December 1, 2013

Letters to the editor: Even prison students deserve praise

The newspaper should applaud their efforts, not dwell on their crimes.

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Maine State Prison inmate Sergio Hairston hugs philanthropist Doris Buffett after receiving a diploma from the University of Maine at Augusta during a ceremony Nov. 4 at the state correctional institution in Warren. Buffett, the sister of Warren Buffett, founded the Sunshine Lady Foundation, which supports educating inmates across the United States.

2013 Kennebec Journal File Photo/Andy Molloy

I hope it works. I doubt it will, and yet we will continue the illusion of false hope for political purposes. Our government cannot even work to solve domestic problems and yet we believe they can solve international problems. Another can kicked down the road, but this one may explode into a deadly outcome.

James Smith

North Yarmouth

Affordable Care Act already good and is getting better

Yes, the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been a rocky road. But, history tells us we shouldn’t be surprised.

When Massachusetts introduced its insurance plan (on which Obamacare is based), fewer people registered in the first month (123) than the number in Maine who registered for Obamacare in the first month. (And the Massachusetts rollout was only for one state – Obamacare tried to do 50 states at once!).

One hundred six thousand signed up for the ACA in the first month and nearly 400,0000 have signed up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. On Nov. 22, the deadline for sign up was extended to Dec. 23 for plans to take effect by Jan. 1.

In 2005, when the Plan D Medicare Prescription Plan was introduced, 79 percent of people had an unfavorable opinion of it. Now seniors are grateful for it. And Obamacare has already improved it so that more than 6.6 million seniors in the “doughnut hole” have saved more than $7 billion on their prescription drugs.

Those on Medicare are not part of the ACA, but because of it, preventive services are now covered: mammograms, colonoscopies, Pap tests and annual “wellness” visits are fully covered (no Part B copay required).

Millions of Americans have already benefited because their insurance no longer can be canceled or denied because of a pre-existing condition and because the lifetime limit on health care coverage has been abolished.

I believe that those who have been critical of Obamacare do not realize the magnitude of this coverage. And the Medicare prescription “doughnut hole” has been halved for 2013 and will be gradually phased out by 2020.

Give it time – there are many more benefits to come. Insurance costs will finally be more affordable and provide better benefits. Let’s be patient.

Polly Shaw


Decline of Clean Elections puts outsiders in control

After reading the Nov. 18 State House Notebook (“Outside groups spending big on Maine elections”), you have to wonder: Why is all of this money flooding Maine state elections? I suspect we can attribute this perversion of our democracy to the repeated measures seeking to weaken Clean Election laws.

For nearly a decade (2000-2010), Maine’s elections were virtually immune to outside spending, with some exceptions.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McComish v. Bennett, an essential system of matching funds was in operation, giving little incentive to out-of-state special interest to immerse Maine elections in money. In 2012, the first year without matching funds, we saw an unprecedented development: Outside spending exceeded that of our legislative candidates.

As Steve Mistler mentioned in his column, “more than 60 percent of the $156,000 spent to lift state Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Dresden, to victory” was spent by outside labor interests.

Another incident we saw in 2012 involved a contest in Bangor and Hermon. The District 32 race between now-state Sen. Geoff Gratwick and former state Sen. Nichi Farnham saw more than $450,000 spent by national interests. They both ran as Clean Election candidates but were unable to access matching funds to combat the attacks.

These are clear examples as to why we need to strengthen Maine’s Clean Election Act. Each election year, citizens of this state (and country) are bombarded with more and more misleading commercials, sponsored by faceless entities controlled out of state. This makes Maine particularly vulnerable because we have such a small population relative to the rest of the country. We need campaign finance reform now!

Edward Burrage Jr.


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)