Maine’s Speaker of the House Robert Nutting shows in a letter published Oct. 7 that he misunderstands the reason why the Protect Maine Votes coalition released the names of lawmakers who voted to end same-day voter registration despite having themselves used it to register to vote.

We support same-day registration. It’s a law that has worked for nearly 40 years. And it’s a law that has worked even for many of the people who would deny others the opportunity, including Gov. Paul LePage and other lawmakers.

Our campaign did not call any of these lawmakers hypocrites. In fact, we asked them — respectfully — only to consider the circumstances that led them to use same-day voter registration and then to reconsider their vote to take it away from everyone else.

On Sept. 27, during a special session of the Legislature, these lawmakers could have fixed their mistake. They chose not to.

As for Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, her registration card speaks for itself. She became a registered voter on Oct. 30, 1999 — within the timeframe that is no longer allowed. When her town office was asked when she registered, the person responded: Oct. 30, 1999.

The card shows that it was signed three days earlier on Oct. 27. Perhaps some error, human or otherwise, led to a delay in her registration. Unless we vote “yes” on Question 1 on Nov. 8, future voters could have the same thing happen to them. But instead of voting, they could be turned away on Election Day.

David Farmer
Protect Maine Votes
Augusta
 

College students praised for challenging big oil  

Colby College students did a great job at our tar sands demonstration outside the Michelle Obama fundraiser in Portland last week.

Thirteen members of the school’s Environmental Coalition showed up to cheer, hold signs and hand out leaflets to help fight big oil’s latest scheme — the Keystone XL pipeline proposal to pump tar sands oil across the United States for export to other countries.

Three students from University of Maine at Farmington and one from College of the Atlantic also joined us. All of the students were well-spoken and respectful, while still enthusiastically exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. (I will confess to a bias as my daughter was among them.)

The students joined other Maine activists to rally against a proposal by TransCanada to pipe 900,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, tar sands deposits, to refineries in a tax-free industrial zone on the Gulf Coast. From there, this extra-dirty oil (its extraction uses more energy than typical wells) will be shipped to South America and Europe.

The plan creates some jobs in pipeline construction and at refineries, but it delays America’s switch to clean energy and the jobs those new industries are creating. More importantly, according to climate scientists, burning the tar sands oil will cause runaway climate change — and that is one monster-sized job-killer.

The decision on Keystone XL is up to the Obama administration. If it agrees to stop the pipeline, these student protesters will have the brighter future they deserve.

Check out tarsandsaction.org for more.

Ken Hotopp
Bethel

Grandmother-volunteer urges continued funding 

The U.S. House of Representatives has issued draft legislation that would shut down the Corporation for National and Community Service, eliminating funding for AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, the Volunteer Generation Fund and Learn & Serve America.

If such bill passes, it will cut over 100,000 jobs and eliminate essential services that children, seniors, veterans and entire communities rely on. Fortunately, the bill will not eliminate funding for National Senior Volunteer Programs.

I’m a proud 70-year-old volunteer with PROP’s Senior Volunteers’ Foster Grandparent Program. The 40 hours a week I volunteer with second-graders at Lyseth School in Portland adds enormously to my physical and mental well-being.

Helping our future generation with reading, writing, math, self-confidence, etc., is just part of what I do. I also encourage them to be their very best selves at this early age so that they will become great members of our community.

It warmed my heart when a parent whose children I had worked with 10 years ago told me how much her daughters had benefited by my presence in their lives.

Those of us 55 years and older are not useless! The gift of years gives us the luxury, indeed the obligation, to leave the legacy of our life’s experience and wisdom to our precious youth. Programs such as the Foster Grandparent Program allow us to do just that. I trust that funding for our program will continue.

Fran Seeley
Portland
 

Portland’s Irish heritage part of Prohibition story 

I read with great interest your article on Prohibition. I am writing a history of the Portland Irish and have come across many fascinating stories.

Mayor Neal Dow fought a fanatical battle against rum sellers, especially Irish rum sellers. On June 2, 1855, when it was discovered that $1,700 in liquor was being stored in the basement of City Hall, a crowd of laborers and fishermen, many of them Irish, gathered and demanded that Dow be arrested, as they declared that he had violated his own law.

Dow called out the local militia and police, who fired into the crowd and killed John Robbins, a 21-year-old fisherman from Deer Isle. Eventually an 18-day jury inquest acquitted Dow, the police and the militia..

The Maine Irish Heritage Center is sponsoring a lecture Oct. 30 on the murder of Portland police Officer Michael Connolly, who washed up on East End Beach, bound with his own handcuffs. It was thought that he might have been killed by bootleggers whom he came across as they smuggled booze into Portland.

Suzan Norton will deliver the lecture, accompanied by members of the Connolly family. For more, see maineirishheritagetrail.org for highlights on some of the history of prohibition, drinking and the Irish.

Matthew Jude Barker
genealogist/historian
Maine Irish Heritage Center
Portland