March 6, 2013

Letters to the editor
Less visible now, racism still hurts many

A Feb. 27 Associated Press piece quotes a lawsuit against the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Ala., which says that the " 'dire local conditions' that once justified strict federal oversight of elections no longer exist." This is representative of a widely held belief that we live in a "post-racial society."

Antonin Scalia
click image to enlarge

Justice Antonin Scalia, above, called the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement” at a Supreme Court hearing last week. “This is like complaining that there isn’t a White History Month,” a reader says.

The Associated Press

Justice Antonin Scalia even said that the Voting Rights Act is a "perpetuation of racial entitlement." This is like complaining that there isn't a White History Month. We actually do, it's just called "March through January."

The privileges the lack of melanin affords are so built into society that they're nearly invisible to those of us who enjoy them.

As a white male in the whitest state in the country, it would be easy for me to ignore the fact that, if I had a "black-sounding" name, I'd be 50 percent less likely to get called back for a job interview, or that if someone Googled me, they'd probably get ads for criminal background checks.

Racism hasn't gone away, it's just conveniently less visible for those not directly affected by it. It's in New York City's stop-and-frisk laws, in the unprecedented level of outright hate for the first black president. It's in the awkwardness many dark-skinned Mainers feel when well-intentioned folks ask them about "their people."

I've been told I'm oversensitive, fighting others' battles, but these are real societal problems that destroy the lives of other Americans, and to pretend it doesn't happen is a disservice not only to those affected but to my country.

We can't magic away an ugly part of our country's psyche by being optimistic. There are many who benefit from racism, and our leaders and laws need to continue to discourage and prevent such disgraces to democracy.

Wes Pelletier

Topsham 

 

Article misstates company's tax package, political giving

The article "Risky business tax breaks cost Maine $100 million per year" (Feb. 20), authored by John Christie and Naomi Schalit of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting and posted on your website, failed to create a responsible dialogue about the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program.

It also misrepresented Poland Spring/Nestle Waters North America's participation in BETR and our political giving.

The article states that Poland Spring "was the leading recipient of BETR in 2009," when in actuality we trailed six other companies. And while we received $1.9 million from BETR in 2009, that same year we invested $60 million to build a plant in Kingfield, where today we employ nearly 50 full-time local residents.

With 800 employees here and more than $500 million in investment since 2000, Nestle Waters has never been more committed to Maine. In addition to spending $65 million annually with Maine business partners, we support a $40 million annual payroll and provide a full benefits package for full-time employees.

The Christie/Schalit article also misstates our political giving. The writers' figure is four times higher than Nestle Waters North America's campaign contributions to Maine candidates, leadership PACs and party committees – a figure we can only guess they reached by including ballot and issue spending on matters such as beverage taxes, land conservation and public education.

These figures are dwarfed by the $5.5 million in community causes we support, and 165 years of stewardship of water resources and land.

Poland Spring is proud to turn a renewable natural resource into good jobs for Maine people. We're proud to invest in this state that has also supported us.

(Continued on page 2)

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