Government workers not the problem
I was saddened and confused by the negative comments directed toward furloughed government workers in the Jan. 5 .COMments. This political standoff is not their fault, and they are the ones paying the price. To insinuate that they do not “live in the real world” is mean spirited and directing anger in the wrong direction. I would say that anyone who is working and not getting paid or told they can go home with no income to pay bills is very much in the real world.
Take the anger and contact your congressional representatives. Help your neighbors, furloughed or not, by giving them some help, even if it is someone to listen to. Shovel some snow for an elderly neighbor. Direct your negative energy into a positive activity.
You could even go for a walk in a national park, when they open, and find the value in activity in the great outdoors.
Mills Medicaid order helps fight against cancer
I want to thank Gov. Janet Mills for striking a blow in the fight against cancer by signing an executive order to increase access to Medicaid for more than 70,000 Mainers. The governor’s decision to implement the will of Maine voters, who decisively approved a ballot measure to increase access to Medicaid in 2017, will help to protect our communities from cancer’s deadly toll.
The single most important factor in determining whether someone survives a cancer diagnosis is whether that person has health insurance. People without health insurance are less likely to get recommended cancer screening and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages, when it is costlier to treat, and they are less likely to survive.
As a cancer survivor and an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, I have seen this firsthand. Because I had health insurance, I was able to have my cancer diagnosed and treated successfully, surviving my disease. But many Maine families haven’t been as lucky. During her inaugural address, Mills told the story of her friend Patty who “died needlessly from breast cancer, a disease that could have been diagnosed early, treated, and cured.”
By acting swiftly to increase access to Medicaid, the governor has given more than 70,000 Mainers access to the quality, affordable care they need to help prevent and treat cancer and live a healthy life. I extend my gratitude to her on behalf of cancer survivors, patients and advocates across our state.
Say no to Hydro-Quebec
Those considering their opinion on the proposed Central Maine Power corridor should be aware of the environmental and cultural collateral damage that precedes any damage the project would cause in Maine.
Damming by Hydro-Quebec has flooded nearly 7 million acres of pristine habitat in northern Quebec. This habitat was depended on by migratory mammals such as elk and seasonal habitat for migratory waterfowl. Flooding caused by dams is also a documented source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Control of these lands was taken from the Cree natives by the Quebec provincial government using an eminent-domain like process. Boyce Richardson outlines the struggles of the Cree Nation to keep control of their traditional hunting grounds in his 1974 book “Strangers Devour the Land,” an excellent resource or anyone who wants to know the backstory to the current debate.
I wrote a nearly identical letter to a newspaper in my home state of New Hampshire eight years ago when Hydro-Quebec was proposing this project there. After a decade of debate, the people of New Hampshire said no to Hydro-Quebec, and I know the people of Maine have equal or greater resolve.
Open our government
What would happen if every airplane in this country was grounded right now? Would you be stranded somewhere? Would your family? Would you miss out on a trip you are excited to take? Would you worry about storms you would not know were coming, pile ups on the highway, injuries and the unspeakable, deaths? Would you worry about the food you serve to your family? Lettuce anyone? Salmonella? Would you care about our national lands and monuments, trash, drinking water, air you breath?
The shutdown impacts people working at our airports keeping us safe and the airplanes checked for problems, air traffic controllers who talk to pilots around our country so your plane does not crash in mid air, those who protect our borders (irony there), those who keep you updated when your weather turns violent, those who protect and care for our national parks and monuments, those who work at NASA, our federal courts working to keep those guilty of horrific crimes behind bars, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, including food inspectors, and more.
Many of these people are mostly working without pay and many have been sent home. These people want to work and are not allowed. This is not a paid vacation. A large percentage of workers may never see their pay.
Open our government. Protect our people, work together to find the way to build the wall if needed. Time for us to be calling our senators? You decide. But hurry.
Support sick leave in Portland
Being forced to choose between working when very sick or forgoing one’s pay isn’t fair.
Unfortunately, this is a choice many of us make, particularly my friends and family members in low-wage, part-time and service industry jobs. Many without paid sick time are the very people we all rely on every day.
A paid sick day ordinance is a no-brainer for collective public health but also would mean we can take care of our families and ourselves properly and bounce back to health sooner. Let’s encourage the city of Portland to pass an earned paid sick time ordinance that will cover all workers and treat them equally.
Please encourage city councilors to pass an ordinance that is universal and doesn’t exclude per diem workers. Many health care workers are only offered per diem work and don’t have regular hours, even though they work full time week after week. Please also encourage councilors to drop the two-tiered system where some workers earn 48 hours of paid sick time and others can only earn 24. The paid sick days ordinance should protect all workers equally. Let’s role model what we want here and bring this to the state level next.