I was heartened to see an article on the East-West corridor in the Maine Sunday Telegram (“East-West Highway: Answer or albatross?” May 27). Finally, we are given a few words in print on the debate about a project that could define the future of Maine.

Should Maine tie itself to a failed economic model that puts the future of human existence at risk, or should it embrace a new local economy?

Peter Vigue’s vision is a 220-mile, 2,000-foot-wide, concrete and steel corridor bisecting the state from Calais to Coburn Gore. By comparison, the Maine Turnpike is 300 feet wide. This will not be just a highway. It’s a $2 billion investment, creating an ecological dead zone to speed the movement of resources and goods in a world economy.

By any standard, this world economy is a failure. It has lowered our standard of living. A foreclosure epidemic is driving us from our homes; poverty is on the increase, especially in families with children.

This world economy pumps greater amounts of carbon dioxide into the air to operate. Carbon pollution is making more of us sick and bringing on climate change that will possibly make large parts of the Earth uninhabitable.

We do need investment in Maine, but investment in a new economy based on local values. Visionary investors are starting a grist mill in Skowhegan and have a food-processing and storage facility up and running in Belfast. The Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative is creating market opportunities for small farmers that never before existed.

Money spent on these projects stays in Maine and doesn’t go to Wall Street. Investments in green businesses create more jobs on the dollar than the corridor could and move Maine’s economy away from one that is unhealthful and making us poorer. This is the road we should take.

Read Brugger

Freedom

In recent media coverage, Peter Vigue repeatedly charges that the opponents of the East-West Highway are “unprofessional” and “bullying” and that some are “ecoterrorists.” He states,”This is not the way we do things in Maine.”

To set the record straight, the majority of people who are raising their voices in opposition to the proposed East-West corridor are responsible, hardworking Maine taxpayers with legitimate personal and local concerns.

At a recent meeting in Dover-Foxcroft, there was no heckling or disrespect by anyone except Mr. Vigue, whose defensive accusations were an insult to those present at the meeting. We asked important questions related to the future of our communities and way of life in a respectful and honest way.

His responses were evasive, defensive, dismissive, accusatory and hostile.

For example, he stated that he will not release the route of the intended highway because he thinks the landowners would be intimidated by opponents into not selling their land! Doesn’t he think it is the right of the Maine people whose lives will be affected to know if their homes, farms and communities will be impacted by the massive corridor? It is not we who are behaving badly, sir.

If Mr. Vigue wants to hear our concerns, as he professes, then he would do well to really listen to people who simply have a different vision and values. He should immediately stop making threatening and improper characterizations and start having serious, honest discussions with us, not just back-room negotiations and dealings with legislators and Canadian corporate executives.

We are not terrorists, backward, radical or a threat, unless he believes that the very act of questioning or disagreeing with him is threatening.

Open discussion, Mr. Vigue, is the way things are done in Maine.

Lesley Fernow

Dover-Foxcroft

I’m not saying Peter Vigue is a shyster. He wants to obtain work and profits for Cianbro; that’s his job … I get that. However, the state of Maine can save $300,000 (for a feasibility study that would be paid for from my tax dollars, and yours) by simply giving him and Cianbro a three-year exclusive option to study and finance an East-West Highway.

If the feasibility study shows it’s a viable project, and Mr. Vigue et al. can finance the project, the state should provide them a five-year window in which to build the project, and then a 50-year option to operate it.

Additionally, let Mr. Vigue et al. decide what tolls the traffic will bear; give them unfettered ability to charge market rates. That’s called “private enterprise.”

One would think free-marketers, including Mr. Vigue and our governor, would support that! Anything else, especially a state-funded $300,000 feasibility study, is wasting my hard-earned tax dollars, and I resent the heck out of that. Time for the Maine Legislature to smarten up!

Rick Kelley

Windham

Volk applauded for work on workers’ comp reform

Having had a lot of experience dealing with the Workers’ Compensation Board in my position as head of human resources and safety for Shaw Brothers Construction in Gorham, I followed the progress of the workers’ compensation reform proposal, L.D. 1913, quite closely, even attending a public hearing in Augusta.

I was particularly pleased to know that one of Scarborough’s Republican legislators, Amy Volk, was serving on the committee that would craft the bill.

I contacted her personally to tell her that I felt we needed a fair and balanced system that looks after the injured employees as well as the company. I believe Volk, her committee and the Legislature accomplished that with the passage of L.D. 1913.

It is my understanding that Volk worked tirelessly with Workers’ Compensation Board director Paul Sighinolfi to win the votes they needed in the House on the majority report from the committee.

When the Senate passed an amended version, some members of the House were so angry they were willing to let it die, rather than pass a compromise.

Volk went to work again, changing hearts and minds and even drafting an early-morning amendment of her own in case it was needed. In the end, she was successful in convincing enough to vote for the Senate amendment that it passed by a one-vote margin.

While not everything the employer community wanted, the final version goes a long way toward improving the flawed workers’ compensation system we have had to work with since 1992.

The most severely injured workers will be taken care of, and all of the others will have 10 years in which to be rehabilitated and retrained.

Scarborough should be proud that it has elected a representative who is willing to roll up her sleeves and fight for compromise.

George Keim

Scarborough