February 25, 2020
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Marijuana jobs, fire cider and ‘wall of shame’: Here’s what BDN readers talked about this week

Konstantin Yuganov | Adobe Stock
Konstantin Yuganov | Adobe Stock
Hand with cartoon speech on colorful background. Yellow, pink and blue colors.

The latest cause for the diminishing number of employees to work in Maine’s busy restaurant scene? Marijuana.

As the BDN’s Nick Schroeder reported earlier this week, restaurants are having an even harder time retaining employees since marijuana became legalized in Maine — and could still see further impacts as it becomes legal to sell pot and edibles.

Here’s what you had to say (some responses edited lightly for clarity):

upnorth21: “Restaurants continually lose workers to any job that pays a decent wage and benefits.
Restaurant work is a gold mine for a few. Working in upscale venues, if they’re physically attractive and the expense account patrons are drunk enough. But for the rest, the ultralow minimum wage and capricious allotment of hours of work make any decent alternative a no brainer.

“As well, the tip economy allows many workers to avoid declaring their true income, a short term gain but often a long term regret. When they retire and find that low SS wages means bottom end SS benefits. And it’s hard to shield undeclared income in an IRA. Wearing a tight blouse doesn’t get you many tips when you’re 65.

“As with so many other things, the great shining beacon on the hill, the USA, is socially backward in this area. The Europeans do it better. They pay their staff decently. The price on the menu is what you pay, including tax in most places. A gratuity is sometimes given, a modest one. A couple of to a few Euros, usually to round up to the nearest 5 or 10 Euro total. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you have decent income protection. Your health care is part of the package.

“But we have shown leadership in one key area, the inability to follow a better example, even when it is glaringly obvious.”

Proud_Mainer: “Many many business owners haven’t woken up to the realities of this economy …. They still think they can request college graduate level employees for low-paying positions like they could during the Great Recession.”

WaxlyM (in response to Proud_Mainer): “Not only that, but then demand mandatory nights/weekends/overtime, etc. I hope that restaurants who don’t get it continue to struggle until they do or go under. Having been associated with the restaurant industry in many capacities my whole working life, this is a comeuppance by labor against these unrealistic expectations that was long overdue. I hope it continues until the industry gets it. Employees are not slaves or machines to be ridden hard until they burn out.”

SmartenUp: “There’s the key phrase in the article: …rather than pay higher wages…’

“Owners need to be smarter, raise their menu prices, and raise the pay at the same time.

“Restaurant dining is entertainment, not a ‘service’ to the community.

“Investors come in, looking to make a fast buck, but do it on the backs of the labor.

“Work 80 hours a week? For $12-14/hour?

“I would ‘tend bud’ any day over that slavery…”

More conversation starters from the week’s top stories:

He was nearly killed in a motorcycle crash. 7 years later, he’s hitting the trails again.

patom1: “Great job Henry, I hope your recovery continues on. It is your individual story and effort and you will progress as far as your body will allow. Probably more than you think.

“You aren’t alone in your situation. There are thousands who have suffered brain injury, as I’m sure you already know. I’m betting that the vast majority of them would agree with you that wearing a helmet is one of the smartest things they could have done but sadly didn’t.”

Discover the Maine camp that attracts people who say they can talk to the dead

citizen: “When I was younger, I read about Camp Etna, and was always in aw that there was a place like that close to Carmel, Me. I drove by there every day for years as I drove my wife to Bangor for cancer treatment. I always thought the cottages reminded me of Hansel and Gretel and the cottage in the woods they went in to, but was more fascinated than anything. Can’t believe that so many people in Etna didn’t know what was their. I read about the camp 40yrs ago.”

St. Mary’s hospital employees created a ‘wall of shame’ of patients with disabilities

Pesky_millennial: “Truly a vile breach of trust and accountability. We are here to care for people and to keep their medical records confidential. There needs to be a very thorough investigation of their medical records access policy and there will undoubtedly be an investigation on the HIPAA breaches.”

St. Mary’s hospital apologizes for ‘wall of shame’

raysgirl: “I am glad the hospital removed the display. This one, from a healthcare worker’s perspective seems especially troubling since it was likely located with the Laboratory Dept. These workers would not, or should not be privvy to patient complaints other than the reason for ordering tests. There would be little reason for any MLT to access a patient’s record, although there may be the occasional necessity. I would not think those occasional times would be sufficient to put together a wall of shame unless it had been going on for many years. I really hope this hospital has plans to re-educate all of their ancillary staff, or even all of their staff, on HIPPA rules and the patients’ right to privacy.”

How Bangor plans to make the city more walkable

billyG: “It is interesting that the author fails to address the other side of the equation, namely pedestrian laws. There is zero enforcement of, or education about, the numerous laws that apply to use of crosswalks and bicycles. The single minded, myopic view that vehicles are the only issue relating to pedestrians and bicycles will only make the situation. worse. There is a dedicated Police presence downtown that makes no effort to enforce or educate about the applicable laws for cyclists or pedestrians. When the powers-that-be only listen/pay attention to one side of the story the best that can be achieved is an incomplete plan, the worst is an unworkable plan which is where we are presently headed!”

pizanos: “Bangor should find ways to divert more automobile through-traffic from its center. Downtown, especially Main St. and State St., should be mostly for local traffic and commerce. Through traffic should be routed around where and when possible.”

Get a glimpse of Maine’s fall foliage by planes, trains and automobiles

woodysway: “Mt. Ira in Carrabasset Valley and Quill Hill near Rangeley are both spectacular places to visit. Donations are accepted and when you go, you’ll see why — and gladly donate.”

A fight over ‘fire cider’ pits Maine herbal folk traditions against Corporate America

common_sense: “Why should companies be allowed to trademark common phrases that have been used for decades? I hope common sense prevails. That’s like Lebron trying to trademark Taco Tuesday. Common sense prevailed there.”

Meet the woman who wants to be the first Somali-American on Lewiston’s City Council

patom1: “She seems to be running as a resident of Lewiston. The issue of lead paint in apartment buildings is something that needs to be addressed in every town in Maine and across the country.

“The fact that she was born in Somalia should not be an issue, although some people will make it their central focus. Their focus should be on the issues that she is supporting or attempting to fix.”

Iwantout: “More power to her. I give her kudos for wanting to get involved. For those that grouse about her running…run for office yourself. I’ve been involved in town politics. It can be a thankless job, it can be a rewarding job or a combination thereof. If people don’t want to get involved: “No time,” “Too busy,” you don’t have any complaints. This would also pertain to those that don’t vote…using the same, lame excuses.”

head_scratching_citizen, in response to Iwantout: “Having worked in local government for 5+ years myself, I couldn’t agree more. It was then, as it is now, a given that those who complain the most or are highly critical about government are the ones who know the least about it. As a subset, you can include those that either demand the most or have the most unrealistic expectations of government are the ones who participate the least.

“Someone willingly vying for an elected position at the local level should be encouraged and supported.”

Maine’s ‘death with dignity’ law is in effect. Here’s how the rollout is going.

GrammyofWandA: “I yearn for this law to stay on the books at least until the time I need it, and hopefully forever. I know many people my age who feel the same way.

“I disagree with anyone who argues that terminally ill patients must be forced to endure a prolonged and agonizing death just to satisfy one or another sect’s religious beliefs.”

Presque Isle will adopt state retirement program to help retain its first responders

Jerry_Davis: “The reason people leave a job is primarily leadership, which historically has been a problem in Presque Isle according to the BDN. In the end staff will not be happy with this program nor will the taxpayer in a city with the highest property taxes in the State of Maine.”

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