June 14, 2012

Letters to the editor: Film shows harm caused by chemicals

Fifty years have now passed since the first publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a monumental work of environmental social critique that provided overwhelming evidence of the harmful effects of chemicals and pesticides on the environment, animals and humans.

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The film “Living Downstream” will be shown in Maine on Saturday and on June 21.

Courtesy photo

Although Carson's work contributed to the successful banning of the pesticide DDT in the U.S. in 1972, today's planet is still riddled with toxic chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

The movement to remove dangerous chemicals from our air, water and food has not ended, and Carson's message still resonates powerfully.

Ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber has researched and published extensively on environmentally linked causes of cancer. Her widely acclaimed book presents cancer as an urgent human rights issue and was adapted into a documentary titled "Living Downstream."

The film is beautifully shot and provides an intimate portrayal of Steingraber's personal endeavors to validate and expose the dangerous effects of chemicals and pesticides on our children and ourselves.

Environment Maine, a citizen-based environmental advocacy nonprofit, will host a screening of "Living Downstream" at the York Public Library at 5 p.m. Saturday. We will also host a second showing at 6 p.m. June 21 at Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland. After the one-hour film, we'll hold an informal discussion about initiatives under way in Maine to reduce harm from toxic chemicals, and we invite all to come speak about any personal experiences concerning this issue. We hope that you'll join us for this event, and we look forward to hearing your stories.

Sophie Yang

Brunswick

Housing authority board sets disturbing precedent

Those who forced the recent resignation of Dale McCormick from her position as executive director of the Maine State Housing Authority have established a dangerous precedent. Their words and actions indicate that these MSHA board members are pursuing a political agenda. And if they achieve their objectives through innuendo, bullying and harassment, so be it.

Most disturbing is the recent revelation of communications between members of the MSHA Board of Commissioners, the Maine Heritage Policy Center and the Department of Economic and Community Development with the goal to make life miserable for and be rid of McCormick.

Those responsible for McCormick's resignation want us to believe that their motives were noble; i.e., they were out to save the taxpayers money. Objective observers would conclude that their actions were so obviously political that any other claim is comical. This is more apparent in view of the Office of Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability findings that there was no fraud or improper actions committed by McCormick.

If MSHA's board was intent on doing what it claimed, it would have made a commitment to work with the executive director to correct problems that existed at the MSHA. Instead, the board members found it convenient to politicize a situation in order to achieve their own personal goals.

The precedent that the MSHA's board has set in this instance is unfortunate for Maine. Philosophical and political differences are now likely to be the rationale for boards of directors of independent governmental organizations that want to be rid of individuals with whom they disagree. And bullying and false innuendo will be the means these individuals employ to pursue their political aims.

Vin DiCara

Brunswick

King's creative thinking would help reach solutions

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