority of the votes cast, not just a plurality. That is the real change affected by the law, and everything else flows from that.

Any election system in which a majority is needed to win must make provision for run-offs in those multi-candidate races in which no one wins a majority in the initial vote. In Maine’s case, the ranked-choice procedures that we have been most focused on are merely details, the means we are using to carry out run-offs when those are required by initial vote outcomes.

It might have been better to adopt the name “instant runoff” rather than ranked-choice voting, as this better conveys what is going on in the voting booth when we mark our ballots. Even better, perhaps, would be to name the law the “majority-needed-to-win” election rule.

I suspect that those who have been opposing adoption of the ranked-choice voting rule have understood better than others the centrality of the majority-needed-to-win aspect of the rule, and its potential for transforming political outcomes in Maine into the future.

Thomas Eichler


Invest in education

I wholeheartedly agree with the Nov. 20 BDN OpEd by Flynn Ross noting that Maine has much to gain from improving the educational outcomes of economically disadvantaged kids. From a business standpoint, there are significant — and necessary — benefits.

Maine’s workforce is aging and lacks enough appropriately skilled workers to fill current and future jobs. Closing the achievement gap for lower-income kids who often have a tougher time keeping up in school is a big part of resolving the skills gap.

One of the most effective ways to start closing the achievement gap is with quality early childhood education programs like pre-K. That strong start lays the educational foundation that will help give Maine employers the skilled workers they need to compete. Increasing access to and participation in high-quality early-learning programs means more kids will graduate high school and more will be better positioned to continue their learning from that early stage through to an apprenticeship, community college or university degree, which will truly change the trajectory of Maine and its people.

Furthering policies and investments that ensure all Maine children have a strong start — and the resulting improvements in their educational outcomes — will create great returns for Maine’s economy, employers and people.

Jim Donnelly