April 15, 2013

Letters to the editor: Collins lauded as gun-control advocate

Maine is known for its blueberries, its lighthouses and its strong leadership on challenging national issues.

Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins
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By co-sponsoring the gun trafficking bill and and co-sponsoring a measure to fund school security efforts, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, seen with then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, shows she’s not afraid to stand up to “gun extremists,” a reader says.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

In the tradition of Margaret Chase Smith, we elect fair-minded, principled leaders who are not afraid to take on the tough issues and do the right thing for the people of Maine and the nation.

We all know what guts it takes to stand up to bullies, like Joe McCarthy or the gun extremists. I applaud Sen. Susan Collins for co-sponsoring the gun trafficking bill, S. 54, and working to enhance school safety by sponsoring S. 146, the School Safety and Campus Enhancements Act.

As a law enforcement professional, former police chief and former U.S. marshal for the District of Maine, I know what it takes to push back against extremism and violence.

When 90 percent of Mainers and Americans want background checks on all gun sales, it should be done. But not all elected officials have what it takes to do the people's business. They are too beholden to the special interests that prey on those who want to do the people's work.

Don't give in to this, Sen. Collins. Keep standing up to protect our communities from the predations of gun traffickers and criminals. We need background checks on all gun sales and limits on magazines to uphold the public safety and reduce gun violence. Stand with us, and help us keep our communities safe.

Those of us who traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a White House event with Vice President Joe Biden and who met with Sen. Collins and Sen. Angus King's senior staff felt a sense of comfort in knowing that our senators will support what the majority of both gun-owning and non-gun- owning Mainers are demanding of them: to enact good, common-sense gun legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.


City should move ahead on well-done midtown project

Portland's Planning Board should be commended for its recommendation to approve variations in existing height restrictions to permit a proposal to construct a high-rise neighborhood dubbed "midtown" in Bayside ("Portland board gets behind taller buildings in Bayside," March 22).

This project, if built, will enliven presently dreary streets, pump new vitality into a neighborhood that wants the same and present a dramatic urban gateway to Maine's largest city.

However, the project is not without its detractors. Some opine that it conflicts with the vision expressed in the plan justifying the zoning pursuant to which it will be built: "A New Vision for Bayside." Others simply oppose blocked views.

While none of these concerns are illegitimate per se, the Planning Board was correct to see past their emotional veneers and adhere to its primary legal role of examining whether the zoning changes proposed are in "basic harmony" with Portland's Comprehensive Plan.

That standard is, for better or worse, amazingly easy to satisfy. In that sense, then, planning mandates are less a means of legally controlling zoning outcomes, and more a means of ensuring a defined level of forethought precedes substantive regulatory changes that impact personal property rights.

In other words, rarely will a particular project not legally align with an underlying plan; the question of whether it does and subsequent thought process such inquiry prompts are the true benefits of linking plans to regulatory action. Here, the Planning Board conducted a thorough review of the available evidence and made a reasonable determination.

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