October 13, 2013

Letters to the editor: Shutdown deprives state of tourism revenue

Just one Maine vacation cancellation by two federal employees will cost midcoast businesses an estimated $3,300.

I am writing to share the trickle-down effects of the government shutdown. I am a furloughed federal employee, and my better half is one of the “excepted” employees, required to work during the shutdown.

click image to enlarge

A furloughed federal employee says she’ll miss shopping in downtown Damariscotta, above, but she and her partner couldn’t afford their annual fall trip to Maine this year.

2006 Associated Press File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

During this time, all leave – sick, vacation, bereavement – is canceled. We work hard and save for our annual fall trip to Maine’s midcoast. For the past 13 years, we’ve been renting a wonderful cottage on the Damariscotta River. Because Congress can’t pass a budget, we won’t be able to come this year.

As I write this letter, we don’t know when we’ll be paid again and we can’t take leave. In real dollars, our personal situation means that Damariscotta and New Harbor businesses will lose about $3,300 in revenue just from us.

We usually buy our holiday gifts in Damariscotta and New Harbor – I’m sorry to say that Renys, the Pemaquid Co-op, Maine Coast Book Shop and other local shopkeepers will have about $1,000 less business this October. Our two favorite dining spots – King Eider’s Pub and Shaw’s Lobster Wharf – are out about $500 in business, and we won’t be eating your delicious Damariscotta oysters or lobsters this season.

No stocking up on made-in-Maine food products means about $400 less to Hannaford and Reilly’s, and our family and friends will miss the Maine roasted coffee, beer, blueberry jellies and maple syrup.

Midcoast Kayaks is short two late-season weekly rentals. And Sigrid & Associates Real Estate is out our cottage rental.

Hopefully, for the sake of the country, Congress will get its act together. In the meantime, we hope to see you next year.

Tina Cheatham

Reston, Va.

Huge train storage facility a massive waste of money

Re: the train noise flap in Brunswick (“Brunswick train facility foes to challenge noise analysis,” Sept. 25):

A 655-foot barn three tracks wide, presumably with amenities such as soundproofing, baseboard heating for winter and air conditioning for summer, to shelter entire train sets for overnight servicing is ridiculous.

Old-time railroaders are surely rolling over in their graves at such a cockamamie proposal, and it would be laughable were it not for being a waste of $12 million, whether through bonds or federal grants. The latter, of course, comes from taxpayer pockets, as does the interest on bonds.

Those train sets are not going to melt sitting outside in a summer night’s heat, nor become brittle and shatter during a cold winter night. Good heavens, Patricia Quinn’s Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority would have one thinking the train sets will freeze up outdoors unless the power unit remains idling.

Baloney. Highway tractor and automobile owners without garages in Northern climes utilize electrical heater plugs to keep engine blocks warm on frigid nights, as do some Northern railroads where they leave locomotives outside overnight adjacent to residences.

With groups pushing proposals like this, small wonder Amtrak requires subsidization year after year. Ms. Quinn and her committee need to sit down and study railroad and train magazines of the 1930s and 1940s and learn how passenger train servicing during layovers was done sans garages, as well as talk with retired railroaders who performed that servicing.

What’s next on their agenda when the Downeaster reaches Lewiston, then Augusta and Bangor in a few years – 655-foot train set barns at those sites? Say, why not a 6,000-foot barn at Rigby Yard in South Portland to shelter mile-long Boston-to-Bangor through freight trains while their wheels, undercarriages and couplings are inspected? Makes about as much sense.

John R. Davis

South Paris

Today’s GOP has no place for moderates like Collins

Former Sen. Olympia Snowe recently declared that she can no longer recognize the Republican Party.

Indeed, the ultra-right minority tea party has hijacked the Republican Party to the extent it no longer serves the average Maine citizen, but is focused entirely on serving its ultra-rich sponsors who have no regard for the poor or middle class.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, well known for her moderate views, would do well to switch to the Democratic Party or become an independent, like Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Doing this would become major national news and perhaps serve as a wake-up call to those members of Congress steering our country toward fiscal disaster.

Gene Clifford

Mount Desert

Cutler’s Blaine House bid misdirection of resources

Who is Eliot Cutler?

He has never held any elected position.

He maintains that he is not a “spoiler,” in spite of the fact that he was and very likely will be again.

He has said, “I’m really not a wealthy elitist Democrat from Cape Elizabeth.” Does he mean he is not wealthy, not an elitist, not a Democrat or not from Cape Elizabeth?

Seems a little light on the qualifications to be governor.

I am an independent. I am not a Mainer. I was born in Minneapolis, albeit 75 years ago, and have only lived in Maine for 57 of those. Still, I may be able to help Mr. Cutler.

I wouldn’t mind if everyone in the state ran for governor. Think of all the shadowy corners that would be illuminated. Think of all the creative political ads we would see instead of the same old nasty duds written by our youngest and brightest.

However, to make that possible we need to change the process first. Like it or not, we have a two-party system. I’m sure Mr. Cutler would have no problem with figuring the odds against winning 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

What’s making lots of people jumpy is that the vast majority of folks would like to see Mr. LePage back at Mardens, with the possible exception of the employees. Last time, Mr. Cutler did just well enough to make it possible for Mr. LePage to make us all a laughingstock. It’s good to be humbled once in a while, but enough!

If Mr. Cutler would put his considerable resources toward, say, fighting for an open primary in Maine, I would be a believer.

I know he is going to say, “Look at Angus King.” With apologies to Lloyd Bentsen, you, Mr. Cutler, are no Angus King.

Casey Parker Ward

Newcastle

Frank ignores Democrats’ major role in D.C. deadlock

Barney Frank’s column in the Maine Sunday Telegram (“Time to stand up to tea party,” Oct. 6) is just about the furthest from the truth as anyone can get.

The “right wingers,” as he calls them, are not insisting that House Speaker John Boehner shut down the government and not pay the debts. They want to shut down Obamacare, not the government. You know, Obamacare, the great “health plan”?

Members of the tea party are United States of America patriots who are preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. They stand for free enterprise and less government.

The present administration has, for the last 4½ years, been:

1. Ignoring the Constitution of the USA.

2. Squeezing free enterprise out of existence.

3. Creating a huge national debt – and growing larger every day.

4. Taking complete control of the major media.

This is one of the main reasons why the present shutdown exists. The people don’t know what’s going on in their government. That’s real dirty pool.

Mr. Frank also talks about voter suppression laws being passed by Republican states. These are not suppression laws, they are laws to prevent massive voter fraud like in the last presidential election by the Democrats.

Court cases are now in progress to bring those responsible to justice. Apparently he didn’t know this. I guess the major media bias worked on Mr. Frank.

The Republicans have made at least four proposals that would have started up the government again, but Senate President Harry Reid refused every proposal that was made. This indicates no desire to compromise.

Tea party people are true United States of America patriots, as I am. What is Mr. Frank?

Phillip N. Kupelian

World War II veteran, U.S. Navy (retired), D-Day

Falmouth

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