Maine is known for its blueberries, its lighthouses and its strong leadership on challenging national issues.

In the tradition of Margaret Chase Smith, we elect fair-minded, principled leaders who are not afraid to take on the tough issues and do the right thing for the people of Maine and the nation.

We all know what guts it takes to stand up to bullies, like Joe McCarthy or the gun extremists. I applaud Sen. Susan Collins for co-sponsoring the gun trafficking bill, S. 54, and working to enhance school safety by sponsoring S. 146, the School Safety and Campus Enhancements Act.

As a law enforcement professional, former police chief and former U.S. marshal for the District of Maine, I know what it takes to push back against extremism and violence.

When 90 percent of Mainers and Americans want background checks on all gun sales, it should be done. But not all elected officials have what it takes to do the people’s business. They are too beholden to the special interests that prey on those who want to do the people’s work.

Don’t give in to this, Sen. Collins. Keep standing up to protect our communities from the predations of gun traffickers and criminals. We need background checks on all gun sales and limits on magazines to uphold the public safety and reduce gun violence. Stand with us, and help us keep our communities safe.

Those of us who traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a White House event with Vice President Joe Biden and who met with Sen. Collins and Sen. Angus King’s senior staff felt a sense of comfort in knowing that our senators will support what the majority of both gun-owning and non-gun- owning Mainers are demanding of them: to enact good, common-sense gun legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Lewiston

City should move ahead on well-done midtown project

Portland’s Planning Board should be commended for its recommendation to approve variations in existing height restrictions to permit a proposal to construct a high-rise neighborhood dubbed “midtown” in Bayside (“Portland board gets behind taller buildings in Bayside,” March 22).

This project, if built, will enliven presently dreary streets, pump new vitality into a neighborhood that wants the same and present a dramatic urban gateway to Maine’s largest city.

However, the project is not without its detractors. Some opine that it conflicts with the vision expressed in the plan justifying the zoning pursuant to which it will be built: “A New Vision for Bayside.” Others simply oppose blocked views.

While none of these concerns are illegitimate per se, the Planning Board was correct to see past their emotional veneers and adhere to its primary legal role of examining whether the zoning changes proposed are in “basic harmony” with Portland’s Comprehensive Plan.

That standard is, for better or worse, amazingly easy to satisfy. In that sense, then, planning mandates are less a means of legally controlling zoning outcomes, and more a means of ensuring a defined level of forethought precedes substantive regulatory changes that impact personal property rights.

In other words, rarely will a particular project not legally align with an underlying plan; the question of whether it does and subsequent thought process such inquiry prompts are the true benefits of linking plans to regulatory action. Here, the Planning Board conducted a thorough review of the available evidence and made a reasonable determination.

The City Council, as Portland’s legislative body, must now take this conclusion under advisement as it decides how to proceed. As it does, it should note the scale of this project is, in an absolute sense, still relatively minor.

It is also worth noting that it constrains sprawl and rejuvenates an area sorely in need of a little TLC.

Patrick Venne

Berwick town manager

Portland resident

In an effort to continue its “new vision for Bayside,” I am encouraging the City Council to green-light the Federated Cos.’ midtown project.

Opportunities like this one don’t come around every day. There is precedent for tall buildings in the neighborhood. And this next step will ensure that the investments that have already been made in the neighborhood will continue to prove worthwhile.

When I was growing up in Portland, Bayside was the industrial part of town, with many vacant and underutilized parcels of land. Over the years since, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the city of Portland and optimistic businesses, Bayside has been on the right track toward economic development and making this new vision a reality.

When I purchased the Miss Portland Diner from the city in 2008, I was strongly encouraged to keep the diner in Bayside, and I agreed to in an effort to support the goal of increasing foot traffic in the area.

The Federated Cos. project will be a welcome addition to our neighborhood, bringing housing and a much-needed garage into the area. The developer’s experience and commitment to this project are impressive, and the city is fortunate that an offer to develop the remaining open lots along Somerset Street is on the table.

This project will provide employment opportunities and improve the tax base for the citizens of Portland. Every business in Bayside stands to benefit from this development, which is betting on the future of Bayside.

Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by. Let’s take the best next step for Bayside and vote “yes” for the midtown project to move forward.

Tom Manning

owner, Miss Portland Diner

Portland

American accents also offer much material for mockery

I do hope the writer of the letter “British term strikes odd note in article on Portland streets” (Letters to the editor, April 4) is not so provincial that he doesn’t understand that American accents — i.e.: New England, NYC, Bronx, Brooklyn, New Joisey and the whole of the Southern dialects — cause as much mockery across the “Pond” as British accents do here.

As for the terms used, we are in the USA and the correct terminology for this nation should be used, I agree. But when the time comes and someone asks if the author of the letter speaks English, the answer should be, “No, I speak American.”

Anthony Young

South Portland