Letters to the editor, Week of May 18, 2017

Thanks from food pantry

To the editor:

The Palermo Food Pantry thanks the generous people of Palermo who donated food for the pantry in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive sponsored by our post office. It was a great success again this year and is much appreciated by many families. Anyone who would like to support the Palermo Food Pantry may bring non-perishable food items on Tuesdays after 10 a.m., or call for a pick up. The pantry is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – noon and is located at the Community Center across from the ball field on Turner Ridge Road.

Palermo food pantry volunteers

Letters to the editor, Week of May 4, 2017

Elected official puts special interests first

To the editor:

The fifth and final bill submitted this session by Rep. Tim Theriault, L.D. 868 – “An Act Regarding Game That Is Confiscated in Connection with an Alleged Violation of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Laws” – was heard by the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on April 20. Rep. Theriault is a member of that committee. The bill would allow those who kill a deer or moose and are found not guilty in court, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence, to shoot another deer or moose if the meat from that animal has been confiscated and not returned.

The bill was opposed by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife which argued that they already have in place a process to provide a license to shoot another deer or moose in cases where they wrongfully confiscated the animal and failed to return the meat. In other words, there is no need to create a new statute and no need for this bill. Had Rep. Theriault adequately researched the matter, he would have known that. During the work session, all of the committee members except for Rep. Theriault and one other voted the bill Ought Not To Pass. This is the fourth of Rep. Theriault’s five bills that was voted Ought Not To Pass by either a large majority or by a unanimous vote.

Not a single bill sponsored by Rep. Theriault this session does anything to promote jobs, taxes, seniors, veterans and the Second Amendment, all of which are the priorities he cited during his re-election campaign. While on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committee he voted in favor of all six pro-Sunday hunting bills regardless of the consequences to our wildlife resources or the fact that landowners have threatened to close their land to hunting if any Sunday hunting is allowed. After those final votes, he said aloud “We did our job” about himself and the one other committee member who also voted for all six bills. He was also the only committee member to vote against a bill to increase penalties for baiting deer, one of the most common and unsporting poaching violations.

Far too often elected officials put special interests before the public interest. They either forget why they were voted in or they run for office for the wrong reasons. As citizens, taxpayers and voters it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable. That’s the only way our democracy will work.

John M. Glowa, Sr.
China

Letters to the editor, Week of 13, 2017

Left turn on red ill-conceived idea

To the editor:

L.D. 977, “An Act To Allow a Motorist to Make a Left Hand Turn at a Red Light Under Certain Conditions” was recently voted “Ought Not To Pass” by the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee. It was sponsored by Representative Tim Theriault who submitted the bill at the request of a resident of Albion. The individual who requested the bill cited “stress levels that can’t be measured as one waits to turn” as well as “efficiency, fuel economy…time and money” as reasons to support the bill. Neither he nor Rep. Theriault made any mention in their written testimony of the increased accidents, injuries and deaths that would likely result if the bill was passed.

In his written testimony, Rep. Theriault stated, “There have been many times that I have personally been stuck at a red light without a soul around. I see no reason for people to be sitting there idling, wasting gas and polluting the environment when we used to be able to make that turn, before there was a light.” One individual who opposed the bill stated that “it has to be the most irresponsible piece of legislation I have ever seen.” The Maine Department of Public Safety (Maine State Police) opposed the bill. Their testimony stated in part, “Last year in Maine there were about 30,482 reportable crashes. 4,684 of those involved unsafe intersection movement. 1,550 of those crashes resulted in someone being injured and, tragically, 16 people were killed in addition to those injured…. We fear that should LD 977 become law that these numbers would only increase. We feel that no other outcome is possible if we were to allow people to proceed through red lights. Think about the driving behaviors you have seen in your travels. Consider the number of drivers who roll through stop signs even though the law says that you must come to a complete stop and then proceed if it is safe to do so. How long do you think it will take before vehicle operators are rolling through red lights?”

Thank you for this opportunity to present this information regarding the issues and outcome of this ill-conceived and dangerous bill. Thankfully, the legislature gave it the time and attention that it deserved.

John M. Glowa Sr.
South China

They were here first

To the editor:

[I] read this morning in a local paper about the KKK flyers appearing in towns in Maine, especially Skowhegan, and how Native American leader Barry Dana calls the school district and people hypocrites due to the fact that they still will not erase the name “Indian” [as the school mascot] and consider this just as much bigotry as the KKK.

This brings back memories to me when serving in the military and sharing a BOQ (bachelor officer quarters) years ago who told me about being a chief of his tribe yet somehow ended up being drafted during World War II. There are numerous stories back then and now about bigotry against the Native American. Imagine after serving on Iwo Jima during World War II and then get back home and still not be able to buy or enter a beer saloon in your own state. Wish everyone had seen the Code Talkers, a movie about how valiantly Native Americans were as the Japs couldn’t understand their language, so they communicated for the Marines in that era. Must mention their superiors were told never to let one of our code talkers to get captured as the Japs would break their code. Of course, this meant, if necessary, to kill the code talkers if there was a chance of them being captured.

Years ago, I saw a cartoon in U.S. News and World Report showing Pilgrims talking and the caption read, “What would the Indians have if not for us white men?” Well, I thought about my friend of years ago in the BOQ and the stories he told me. With that in mind, I wrote the following letter to U.S. News and World Report:

“Your cartoon was not only tasteless and not funny, but did a great disservice to the Native Americans and with that in mind, please send the cartoonist my answer to the Pilgrim’s question in that awful cartoon – I hate to even call it that. The Native Americans would still have their clear blue skies, pure and clean rivers, abundant with fish, millions of buffalo for his meat and fertile soil to plant his vegetables, etc. But most important, he and she would not be living as second class citizens imprisoned on reservations located in a country he and she both owned.”

Frank Slason
Somerville

Letters to the editor, Week of March 30, 2017

Some hurting is good

To the editor:

Recently I have received some criticism for a letter to the editor I wrote some time ago in reaction to another letter-writer calling America a “Christian Nation” and founded on “Christian values.” In my response, I pointed out that not only is this claim historically incorrect, it is also unnecessarily exclusive and antithetical to the original vision of the very founding fathers people use to bolster this fallacious claim.

The primary objection to my pointing out the inaccuracy of this assertion is that I “hurt people” by doing so. If it is “hurtful” to correctly point out the inaccurate and injurious views of others, then it is the best kind of pain and we should all feel it more often.

For those still feeling injured, ask yourselves how you would feel should I make the claim, “America is a Muslim Nation founded on Muslim values!”

“Foul,” you cry! “Inaccurate,” you scream. “This is my America!” you insist.

Yes, and that is exactly how non-Christian Americans feel when they hear you making this claim.

But it is the historical inaccuracy that bothers me the most. And I think it warrants a brief lesson in basic Western History:

Hopefully you already know that America declared independence in 1776, but perhaps you are not aware of the broader context of this historical period. The ideas and vision of the men and women responsible for the birth of America were a product of their times and those ideas did not suddenly spring into being in that summer of revolution.

So what was this context? You may remember from sophomore history class something called “The Age of Enlightenment,” or “The Age of Reason.” According to Wikipedia, The Age of Enlightment was “an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century,” and included “a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.” Does that sound like the Christian religion at the end of the 16th Century? No.

Our founding fathers were children of this intellectual movement.

The entire drive of this cultural revolution was in reaction to the previous one thousand years of Christian autocracy in Western Europe. It began with the Reformation of the 16th Century and culminated in the French Revolution in 1790. Our Founding Fathers were born at the peak of this anti-religious fervor.

If you had asked a person in the 18th Century what the values of a Christian society were, they would not mention freedom of speech, equality or individual freedoms. These were new ideas put forth by our Founding Fathers and others like them, in contrast to existing Christian ideas about government, such as the Divine Right of Kings (which was a Christian idea adopted from the Romans).

Twenty-first century Christianity has changed to conform to the ideas put forth during the Enlightenment — not the other way around. Those that put forth the idea I’m objecting to are projecting their current values back in time rather than looking at the actual historical record.

If our Founding Fathers had truly created a “Christian Nation” or based it on the “Christian Values” of their time, we would not have a free democracy but an autocratic theocracy, just as we had for over a thousand years during the time when the universal Christian church was the dominant force in the Western world.

It is a very good thing that Christians now include “freedom of speech” and “individual liberties” as a part of their value system, but that is a recent adoption as the result of our enlightened Founding Fathers creating a nation in spite of established religion, not because of it. Thank God our founders had the foresight to create a nation absent the controlling effects of organized religion! And so thankful that the institution of Christianity has, for the most part, finally seen the light!

Eric Austin
China

Eric is an atheist living in a predominantly Christian society and he thinks this is his America, too!

Clever move to wait on price hike

To the editor:

Dear readers, try to vision this scenario: You drive into a place with a large building with flags out and the building has large windows fronting where you are driving in. Inside sits a little man at a desk with a comfortable pillow for his behind. This man feels his duty is to scan, stare and whatever, to see if people/citizens who, in his opinion, need to be watched are up to something, Suddenly, he sees his quarry and quickly sends out his troops to check on a person or persons who have invaded his domain. Albeit not stealthy, his troops slowly approach and not saying “papers please,” although implied by their demeanor but not saying anything, just looking as does the man in the tower.

Got the picture? No, it’s not 1930s Germany and the little man is not you know who. And his troops are not SS men. All these people work for the infamous Tri-County Solid Waste Transfer Station, located in Union.

Now, understandably, realize they have to be aware of “innocent violators” who make mistakes and don’t realize some things do not belong in some containers, but more and much larger signs need to be posted to eliminate this terrible misunderstanding between Tri-county and its customers. Concerning keeping bags and money inside the building I have a good suggestion. Let the little man who has way too much time on his hands, to have people come into his office and let him collect the money for bags. One problem solved and should let Tri-county know that you have to make money, but, as taxpayers and consumers of your bags, we be treated with a little more respect. I will close with, according to what I have heard, you were very clever in waiting for my town to sign a contract with you before raising the bag price by 50-cents.

Frank Slason
Somerville

Letters to the editor, Week of March 23, 2017

Thanks to sponsors

To the editor:

Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District’s (KLSW) 70th Anniversary Environmental Education Fundraiser held on March 7, at Flatbread Company, in Rockport, was a great success. In addition to raising funds, the event celebrated the winners of this year’s K-6 Conservation Poster Contest on the theme “Healthy Soils Are Full of Life.” Lots of poster contest winners from schools in Knox and Lincoln counties attended to celebrate and view the gorgeous gallery of winning posters, which were hung all around the restaurant. A good time was had and they raised $600 to support the K-12 programs which are free to all Knox and Lincoln K-12 students.

We extend our most heartfelt thanks to Flatbread Company for selecting the Conservation District as a community recipient of their donation program, everyone who showed up to enjoy pizza (and buy raffle tickets), and our generous raffle prize donors: Mystic Woodworks in Warren for one of their beautiful wooden cutting boards; Final-Lee Acres & Wandering Goat, in Union, for a native bee nesting box and Gardeners Goat Milk Soap; and Maine Summer Dog, in Union, for two hand-painted wooden gardening signs. In addition, the Conservation District donated a $70 gift certificate for our spring plant sale coming up on May 6 and 7, at Union Fairgrounds; a Bokashi Composting Kit; and a Sure-Close Kitchen Compost Pail. Winners of the evening’s raffle are: Ann Mynttinen, Rockland; Cindy Kava, Rockport; Riley Neugebauer, Lincolnville; and Becky Ford, Camden.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to making this event a winner – and you may want to visit our website to treat yourself to a slide show of the winning posters (www.knox-lincoln.org/k-6-postercontest).

Hildy Ellis, District Coordinator for the Board and Staff of Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District

Letters to the editor, Week of March 16, 2017

Need to keep government accountable

To the editor:

On March 7, I attended a public hearing on L.D. 430 – “An Act To Amend the Exemption for Highway Contractors and Subcontractors under the Arborist Licensing Laws”. The bill is sponsored by District #79 Representative Tim Theriault and was submitted at the request of a licensed arborist who owns a tree pruning and removal business in China.

The purpose of the bill is to force the state of Maine to have or hire an arborist for any highway related tree removal that requires the use of an aerial lift. This bill would put money into the pockets of licensed arborists at an added expense to taxpayers.

At the public hearing on the bill, Representative Theriault had nothing to say about it, good, bad or indifferent. The constituent who requested the bill had no information about it, appeared not to know what it says, and did not even have a copy of it while giving his oral testimony. Neither proponent gave any written or verbal explanation of the bill or stated why it was needed. The bill was opposed by the Maine Dept. of Transportation and the Associated General Contractors of Maine.

L.D. 55, Representative Theriault’s bill for taxing the customers of the Kennebec Water District $650,000 over a period of 15 years, was killed unanimously by the legislative committee. It was named “An Act To Provide Funding for the Restoration of China Lake,” but this ill-conceived and poorly written bill contained no explanation for how the money would be spent, who would spend it, who would be held accountable, how success would be measured, or why the customers of KWD should have to pay for a problem that they did not create. Our government should not be in the business of taking money and then giving it away without any provision for accountability.

OUR government is only as good as the people in it. If we fail to hold OUR government accountable, we unfortunately get what we deserve.

John M. Glowa, Sr.
South China

Letters to the editor, Week of March 9, 2017

Thanks for all the help

To the editor:

The members of the Branch Mills Grange, #336, of Palermo, extend their most sincere gratitude to the numerous volunteers who gave so generously of their time, skilled labor, and construction know-how to repair the foundation of our Grange Hall. We would like to formally recognize Gary Dyer, Jeffery Grady, Jamie French, Reggie French, Brandon Haskell, Tony Tuttle, and Colin Dyer who collectively donated several hundred hours of their time, Many thanks also to Dusty Haskell who voluntarily performed all earthworks related excavation, back-filling, grading, foundation removal, and temporary underground anchor placements.

We’d also like to recognize Blane Casey Building Constructors, of Augusta, for the loan of needed construction equipment, and Mattingly Concrete Products, of Anson, for their help and support in the pouring of the concrete. Thanks to S. D. Childs, of Palermo, for providing gravel for the footing drains, and to Gerald Pottle and James Grady for cables and turnbuckles to stabilize the building. Thanks also to Gary Robinson and Scott Bailey for removing the brick hazard from the chimney to allow for safe egress from the basement. Additionally, we thank Mrs. St. Pierre for the use of her land to access the building’s basement.
The dedication of these selfless volunteers, as well as the generous donations from the residents and businesses of Palermo will ensure that our Grange Hall will proudly stand for another 100 years.

Branch Mills Grange members

Letters to the editor, Week of February 23, 2017

Lake restoraton bill ill-conceived

To the editor:

In a letter to the editor published in the January 26, 2017, edition of The Town Line, I raised several issues regarding Rep. Theriault’s L.D. 55, “An Act To Provide Funding for the Restoration of China Lake.” On February 16, the public hearing on the bill was held before the legislative Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. I attended the public hearing, in part because Rep. Theriault did not reply to my requests for information and because the bill itself contained no information other than its purpose to “charge a fee to customers of the Kennebec Water District (for a limited number of years) to be used to restore the water quality of China Lake.”

This poorly written and ill-conceived bill is silent on such details as what Rep Theriault means by “restoration,” how this “restoration” would be conducted, whether or not “restoration is even feasible,” how much “restoration” would cost and how long it would take, why “restoration” is needed, whether or not it would result in “restoration” of China Lake, where the money would go and who would oversee and be held accountable for this “restoration,” why the customers of the KWD would be assessed this tax when they are not the ones responsible for polluting or “restoring” the lake, why there is no DEP involvement when it is the statutory responsibility of that agency to preserve, protect and enhance the waters of the state, why no state funding was requested, and what systems are in place to insure that the monies collected are properly spent.

The committee and the public heard very few answers from Rep. Theriault. Perhaps this lack of information prior to and during the hearing was an attempt to stifle public comment. Rep. Theriault did state that his intent was to collect $43,000 per year from KWD customers over a 15-year period for a total tax on KWD customers of some $645,000. He stated that the money would go into a fund managed by the town of China and would be used to pay for various projects. That’s it. He provided no evidence of who would be held accountable or that this tax would result in any “restoration” of China Lake.

Rep. Theriault’s bill is an excellent example of poor government. It provides for no accountability of what would amount to a slush fund for the town of China to use as it sees fit. It taxes individuals who are not responsible for either creating nor correcting the problem. It ignores the responsibilities of private citizens, the state and the town of China to comply with and properly administer laws intended to protect water quality. It hands over hundreds of thousands of dollars to the town of China and neither asks for nor provides any evidence that the water quality of China Lake will be restored.

As a resident of China for more than 30 years, and as a former employee of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, I know that China Lake is China’s most important natural, cultural and economic resource. One way to continue the process of improving the water quality of China Lake could be for the town of China to hire a China Lakekeeper, much like Portland’s Casco Baykeeper and New York’s Hudson Riverkeeper. This individual could be the point person for the town for all lake related matters and a strong advocate for the lake by working to insure that citizens and the town live up to their legal responsibilities for environmental compliance. Poorly crafted legislation that makes others pay for our mistakes is not the solution. Hard work and holding people and our government accountable for their actions would be a good start.

John M. Glowa, Sr.
South China

Letters to the editor, Week of February 9, 2017

Communication two-way street

To the editor:

After reading last week’s letter from John Glowa regarding Rep. Timothy Theriault’s failure to respond to questions about his five bills being presented during this legislative session, I felt prompted to share my experience.

Last fall, after reviewing Mr. Theriault’s legislative ‘score card’ on several websites, I was disappointed and puzzled by some of his decisions. On October 31, 2016 – in preparation for the following week’s elections – I sent him an e-mail asking if he could explain why he voted against LD 92 (Increase Minimum Wage to $8/hour), LD 319 (Expand Coverage for Reproductive Health Care & Family Services), LD 325 (Strengthen Recycling of Single-use Plastic Shopping Bags), LD 341 (Prevent Tax Haven Abuse), LD 633 (Provide Affordable Coverage Options to Low-income Uninsured Citizens), LD 977 (Improve Child Care), and LD 1165 (Toxic Chemical Protections in the Workplace). I also asked about LD 1378, which addressed the release of Land Management Funds; I wasn’t sure if he had voted to override the Governor’s 2016 veto, but hoped that when the amended version of the bill came up in January 2017, he would vote to release the funding which the citizens of Maine had already approved.

In addition, I asked why he supported LD 652 (Carry Concealed Handguns Without a Permit), LD 750 (Allow Regulated Metal Mining), and LD 1397 (Divert Timber Harvest Revenue to Affordable Heating).

After receiving no response and thinking perhaps he didn’t check or have access to his maine.gov e-mail when the Legislature was not in session, I forwarded my original request on November 10, 2016, to another address which I found on the town’s website. Although it was post-election, Mr. Theriault had been re-elected and I wanted to better understand his earlier voting history.

On November 28, I forwarded my e-mail yet again as I’d received no response nor any returns indicating the addresses I had used were not valid. On December 1, Rep. Theriault responded, asking for my phone number and a good time for him to call “to talk about my concerns.” On December 3, I sent him the information as requested and thanked him for contacting me.

Two months later, I have yet to hear from our representative. At this point, I do not want a telephone call from Mr. Theriault. If he feels inclined to respond, I would prefer he do so by e-mail, or better yet, to The Town Line so that its readers will also be informed of his voting rationale. Our elected officials need to remember that the process does not end with the tally of votes on election day. As representatives of their communities, I believe they should be responsive to inquiries of their constituents. We’re being encouraged to be more active and take an interest in our government, but communication is a two-way street.

Jayne Winters
South China

Letters to the editor, Week of February 2, 2017

Disagree with obit

To the editor:

Why?

When our son’s obituary was printed in your paper we were so saddened to see that you took it upon yourselves to rewrite what we had written for our hearts.

God forbid that this should ever happen to us again but if it should be we would rather you not print the obituary at all if you feel the need to rewrite what we as parents wrote.

Carrol and Susan White
China