November 3, 2013

Letters to the editor: Maine moms push for chemical safety

As a mom, I am writing to call attention to a group of eight Maine women who are preparing for a trip to Washington, D.C., to tell Congress to end the shutdown. Not the recent shutdown that everyone’s talking about right now – I mean a shutdown that has lasted 37 years.

This month marks the 37th birthday of the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that was supposed to protect us from toxic chemicals in everyday products. But the law has been a huge failure; out of 80,000 chemicals used in the United States, only 200 have ever been tested for safety before they end up in our products, in our homes and, unfortunately, in our bodies.

The eight women traveling to D.C. are moms, small-business owners and community leaders who will meet with Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to discuss a new bill before Congress, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which has the potential to fix this broken chemical safety system. But first, the bill needs some serious changes so that it actually protects the most vulnerable (like our kids) from toxic chemicals.

This group of eight has my full support, and the support of thousands of Mainers who believe that everyone deserves safe products free of toxic chemicals!

April Humphrey

Westbrook

City should turn old schools into affordable housing

After reading the article in the Sunday Telegram, “Demand for shelter beds surges,” and then reading the article in the Press Herald, “Old schools selling for a song or six figures,” I am extremely disappointed that none of these schools is being converted into affordable housing.

It seemed a no-brainer for Nathan Clifford to be at least partially affordable housing, being right on a major bus line. The city says it has made commitments to end long-term homelessness, but then turns around and goes for the market-rate proposals.

It’s heartbreaking to read about increasing numbers of individuals and families enduring months and months of housing in shelters and motels. Looking around the peninsula, we can all see tons of market-rate condos and new hotels going up, with only one new Avesta apartment building going up on Cumberland and High Street, and one on the site of the old Adams school. I wish my city would do the right thing.

Margo Dittmer

Portland

Sadly, union alone holding CBP managers accountable

Readers last week learned of a $285,000 settlement between Customs and Border Protection and a former CBP officer wrongfully terminated due to her supervisor’s retaliation for her filing an EEO complaint against his comments and workplace-expressed, differing religious beliefs.

NTEU Chapter 141 is proud to have helped Ms. Carnot win her case and glad a modicum of justice has been served. Unfortunately – as she and readers commented – the supervisor and management involved will suffer no discipline and likely continue their illegal activities unabated until they retire.

As unsavory as his violations are, as much as it cost the American taxpayer for CBP to settle with Ms. Carnot, both pale in comparison to others and costs involved. Chapter 141 has repeatedly exposed to senior CBP and DHS management egregious violations by the Maine area director and subordinate officials only to be dismissed in favor of “good old boy” protections. A male temporary supervisor was promoted after telling a female officer, “If it wasn’t for what you have between your legs, you wouldn’t even have a job with CBP” and other far more distasteful discriminatory remarks. The Maine area director was proven to have misrepresented to the chapter in writing to conceal management violations of agency policy. They suffered naught and prosper!

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