Access to Goose Rocks Beach at risk

My family and I have been enjoying Goose Rocks Beach since 1981, when we bought a summer cottage in Kennebunkport. We moved here permanently in 2003.

In all seasons, we walk the beach, enjoying the changing seasons and sense of peace. But the summer is really the best, when we spend as much beach time as we can reading, kayaking, sunbathing and watching kids and adults play.

A group of 25 oceanfront homeowners (minus one who recently dropped out) have filed a lawsuit against our town and “all unascertained persons” (which means you and me).

This is a huge threat, meaning that (if they succeed), using the beach for recreation would constitute criminal trespass!

An interesting fact I have learned is that none of these homeowners has ever been charged real estate taxes for the beach in front of their homes. Without taxation, could there really be ownership? In addition, only six of the 25 plaintiffs are year-round Maine residents, and 10 of the properties are held in trusts.

Beyond the emotional costs of losing the use of our beach, the economic impact to our town and to the state of Maine, its restaurants and shops will be significant due to lost tourism.

The Save Our Beaches organization (www.save-our-beaches.org) was formed to work with the town and the litigants to try to find common ground and stop the lawsuit.

Their work has not been successful with the litigants who have refused to try to find a peaceful solution. Please visit the website to learn more.

Please add your voice to help to keep Goose Rocks Beach public, and allow our town and the merchants of Maine to thrive!

Lynne Norton
Kennebunkport

 

Falmouth schools failing to meet community’s needs

 

To secure $75 million from Washington’s Race to the Top Program for the schools and the children of Maine, we need to agree on teaching reforms.

Our teachers need to step up and set aside their wants for job security to prove that they value our children above their own demands.

We need to have the MEA (Maine Teachers Association) and Chris Galgay, its president, stop lobbying against our children. The teacher unions in Delaware (they received $100 million) and Tennessee (they received $500 million) gave broad support to this program for their children. Do our children deserve less?

What do the teachers fear that keeps our children from getting our $75 million? The union is afraid that student test data in teacher and principal evaluations will show deficiencies in what the unions and schools are doing to our children. What are those published results that might come under scrutiny?

Participation by states in which 60 percent or more students took the SATs had New Hampshire, with 75 percent, ranked 26th. Massachusetts had 84 percent take the tests and ranked 27th. Maine had 90 percent take the tests and ranked 50th. Thank goodness for No. 51, Washington, D.C.

Ranking Falmouth alone in the scoring as if it were a state, we finished 24th, just slightly better than the entire state of New Hampshire.

We in Falmouth do lead Maine in one area. We have the highest-paid teachers in the state. For example, a senior gym teacher’s compensation package is over $98,000 for 176 days of work.

With the new proposed contract, that total will go over $102,000, another first for Falmouth.

What have 40-plus years of teachers’ union collective bargaining units produced for our children? I give up, you tell me.

Michael Doyle
Falmouth

New U.S. health care law perfect just the way it is

 

Relief. Gratitude. Pride. These were my reactions to the passage of the momentous health care legislation in Congress a few weeks ago.

Like so many thousands of Mainers who support the health care bill, I met its passage with anything but the “skepticism” and “outrage” you attributed to Mainers in your editorial after the vote, “Congress should fix awful health reform law.”

Over the next few decades, the health care reform bill will aid millions of people, save our country billions of dollars, lower the cost of health insurance for those who can least afford it and benefit small businesses all over America.

The actual benefits of the bill are unassailable, so I was not surprised when the editorial cunningly cast doubt on the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years.

I also doubt the CBO’s estimate. I think it seriously underestimated the cost savings of the bill.

It is common sense that it costs less to keep a person healthy than it does to treat them when they become ill.

But common sense is hard to put a number on.

As the former health care organizer for the Maine People’s Alliance, I remember hearing Sen. Olympia Snowe make this point last fall — that the CBO was unable to calculate the full extent of health reform’s cost savings — when discussing the legislation before the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Snowe’s turnabout on health care since she voted for the Senate Finance Committee’s bill has baffled many of us.

It makes me wonder — did our senator cave to her party’s demands at the expense of her beliefs?

My own support for the health reform bill is unshakeable, no matter how many calculated half-truths I hear from its opponents.

Ali Vander Zanden
Maine People’s Alliance member
Portland

 

Abuse of circus animals documented on the Internet

 

I agree with Christina Perkins’ letter (“Live animal acts disgrace to circus and humanity,” April 29), but I would take it a step further.

It is well known that abuse and torture of animals are commonplace in circuses in the name of “training” them to perform and entertain.

There are legitimate sites on the Internet which depict the torture of baby elephants by circus trainers. These sad but informational articles with pictures are so disturbing that most of us cannot even look at all of them.

Trainers, for example, inflict pain on baby elephants until they trumpet in agony. In doing this, the trainer explains to a new trainer that this is how you “get their attention.” That is the only the tip of the iceberg.

I wonder how many parents know what goes on behind the scenes in circuses — or if they would want their children to ever see how these animals suffer in the name of “entertainment” and the almighty dollar?

Karen A. Tanguay
Scarborough