I opened my Press Herald two Saturdays ago to the editorial page and my eye was drawn to an “Another View” column by Mark Gray, the executive director of the teachers’ union. The subtitle read: “Tony Payne’s recent column doesn’t pass the straight-face test” (“Education must drive Maine’s economy,” April 18).

I had read Payne’s column, which was actually reporting about a speech about the state of Maine’s K-12 system by David Flanagan. In fact, on Payne’s blog the column was titled “Flanagan report shows Maine’s K-12 education in need of alignment.” In short, all of this was familiar territory for me.

Imagine my surprise to discover that Gray’s understanding of the “Flanagan report” was at odds with both Payne’s column and my understanding of the salient benchmarks of K-12 education in Maine.

To be fair to Gray, he actually had little to say about the substance of the Flanagan remarks. He never, in fact, mentioned David Flanagan. Rather, he suggested Payne was simply a misguided pro-business type. He allied Payne with Enron, Goldman Sachs, and even Bernie Madoff’s accountants.

If this were a not convincing enough rebuff, Gray wrapped up his column by suggesting that the Flanagan report was “just a sorry repetition of the distorted statistics presented by other TABOR and tax cap proponents.”

All of this is powerful stuff. Unfortunately, the facts paint a more difficult picture — a picture of a state chronically overspending in K-12 education for disappointing results.

Gray knows this as well as I do. In fact, he was on the three-person panel at the Chamber of Commerce event that responded to Flanagan’s comments. At that meeting, Gray stated that he did not disagree with the facts presented by Flanagan. He went on to make several constructive comments on the potential for school consolidation.

So how is it Flanagan’s facts have moved so quickly from being ones Gray agreed with to being a sorry repetition of distorted statistics? Will the real Mark Gray please stand up?

Karl W. Turner

Cumberland  

U.S. military might lets Europe be Europe 

The progressive Obama White House, Senate and House are trying their best to turn the United States into Europe.

Why would they want that?

Europe is in a mess — countries have given away the store for so many years that in this global recession they can’t afford socialism any longer. Unfortunately, the people receiving lifelong goodies don’t want the goodies to cease, naturally.

The ironic thing is that European countries probably wouldn’t have been able to sustain their socialistic forms of government for as long as they have if it had not been for the U.S. military protecting them.

The U.S. taxpayer, in essence, has paid for Europe’s socialist programs.

Again, why would the progressives want us to be like Europe? Power.

It’s all about buying votes with programs that redistribute the wealth.

The progressives see this as a way to be in power for years to come.

Personally, I don’t want progressives in power, ignoring the Constitution, regulating us and taxing us into oblivion. I don’t want their lies and deceit, their hatred of America, their denigration of our Founding Fathers and what they stood for, their condescension and, most of all, their socialists and communists in the White House.

Rose Marie Russell

Westbrook 

U.S. immigration policy a lot fairer than Mexico’s  

Immigration. Pretty simple. Do it legally and no one has a problem. The United States opens its arms to any and all who wish to live here as long as they do it legally.

Mexico’s president has the audacity to describe Arizona’s new law “as promoting hate and discrimination.” He failed to mention Mexico only accepts the best and the brightest, and then not as full citizens. Well, that’s not quite true. If you have enough money you can become a second-class citizen, too.

Mexico on any given day deports hundreds of South Americans looking for a better life. Why is it that no one in charge (like the president or head of homeland security) responds, and challenges the Mexican government to do what is supposedly right.

It’s time we stopped being the world’s whipping boy, and treated the rest of them like they treat us. Let’s take care of our own first.

Richard Dodge

Portland

Public health system lauded for H1N1 response 

I am responding to the recent Maine Voices column by Dr. Dora Anne Mills about H1N1 influenza (“Mainers can learn lots of lessons from experience with H1N1 epidemic,” April 29).

The American Lung Association in Maine would like to thank Dr. Mills and the hard-working staff at the Maine Center for Disease Control for their amazing leadership during the H1N1 episode.

So many people in the Maine CDC and other branches of state and local government went well beyond normal job expectations to ensure that all of us in Maine had the most efficient and effective flu program in the nation.

Volunteers, institutions, community coalitions and organizations too numerous to mention stepped up to the challenge.

While we can be thankful that the pandemic did not have the widespread impact it could have had, we can also be thankful that we have a public health system that worked very well.

Edward Miller

American Lung Association in Maine

Augusta

Spill’s cleanup cost should include lost pay 

I, along with the rest of nation, am horrified over the disaster created by BP. I applaud President Obama’s declaration that BP will pay for the cleanup.

However, there is something else I think BP should be paying for: the months and months of unemployment that everyone affected by the disaster will be filing.

Why should the states bear the cost of paying out these benefits when there is a solid, responsible party? BP should be forced to remimburse all involved states for each unemployment claim filed as a result of this disaster. It’s only fair.

Rosemarie Sanchez

Scarborough