I am writing in support of Biddeford Downs. As a lifelong citizen of southern Maine and third-generation harnessman, I have two reasons for supporting this project.

The benefits of the new racetrack to Biddeford have been well documented, and I will not reiterate them here. Biddeford as a city has voted overwhelmingly to approve the project. State voters have also voted to approve two racinos in Maine.

So why is there any question as to whether or not this should be allowed? What right do state senators have in opposing this project?

Do they feel Biddeford citizens have no right to the project they approved? Do they feel we as harnessmen have no right to support ourselves, open land and the entire harness racing industry?

Or do they simply feel that they, as elected officials, know better than those who elected them (and have already voted twice to approve this precise project)?

Make no mistake, if “our” state representatives succeed in killing this project, harness racing as we know it will cease to exist. And plenty of people like me will be looking for new jobs. “Who cares?” you ask.

You should. Because while I’m looking, you will be paying for my unemployment, and for hundreds of others as well, instead of us shouldering the burden with you. Not to mention losing the tax money generated by the industry itself.

Harness racing has been largely destroyed by the proliferation of gambling — specifically, state-sponsored gaming (Megabucks, Powerball, scratch tickets). It is hard to compete when your main competition makes the rules.

We have now found a way to survive with racinos, and guess who is trying to stand in our way yet again? When did it become the state’s prerogative to take our jobs away?

Jon H. Chenard


My wife and I have raised and raced horses in Maine for the last 30 years. We have lived in the Biddeford-Saco area all of our lives. We have seen many ups and downs, including the closing of our local mills, higher property taxes and people moving to other areas where life is more affordable.

We have also had many ups and downs with the horses, but we have always enjoyed them and took pride in them. The many hardworking people we have met in this industry over the years are now people we call our friends and family.

We have been to other states where they have racinos and have seen how much gambling benefits not only the horsemen but also the people of the surrounding areas.

For the harness racing industry, it has included better horses, training facilities, trucks, cars, homes, etc. For the people in the area those facilities have helped create jobs, support local hay farmers, grain and feed stores, blacksmiths, vets and the list goes on.

Maine has voted and approved two racinos, but only one so far is in place, in Bangor.

Biddeford has approved a racino that will help not only the above people I mentioned but also the harness racing industry and the economy of Maine as a whole. Please help support Biddeford Downs in a statewide vote.

Richard and Helen Belisle


“Slot barn” (racino) advocates corralled four stalls in The Press Herald’s March 7 letters section. All echoed the claims made by the Scarborough Downs Relocation Authority last fall.

The assertions are brutally familiar to Biddeford residents who voted last November to authorize a slot-powered money extraction facility in our fair city. The one-armed-bandit promoters had several talking points that were repeatedly driven home, all of which are carefully recited in your opinion stable.

Bankers’ fraud and an imploding derivative bubble recently took the national and state economies over a cliff. So, a desperate and downwardly mobile population is told that 800 construction jobs and “500 full-time” casino/hotel jobs come with the Biddeford deal.

The promoters have been careful not to sign contracts to that effect. In fact, once the Oxford County Pigeon Hill Gang got their casino/”destination resort” approved last fall, they promptly announced a much- scaled-back “Let’s see how it goes” phased development plan.

Central to the Biddeford proposal was the greenwash received from its linking to the withering husk of Maine agriculture. Media puff treatment of “organic farming” and farmers’ markets aside, agriculture nationally and in Maine is in a decades-long death spiral based on a suicidal cheap food policy. Yes, we have one.

Maine dairy farmers lose about $10 on every hundred pounds of milk they produce. Look it up. It’s been that way for decades. Other commodities run about the same.

But the public likes the open fields that dairying requires, and appreciates the perceived agrarian virtues of full-time family-farm commitment.

Slot barn developers use pervasive ignorance of agricultural economics to spin/greenwash their scheme. They hope to convince voters and legislators that people pouring money into slot machines within 25 miles of a racetrack will somehow preserve “family values” and Maine agriculture.

It won’t. Because it can’t.

Richard Rhames
Shady Brook Farm


Teaching financial literacy in high school worthwhile


Did you know that on average, college students have four or more credit cards with an average balance of $3,173?

A 2009 Sallie Mae study further reported that 84 percent of undergraduates surveyed indicated they needed more education on financial management, and 64 percent of the students reported they would have liked to have received personal finance information in high school.

As a parent, a concerned citizen and a student pursuing my masters degree in social work, I value legislative measures that encourage financial independence and fiscal responsibility. I believe that if all high school students, preferably seniors, receive an education on personal finance, it will act as a further support to encourage wise financial choices during young adulthood.

Financial literacy is just as important as teaching our students to read and write. As such, I thank Rep. Benjamin Chipman, I-Portland, for sponsoring L.D. 184.

If passed, L.D. 184 would require that our high school students receive an education in using credit, purchasing, budgeting, saving and investing, banking, simple contracts, state and federal income taxes, personal insurance policies and renting or purchasing a home.

Considering how the current economy has negatively impacted Mainers, it’s crucial, now more than ever before, to ensure that financial skills are provided to our young people so they can start out in life on the right financial foot.

Please contact your representatives about this bill. In the end, personal finance is an education that improves upon individual well-being and society as a whole.

Kate Ryan

Planned Parenthood’s funding for good causes


Funny (not really) is the fact our House of Representatives in Washington recently voted to end all funding of Planned Parenthood but also voted to continue to spend $7 million a year on NASCAR sponsorship for the military.

Cutting support for vulnerable women to help them manage their health care is cruel and shortsighted. It is based on anti-abortion ideology, not on fiscal responsibility. Federal funds already are prohibited from being used for abortions.

Planned Parenthood services are primary and preventive health care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control, STD and HIV testing; 3 percent are abortion services.

Planned Parenthood’s objective is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and it is very successful in that endeavor.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will not save money; in fact, it will cost the taxpayers more money. According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every dollar spent on contraception for low-income women, the government saves $4 in medical costs.

For every woman that has access to health care, there will be savings today and in the years to come.

Bonnie Porta
Cape Elizabeth