At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Scarborough Town Council transformed the issue of piping plovers and beach access into one of abusive conduct of the public’s business. This was local government at its worst.

Without prior discussion or opportunity for public input, the council enacted a leash law that was far more restrictive than any previously proposed.

The ordinance requires all dogs to be leashed at all times, all year on all town property, including fields, parks and beaches. It is essentially impossible for a dog to chase a ball on public property in Scarborough.

While the ordinance itself is overly restrictive, the method by which it was enacted was a clear breach of the public trust. Scarborough voters – regardless of their position on the merits of the ordinance – now have an opportunity to undo the council’s arrogant and unreasonable action.

As the result of a grass-roots petition drive, a special referendum will be held Dec. 3 to attempt to overturn the deviously enacted ordinance.

For this repeal effort to succeed, nearly 2,400 votes must be cast in the special referendum – a high hurdle, especially at this busy time of year.

Fortunately, early voting is available at Scarborough Town Hall every weekday until the election date of Dec. 3. I urge all fair-minded Scarborough citizens to vote “no” today to overturn the Town Council’s irresponsible action.

Stephen Hanly

Scarborough

Debate on tar sands oil had some positive effects

The tar sands oil issue seemed to have split South Portland’s residents and the City Council into confused and sparring camps. Some people feared that friendships and neighborly relationships would be permanently damaged, no matter how the election turned out.

Yet what also came out of the campaigns for and against the ordinance is a more educated electorate that clearly understands why it doesn’t want the specter of tar sands oil looming over our community. This point, we all ultimately united upon.

Our council members have set aside their differences to dedicate their efforts to protecting the health of all our citizens and the surrounding communities.

When members of the City Council met Nov. 18 to discuss a moratorium to temporarily halt the possible development of infrastructure to bring tar sands oil to South Portland, they passed the first reading of the moratorium!

They are to be congratulated for their responsiveness to the desires of the citizens they represent and for the example they are setting for all of us in rebuilding torn relationships as we all work for and support a successful effort to keep our community safe, healthy and tar sands-free.

Linden Thigpen

South Portland

Appeal to Christians: Love your lesbian neighbors, too

I’ve never written to the editor before, but being a lesbian Christian, I found Frank Novotny’s remarks personally offensive and in need of a reply (“Letters to the editor: Congressman’s disclosure not really sign of progress,” Nov. 10).

Saying this, I also understand that many conservative Christians agree with Mr. Novotny.

I’ve been a born-again, believing Christian for more than 50 years, initially through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and its sister organization, Nurses Christian Fellowship.

I tried for many years to deny my true identity, even entering counseling to become “straight.” When it became apparent to me that this was not working, I thought I could be a lesbian and be celibate. This worked for several years.

Then I met a woman whom I loved and who loved me. We were “in the closet” until I was “outed” at work.

At last, I could be me. The weight of the lie I was trying to live was gone. It is my opinion that only another gay or lesbian person can understand such a feeling.

In conclusion, I offer this to the Christian community. Jesus said, “The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind, the second is like unto it. Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

I am your neighbor. I ask that you love me and not judge me.

Tanya Hanger

Bath

USM workforce program holds excellent promise

Kudos to Messrs. Paul Edmonds and Kerem Durdag and to the University of Southern Maine think tank for a program to develop skilled workers here in Maine (“Maine Voices: New USM program to provide career experience, fulfill business needs,” Nov. 7).

This new science, technology, engineering and math program appears to contain the elusive element “student motivation” heretofore lacking in our high school and college curriculums.

Offering hands-on as well as theory, the plan develops the whole student, who graduates trained, tested and ready for industry. Along the way, it rewards him periodically with financial compensations and academic credit.

I do feel a need for status reporting as the plan progresses. Appropriate data, forwarded at regular intervals to education officials in the State House, will prevent future “skills gap” misconceptions at that level.

It is essential in today’s world that our kids match skill for skill the students of other countries. In addition, our learning institutions must produce skilled workers for industry. This new USM program of “learning by doing” should be the tool to make that happen. Congratulations!

Edward Valente

Scarborough

Why do limits on having kids get so much criticism?

According to a Washington Post article published in the Nov. 16 Press Herald (“China relaxes ‘one-child’ policy rules”), China is relaxing its one-child policy and other “harsh measures that dated back to the time of … Mao Zedong.” The article reported that human rights groups “had wanted the policy abolished altogether.”

Would the world be better off without any disincentives to having kids? It seems that places not noted for casual attitudes toward parenthood are thriving. Financial constraints are, of course, disincentives that exempt the rich. And population growth itself exacerbates hardships due to resource shortages and the unpleasantness of crowding.

The free world’s ideology seems to be “let’s do as we please in our now-time and saddle posterity with the consequences.” A more demanding but possibly more lasting and complete definition of freedom would measure every private deed by its effect on the home planet’s future livability.

Tony Taylor

Buxton