The way life should be? Come on!

If you’re a summer visitor with a family, trying to make your way home after a long holiday weekend, the last, and for many the most memorable, Maine experience is the 10-mile traffic backup at the York toll plaza. A nightmare!

Now, keep in mind that every other state on the E-ZPass grid now has high-speed travel lanes that make long vacation drives much more tolerable. No gridlock. No jockeying for the fastest toll lane, etc. You get the picture. You can easily shave a half hour off a 400-mile drive. I know from my own experiences.

Apparently, the Maine Turnpike Authority does not.

They could have waived exit tolls for that one day, to make the long drive home a bit easier. Think of the “good will” that would have generated. But no. Squeeze every last penny out of those “out of staters,” many of whom will not be back, because of the experience.

The way life should be. Right.

Dennis Gervais

Portland

Better to avoid tickets than to cut spending 

In a letter published June 10, Allen J. Bingham criticizes the decision to cancel Portland’s parking-ticket-amnesty program.

The cancellation addresses a $500,000 shortfall in the city’s budget. Bingham’s proposed solution is to cut spending.

Just cut spending! This is a common slogan for solving problems advocated by many. Unfortunately, it is rarely is followed up with specifics. Rather, advocates seem to presume there is endless waste or inessential spending that can be cut from government budgets.

We have seen several years of budget cutting in many areas. This has been an almost annual practice at the state level for some time now. Therefore, I would like to challenge Bingham and his like-minded peers to provide recommendations of actual places in budgets that can be safely reduced.

Spending cuts often come with real costs. Should we fire teachers, policemen, firefighters or other civil servants to save some money?

Another way of asking this question is this: Whose children should be put in ever more crowded classrooms? Which houses can be put at greater risk of fire or theft? And what should those people who no longer have a job do to support their families? Or, perhaps we could let them keep their jobs, and let the roads erode instead!

Finally, and returning to the canceled amnesty program, while paying parking fines is never fun, there is a way to avoid it. Take more responsibility for your actions. Be more conscientious. Pay the meter.

Follow these practices and you will not have to pay into that missing half a million!

William E. Smith III

Acton

Episcopal priest laments native state’s anti-gay vote

Last year the Maine Legislature enacted a bill to allow same-sex marriage and Gov. John Baldacci signed it into law. But before it could take effect, conservative evangelicals and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland organized and funded a successful people’s veto.

You probably already know all this. But what you may not know is that they had a lot of help (including piles of money!) from their friends and allies “from away,” such as the National Organization for Marriage, which recently staged a rally in Augusta.

I am an Episcopal priest, pastor of a small but wonderful congregation in Readfield. My spouse is a devout lay person. We are legally married in Massachusetts, where he was a resident, but we cannot be married in Maine, where I was born and brought up and where we now reside.

How sad — and how ironic — that fellow Christians denied our basic human right to live as a married couple in Maine!

The Rev. Edward R. Greene

Bath

Wind-power experience made him a believer 

I agree with your editorial on 8 July in support of wind power.

In the 1990s, I frequently rode my bicycle along the beach in Maasvlatke, Netherlands, where dozens of windmills whined at a pretty significant decibel level. However, in the early 2000s, the motors and blades were replaced with newer versions which whispered in comparison.

Not only are there large windmill farms in several areas of the North and Baltic seas, there are also windmills in many industrial and agricultural areas of the Netherlands and Germany.

There should be windmills at shopping malls and other industrial areas. Where height is a safety issue, such as near airports, all buildings should have solar panels on roofs. All new construction should be designed to maximize use of solar panels, too.

Alternative energy supplements the grid’s resources, to the benefit of all.

Diversifying energy sources away from carbon-based energy by investing in wind, tide, and solar power systems is great for property owners, the community, the state and our nation’s long-term economic well-being.

America and the world would be best served if solar- and wind-energy units are built in this country because such a scenario would reduce our massive trade deficit. The change will occur over time, so we may as well get started soon in the hope that the nation can become self-sufficient in energy production.

Invest in America’s future by investing in clean energy!

Jack Boak

Bremen

Call for fiscal discipline rings hollow from GOP

The recent, though unsuccessful, Republican-led filibuster of unemployment benefit extension would be more shocking if it weren’t more of the same.

After a decade of uncontrolled spending on two wars, an ill-advised tax cut and recent efforts to patch the economy, what a time to discover fiscal discipline.

With taxpayers’ funds, the banks are bailed out and enjoying paid vacations, car makers have returned to profitability, the military continues to grow and now everyone is waiting for that same taxpayer to start spending again like the old days.

The corporate priority is clear, and the average American apparently lacks sufficient lobbyists to get through in Washington.

Joe Delaney

Portland