I encourage residents, families, artists and lovers of Portland’s culture to stand up against the sale of Portland’s peninsula by the City Council.

Everywhere you look in Portland, residents are bombarded with the construction of four new hotels, several events centers and luxury condos at the expense of affordable housing and community spaces.

Our current City Council approves tens of millions of dollars in tax cuts every year for out-of-state developers, all while our schools are falling apart.

As a member of the school board, I am extremely disturbed that classrooms have caught on fire, as with the case of the Hall School last year, and children in our district are in classrooms without running water.

While Portland schools are in desperate need of safe and affordable classroom space, the City Council has sold the Nathan Clifford School to a private developer for $1.

Our City Council has gone so far as to sell public parks to developers in order to clear more space for hotels. It appears as though the ultimate goal of the council and developers is to turn Portland’s peninsula into an amusement park where no one can live, the schools are neglected and the economy is completely tied to frivolous and seasonal spending.

Thankfully, there is a renewed push by residents of Portland to save our peninsula. Several residents are suing the city over the sale of Congress Square Park, and an initiative called Keep Portland Livable has been launched to counteract a 14-story complex in the Bayside neighborhood.

I am encouraging Portlanders to speak out at City Council meetings or, better yet, vote out members of the council who have spent a decade or more making sweetheart deals with out-of-state developers.

Holly Seeliger

Portland

South Portland voters urged to support services facility

I am a retired 34-year South Portland Public Works employee, and I would like to urge the voters of South Portland to please vote “yes” for the proposed new municipal services facility on Highland Avenue.

I have seen first-hand how very much needed this facility is. The buildings are old and have outlived their useful life. Some are in total disrepair. The bays where the mechanics work have no ventilation at all, and the doors have to be kept open year-round and ceiling fans run to help clear the air of all fumes.

The city doesn’t have adequate space to properly store or care for the expensive equipment needed to maintain our beautiful city. The proposed facility will pay for itself in the long run, with the idea that the life of the equipment will be extended and therefore will not have to be replaced as often.

The new facility will be a safer place for employees to work and for citizens to visit. This is a need, not a want.

South Portland voters have always showed their support on needed projects in the past, and I am asking for their support now. Please vote “yes” for the new municipal services facility.

Russ Lunt

South Portland

Dissolving RSU 23 will aid Saco educators, taxpayers

On Nov. 5, Saco voters will have the last real opportunity to right a wrong that has negatively impacted our children’s education, our teachers and our taxpayers.

The Regional School Unit 23 Withdrawal Committee has negotiated an agreement that, if approved by the voters, will enable us to increase opportunities for our children and reduce cost for our taxpayers.

RSU supporters claim there will be no tax savings and that we will face greater expenses on our own. The fact is Saco stands to gain more than $5 million in cost savings and avoided tax increases in the next three years alone. The independent accounting firm Purdy Powers has validated these savings.

Imagine the relief we can provide to taxpayers and educators as well as the expanded programs we can make available to our children if these funds are used for other than protecting the status quo.

Some argue that our schools have improved because of the RSU. It’s not the RSU that has improved education; it’s the unflagging commitment of our school personnel who strive to provide the best possible learning experience each and every day.

Financially, we know that the RSU has cost us millions; educationally, programs have been reduced since joining the RSU; our professionals are not supported, from what they are telling us; 16 capital improvements completed in the RSU, one completed in Saco; $500,000 spent in the RSU, $10,000 spent in Saco. Where are the benefits that supporters cite?

Please join me on Nov. 5 in voting to end this failed experiment. Please vote “yes” for withdrawal!

Ron Michaud

RSU 23 board member

Withdrawal Committee member

Saco

Keeping RSU 23 together helps disadvantaged kids

On Saco’s upcoming vote on whether to withdraw from Regional School Union 23:

While opposing sides bicker over money or some illusion of control, I’ve joined the fray on the side of keeping our RSU together for the sake of disadvantaged children who have limited opportunities to pay for college.

For students from poor families not exceptional enough to get a scholarship, their only option may be taking out oppressive student loans for college. But there is another option: Many of Maine’s best employers offer tuition reimbursement programs for their employees to complete college.

I once had a job screening resumes for entry-level jobs for one such employer. The resumes that contained extracurricular activities or advanced courses during high school that gave recent graduates job skills that we needed always drew attention first.

Saco’s Thornton Academy offers top-notch sports programs and impressive performing arts programs, and their SAT scores are noteworthy. If you are exceptional, TA is one of the best places to acquire a college scholarship in those areas. But RSU 23 partner Old Orchard Beach High School offers robotics, Advanced Placement biology and a hospitality academy.

If we stop our bickering and preserve our school union, students from Saco and Old Orchard Beach would be given the choice to participate in each other’s programs, giving them the best opportunity for a scholarship or an entry-level job with an employer offering tuition assistance.

Both high schools are just a few miles from each other, so we could simply bus students between our two facilities the same way we currently bus students to the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology.

So, for the sake of educational diversity and helping disadvantaged students get to college, I hope Saco residents will vote “no” on this proposal.

Ted Sirois

Saco