In the April 26 Press Herald, Ed Murphy wrote an exciting story about the history of the city of Portland’s cannon from the War of 1812.

As many readers agreed, it was nice to see this important historical artifact taken out of the closet to get some much deserved attention.

An important point of clarification needs to be made, however, in both the story and subsequent letters to the editor.

The city of Portland has not relinquished its ownership of the cannon. The story states that the Maine Historical Society was given the cannon in 1894 and “loaned” it to the city. This point is contested by the city.

We believe that the cannon is the city’s property, and have enlisted the help of noted historian Herb Adams to research the history of the item and its ownership.

While this may appear to be a small point, it is important for the public to understand that the city has not given up its ownership of the cannon. Upon conclusion of the exhibit, we expect the cannon to be returned.

When the Maine Maritime Museum and Maine Historical Society asked if the cannon could be part of the museum’s temporary War of 1812 exhibit, the city was happy to agree as we saw the benefit of having the cannon displayed in a way and place that would make it and its history more available to the public.

Gary Wood

Corporation Counsel

Portland

Biden should be reminding us we need to stand together

Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments about the Bush administration’s handling of Iran are divisive and unnecessary.

In Biden’s defense, it is true the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to deal with Iran diplomatically. However, progress is little. Iran is still working feverishly on its nuclear program, with little reason to believe that economic sanctions led by the U.S. have caused them to have a change of heart.

Naturally, enter the shots across the bow. Biden’s comments are intended to show the contrast between Bush’s unilateral approach to Iraq and Iran, and Obama’s pro-diplomacy pro-U.N. approach. Why? Why does this need to be another partisan attack?

Most Americans agree that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, that it would inevitably lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The majority of Americans favor diplomacy to solve the problem, not war.

Even more so, the majority of Americans favor leadership. Leadership is not throwing the previous administration under the bus. In case anyone needs a history lesson, Iran has been an international headache and state sponsor of terrorism essentially since its formation. Excuse Bush for not rolling out the red carpets for them. Excuse Bush for making it clear there is no distinction between terrorists and the states that harbor them. Biden should know that the Iran problem is not ending anytime soon.

As divided as we seem, there are certain issues where we’re all on the same team. Biden should be reminding us how we stand together on Iran. Biden should not be creating smoke when there is no fire to begin with. When it comes to America’s defense, there is no room for partisan attacks. Mr. Vice President, the American people, and our allies, deserve better.

Daniel Purinton

Topsham

Commissioners should make their actions more visible

On April 23, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners met and authorized borrowing $33 million to renovate the civic center, following voter approval last year.

It also approved a memo of understanding with the civic center trustees outlining the management of this large and expensive design and the construction project. The vote was 3-1.

These actions were expected. What was surprising was that this took place in five minutes with no discussion in public. No commissioner explained his or her position, or tried to convince other board members of their views. Further, the public was not invited to comment.

Thirty-three million dollars.

This is not to say that the commissioners made their decisions thoughtlessly. The project management memo, which was not made available to the public before the meeting and is still not online, was discussed in executive session if not elsewhere.

Nevertheless, offering a public explanation, and when practical, asking for input, are the best ways of demonstrating respect for the citizens, engendering trust in our public officials, teaching the public about government processes, and encouraging involvement and volunteer talent from the public.

In sharp contrast, following the brief meeting, the commissioners next entered into an informal but public workshop to set goals, examine how to improve government efficiency, pursue questions with staff members, generate ideas and offer praise for work accomplished.

Regrettably, they chose to turn off the cameras during this productive and thought-provoking session. The public would have witnessed the commissioners and staff acting in a creative, cooperative and concerned manner in the best tradition of public service.

I encourage the members of the board of commissioners to be more open with the public, explain their positions and make their actions more visible.

Trust works in two directions.

Mark D. Grover

Gray

What’s become of jetport’s center for information?

Why has the Portland International Jetport cut back the hours of the ladies working at the information center?

Information Central was one of the most productive, needed services to welcome and inform people arriving and departing from the jetport.

We need these trained, reliable, willing and knowledgeable ladies full time to represent Portland to visitors in a friendly and timely way.

They went out of their way to find solutions to many problems encountered by new arrivals to our state.

Now who will help a lonely wheelchair-bound person find a comfortable place to rest after the skycaps have gone? Or help direct stranded passengers to find rides? Who calms passengers trying to find lost luggage when the airline baggage claims are gone — or will just be there to listen to a stranded passenger?

Please tell me again how the jetport is better off cutting these hours .

Garry Wheeler

Topsham