Your stories examining the now- suspended sale of three homes and 5.2 acres of property in Thomaston exposes state operatives as incompetent or corrupt.

It is amazing that Maine’s top warden, Patricia Barnhart, sought last September to buy this property from the state for a sum estimated to be $283,000 less than market value.

Further, her offer was apparently guided through state bureaucracy by then-deputy commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Denise Lord.

With the exception of Attorney General William Schneider’s office, all the persons involved in this transaction — Barnhart, Lord, other state officials and any real estate broker representing Barnhart — failed to recognize the impropriety of their actions. Had they been in doubt, a simple inquiry directed to the AG’s Office would have demonstrated to them the true nature of the proposed transaction.

Betty Lamoreau, acting director of the state Bureau of General Services — which was overseeing the sale of state property — was quoted as stating that the proposed transaction was considered reasonable and in line with current real estate values.

She states that “knowing the situation as clearly as I do, nothing untoward was going on. Nobody was getting something for nothing. (There was) no scandal here.” Clearly, in her world, 2 plus 2 equals 5.

This property transfer violated state law, according to the AG. You can’t buy state-owned property while you work for the state. Barnhart’s actions turned out to be against the law, as were Lord’s, Schneider noted.

Further, Barnhart on June 15 asked the Thomaston Planning Board to discuss a proposed subdivision for the property. Perhaps she asked former Maine Turnpike Authority chief Paul Violette to present her proposal to the board. Several individuals were looking to ride a potentially lucrative train financed by the people of the state of Maine.

Perhaps it is unfortunate that the prison in Thomaston was torn down; Barnhart would be a natural to oversee operations there.

Peter Mayo
Bowdoinham 

When will we learn how to protect threatened families? 

This latest murder-suicide tragedy in Dexter could and should have been averted.

There are two things I find very strange in this country. We should never have to protect women and girls. The fact is we have to, and the further fact is that in millions of cases, we do not protect women and children.

How much clearer can a case be? A man has a gun, tells his wife and children he is thinking about killing himself, but is planning on killing them first. The mother of the children seeks help, but a year later the man is still on the loose, and kills his wife, children and himself.

For his crime of threatening he should have been in prison for five to 10 years. Why not 20 years? Are we ever going to see enough of these insane goings-on?

Our governor should have a task force that totally shines the light on all these bullying cases and really tightens up all the controls. We need to hold men 100 percent accountable for these murderous bullying actions.

Let us come together as a state and make this an environment safe for girls and women. Our tolerance has gotten us into terrible trouble and led to thousands being battered physically and mentally, and many times killed.

The governor and the people of Maine should collectively roll up their sleeves and focus like a laser on these problems and come up with excellent solutions.

Zoo Cain
South Portland 

Too much time wasted pondering tiny trivialities 

The July 5 op-ed piece by Gregory Rodriguez, a professor of “social cohesion” at the University of Arizona (“Saying ‘I don’t know’ can be a virtue”) really gave me pause to reflect.

The subordinate headline, “The pressure to have an opinion on every topic gets in the way of thinking about important matters,” seems to be a convoluted conclusion.

What is important to the author may be trivial to me, and vice versa. But I don’t feel as if my mundane opinions get in the way of my thinking about important matters, nor do I feel pressure to have an opinion about every topic under the sun. Mark Twain wrote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

There is lots of room here for joking about opinions, but the reality of the exchange of ideas by expressing opinion is that it forms a basis of understanding (right or wrongly) about that person.

These days of instant communication devices allow for less time to gather our thoughts prior to responding, but only if you allow them to rule your response.

“Dead air” is a term that radio and TV folks know as a term meaning an on-air time when there is nothing (words or pictures) being broadcast. Try using “dead air” in your daily communications and note the results. (“Yes. You lost me, and I don’t know.”)

Anyway, I do get roiled when I see these left-coast gurus opine about stuff that just seems so trivial. I’d like to find out how to get government grant money to start my own Center for Nitpickers and Trivializers.

Mark McConnell
Cumberland

Union money belongs to its members, not to state 

In a June 28 column headlined “State trying to save taxpayers money in union contract talks,” John McGough, Gov. LePage’s chief of staff, has some disturbing comments about the “private union representing many state employees.”

Toward the end of the column, Mr. McGough states that the Maine State Employees Association has a “budget of $5.4 million.”

In the next paragraph, Mr. McGough asks us to “remember that the vast majority of those funds originated from you — the taxpayer.”

I don’t know about other taxpayers, but this one never realized that any state government would use tax funds to provide the “vast majority” of a private union’s budget!

If Mr. McGough means that the MSEA members are providing the funds for the union’s budget, why not say that! Instead he would have us believe that a small segment of the population is benefiting from the taxes paid by the entire population!

The very biased article is made spurious by the budget reference.

Charles S. Copp
Westbrook