The Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation would like to thank the Portland City Council for recently voting to adopt a “fee-in-lieu-of-parking” ordinance that will allow developers in Portland to choose to contribute to a “sustainable transportation fund” instead of building parking lots or garages on their site.

The proposal came out of the Peninsula Transit Plan adopted by the council last year, and is just one tool in a larger effort to improve transportation options for Portland visitors and residents.

The Chamber of Commerce and the business community supported this proposal because it provides developers more flexibility to choose how to develop their sites.

MAST and transportation advocates supported it because it will allow us to better manage transportation and parking resources. There are many models, including ones from Portland’s own past, of balanced transportation systems based on walking, biking, transit and the judicious use of personal vehicles.

The foundation of such a system is built of strong, well-connected neighborhoods.

putting a price on parking that is separate from the cost of building homes or businesses in the city, we begin to acknowledge the true costs of using our valuable and finite land for the storage of private vehicles.

providing a fund to strategically build the neighborhoods and complete streets where city life can thrive, we continue the work of creating a stronger Portland. We applaud the city for this important step. Resurgam!

Jaime Parker
Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation
Portland
 

Reining in sports salaries might make cable affordable 

There have been three articles in recent days and in different sections of the paper that address a problem that has been long ignored.

One article covered the drop in cable TV subscriptions, in part because of the price being out of reach for some. Another covered Time-Warner’s dispute with CBS over increasing fees.

Finally, as we frequently see in the sports pages, ballplayer X is signing a deal for $10 million and up.

We subscribers do not get a vote on the unconscionable salaries paid to sports stars and other entertainers. It is time for the cable and sports executives begin to realize the golden goose may be drying up.

Maybe when negotiating these ego-driven salaries, they may want to consider who is footing the bill.

Tom Carroll
Falmouth

Obama disappoints backer, seems no better than Bush 

Having voted for President Obama in the 2008 elections with hope in my heart and admiration for his unusual ability to express himself clearly and honestly, I feel impelled to share my thoughts regarding his attempt to bring about “change” which he touted so fervently all through his campaign for the presidency.

And I thoroughly expected, perhaps naively, that he would be able to steer our nation out of the moral and economic morass and this culture of militaristic madness into which it had sunk.

These two years since Obama took office have convinced me that our democracy is fast ebbing away and a militarized idea of statecraft, to which he, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have become thralls, is undermining it.

Please follow me through an enumeration of developments which I find devastating and utterly defeating, to a high concept of democracy:

1. Targeted assassinations.

2. The Bush-Cheney counter-insurgency doctrine, which Obama kept in place, effectively legitimizing open-ended perpetual warfare.

3. Drone attacks, creating terror and slaughtering the innocents, I find the most shattering to my confidence in Obama’s moral judgment.

4. Standing by giving tacit approval to renegade banks and their reckless foreclosures, as he backs away from toothless assertions about a moratorium on foreclosures.

5. Standing silently by giving tacit approval to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, which I find appalling and so does the rest of the world.

Those in positions of temporal power as heads of state of the most powerful nations are frequently mesmerized by the belief that the only permissible response to violence is more violence, iterated by them and acted upon with an ill-considered sureness verging on arrogance.

This doctrine reiterated by all those in high places, the Pentagon and Congress included, seems to be one of the Washington rules which are propelling the United States toward insolvency, perpetual war and eventual self-destruction.

I feel let down, disappointed and totally dismayed at Obama’s lack of vision. I expected so much more of him.

Alan Hynd
Cushing

Gore repents on ethanol, but story hardly reported 

A news outlet is known by the quality of what it presents as well as what it ignores.

On Nov. 22, Fox News on its website reported on a speech given by Al Gore in Athens, Greece, where he repudiated his views on first-generation ethanol production (from food crops such as corn).

His recantation is cited as follows: “He only supported tax breaks for the alternate fuel to pander to farmers in Tennessee and the first-in-the-nation caucus in Iowa.”

Gore was quoted as saying, “One of the reasons I made that mistake was because I was running for president. The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first-generation ethanol definitely an impact on food prices; the competition with food prices is real.”

The Media Research Center’s Noel Sheppard noted that as vice president, Gore was the tie-breaking vote in 1994 when the Senate voted to authorize ethanol for use in gasoline.

Sheppard noted, “So more than 10 years ago Gore supported an expensive ‘not good’ policy because he thought it would help him be elected president. Yet the media don’t believe he would misrepresent the threat of man-made global warming in order to become extremely rich.”

My complaint is why this paper and the national wire services have not given Gore’s speech the publicity — and condemnation — it deserves.

Nick Pappas
Cape Elizabeth