I recently received e-mails from my state senator and from Senate President Libby Mitchell asking for support of the bond package that the Legislature has approved. In the past I have voted for almost every bond package on the ballot.

With so much money being cut from the educational programs across the state, should it be looking to borrow money for bond packages? This coming year and for years into the future, our schools are going to be so understaffed it is disgusting.

Teachers are not going to have time to give any children any special attention because their class sizes are going to be so large. I fully realize that bond packages are not used to fund education programs, but there has to be something done. Everyone says that our children are our future.

President Obama is stressing the need to improve the standard of education for our children. No Child Left Behind has become a joke. Yet we are going to be asked to borrow millions of dollars to fix our roads and bridges, for a pier for Portland, and so on.

We as the state of Maine need to readjust our priorities. Instead of rushing to pass this bond package, lawmakers should have been finding ways to obtain money to fund the educational programs that have been cut.

Paul Doucette

Gorham

 

The Maine Department of Transportation is throwing $5 million into the wind. DOT wants to spend this money on William Clarke Drive in Westbrook — as far as I can see, only to beautify it. This road was built as a bypass to get traffic off the main street, and that is exactly what it does. It may be a mile long at the most, and we now have six traffic lights and they want to add at least two more.

But the people on River Road in Windham want this money used on a road that is very dangerous and has many more accidents than William Clarke Drive. They deserve this money, as this road has been in very bad condition for many years and nothing has been done to it. DOT says it will be approximately two more years before it might get done. that time you won’t be able to use it, anyway.

It is my understanding that Pike Industries got $35 million for the job on I-295 up around the Richmond area. Because the firm finished three weeks early, it got a $2 million bonus. The Maine Turnpike Authority went up on tolls at its toll booths to get more money. It has also built a new building on the road from outer Congress Street to Western Avenue in the Jetport area.

I wrote to Gov. Baldacci about this and all he did was give my letter to the commissioner of transportation to get in touch with me. So far, a month later, I have not heard a word.

Come on, Gov. Baldacci, don’t you care where this money is spent? Apparently nobody checks to see where money is spent. That must be why we are in such bad shape. They just don’t care as long as we keep approving bonds for highways and bridges. Let’s change this next election.

Leona Glidden

Westbrook

Casco incident over, but issues of racism continue

On the surface, the Casco e-mail incident that made headlines appears to be resolved. The Board of Selectmen voted to censure one of their fellow members for forwarding a disturbing racist e-mail about Michelle Obama.

Barbara York has publicly apologized for her transgression and Antonio Jackson, an African-American resident, graciously accepted her apology and called upon the community to join him in forgiving her.

But I fear this is not the end of a controversy that is certainly not confined to the municipality of Casco.

These so-called “jokes,” the cartoons, demeaning the color of one’s skin, one’s religious beliefs or one’s sexual orientation, will persist.

The hatred they imply is rooted too deeply in the hearts of too many of our worthy fellow citizens.

Who among us has not received one of these “humorous” e-mails or even more appalling, sent one?

Who among us has not heard one of these “they’re just jokes” at a public gathering or across the kitchen table? Or even more inexcusable, told one. Did we just laugh politely at the narrator’s wit, or did we reproach them and demand an apology? Did we feel any guilt when we were passing on the “hilarious” anecdotes?

York, with her apology accepted and having received her community’s forgiveness, can gain additional solace in knowing she is not alone in engaging in this “innocent humor” at the expense of others.

How about those “jesters” among the rest of us? When will they apologize and ask to be forgiven?

Sam Kamin

Cumberland

Use Medicaid bonus bucks to benefit human services

If you had an offer that would give you $3 for every $1 you put in and it was legal, would you be interested?

You bet! That is the offer that the state of Maine is being made by the federal Medicaid program up through the end of June 2012. It is a tremendous break for a state budget that is significantly stressed.

But more than a relief to the budget is the potential for relief to a human services system and the thousands of people who deliver services within the system: speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, home health aides, direct support professionals and on and on. The 10 percent reduction for many of these services has placed many professionals in the position of wondering if they can survive in Maine.

For many agencies that provide services, the answer to these reductions is through salary cuts, salary freezes, loss of benefits, increases in employee contribution to health insurance, employee layoffs and in some more drastic situations agency closings.

I thought the orientation of state government at this point was to save jobs, not eliminate them. A bond issue to create jobs and to fund capital improvements is nice. However, there is no federal match on a ratio like Medicaid offers.

Perhaps we should float a bond and use it to keep alive and vibrant the services on which so many of our citizens — the elderly, disabled, homeless, children with special needs, etc. — depend for survival.

While the offer from Medicaid won’t last forever, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of it while it’s there. So, I would ask the governor to allocate this new “gift” from Medicaid to MaineCare services and keep people employed that are making such a great contribution to the lives of so many of our citizens.

Richard R. Farnsworth

Executive Director

Woodfords Family Services

Portland