Credit: George Danby / BDN

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Child care is also a public safety issue

Recent news articles have provided important insight into the child care crisis Maine is facing. While the crisis has been looming for years, the pandemic has worsened it. One report indicating that  10 percent of child care centers in Maine have closed since the start of the pandemic and a BDN report that one Caribou child care center has  lost 23 teachers during the pandemic are stark examples of this crisis that we must address immediately.

Maine families, including many first responders, depend on a robust child care system. Maine’s economy and employers do as well. Most importantly, high-quality child care helps kids learn skills they need to do well in school, stay safe, and succeed as adults. Quality child care also helps improve community safety, by providing a safe and nurturing place for kids to grow and learn while their parents work. Their importance is magnified as we are recovering from the pandemic that has worsened Maine’s labor shortage, with lack of child care  cited as a major workforce barrier for parents across industries in Maine.

The pandemic has focused a much-needed spotlight on several of Maine’s economic and family challenges. A healthy, strong, and well-supported child care system is one, and one that is inextricably linked to public safety and the strength and success of Maine’s workforce and citizens. I urge Maine policymakers to continue moving forward efforts and boosting investments that strengthen this system, including its workforce, with the urgency the crisis requires.

Michael Gahagan

Chief of Police

Caribou

Stop the health worker vaccine mandate

I am a Certified Nursing Assistant of 16 years in a long term-care unit in Damariscotta. I care for the residents I serve. We are their second families that they see and depend on everyday. To be told I can no longer do my job is heartbreaking. I feel horrible this has to happen.

I am not losing my job voluntarily. Many have already quit and soon many will be “terminated,” which hurts not only the company but the residents/patients as well. Not to mention the employees who work 40 or more hours a week and are burnt out.

The staffing has always been short. If this mandate remains in effect, it could force these places to shut down. What happens then? The quality of patient care likely is going to drop worse than it is and that’s not fair to either patient or employees. Please find it in your hearts to stop the mandate.

Nicole Hodgkins

Jefferson

Remember Attica

Later this week, we observe the anniversary of two very sad events.

Yes, it’s been 20 years since 9/11, but also the 50th anniversary of the rebellion of prisoners at Attica State Prison in upstate New York and the slaughter of almost 40 prisoners and staff by New York state police.

Prisoners at Attica rose up against the inhumane living conditions they were forced to endure on Sept. 9, 1971. A list of demands and a hunger strike by inmates in previous weeks were ignored. They took 40 guards as hostages so they could communicate and negotiate with prison and state officials about problems such as improving medical care, increasing religious freedom, ending brutal segregation policies, and having educational and training opportunities. These are basic rights that we expect every human being, including those incarcerated, should have today.

Sadly, the state of New York stopped negotiating on Sept. 13, 1971. State police that were brought in opened fire randomly, killing 10 hostages and 29 unarmed inmates and wounding scores more. State officials claimed that prisoners had killed the hostages, but all 39 died from police bullets, according to the state medical examiner.

The massacre is a sad story of police brutality,  still mostly censored from the public even 50 years after the event. But, it was also the beginning of movements among the incarcerated for humane treatment.

Let us remember Attica as a lesson that each human being must be treated with rights and respect, including those accused or convicted of a crime. It is how we can achieve justice for all.

Larry Dansinger

Bangor