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Accountability and recovery
As a woman in long-term recovery, working on the front lines of substance use treatment for over a decade as a treatment provider, and a master’s of social work student, I know that incarcerating our way out of the substance use epidemic does not and will not work.
Incarceration creates significant obstacles to recovery and contributes to the problem. That’s why I support LD 967, Rep. Anne Perry’s efforts to restructure drug sentencing laws, focusing on access to treatment and support services.
When we incarcerate individuals with substance use disorder, we create barriers to recovery success by removing individuals from essential services that support their recovery, reinforcing trauma narratives, and fostering disconnection. When individuals are able to meet their basic needs such as housing, food security, warmth, safety, and connection, they are more successful in their recovery efforts. Individuals whom I serve as a treatment provider and who have significant barriers due to criminalization to these basic needs often do not make it to the six-month mark of treatment.
The 24 percent increase in Maine drug related deaths in 2020 during the pandemic reinforces what we in recovery and the treatment field already knew: individuals need to have their basic needs met and access to positive connections to build on their recovery capacities. I strongly believe LD 967 is a significant step in allowing accountability without creating barriers for individuals with substance use disorder to access the services they need for sustainable recovery. I urge anybody reading this to support LD 967.
Divest MEPERS from fossil fuels
LD 99 is a bill to divest the Maine state retirement program (MEPERS) of fossil fuel interests. Divestment from fossil fuels is an imperative to meet the demands of our changing climate, not to mention our local and state climate goals. But fossil fuel investments also threaten the stability and growth of MEPERS.
MEPERS has over $1 billion invested in fossil fuels. In the past year, these investments have lost approximately 9 percent, while the rest of the MEPERS portfolio gained approximately 9 percent. In real dollars, this means a loss of $133 million dollars in the last year alone.
And this is not just a pandemic anomaly. Fossil fuel stocks in the S&P 500 lost 16 percent over the 10 years prior to the pandemic, while the rest of the S&P 500 gained over 150 percent during that time. The losses incurred this year alone could have paid for every one of Maines’ 617 public schools to install a solar array worth $217,000.
As a public school teacher, a portion of each of my paychecks goes to the MEPERS fund. I am appalled that my money is being used to pursue the drilling, storage, and transport of fossil fuels, ultimately ensuring a less-livable world for my students. If people feel similarly, they should sign the petition on the 350maine.org website and contact their local representatives to express their support of LD 99.
Important fish farm questions
Renata Moise’s March 18 OpEd in the BDN, “Industrial fish farms pose dangers to Frenchman Bay” raises important questions about American Aquaculture’s lease application for closed pen salmon farming in Frenchman Bay. The project’s massive scale is underscored by the word “industrial” in the piece’s title, and the applicant’s own detailed description of the project size and complexity.
Along with questionable promises about “emergent technology” preserving the bay from environmental effects, American Aquafarm’s principle promotional argument is economic. Certainly Maine has economic issues, yet tax bases of communities around the bay, tiny Sorrento where I live, Winter Harbor, Lamoine, Hancock, Trenton, Bar Harbor, are greatly assisted by summer and tourist populations. Their per-capita assessed value and tax base is much higher than for communities not on the bay. (See 2021 Business Overview from Mount Desert Islander and Ellsworth American.)
This is in addition to traditional small scale marine industries whose existence contributes greatly to the bay’s economic value both on its own and through added tourism. A principle economic driver of the Frenchman Bay region is recreation and tourism, certainly more than the few hundred jobs American Aquaculture would provide. Major project profits would go to international investors not the local economy even with multiplier effects.
The recreational and tourist industries have great multipliers in the local skilled trades and service economies of Hancock County. The industrial scale and scope of this project are in direct conflict with the economy and environment of Frenchman Bay.