November 27, 2013

Letters to the editor: Walk in the shoes of first responders to evaluate their service

Readers also share views on Social Security benefits, the controlling of dogs and cats in Scarborough and health care choice.

Recently the Maine Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors had to turn over transcripts of 911 calls made in a double homicide in southern Maine.

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Derrick Thompson and Alivia Welch were killed last Dec. 29, allegedly by Thompson’s landlord. A reader who works in law enforcement questions the Portland Press Herald's motives for requesting a transcript of 911 calls regarding the fatal shooting.

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This came about as a result of a lawsuit initiated by this paper and other media sources. The executive editor of this paper explained in an article (“Court: Press Herald has right to 911 transcripts,” Nov. 15) that the rationale for this suit was to “allow the public to better evaluate how well first responders protect and serve their communities.”

Who is he kidding? That comment was utterly ridiculous on its face and disingenuous at best. The sole purpose of obtaining those records is to sell papers.

My belief of this was validated with the headline on the Nov. 20 Press Herald edition: “911 Transcript: Fear After Death Threat.” The following article went into great detail about the fear of the caller, describing the transcript as “chilling.” It also detailed her labored breathing, crying and multiple requests of begging for law enforcement to hurry.

Tell me how sensationalizing this tragic event on the front page of the paper serves to evaluate first responders. Has anyone in a decision-making position at this paper thought for a moment of the survivor’s well-being?

I have no sympathy for the man accused of this heinous crime, but good luck in picking a jury in this case now that most of southern Maine has read so much about the crime.

And one last thing: If you are sincere in wanting to objectively evaluate how well first responders serve and protect their community, walk a mile in their shoes and then write a story.

Steven Edmondson
law enforcement officer, Topsham 

Social Security benefits should be based on need

Remind me never to go hunting with M.D. Harmon (“Government steals from the young to give to the elderly,” Oct. 25). Like Dick Cheney, he shoots first and aims later.

Social Security does not and cannot add to the deficit. It can only pay out what it takes in from payroll taxes. Any money “borrowed” for benefits must be paid back. The age to collect full benefits is already scheduled to rise to 70 in increments, because of a deal struck between President Reagan and the Democrats in 1986.

The right wing consistently tries to convince young people that Social Security and Medicare will not be there for them so why pay in?

I do agree that people with sufficient assets and retirement income shouldn’t collect Social Security. I also believe the $107,600 payroll tax cap should be lifted. It’s Social Security insurance. You should only get it if you need it.

As far as Medicare goes, it’s a well-run, fairly cheap program burdened by too many elderly people in an aging population. The solution? Give it to everybody.

I would suggest to Mr. Harmon that, as a retired military officer, if he wants to help the young, he return his military pension and get private health insurance, as his benefits actually are paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

Jeff Ritter
Boothbay Harbor 

More common sense needed on Scarborough dog issue

It is disheartening to read so many letters from well-meaning people who believe that we Scarborough dog owners either do not “know dogs” (“Think again, Scarborough – dogs on beach need a leash,” Nov. 7) or do not care about piping plovers. In fact, neither assumption could be further from the truth.

The Scarborough Town Council has framed its new dog-restriction ordinance as being about the plovers, but this is highly misleading.

Here is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested to protect the plovers: that dogs be leashed on plover beaches during nesting season.

Here is what the Town Council ordained: that dogs are totally banned from the beach during daytime hours beginning April 1. This means that I can never walk my two little papillons on the beach during the day, even on a leash.

The Fish and Wildlife Service took pains to specify that it was not requiring a total dog ban – so why should I be deprived of my daily beach walk, with my leashed dogs? Moreover, why should they never be allowed to run and play on the beach in November or January, when the beach is cold and abandoned?

This is not about the plovers, either. In fact, this is an issue of common sense versus extremism. I hope more people will become informed about this issue, rather than jumping to the conclusion that those of us who hope for a fair and balanced solution are either ignorant or uncaring.

Mary Wheeler
Scarborough

Scarborough needs to take a look at controlling cats

The recently passed Scarborough dog leash ordinance is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Is there a “dog problem” in Scarborough? Absolutely. Three, maybe four months ago, I saw my neighbor’s two drool-spewing black Labs (I think their names are Dumb and Dumber) stampeding through my yard sans leash. Unacceptable!

Now it’s time for the Town Council to move to the next level and tackle the real problem.

In spite of those annoying commercials showing cats eating human-like food, it turns out that, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications, “... domestic cats are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.”

That’s right, once they’re out of the house and on the town, cute little Tiger and Whiskers turn into serial killers.

Dogs: One piping plover. Cats: Billions of birds and small mammals. If we’re going to leash the dogs, shouldn’t we cage the cats?

Mike Slavin
Scarborough
 

Where is democratic right of choice on health care?

From a young age, we are taught that America is a democratic country ruled for the people by the people. When those in office usurp their power to take over our health insurance, telling us who we can buy insurance from and how much we will pay for said insurance, this ceases to exist.

Where is our democratic right of choice? This appears to be more extortion than a democratic choice.

Are we handing all of our rights and choices over to Washington and sitting back watching the chips fall where they may? Let this not be true.

Norma Stanley
South Portland

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