March 14, 2013

Letters to the editor: Collins' marriage stance disappoints

I am disappointed Sen. Susan Collins did not join the rest of the Maine congressional delegation in urging the Supreme Court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional ("Only Collins hasn't signed court brief supporting same-sex marriage," March 2). This shows a lack of political courage on her part.

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Sen. Susan Collins’ decision to refrain from urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act “shows a lack of political courage,” a reader says.

2009 U.S. Senate photo

Her spokesman stated that Sen. Collins "believes the issue of same-sex marriage is best addressed by the individual states, as the voters of Maine decided in November."

Voters in Maine did not decide that the issue of same-sex marriage is best addressed on a state-by-state basis, and it is not a valid reason for her inaction. Our country rejected "states' rights" as an excuse to deny human rights back in 1861.

The people of Maine have spoken -- they support same-sex marriage. A couple who chooses to get married in Maine -- every such couple -- deserves the right to have that marriage recognized by every state in the union. Sen. Collins does a disservice to her constituents by failing to represent that point of view nationally.

The national press inexplicably continues almost invariably to label Sen. Collins as a "moderate." Increasingly, as her stance on DOMA illustrates, that is not true.

Mainers do not like extremists -- Gov. LePage is a prime example -- and Sen. Collins is coming closer to becoming one. Small wonder she and the governor get along so well.

Marc Rigrodsky
Portland

AMHI memorial not worth cuts to hard-hit services

I read with disbelief the article about the Legislature's potential funding of a $50,000 Augusta Mental Health Institute memorial ("State may fund AMHI memorial," March 4).

According to the article, the AMHI Cemetery Project and Rep. Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, asked for funding because their own efforts have been slow.

I'm sure it's a worthy project, but we must weigh the cost of a memorial against the recent state curtailment, which forced massive cuts to needed services.

Particularly hard hit have been some of our most important programs: mental health and education.

The state has no business spending $50,000 on one group's pet project in these tough economic times. It was irresponsible to ask, just as it would be irresponsible to approve it. The fact that their own fundraising is moving slowly should show that this is not the right timing.

I believe those currently dealing with mental health issues would rather see the money spent on programs, not on a memorial that won't provide actual services for those who struggle today -- just as I'd rather see the money spent on education. My district lost our Excel department, band programs, after-school tutoring, 15 ed tech positions and more.

These are just some of the "highlights" of the damage done to one district. It's by no means a comprehensive list, nor does it take into account the coming sequestration cuts.

Telling any of the people whose jobs have vanished that the state would rather spend what little money we have on a memorial is unacceptable.

I don't have anything against the AMHI group, but asking for these funds now is a mistake. I think that deep down, they "get" that. I desperately hope our legislators will vote against this colossal misuse of this state's precious and dwindling funds.

Karina Chapman
Kennebunkport

Early education programs help reduce violent crime

Your article about the president's plan to expand quality early childhood education and how that will impact programs in Maine ("Maine could see early-childhood education grow," Feb. 14) spells out many good points about the connection between quality early education and students' later academic successes.

As a former sheriff and now regional correctional administrator, I'd like to note that high-quality early learning also helps lower crime and criminal justice costs.

Numerous studies show that getting at-risk kids into high-quality early education programs can help cut violent crime. My colleague, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, pointed to two of the most frequently cited studies in his recent letter to the editor ("Early learning programs enhance community safety," Feb. 15).

High-quality early childhood education saves us far more than it costs. We all pay for crime. Maine spends about $228 million a year to house, feed and keep surveillance on our state criminals. By comparison, national corrections costs are staggering -- more than $57 billion in 2010.

Your article pointed to many of the budget decisions that will be needed to expand high-quality early education in Maine. As our state policymakers weigh these decisions, I encourage them to remember the other side of this coin -- the very expensive costs of crime and incarceration.

Providing more children, in all Maine counties, with high-quality early learning opportunities will help us prevent crime and reduce prison and jail costs for years to come.

Mark A. Westrum
correctional administrator, Two Bridges Regional Jail Authority
Wiscasset

Boys Into Men participants make SPHS alumna proud

Bravo to Coach Phil Conley and his basketball team for their success on and off the court.

As an alumna of South Portland High School, I was proud to read about the Coaching Boys Into Men program and the positive response of the young men on the team ("Bill Nemitz: New 'playbook' leads team to hidden strengths," Feb. 27).

What a powerful message they are communicating to other students and to the community of South Portland.

Shine on, Riots. You make me so proud.

Susan White
South Portland

Don't expect transparency from writer at biased paper

I fully agree with the recent letter ("Writer in no position to urge candor from permit holders," Feb. 24) that stated that whoever writes editorials for this paper should disclose the same information that this paper wants disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, especially those with concealed-gun permits.

Do I expect it? No way in hell. After all, this paper's biggest problem is that their Democratic bias is showing. That's the party that doesn't believe in what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And I am sick and tired of being goosed.

Lane Hiltunen
Windham

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