Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Sixteen years and $70 million in taxpayer funds ago, the Maine press heralded the transfer of the Loring Air Force Base to the Loring Development Authority.
The Loring facilities manager looks out at the empty tarmac at the former Air Force base in 2005.
Associated Press file photo
Following the sale of the bowling alley and the golf course, few, if any, private sector activities have been conducted at Loring that have not been heavily subsidized by lower-than-market lease rates or outright tax exemptions.
Fewer than 300 private sector jobs have been created in 16 years and of those about 200 are at a call center, the owners of which benefit from these ridiculously low lease rates. If you read the glowing annual reports of the LDA, you cannot but come away considering this achievement a resounding success.
The front page of the Press Herald on April 3 featured the hopes of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority to repeat the same successes of the LDA by putting taxpayers money behind a private aviation company bought with sweetheart lease rates, outright grants and tax abatements.
The extent to which MRRA will stretch the law is exhibited in its plan to borrow $15 million to build a factory for a pharmaceutical firm, circumventing the requirement of voter approval for state borrowing and thumbing its nose at the law's intent to convert the base to private aviation use.
Before it's over, if ever, Brunswick Landing as it is now being called, will make Loring look like a bargain in public waste.
Dr. Fred Blanchard
A powerful, poetic voice provides pleasing respite
With all the embarrassing press Maine has received in recent weeks, it was gratifying to both see a front page headline and a well-written article about Lulu Hawkes who will represent Maine at the National Poetry Out Loud Contest in Washington, D.C. Here is a powerful and articulate voice we can all celebrate and be proud of in the State of Maine.
Using the vernacular, Go Lulu. You do us proud.
America must continue strong support for Israel
I feel compelled to express support for Israel's right to exist and defend herself after reading the Maine Voices column of March 24 ("Mideast peace process dead, Arabs rising ... now what?")
We know Jews have a long history of persecution, through no fault of their own.
After the Holocaust and the end of World War II, Jews were understandably loath to return to the countries that tried to eliminate them from existence. They were, in 1945, people without countries, a tragic situation.
The United Nations decided to partition Palestine, which contained the Biblical "Promised Land" of the Jews, and allow them to settle in that area under British Mandate. By 1948, Israel declared independence and set about building a wonderful, prosperous oasis of a country with a democratic government and free people.
Palestinian leaders urged people to flee rather than coexist with the Jews, although many Arabs did stay and have enjoyed freedom and prosperity.
Palestinians were later offered their own state next to the Jewish state, but their leaders rejected that idea and still do. The Palestinians have been stuck in refugee settlements for over 60 years.
By promulgating hatred of the Jews and rejecting compromise with Israel, Palestinian leaders have used their people badly.
Today, Israel's predicament is dire. The only democracy in the Middle East is completely surrounded by people who hope to see it destroyed.
If we abandon Israel in her time of need, our national psyche would sustain such a scar that I don't think we would ever recover.
Rose Marie Russell
Good teachers or bad, students must want to learn
All this talk lately about unions and tenure and how mediocre teachers are rewarded because of the length of time they have taught is a crock if you ask me.
What's a good teacher, anyway? Students are driven by internal combustion and parental encouragement. The dumb ones learn nothing regardless of how great the teacher is, and the smart ones learn what they want when they're good and ready and not a moment before.
I have been a teacher twice in my life. I taught a sixth-grade art class in Salt Lake City and a design course at an art college in Washington, D.C. I gave it my all, but I doubt anyone remembers a thing I said.
Besides the one or two male teachers I had crushes on, none of my high school teachers made an impact. In college I had an entire semester with the highly esteemed Conor Cruise O'Brien. The Irish writer, politician, historian and academic taught something called Humanities. I recall nothing at all about the class or the man, and no, I did not smoke pot in college.
The only teacher I do remember from my NYU days was a very wild painting professor named Robert Kaupelis, who was given to wearing Hawaiian shirts. He invited me to attend a Greenwich Village "happening" to be held in a small theater and warned me to sit in the back.
I did as he suggested and was glad of it since the proceedings on stage included the slaughter of a live pig, splattering blood on the occupants of the first three rows.
Now that was good advice.
Strikes against meters should rule them out
Usually, it's three strikes and you're out. Here are three strikes against smart meters.
1. WiFi interference: This was an early concern when I learned about smart meters. Sure enough, a recent letter writer said that installation of his smart meter has forced him to keep his WiFi router right next to his computer to maintain connectivity. That's not the purpose of WiFi.
2. Health issues: Cellphone makers, like tobacco companies, told us for many years not to worry. Suddenly, large scientific studies are showing that frequent cellphone use may indeed lead to brain tumors. I'd call that something to worry about. Can adding more waves to the air be any safer?
3. Employment: Do we really need more good jobs (meter readers) cut on top of the many this economy has shed? I don't see the money saved by these layoffs going into any pockets except those of already overpaid executives and large stockholders (often the same folks).
If this were baseball, we'd all say, "Yer out!"
Pamela B. Blake