As a proud Mainer, I have always believed in the vital balance between ecological conservation and growth. After living in urban North Carolina for several years, I have leaned far more toward conservation.

In the Sun Belt, urban sprawl is chaotic. Developers have virtually free rein to toss up countless speculative developments while community concern is ignored.

It can’t be difficult to persuade small boards of county commissioners to allow for more housing subdivisions (many of which are gated communities with fancy British names) or big-box facilities as signs of progress.

This often results in “cookie-cutter” areas, a glut of empty properties and the loss of valuable farmland.

I fear this fate for Maine, and we do see this around some of our major towns. However, I think it is time for citizens who care about our heritage to fight back.

Thus, there is a lesson in Florida, where voters will have a unique opportunity on Nov. 2 to pass an amendment to force city and county governments to put their blueprints for planned growth up for popular vote. This is democratic planning.

Maine needs this kind of change. We need positive economic development that will enhance the vitality and character of Maine, not degrade it. Cowboy development has to come to an end.

It is too late for citizen initiatives this year, but it is never too late to approach your elected official about such proactive measures.

I hope sustainability and conservative growth will be at the forefront of the debates for the state’s elected offices in 2010.

Ben Holmes
Pittston

Saltwater fishing fund bonanza for state agency 

The dust has just about settled on the saltwater registry issue. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine has a summary by George Smith on its website and the Department of Marine Resources has one on its website with some information. Not all that’s germane, but some.

Please note that LD 1432 did not create a fishery registration, it created a fund. It says of that fund, “The (DMR) commissioner may authorize the expenditure of money from the fund for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the saltwater recreational fishing registry under section 6312 and for research and conservation efforts related to the saltwater recreational fishery.”

Note the term “saltwater recreational fishery.” It’s not for a commercial fishery. All money received into the fund must be used for the implementation, administration, enforcement and research and conservation efforts of recreational fisheries.

On Feb. 1 of each year, a report shall be issued containing the amount of money collected and all expenditures made from the fund. Where do you think DMR is going to spend the largest amount of the money from the fund?

Again from the site, the law “provides funding for two seasonal Marine Patrol Officer positions, one full-time Marine Patrol Officer position, one part-time Marine Resource Scientist IV position, one part-time Marine Resource Scientist III position, one full-time Marine Resource Specialist I position, one full-time Marine Resource Scientist I position, two part-time Marine Resource Specialist I positions and four Conservation Aide positions and all other costs to administer, maintain and enforce the newly created saltwater recreational fishing registry.”

SAM also reports that DMR will purchase two new boats. NOAA got its list of names without the burden of enforcement and DMR got its fund to raise and spend money.

So, how do saltwater fishermen benefit from this statute? They don’t. The legislators who supported this bill need to be reminded whose interests they are supposed to protect.

The best way to communicate with them is from the inside of the voting booth. Remember this in November.

Larry Grimard
Jefferson
 

Teacher cites better pay to honor professionalism 

Helping young people appreciate mathematics and master the challenge my subject can present is both my vocation and my avocation.

I am a professional educator who spent four years earning an undergraduate degree, and another four years in graduate school in earning two advanced degrees in mathematics. I work very hard to find better ways to practice my craft.

I am not unique. Teaching is very demanding work, and it involves putting in significant time at night, on weekends, and even during “vacations” (including summer vacation). Teachers willingly do this in every school, at every level, and in every subject.

I aspire to be paid a professional salary. Currently Maine educator salaries rank 43rd from the top in the 50 states.

I did not devote 39 years of my life to teaching mathematics in Falmouth to earn as much as I could. I passed up other much more lucrative opportunities in life to pursue what is important to me. I demand to be respected as a very hard-working professional educator.

Teachers are bombarded daily with acronyms and jargon and extraneous tasks that must be done in addition to the demanding vital work that is our primary responsibility. If we imagine that there was one such term, “CAVE,” that would stand for “Citizens Against Vital Educators,” we could say that lately there seem to be a plethora of attacks on the teaching profession from CAVEmen (and CAVEwomen — my profession is and must be free of gender bias).

I fleetingly savor the praise that comes from those who take a moment to indicate recognition of and appreciation for what I do, and I try hard to improve when I receive a lengthy negative comment that has merit.

I fervently hope younger teachers can enjoy the immense satisfaction my long career has provided me, but I am very concerned for the future of my under-appreciated chosen profession.

Robert L. McCully
Portland

White Pride fliers shameful, and so are other protesters 

It was only a few paragraphs buried in the inner pages of the May 12 edition of The Portland Press Herald, but it should have been a front-page feature with bold headlines.

The article in question was a brief but deeply disturbing account of a group calling itself the “Bucksport Bay White Youth Pride Party posting handbills in downtown Bucksport seeking to recruit people.”

This organization, by self-admission, is a white supremacist “hate group,” though it claims to be “nonviolent.”

I worry that the seeds of hatred and divisiveness sown by some notorious national leaders and so-called national “patriotic movements” have taken root in our own backyard.

One consequence is now we have fliers with images of swastikas and Nazi flags displayed in Bucksport replicating the protest signs so prominently flaunted in public gatherings across the country by so-called “patriotic” citizens. If we choose to close our eyes to these distressing actions, how long will it be before all this nonviolence turns violent?

These misguided individuals should remember that the same Constitution that provides them with the “freedom of speech” to spew their venom also protects the rights of their fellow Americans that they hate so much.

Phyllis Kamin
Cumberland
 

Newspaper remains vital to 35-year subscriber 

I have been a subscriber for about 35 years plus. I also delivered the paper when I was a kid and it has been a pleasure to be part of the paper for all these years. I read the morning paper every morning while I have my breakfast and enjoy it very much.

There are a lot of interesting articles in there and chances to win all kinds of things.

And now, with the new owners, it has gotten even better, so I hope that you keep up the great job in the future.

I like the deliveries, the paper is on time and put where I want it.

I hope I can continue to enjoy the paper for years to come. Thanks again.

William Foss Sr.
Portland