I am a vendor at the Portland Farmers’ Market. On Aug. 31, I returned to the market at Deering Oaks after several weeks’ absence.

When I was last there, the historic building in the park above the pond was offering clean bathrooms to the hundreds of park visitors in need of them. Those of us who know just when the bathrooms are available can limit or enjoy coffee or other drinks according to need or want.

But the building opens at 10 a.m., making for a long wait for those of us who leave home in the dark in order to get to the market before 7 a.m. Not all vendors want or are able to equip their truck or car with bathroom equipment.

And so around 10:15 on Aug. 31, I walked down to the building, where three to four people stood waiting impatiently at the locked door. (The outhouses in the park at the beginning of market season were gone.)

I returned to my stand and called the police, hoping to get a quick remedy for those of us preferring an accepted outlet rather than a friendly tree or bush.

The response I got was an offer to try to contact Mr. Z in Department Q re: the problem. Realizing the wait could extend indefinitely, I packed up my car and drove off, missing the most profitable part of the market.

This is no way to treat the paying, licensed vendors and the visitors who come expecting to enjoy nature in reasonable comfort.

As I drove by the locked building, the first group waiting for access to the bathroom had left. A few new individuals stood by the locked door with pained expressions on some faces.

Is there no backup to deal promptly and effectively with such problems? Based on that Saturday, the answer is “no”!

Betsy Mitchell

Gray

MaineCare ride service leaves riders in limbo

I’d like to talk to you all about the new transportation broker system, Coordinated Transportation Solutions.

In our state, adults with disabilities and a lot of people with MaineCare depend on transportation — this is how we function every day.

CTS took charge of transportation Aug. 1. CTS is not dependable and not organized. Since this new transportation system started, we (those who depend on transportation) have developed anxieties about transportation.

Sometimes, our rides have not been showing up to get us where we are going or pick us up at the end of the day. This new system was supposed to make it better, but it made it a lot worse.

Transportation is definitely a barrier in Maine for people with disabilities. It’s harder on us. This new system is not reliable, and we depend on it.

I’d like to list our needs for transportation: We need rides to get to day programs, doctor’s appointments and work. Our rides don’t show up and we don’t know when they are coming — or going. It feels like we are getting stranded.

When we call CTS to cancel rides, sometimes they show up anyway. Also, when I have called, I have been put on hold for one hour before they answer. And also, I have not been able to leave a message. CTS has poor communication skills.

When we need the rides, sometimes they don’t show up. I have had this experience myself. I love my job and I need a ride there. 

Since this new system started we’ve missed the old way of transportation. It was better than this. This has been stressful, emotional and frustrating.

I think CTS should improve on their responsibilities. I’d like to give my point of view and be a self-advocate.  

I call this a transportation disaster.

Anna McDougal

Brunswick

Failure to act against Syria reminds of WWII mistakes

The current situation in which Congress and the American people appear to reject President Obama’s “shot across the bow” in Syria brings to mind the early days of World War II.

The America First movement, consisting of Republicans and such notables as Charles Lindbergh and the elder Joseph Kennedy, was perfectly willing to support Adolf Hitler’s atrocities in order to keep the U.S. out of the war. In the end, the war came to us and cost us hundreds of thousands of casualties.

The “shot across the bow” idea probably will prove inadequate. “Boots on the ground” will probably be necessary in the end. The longer we wait, the worse the situation will get. Why must we disregard the lessons of history?

Alden White

Buxton

Proposed ‘free’ trade deal will likely cost Maine jobs

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations continue, based on the same free trade model as NAFTA. 

Maine has lost 30,000 jobs since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is projected to be the largest free trade agreement ever.

An assessment of impacts of this free trade agreement upon Maine was prepared for the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission (http://www.maine.gov/legis/opla/CTPC2012finalassessment.pdf). The agreement takes aim at policies that maintain health and protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

The Citizen Trade Policy Commission was established by the Legislature to provide an ongoing state-level mechanism to assess the impact of international trade policies on Maine’s state and local laws, business environment and working conditions.

As part of its mandate, this legislative body is holding a meeting and public hearing Sept. 19 in Augusta at the Cross Building adjacent to the State House, Room 214, from 4 to 8 p.m.

The Maine Fair Trade Campaign, a statewide coalition working for fair trade, believes that we cannot afford to repeat the failed trade policy that has offshored so many Maine jobs and threatens the policies our legislators have enacted through a democratic process. 

The coalition is asking our members of Congress to assert control over their constutional authority to set the terms of trade. This Citizen Trade Policy Commission public hearing will help facilitate that process.

Please put this event on your calendar, bring testimony with you and confirm scheduling at: http://www.maine.gov/legis/opla/citpol.htm.

Martha Spiess

treasurer, Maine Fair Trade Campaign  

Freeport