Much is being bandied about as to the collision course of Arizona, the federal government and the Constitution. Lofty expressions such as “fundamental rights” and “the supreme law of the land” are popping up like springtime dandelions.

Let’s grant that the Constitution trumps whenever a conflict appears; that a state’s statute is void when conflicting with a valid federal statute. Still, perusing Arizona’s law to discern violations of federal law or the Constitution uncovers nothing: none exists.

The juicy, argumentative aspect of Arizona’s attempt to lessen its illegal alien problem is the term “reasonable suspicion.” If it exists, law officers can ask for proof of lawful presence in the United States. It is this definition and the implementation of this term that is nurturing a “Chicken Little” outlook.

Why this is true is puzzling. Maine has at least a dozen “reasonable suspicions” in its statutes.

Law officer, game warden, marine officer, health care practitioner, insurance underwriter are but a few persons who, in Maine, may act under the rubric of the vague “reasonable suspicion” and take “appropriate action.” Point is, with authority the use — even misuse — of “reasonable suspicion” can occur daily. Chances are good that some in Arizona will misuse their authority, just as some in Maine will.

It is difficult to see why, burdened with providing services to thousands of illegal persons, Arizona should be criticized for seeking a solution to the monetary strain caused by these illegals.

Compassion and a desire to help the downtrodden, while laudable, provides no solution. Arizona has an illegal immigrant problem and, rather than continuing to wait upon the unresponsive federal government, has moved toward a potential solution. The government, rather than wasting scarce resources and court time, should be moving toward solving Arizona’s — and other states’ — illegal alien problem.

Michael Torrusio Jr.

South Portland

Washington must fix chemical safety system

Over the past decade, Maine has taken several important actions to replace dangerous chemicals used in everyday consumer products with safer alternatives. These policies, including the 2008 Kid-Safe Products Act, are improving Maine childrens’ health and reducing health care costs.

Finally, we have a bill in Congress to reform the broken national chemical safety system.

Under the 34-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, consumers and business users of chemicals lack basic safety information. Virtually none of the 80,000 chemicals on the market today have been replaced with safer alternatives, despite many well-documented links to autism, cancer, reproductive disorders, asthma, and other health problems.

As a Maine policymaker who has helped advance our state’s efforts to replace dangerous chemicals in everyday products with safer alternatives, I especially appreciate Sen. Susan Collins’ recent statement supporting reform of the law.

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., is a good start toward ensuring safe chemicals, healthy families and a strong, sustainable economy. It does need to be strengthened to ensure that it fully protects public health and takes advantage of available cost savings.

In particular, the bill should: ensure that new chemicals are proven safe before they are used in consumer products; provide a pathway to quickly remove the most dangerous chemicals from everyday products; and base our chemical safety policy on the most current science (as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences).

I urge Maine Sens. Collins and Olympia Snowe to support and strengthen the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. Maine’s children, families, and businesses are depending on you.

Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes

D-Yarmouth

To help the afflicted, get rid of harsh labels

I was heartened to read about Portland’s latest effort to help businesses and the oppressed in the fight against homelessness (“Homeless outreach right approach,” July 9).

I truly believe that the newest approach that looks at the mentally ill, the addicted and the homeless better serves us all — the storekeepers, the public and the afflicted.

I hope that for everyone’s sake this innovative project is supported over the long term. Unfortunately, after reading your piece, it became apparent that some beliefs die hard. I have one very small question for the author of this editorial: Would you use the term “street drunk” if it were your daughter? Your son? Your wife? Your mother?

I am guessing that the answer would be a resounding “no.” We do nothing to further our social consciousness if we continue to use these negative and inflammatory terms.

There are many families within our midst who, on a daily basis, deal with mental illness and addiction, either as the afflicted or as loved ones. Please, do not denigrate their plight with language such as “street drunk.” It demeans us all.

Nancy R. Gorden

North Yarmouth

The so-called ‘experts’ also led us into wars

Jonah Goldberg makes a good point in his July 10 column about plastic bags. After rambling around for most of the column, he concludes, “Sometimes, they (experts) don’t even know they’re not experts at all.” So true.

I guess he must be referring to the experts who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Or the experts who said the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms. That they would help us find the few “dead enders” remaining after the shock and awe. That the Iraq war would pay for itself. Yes. Experts all.

Maybe he was referring to the experts who said the Bush tax cuts for the well-heeled would increase federal revenues and reduce the deficit. The same way Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” economics would make us all wealthy by further enriching the rich.

Maybe he means the experts who think oil and coal are our best route to energy independence even while the Chinese are eating our lunch making solar panels and wind turbines.

Or, most likely, as an expert, he is just writing about himself.

Robert Sessums

North Yarmouth