Regarding the May 15 school budget election:

Eliminating this election would be an excellent way to save money for the city budget. Only 1,562 voters, out of more than 48,000 registered voters, cast ballots for this election. Eleven polling places were required by law to be fully staffed, with a minimum of five poll workers at each polling place being paid $10 per hour for 13 or more hours.

A few years ago, Portland voters narrowly voted (by fewer than 15 votes) to continue holding this election. Considering how few people make the effort to vote, maybe it is time to eliminate this election, or to combine it with the June primary. Another option would be to require everyone to vote by absentee ballot so that no polling places would need to be staffed. At least, since 5 percent or less of the population votes in this election, we should think about opening one or two polling places instead of all 11.

Portland citizens seem to want to participate in their local government, which is understandable and admirable. However, one job of the school board and the City Council is to propose and approve the school budget. They are paid to be well-informed, and they are elected to represent the citizens of Portland. Citizens should not vote on each individual issue; we are not experts in every area of local government. To hold an election for 11 people per hour to vote seems fiscally irresponsible. Let’s leave the budget to the experts, and if we dislike their decisions, we can vote them out of office in the next election.

Benjamin Ingrao

Portland

Story only provided fodder for misguided comments

Bill Nemitz is a terrific writer, with a heart, who offers many thought-provoking columns. In light of the budget situation and the obvious bias among many against Maine’s struggling families, one wonders at the wisdom of a column about a special-needs mother and disabled partner and three small children.

Such a pitiful story in no way represents the majority of those receiving social services but provides fodder for the inevitable ignorant and misguided comments that followed the story.

One needs to use perspective considering the many ways a tax dollar is divided these days. With fewer of them to use, it isn’t unreasonable to expect some trimming of social services, even though it may seem harsh at times.

The battle really is over the solution of ideologues in government to (1) throw more money at a problem or (2) focus on solutions that are in reality turning one’s back to the issue and avoiding a real solution.

Well-crafted programs with goals and expectations, and that are adequately funded, are the realistic solution — programs that have minimal administrative expense and where the focus is on bettering the client. And the ultimate solution is a thriving economy in which there is a place for everyone to succeed to the best of his or her abilities.

To expect the poor to abstain from the few pleasures available to them in life is ludicrous. And in view of that, children will be born to them. And economic status will never determine the ability of one to be a good parent. Better to realize those absolutes and to craft programs that help those families succeed and adapt.

What’s needed in government today are those who operate in view of reality. And to kick the ideologues to the curb.

Howard Hanson

Biddeford

Say no to cutting subsidies for oil and gas industry

His answer is blowing in the wind, blaring in the sky and growing in the corn fields. Listen as President Obama sings the praises of wind, sun and ethanol, his trifecta of energy solutions.

Well, the prize here isn’t being No. 1 on the American Top 40 chart. The prize is a U.S. economy that puts people to work, fuels business and creates growth across industry sectors. Yet our president’s answer is to end subsidies to the oil and gas industry?

The oil and gas industry historically has paid a large share in taxes to Washington. Between 2006 and 2010, ExxonMobil paid about $59 billion in total U.S. taxes while earning $40.5 billion domestically. That means Exxon paid $1.45 in taxes for every $1 it earned. And we hear that “Big Oil” isn’t paying its fair share? There is nothing fair about it!

This industry sends more dollars to Washington and state capitals than it earned in profits for shareholders, according to the Tax Foundation. If I could pick its theme song, it might be “Whipping Post.”

Put sound policy and positive job growth back into our energy policy. Stand with me and say no to cutting tax subsidies for oil and gas and hit the delete button on these green, one-hit wonders.

Arthur Langley

Durham

So what’s the real story about Social Security?

For years I had been led to believe that Social Security was in deep trouble because there simply weren’t enough young workers to pay into the system as baby boomers retire. Imagine my surprise, therefore, to read in the May 12 Press Herald that “Generation Y” (sometimes called millennials), a group bigger than baby boomers, is coming along (“Zipcar continues to make inroads”).

So what’s the real story? What’s the real agenda behind all those statements about not enough payers to keep alive a system that’s helped so many payees — and could continue to do so? Or did the article in the paper’s business section about Zipcar get this fact wrong?

Pamela B. Blake

Freeport

Details of Kinkade’s life should not be published

What primal satisfaction does one experience by revealing idiosyncratic information about a person like Thomas Kinkade? (“Valium, alcohol killed painter Kinkade,” May 8).

The man has brought pleasure to countless people almost everywhere, with paintings of pastoral landscapes and country gardens. He did not have a reputation of hurting anyone.

Now Kinkade’s reputation is tainted by invading his privacy. Pleasure has been derived by exploiting his artistic habits. There it is, again, “man’s inhumanity to man.” And why publish it in this paper?

Bonnie Tallagnon

Biddeford