The March 16 Press Herald noted that at a recent town hall meeting the governor, who last year cut MPBN’s budget by $200,000, was asked why he now has proposed cutting all funding (an additional $1.7 million) to MPBN. He responded: “Why should I pay welfare to a company? It’s that simple I need that money to pay welfare to make sure some elderly don’t freeze.”

I agree the poor/elderly have needs that must be met.

But cutting the state’s relatively modest contribution to (nonprofit) MPBN, a contribution that serves broad public purposes and that is more than matched by contributions from private corporations and individual citizens, while leaving in place tens of millions of dollars in annual corporate welfare payouts (through the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program, TIF and other corporate subsidy payments) to some of the wealthiest corporations in Maine is inconsistency in the extreme.

The numbers speak for themselves. In F.Y. 2009, BETR alone paid the top 12 recipients $29.8 million.

1. Verso Paper – $5.5 million

2. Bath Iron Works – $3.6 million

3. Nestle Waters – $3 million

4. S.D. Warren – $2.9 million

5. National Semiconductor – $2.6 million

6. Katahdin Paper – $2.5 million

7. Rumford Paper – $2 million

8. Tambrands – $2 million

9. L.L. Bean – $1.6 million

10. Madison Paper – $1.5 million

11. Walmart Stores – $1.3 million

12. McCain Foods – $1.2 million

Read the corporate names, and ask the governor why he’s only going after MPBN, why these welfare payments to some of the largest and richest Maine corporations aren’t being eliminated, or cut sharply? Why aren’t these corporations being asked to contribute to the needs of Maine’s poor/elderly? It’s inconsistency, unfairness run wild.

Orlando Delogu

Portland

Maine DEP must do more to cut pollution emissions

No matter how you spin it, it’s not a good thing that Maine’s pulp and paper mills are spewing more toxic chemicals into our air, water and land. The Feb. 26 article about the Toxic Release Inventory and what it means for Maine missed the mark (“Both relief, criticism greet news of rise in toxins”).

The 2011 Toxic Release Inventory shows us that Maine’s industrial activities come with a price. But Maine people and our elected leaders should remember that increased production does not need to result in increased pollution, so we don’t have to accept the increased threats to our health and environment.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection implies that the significant rise in toxic pollution in Maine in 2011 is safe, because we Mainers are exposed to other sources of toxic chemicals, too.

The DEP neglected to note that more pollution, no matter the source, puts Mainers at a higher risk of all kinds of illness, including respiratory damage, cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive harm. The DEP’s logic is irresponsible and ignores the cumulative effect of so many pollution sources on our environment and health.

Now that this year’s tally has shown us that we face increasing danger from industrial pollution, what do we do about it?

Our current state and federal laws do not do enough to limit the release of toxic chemicals into our environment and our bodies. We need laws that encourage the Maine DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit toxic pollution and prevent companies from profiting while releasing dangerous chemicals that damage our health and environment.

Passage of the federal Safe Chemicals Act would ask that the industries that produce, use, or release chemicals prove that these chemicals are safe. That would be a good start. For more information, see: http://supporters.nrcm.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&id=361

Abby King

policy advocate

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Augusta

Thanks for supporting rights of DeCoster workers

I want to give thanks and congratulations to Father Michael J. Seavey on his Maine Voices editorial on March 5, “Farm workers rights should not have an expiration date.” Father Seavey believes that DeCoster’s egg farm workers should continue to have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Collective bargaining was legalized for these workers by the Maine Legislature in 1997.

The right to organize and bargain collectively is part of American history. I agree with Father Seavey that this right should be continued.

I served in the Maine Legislature for 8 years as Falmouth’s state representative and two years as the state senator from District 11. Before that, I was a Portland High School history teacher for 36 years, where Father Seavey was a student of mine. I am very proud to have played a small role in his high school education.

Jerry Davis

119th-122nd, 124th Maine Legislatures

Falmouth

More oversight needed on state welfare program

 

I just wanted to write about the ongoing troubles with the Maine Health and Human Services Department.

While this mess with the MaineCare is upsetting, there are also other areas of the welfare system that could use some oversight and overhauling.

I am speaking of the way money is allotted and given to recipients. I have personally seen some who receive payments from the state misuse the money. I am not talking about the cigarettes that are bought with it, or the alcohol. We already know about that.

I am talking about watching someone use the debit card that is issued to them to withdraw money from the card, then buy a moneygram and send the money overseas to their homeland. I have seen this several times while waiting in line at Hannaford’s customer service line.

I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that the money is meant to support needy families in Maine. I believe it is called T.A.N.F., not World Aid. Who knows, maybe it is even used to buy drugs or weapons.

I will say again: More oversight is needed in how payments are made and spent.

Edna Curit

Portland