September 2, 2013

Letters to the editor: Help break bad habit – raise tobacco tax

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A letter writer says lawmakers are missing an opportunity to discourage kids from starting to smoke and to encourage more smokers to think about quitting.

2013 Press Herald File Photo/Carl D. Walsh

Douglas Antreassian


City full of helping hands for visitors who lost wallet

I owe a big "thank you" to the city of Portland. We visited one recent weekend, celebrating a wedding anniversary. Portland was jammed -- we put our trip off a week because there were no rooms. We arrived on an evening train, and stumbled into the first cab that pulled up in front of the Amtrak station.

My husband chatted with the cabbie, heard he was from Sudan, was an independent, had been working a few months. At our hotel, I tucked his card into my wallet with the change.

In our room, I realized I'd dropped my wallet in the cab. Little money involved, but all my ID and credit cards.

An independent driver who'd worked less than a year wasn't going to be in the phone book. I called the police, and a very patient officer read me, kid you not, 25 phone numbers. Thank you!

We started calling. The person who answered for one of the big companies (thank you!) told us he was at the Amtrak station, there were some Sudanese drivers working and that he was coming to take us there so we could describe our driver to them.

Back at the station, we met two drivers, told them everything we remembered -- how long our gent had been in the U.S., how many kids he had, the color of his car and the first letter on the door. Within two phone calls, they had him. Thank you!

He came back from downtown, and handed me my wallet with everything in it. Thank you again!

We got calls back from other cab companies asking if we'd gotten the wallet back. Thank you!

What an example of the power of community. We were strangers, and you welcomed us.

Mary Hopkins and Herberht Galdamez

Everett, Mass.

Find new place for those not guilty due to 'insanity'

I have been involved for well over two decades in pushing for reform in how we handle individuals committed by the court after being found "not guilty by reason of insanity" for serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape and assault.

During that time, the Augusta Mental Health Institute (now Riverview Psychiatric Center) housed many of these dangerous individuals, and we have seen serious attacks on hospital employees and the murder of a young citizen in Augusta.

We should not expect hospital employees to risk their lives dealing with these dangerous individuals. In the time it takes to call for outside help, a mental health worker or citizen can be killed.

In 1986, I learned that the state mental hospital's forensic unit had been at the state prison in Thomaston until 1906. At that time, the unit was moved to what was then Augusta State Hospital, largely because the roads were so bad that psychiatrists could not readily travel to treat these individuals at Thomaston.

To ensure the safety of our dedicated mental health workers and all Mainers, we need to move these violent individuals back to the Maine State Prison where they belong.

The time has come for a common-sense solution to this serious problem.

David H. Crockett


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