June 17, 2013

Letters to the editor: Dislike of panhandlers fuels ban proposal

The new Martin's Point bridge will cost the taxpayers of Maine about $23.5 million. One of its amenities will be recreational platforms that will allow people to safely cast fishing lines into the mouth of the Presumpscot River, and everyone seems to think this is a nice idea.

click image to enlarge

Don Dietz panhandles for change at Franklin Street and Marginal Way in Portland in May. A reader is skeptical about the concerns cited by people who favor a ban on panhandling in city medians.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

Cut to the argument that panhandlers should no longer be allowed on city medians. An argument against panhandling is that they bring no value, they are mere takers without any output into the economy.

So why is it OK to spend millions of dollars constructing fishing platforms on the bridge when the people fishing are doing nothing but taking without producing anything of value?

Another argument against the panhandlers is that sooner or later, someone's going to get hit by a passing car. I'd like to point out that most of the areas in town with median strips are in areas where the speed limit is 25 or 30 mph. Is it not the responsibility of the driver to avoid hitting people with his/her vehicle?

To date there has not been one accident involving a panhandler being struck by a vehicle, and if there had been it would have certainly been, at least partially, the driver's fault.

I understand the concerns that people have, but I feel like a large part of the support for the proposal to ban the panhandlers from the medians stems from unwarranted hatred for these unfortunate folks.

This is a free market economy. Corporations take safety risks all the time to turn a profit. These people deserve the right to beg if they so choose, just as everyone else has the right to keep their spare change and drive past them.

Maybe we could copy the new bridge and erect panhandling platforms with taxpayer dollars.

Chris Ledue Shorr


Developing energy resources shouldn't be partisan issue

Developing Maine's energy resources should be a nonpartisan issue. Energy development means added jobs, private investment and new tax revenue. While Maine doesn't have the oil, coal or gas resources that other states possess, we do have significant wind resources. Investment in wind projects has created job growth for more than 300 Maine businesses.

In 2008, our state set wind power goals in order to attract investment. Unfortunately, these goals have been under attack by partisan politics. By retaining this important business signal, and encouraging wind development in our state, we can attract new investment and keep rural communities strong.

Wind power has already proven to be a reliable, economically beneficial technology in both "red" and "blue" states across the country.

Nine states generate more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind, while Iowa and South Dakota rely on wind power for 20 percent of their electricity needs. In Iowa, wind power development generates $13 million in land lease payments for rural landowners and $19.5 million in added property tax revenue for local governments.

As we know, finding new revenue streams for our rural communities can be a challenge. Wind power development is providing part of that solution. Maine's rural communities are already benefiting from more than $6 million annually in property tax payments.

Consumers also benefit from added wind power. Wind power is one of the least expensive forms of newly built generation, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Also, because wind power contracts are long-term and have fixed pricing with no fuel costs, added wind power acts as a great hedge against the often-volatile fossil fuel markets.

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