Recently, reporter Ed Murphy explained what mid-sized, Maine-owned company Artel does in Westbrook’s Five Star business park; namely, measure weights to tiny fractions of a gram and liquid volumes to a millionth of a liter. We’re high-tech, clean and green and growing, providing good jobs with excellent benefits.

The article omitted that Artel has three times as many jobs in Westbrook as Pike Industries. Also, while stating Pike “operates a quarry a stone’s throw away from Artel,” the story didn’t mention that Pike tried to operate on Spring Street without city land use permits, and that Pike’s illegal blasting there was shut down by court order in 2008.

These are two crucial facts the headlines often overlook.

Owned by a $30 billion foreign conglomerate, Pike cynically “spun” the Westbrook quarry debate as class warfare involving hard-working Americans versus elitist technology companies. Initially, that sold well to headline writers.

But every article like Mr. Murphy’s exposes Pike’s spin just a little more. The story isn’t about class warfare, it’s about land use laws and Pike’s obligation to obey them.

Pike owns a legal quarry on Main Street, but quarrying on Spring Street requires city land use permits that Pike does not have and has never applied for. Law-abiding taxpayers are asking that the law be respected. That’s all.

As an American and proud Mainer, I strongly support property rights and respect for the law. If Pike’s plan were legal, I’d certainly respect it. But I cannot endorse Pike’s and the city’s position, which is, “The law is inconvenient, let’s circumvent it.”

What Artel wants or what Pike wants is irrelevant. Everyone has to obey the laws, even the inconvenient ones. I have complete faith that our courts will correctly decide what is lawful.

Kirby Pilcher
president, Artel
Westbrook
 

Column on Muslims wrong, shouldn’t have been printed 

I am extremely disappointed with your decision to print Cal Thomas’ recent column on Islam and immigration.

Mr. Thomas seems to have taken a stand against freedom of religion, a basic principle of our government and Constitution. If he wrote a similar diatribe about Jews or Christians, I doubt you would print his column. Although he calls himself a Christian, his words do not reflect Christian ideas.

The Muslim religion is one of the great monotheistic religions in the world, practiced by about a billion people. Al-Qaida is a terrible and terrifying perversion of Islam. Its actions are unjustifiable. Yet, Thomas seems to indict entire nations and entire populations who practice this faith.

This is not fair or just. What will his next recommendation be? Forcing all Muslims to go to internment camps, as the United States wrongly forced Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II? Let’s work to be a wiser nation now.

Thomas’ kind of thinking is simplistic and dangerous. It is not the way to make foreign or domestic policy in our complex world. Plus, this way of looking at the world is a boon to terrorist recruiters.

Newspapers like yours should have the role of educating and enlightening. This is particularly true now, when political discussion in this country is at a low and frightening place. Yet your paper abdicates this role when deciding to print diatribes like this.

Jennifer Wriggins
Portland 

Why did Bath school’s vandalism not trip alarms? 

Let me understand something. The school administrators in Bath didn’t think an alarm system was a basic necessity in order to protect a multimillion dollar taxpayer-owned facility from a vandal doing thousands of dollars in damages?

It speaks volumes about public education in America.

Albert Calvert
South Portland 

House GOP’s ‘Pledge” not likely to be followed 

It would seem that House Republicans, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, acknowledged the advice offered them by our own M. D. Harmon.

In a recent column, Mr. Harmon suggested that Republicans deserve another chance to govern, but only if they “have a solid, practical program to fix the current set of woes that threaten to overwhelm us.”

And lo and behold the Republicans in the House have made “A Pledge to America” designed, they say, to accomplish just that.

Now that they appear to have met this requirement for election, it must follow that the Republicans will win the majority in Congress come November and fulfill their “Pledge.”

However, Mr. Harmon also observed in that same column, referring to the last time the GOP held the presidency and majorities in Congress, “The party seemed much more interested in pork-barrel spending, the perks of office and staying in power for the sake of staying in power than it did in offering any substantial plans for dealing with our problems.”

The Republican “Pledge to America” is woefully short on specifics for dealing with the problems that they were instrumental in creating. There also exists a nagging doubt about the credibility of the Republican Party, their tea party movement allies and their self-appointed vocal spokesmen.

If they should regain political power in Congress, will they keep their pledge to solve our problems in the interest of all the people or will it be “business as usual” to benefit the chosen few?

The ballots we cast in November will decide whether we give the Republicans “another chance” or permit the Democratic Party to continue the progress made the past two years in solving the critical problems confronting us — problems inherited from a Republican administration when they had their last chance at governing.

Phyllis Kamin
Cumberland 

Parties fight so much, no one would vote at all 

Would you tell me why the Republicans and the Democrats cannot get along together and find ways to help this country? I am so sick of them trashing each other and name-calling and swearing: really horrible.

It makes you so disgusted you would not vote for any of them.

They are suppose to have brains. Where are they? They act like 6-year- old children, worse I think.

A house divided is no house at all.

Avis Mallock
Portland