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Monday, December 2, 2019: USM name change a mistake, Trump and obeying orders, retirement benefit confusion

USM name change would be a costly mistake

In the 1970s, Gorham State College and the University of Maine at Portland merged, and the school was renamed the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham. This led to the unfortunate nickname “Po-Go” University, and after years of ridicule, the school decided to rename itself the University of Southern Maine.

Now, USM officials have decided to play the name change game again, proposing a change from USM to “ The University of Maine at Portland.” This would be an even bigger mistake than Po-Go.

For starters, USM isn’t just “at Portland.” It’s a regional school with campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. The opposition to this proposed change is widespread, coming from taxpayers and many students and staff at USM.

Also, this name change is going to require changing every label associated with USM at an estimated cost of at least $1.2 million and probably more. This would clearly be a misuse of taxpayer funds.

As one student told the Portland Press Herald: “If you want to put $1 million into USM there are a lot of things that would be better than a name change.”

Wiping out the reference to the entire Southern Maine region and replacing it with “Portland” is frankly insulting to local students and to all of the almost 600,000 residents of Southern Maine who have supported USM over the years. They deserve better.

I hope my colleagues in the Legislature will join me in rejecting this proposal.

Sen. Bill Diamond


Retirement benefits confusion

I fought alongside members of the Maine Education Association and the National Education Association for years to try to eliminate the Social Security Offsets of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. Sadly, though we battled hard, we did not win and those unfair practices are still in effect, penalizing workers who cross the private/public retirement systems.

Being very familiar with the issue, I read with interest the letter in the Nov. 26 BDN from Linda Annis of Rockport, who said she had been a nurse for 30 years and then worked in a public school for eight years. She said she was being denied her full earned Social Security as a result of crossing from the private to the public retirement systems. I am assuming she is speaking of the impact of the WEP as that affects an individual’s own earnings, whereas the GPO affects spousal benefits.

I believe that she will find, upon further research, that a work record of 30 years of what are termed “substantial earnings” negates the effect of the WEP Offset. Presumably a full-time nurse’s salary should met those guidelines. If the Social Security office did make her aware of the “substantial earnings chart” she should check the web site and go back and get a second opinion. I believe she will find she qualifies for her full benefits.

Sue Shaw


Obeying an oath

The Secretary of the Navy, when ordered to ignore war crimes, recently wrote “I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.” Wow! In today’s Washington, one politician after another behaves as if the oath means nothing to them, and American voters applaud them.

I served on a destroyer in the 1960s, tracking Soviet submarines, as Russia sought to place its missiles in Cuba. Every member of the crew, all of whom took the same oath as today’s congressmen and women, knew that the situation was potentially deadly. All of us took seriously the oath we had taken.

I shudder to think what it must be like today among U.S. crews at sea, particularly where Russian vessels are involved, as the commander-in-chief announces he trusts Russian intelligence sources more than American sources; orders US military units to abandon an ally in an area of interest to Russia; manipulates for personal, political purposes military aid intended for an ally in a fight for its life against Russia.

When we met ships of other NATO members, we knew we were all on the same side, serving each other. Today? I wonder.

Stefan Nadzo


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