Thank you for your excellent editorial “University system hires don’t smell right” (May 4).

A lifelong Democrat, I am ashamed of my party’s egregious stuffing of the University of Maine System’s administration with soon-to-be-unemployed bureaucrats.

A suggestion as to possible rectification: Let these appointees, especially Ryan Low, Richard Thompson and Rebecca Wyke (hired without advertisement or search), resign, effective upon selection of qualified replacement by appropriate process. If the incumbents are qualified, let them compete for the positions.

P.S. Bridgton recently concluded a muscular advertising and selection process to hire a new economic development director. We got applications from as far away as California. I’m sure we would be happy to show the university system how to go about it.

Steve Collins

Bridgton

 

Poorest residents of Maine asked to give up the most

 

Gov. LePage likes to argue that Maine’s social safety net spending is out of control because it’s higher than the national average. Unfortunately, this reasoning is so shallow as to be worthless.

Dig a little deeper, and you can easily reach a different conclusion. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the average national per capita income for 2010 was $40,584. In Maine, the average per capita income was $37,300.

Would you not reasonably conclude that in a state with lower-than-average incomes, social safety net spending would be higher than the national average?

Sure, public monies are tight, but my question is: Why should we use Ebenezer Scrooge as our role model in deciding how to respond? Why haven’t we first asked the haves (both individual and corporate) to give up tax breaks or pay more in taxes before taking aim at the most economically vulnerable among us?

I suspect that Gov. LePage’s attitude, despite his well-publicized difficult childhood, is akin to “Hey, look at me – I became governor through hard work. There but for your laziness go you. Get a job.” Unfortunately, this form of bullying, devoid of rational and logical analysis, doesn’t promote good public policy.

Mark Love

Portland

 

Pingree reacts with grace to questionable attacks

 

Bill Nemitz’s column of April 13 (“McCarthyism laughable – until it isn’t”) brought a very important matter to the attention of Maine citizens. It concerns U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Rep. Allen West, a Republican from Florida, has inexplicably smeared Pingree and her fellow Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus members as “card-carrying members of the Communist Party.”

Another Republican, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, has also slighted Pingree by referring to her as “this woman” in an attack on her effort to label and ban from school lunches the questionable meat by-products commonly known as “pink slime.”

Pingree is not just “this woman,” nor is she a “card-carrying Communist.” She is a duly elected representative of our great state of Maine to the U.S. Congress where, whether you agree with all her views or not, she serves her constituency with dignity and honor.

Unfortunately, there exists a minority of our fellow citizens who not only condone the shameful comments by West and Branstad but actually agree with them.

Every other citizen of our state, regardless of party affiliation, should rise in defense of Rep. Pingree and condemn these outrageously false allegations and degrading slurs.

It is disappointing that Republicans Gov. LePage and Sens. Snowe and Collins, representing as they do all the people of Maine, have been unable or unwilling to muster the political courage to publicly denounce this verbal abuse against one of our own. This revival of “McCarthyism” and degradation of women is repugnant and equally insulting to everyone.

Pingree’s reaction to these attacks on her integrity and gender says it best: “If only Margaret Chase Smith were still around.”

Sam Kamin

Cumberland

Constructive change needed to bolster Clean Election

 

I serve on the Public Policy Committee of the Maine Council of Churches, an organization that has long supported the Maine Clean Election Act.

Our ten-year-old law is a bipartisan success story. John Richardson wrote of reduced participation by candidates in our Maine Clean Election Fund, yet 80 percent of our legislators used the system to win their seats while building trusting relationships with voters (“Fewer candidates using ‘clean election’ funds,” April 24).

This year the law needed attention from the Legislature to fix a problem created by a court ruling making fair Clean Election funding more difficult. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not provide the needed repair, so fewer candidates find the system viable, even though a workable solution was at the ready.

The Maine Clean Election Act is about including the voices of all voters in our elections. In the Maine Council of Churches, we believe that Clean Election enhances the relationship between elected officials and local constituents while helping to hold the line against undue influence by wealthy, out-of-state and other special interest groups.

We need a pragmatic system that works for candidates. Candidates need to be free to focus on the issues that face the state of Maine and our communities rather than desperately seeking campaign funds. Maine people have embraced the Clean Election system and made it work. It is desirable for Mainers to contribute $5 to a candidate and/or support clean elections on their state tax check-off.

The Clean Election fund involves the voters early in the election process, energizes voter participation in campaigns and generates interest in candidates while fostering discussion of important issues.

There will be future opportunities to strengthen Clean Election. Voters need to elect candidates who make this a priority.

Karen Hessel

Cape Elizabeth