Protect the Endangered Species Act
With all the congressional drama happening in Washington, I don’t want to forget about one of our most fundamental environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act.
Passed practically unanimously in 1973 during the Nixon administration, the Endangered Species Act protects our imperiled plants, wildlife and habitat and recognizes that they “are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational and scientific value to the Nation and its people,” according to the Act’s preamble.
Let’s add economic value to that list. According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending, 7.6 million jobs, $65.3 billion federal tax revenue and $59.2 state & local tax revenue. Yet, without clean habitats and biodiversity, we wouldn’t have the privilege to enjoy the prosperity that comes from the recreation industry.
Right now, some members of Congress are supporting efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act. We need the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws to protect our disappearing wildlife and public lands. Our senators should protect the Endangered Species Act.
Concern about the Title X gag rule
I’m writing this in an anxious state. The Title X gag rule concerns and disturbs me. The Trump administration is interjecting in the affairs of my health while not taking the time to know my name, story or how informed decision making in partnership, confidence and confidentiality with my provider has made me a more productive person and mother.
I’m a single mother of one. With all my efforts to find stable work and affordable housing, finding a place to receive healthcare during my pregnancy was not easy. Being a black woman, I often face the tough reality of people having prejudice against me. Planned Parenthood provided not only affordable healthcare, but the safety and comfort of knowing I could make informed decisions that met the realities of my life.
I’ve also made the decision to have an abortion. It’s nothing I am ashamed of. I felt empowered to choose what my mental capacity and body could take — and no one else has the right to make that choice for me. Planned Parenthood, with how it exists and operates, gives me confidence that my daughter will have the same rights and opportunities to make informed decisions about her healthcare regardless of her economic state.
The gag rule is trying to politicize my anatomy and rights as a woman, and that’s not OK. I’m calling on Maine’s elected officials to work to stop this gag rule and stand up for our right to receive ethical care.
Affordable housing in Bangor
An important issue needing further discussion, and that I believe could be improved, is our low-income housing. The poverty rate in Bangor is over 20 percent. These individuals, by the numbers, represent a large part of the community. We need to give these members of the community the highest possible standard of living.
One of our biggest low-income housing areas is Capehart, which is on the outskirts of Bangor. Residents who don’t own vehicles, washers and dryers must ride the bus into town for basic needs such as groceries and laundry. Having a laundromat and more frequent bus service and routes that go to Capehart would help alleviate that hardship.
We should take a closer look at how taxpayer money is being used and maximized for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) support. My understanding is that members of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners sometimes attend conferences related to the administration of HUD activities in Bangor. These type of conferences should be viewed as learning and educational tools not only for commissioners, but also Housing Authority occupants.
An innovative approach might be to pair each official attending a conference with a Housing Authority occupant as a team. Experiencing theses events from two perspectives could make our housing policies stronger, more inclusive and allow public housing residents to experience and be part of the process enabling their housing.