Sunday, March 9, 2014
I must comment on "LePage reads to school kids, offers his opinions" (Feb. 2).
Gov. LePage greets students after reading “Baxter at the Blaine House” at St. John Catholic School in Winslow earlier this month. By criticizing newspapers during his visit to the school, LePage took advantage of the fact that he had an audience that wouldn’t disagree with him, a reader says.
2013 File Photo/Morning Sentinel
What Gov. LePage said at St. John Catholic School on Feb. 1, and apparently at a Waterville Junior High School presentation last year, is wrong on so many levels.
The Portland Press Herald reported that the governor read "Baxter at the Blaine House" to more than 100 children from kindergarten through sixth grade at St. John Catholic School in Winslow.
This book is classified as a "first reader." I'm not sure why it took him 12 minutes to read this short book; however, what possible value could this have been to any student above the second grade?
Quoting from LePage: "Kids in this school -- in this type of environment -- are readers. They understand." So why would he waste at least half the audience's valuable school time reading literature meant for very young readers?
LePage takes many opportunities to belittle Maine schools. How can the governor say, "By the time I'm gone, education in Maine is going to be great," when he makes huge cuts in funding to our towns and cities, which will require further cuts in staff and programs so instrumental in helping our students learn and reach their full potential?
What I find frightening is his ability to influence the students' opinions regarding Maine newspapers at these schools. These students are a captive and easily influenced audience; there was no one else there to give an opposing view.
It appears that LePage uses these opportunities because he is reluctant to have any kind of an equal forum with adults with the possibility that someone might disagree with him.
Finally, do the parents of these children know how they are spending valuable school time?
As a regular subscriber to the Portland Press Herald, I was astonished as to what our governor had to say to the young people of our great state of Maine telling the youngsters that reading newspapers is nothing but a pack of lies ("LePage reads to school kids, offers his opinions," Feb. 2).
I find this very appalling as a former educator myself and having resided in this wonderful state for more than 60 years.
Let me go back to my high school years, when a class in civics was a requirement and our great newspaper served as a great resource for our class. I have always loved being able to be informed with my morning paper, and, no, it is not a pack of lies.
It is very sad to me that the governor of our great state is trying to tell us that our editors are informing us that everything we read is just not true.
I must go on to say that most things that we read on the Internet with Facebook, etc., are probably the biggest and foremost pack of lies that we will ever be faced with. We should be informed with great information that our editors are trying to provide us on a daily basis.
It will be a very sorry day for me when our great newspaper doesn't exist because we have to accept our abnormal society as it exists.
All I can say to you, our state of Maine governor, that you should be more careful in your analysis of our great Maine newspapers. Please, let's not replace the wonderful people with more Facebook. Please, no.
City, agencies show progress on solutions to homelessness
More than a year ago, a diverse and impassioned group of community members came together to serve on the city of Portland's newly formed Homeless Prevention Task Force. I had the privilege of serving as one of the task force chairs and was consistently impressed with the level of discourse and deliberation we achieved.
As one can imagine, the work was at times daunting and overwhelming, but it was driven by thoughtful analysis of data, system complexities and best practices nationwide.
While the recommendations of the task force cannot immediately address the concerns of all, they do offer sound solutions, which, if implemented, will start to reduce the number of people who are homeless.
Already, the city of Portland and Preble Street, without any additional resources, have strengthened and improved the intake process so that people who are homeless can more readily connect to the services most appropriate to helping them move out of homelessness.
Already, Preble Street and the Portland Housing Authority are partnering to move people more rapidly into open housing units throughout the city, leveraging housing resources that already exist.
In the face of meeting the immediate needs of record numbers of people who are homeless every night, incredible work is being done to implement long-term solutions in smart, innovative ways. A spirit of community-wide cooperation, partnership and compassion will go a long way in helping this work move more quickly.
Democrats ready and able to regain the Blaine House
Our newly elected Democratic majorities in the Maine Senate and House of Representatives clearly have their work cut for them.
Rather than investing in Maine's future, Gov. LePage has proposed a budget that suspends revenue sharing with municipalities for two years, shifting more than $200 million in costs to localities, forcing them to either slash vital services or raise property taxes to make up the difference. We know our legislators will propose a reasonable alternative that mitigates as much of this damage as possible.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a chief executive who could see a bigger picture -- a picture that strengthens, rather than depletes, Maine's unique assets?
In 2014, Democrats will not back down from any challenge, be it from Paul LePage or Eliot Cutler. In regaining the state Legislature in 2012, Democrats did what all the pundits said was impossible, and we'll do it again in the 2014 governor's election.
It's time for a chief executive who will offer a plan to strengthen our economy and grow our middle class. Although we don't know yet who that Democrat will be, we do know that he or she will be a formidable candidate!
Mark C. Aukeman