Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Recently, following a 3½-hour debate in the historic Old Senate Chamber, members of the U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan agreement that averts drastic changes to our longstanding rules and traditions, yet addresses the gridlock that frustrates so many Americans.
The nomination of Richard Cordray, above, to serve as permanent director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was confirmed earlier this week. Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins said that her vote to confirm Cordray did not reflect a change in position on her part.
2012 File Photo/The Associated Press
Following this agreement, and with my support, the Senate voted to confirm Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Contrary to your recent editorial "Our View: Collins, Senate make right move on rules" (July 18), I did not change my position. Rather, I secured a written commitment from Mr. Cordray to brief the Appropriations Committee annually on his agency's finances and expenditures, which responded to my major concern.
This is critical because, as the law now stands, Congress has absolutely no oversight of the CFPB's budget, which can be as high as a half-billion dollars, and is set by the director himself. This is contrary to Congress' constitutional obligation. Had the administration been willing earlier to address my concern, which is shared by many of my colleagues, Mr. Cordray's nomination may well have been considered long ago.
While I consider Mr. Cordray's commitment sufficient to move forward, more must be done.
That is why I am also supporting efforts to create a Senate-confirmed inspector general for the CFPB to help ensure proper oversight of the agency's expenditures and of an effort to collect massive data on credit card transactions that raises privacy concerns.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
Readers offer perspectives on median panhandling ban
What great news that the ban on all the different sorts of activities taking place on Portland medians will prevent any safety incidents.
What sort of activities? Panhandling and, well, who knows what else?
What safety incidents? You know, anything could happen even if it never did yet.
And now, hopefully, the homeless panhandlers will bring their signs to the sidewalks, like in the Old Port when the next supercruiser docks to offload tourists. Or near the arts, entertainment and athletic venues in the city.
Maybe they'll exercise their right to free assembly and be seen banded together everywhere -- except the medians, of course. Or will the city of Portland ban congregations of two or more citizens for safety reasons?
The City Council's support in banning panhandling on Portland's streets was a fine example of leadership and focus, though I feel the reason given to support the ban being a safety issue was a lot of malarkey.
Yes, one can see that there are some safety issues with panhandlers standing on the medians.
But the real reason that should have been aired is that it's just plain unsightly, making the city look like it's a dumping ground for the city's lost souls.
To have them be the meet and greet committee at city gateways doesn't leave a very good impression. Unless, of course, that's the best the city has to offer.
Road race fees boost costs for competitive runners
When I was little I loved playing baseball, but it took a few weeks' worth of allowance to pay for cleats, a bat and a glove. Whenever I complained, my dad always told me that running was the cheapest sport: He always said it just costs a pair of shoes.
And that is true. Running is still probably the cheapest sport to train for. However, it is quickly becoming more expensive to compete, due to the rising costs of road racing.
When I started doing road races, entry fees averaged $10 and the most expensive ones would cost $20, but now the norm is to charge $25 for a single race. That is absurd.
Now, there are still some road races that are very reasonably priced. For example, the Back Cove Race Series costs a one-time fee of $20 and allows you to compete in 14 races around the cove.
Unfortunately, that is the exception and not the rule. Gone are the days when you would pay with a $20 bill and need to keep the change in your shorts pocket while you raced.
Of course, there is another side to this issue. Road races are expensive to put on, and their proceeds almost always benefit charities. However, if you register online, then you are typically paying an extra $2 to $3 for the "registration fee" to a company whose only job is to register runners for road races.
I recommend putting those companies out of business by planning ahead, going to the race website, printing the PDF registration form and paying by mail. Either that, or saving up your allowance.
It is great that Maine has so many road races throughout the year, but it is unfortunate that it is getting more and more expensive to enjoy them.
Views on spending, energy make LePage best choice
When Gov. LePage announced in May this year that he would not add to the tax burden of hardworking Mainers, the Maine Legislature did not believe him. The Legislature later overrode the governor's budget veto, which contained higher temporary taxes for the next two years.
I support our governor, who stood by his principles for Maine people, and I am disappointed by our representatives, who only see higher taxes for the future of our children and grandchildren.
I agree that Gov. LePage may not be politically eloquent in his public remarks, but he tends to be direct, and he does provide his honest opinion.
The state of Maine has many disadvantages, like being at the end of the distribution line of the country in the far corner of the Northeast.
However, we have Canadian friends to the north, who can also be beneficial to help improve our economy with less costly and more affordable hydropower. If our Legislature wants to continue to pursue the more costly energy production through wind and solar power, then we only have ourselves to blame for voting in the incompetent Legislature we now have.
Gov. LePage is right to oppose higher taxes for the future of Maine citizens, and Maine people should consider re-electing him for another two years.