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The NAMI Maine that I know and love
As a former employee of NAMI Maine, I read with great sadness Callie Ferguson’s story regarding NAMI Maine. The portrait painted in the story did not comport with my experience working at the organization. I have never seen a local nonprofit help so many, so consistently, so well.
The issues I personally experienced revolved around staff members who are no longer with the organization. I believe Jenna Mehnert is a consummate professional and her contribution to the common good would be hard to match. The characterization made via leaked emails, often taken out of context and not reflecting actions subsequent to their being written, bears no resemblance to the organization I know and love.
I have worked in media relations for more than 30 years, and in that time never have I witnessed a legitimate news organization allowing itself to be weaponized in the fashion that the BDN has. I am perplexed as to how this story advances anything but the personal agenda of those who supplied the leaked materials. It certainly does nothing to advance the cause of providing mental health services to the people of Maine.
However, I hope others will join me in contributing to NAMI Maine today. It is money well spent with an organization that is a good steward of your contributions. Whether is it providing suicide prevention training and support services, respite care for relatives of those with special needs, or being a strong, effective voice for enlightened mental health policy, I urge you to show your support with whatever you are able to give. That would be the only positive outcome of a truly sordid and sad episode for the BDN and those who advocate for a better Maine.
Susan Collins and Sara Gideon both in the Senate
News sources are reporting that President-elect Joe Biden is considering Sen. Angus King to be director of national intelligence. His selection would be Maine’s loss and America’s gain, by which I mean Maine would miss his commanding presence in the U.S. Senate, but the security of every American, including us, would be greatly enhanced.
In that event, Gov. Janet Mills will need to appoint a replacement to fill King’s vacated Senate seat. Surely, the best and most logical choice for that is Sara Gideon.
Earlier this month, Sen. Susan Collins won reelection to the Senate with just over half of the vote, meaning that just under half of Maine voters chose someone else. According to figures in the BDN, a large percentage of those chose Gideon. So, with Collins and Gideon both representing Maine in the U.S. Senate, very nearly every Maine voter would be able to boast: “My choice won”! Now that’s bipartisanship!
We all deserve access to justice
Thank you to BDN writer Caitlin Andrew’s for highlighting the lack of a public defender’s office in Maine in the Nov. 10 article about Maine’s indigent legal defense system. Why is Maine the only state in the U.S. without a public defender’s office? To me, it indicates a lack of priority in our system for the legal rights of those who are incarcerated.
I have volunteered for 10 years in our local jail and by far the biggest concern I see is not getting timely responses from attorneys who are assigned to indigent inmates through the Commission for Indigent and Legal Services. If in fact they are underfunded as has been suggested by a report from the Sixth Amendment Center, I am in hopes that this will be addressed in the next legislative session.
Our incarcerated brothers and sisters deserve to receive the same measure and access to justice that the rest of us in Maine enjoy.