Maine has always had difficulty balancing its budget, and since the Great Recession of the new millennium, many cities and towns have been on the verge of a total fiscal disaster. In addition, the economic outlook doesn’t include any major upward swing in the next several years.

Accordingly, any municipality that has a guaranteed income is fortunate, to say the least. Biddeford received $800,000 last year from the Maine Energy Recovery Co., operator of the downtown trash incinerator, which employed 80 Mainers and produced enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.

But wait, Mayor Alan Casavant has a better idea that includes losing those 80 jobs, forgoing $800,000 of income and going into debt for $10 million or so to possibly build another convention center. Every Biddeford taxpayer should loudly protest this incredibly poor idea and demand the real reason behind Casavant’s desire to commit fiscal suicide.

He might also try to explain that to all of the hard-working folks who actually contribute tax money to keep Biddeford solvent.

Jerry Taylor

Saco

Tax breaks for rich don’t create jobs for the populace

“Job creators,” the fanciful term used by Republicans to describe big corporations and the richest 1 percent, have a lot to be thankful for in that they are the beneficiaries of the theory of ” trickle-down economics.” I refer to the idea that, contrary to all evidence, government tax breaks to that group will benefit poorer members of society by improving the entire economy. Application of this theory has not only led to disastrous results under recent Republican administrations, but was also their prescription for the Great Depression.

In 1932, in his nomination acceptance speech, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out that with such policies “a favored few are helped hoping that their prosperity will leak through, sift down, to the laborer, the farmer and the small business man.”

Roosevelt, in contrast, promised to bring a “New Deal” to the American people, and sought instead to build prosperity from the bottom up with strong policies of job-creating public works and upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

Yet today Republicans cling adamantly to their “job creator” fantasy. Combine that with their goals of demolishing Medicare and Medicaid, and eliminating a host of vital government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, Food and Drug Administration, and Securities and Exchange Commission, and you have a recipe for America’s decline.

Gene Clifford

Southwest Harbor

Those who opt out of union dues should forgo benefits

L.D. 309 is a bill to repeal the requirement that non-dues-paying employees of union-represented employers need to pay union dues, or at least a pro-rated portion to cover the cost of the union negotiations from which they benefit. Under current law, workers are not and cannot be forced to join a union. But, current law does allow these workers to be charged a modest “fair share” fee by a union because they fully benefit from the wage increases and improved benefits and working conditions secured through union negotiations.

Having served as a president of a union local (AFSCME local 2968) representing members of the Department of Corrections, I am very familiar with this issue. There are justifiable arguments on both sides, which of course raises emotions depending on whose ox is being gored. We explained to the non-dues-paying employees that their benefits were secured by our negotiations, which cost money to conduct. But they didn’t want that benefit paid for by their dues.

So why not make it simple? Since the state will not negotiate individually with each employee, for obvious reasons, allow the employee to opt out of the negotiated benefit that they are not paying for. Allow them to stay on their compensation plan, until they elect to participate by paying prior to the next round of negotiations. The state would enjoy the benefit of not having to pay increased wages and benefits to a portion of the work force, the “non-payers” would get what they want, and the dues-paying members could justifiably pay for the benefits they negotiated for. And the non-dues- paying members could enjoy the pleasure of making less money than their co-workers, but they would be able to say they stood by their principles.

Ira Scherr

Waldoboro

Well-designed heat pump can perform very efficiently

Consulting engineer Edmond R. Pelta may be interested to know the efficiency of an ideal heat pump is the reciprocal of the efficiency of an ideal heat engine (“Pump’s efficiency seems to defy laws of physics,” April 6).

If an engine is 33 percent efficient, then moving 100 BTU of heat produces 33 BTU of work. But run in reverse, putting in 33 BTU of work moves 100 BTU of heat, for 300 percent efficiency.

Real heat engines cannot be reversed perfectly, but well-designed heat pumps come close. When it is 20 degrees outside and water is heated to 115 degrees, an ideal heat pump would be 600 percent efficient.

The warmer it is outside, the higher the efficiency. Real-world performance of 300 percent is entirely reasonable.

Nevin Brackett-Rozinsky

Limerick

U.S. government overstepped by raiding cannabis research

On Monday, Oaksterdam University in California and its founder, medical marijuana activist Richard Lee, were targeted and raided by a team of federal agents led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Wearing bulletproof vests and in some cases masks, and with guns in hand, agents invaded the university and numerous of Lee’s properties. Under California state law, none of the parties were breaking or even slightly overstepping their rights as citizens of the state. So why exactly does the federal government believe it has the right to intervene?

The last time I checked, we lived in a democratic nation where the citizens are supposed to have final say over our land and our laws. So somebody please tell the Obama administration to back off.

We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet on Monday, Obama allowed our government to infringe on those rights, and for what reason? The students of Oaksterdam University, who were researching and practicing the cultivation, marketing and medicinal usage of cannabis, were hurting no one. Lee is not a criminal. He is an activist, a revolutionary and a compassionate, educated supporter of the legalization of medical marijuana.

The Obama administration must immediately stop these useless, wasteful acts and take the time to consider all the ways cannabis can benefit our nation and our people. Stop treating medical marijuana patients and supporters like they are criminals. We, the people, can govern ourselves within our states and if that includes the regulation of cannabis for medical users or even recreational users, so be it.

Amanda Lord

president of UMF Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Farmington

Legislator’s comment about Dick Cheney was appalling

I was both surprised and appalled to read the recently disclosed statement by Maine Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, regarding his wish that he could witness the former vice president, Dick Cheney, meeting a violent end (“Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams”).

Regardless of one’s position on public policy questions, wishing violence upon any public servant is beyond the pale for any decent, moral citizen. It’s instructive to those of us in other parts of the country as to what passes for a “moderate” among Democrats in the state of Maine.

Burton J. Lee

Roaring Brook Twp.