October 13, 2012

Letters to the editor: Panhandlers put us to the test

A short while ago, a letter writer railed against panhandlers in our median strips and called those of us who help them "dolts" ("City policy encourages panhandlers," Sept. 13).

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A woman panhandling on a Portland median strip expresses her hopes for a better life. A reader who gives to panhandlers asks for compassion for them.

2012 File Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette

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As I often do with judgmental and unpleasant behavior, after reading this diatribe I planned to "let it go." But on reflection, I find that I would like to respond.

I am one of those "dolts" who give money to the unfortunate people in the median strip. In fact, I always keep a dollar or two handy for this purpose.

The way I see it, these situations are a test of how we choose to respond to others in need: We can choose kindness and compassion, apathy and avoidance, or hate and blame.

No one is getting rich standing in the roadway asking for spare change. No one would choose to do this for hours on end, in all weather, sandwiched between traffic, if they had any better options.

We can't know what drove these people to this public misery -- whether it was poverty, abuse, mental illness, plain bad luck or something else -- but many of them carry signs telling us they want to work, and they are always grateful.

Of course we would like them to be able to live independently, and obviously most of them would like nothing better themselves, but in the meantime it is clear they need a helping hand.

I am a public school teacher, and the behaviors I would like our children to grow up seeing -- and emulating -- are those centered on kindness and compassion, not hate and blame. Isn't this the golden rule?

Mary Wheeler


Publish inspection results for all of city's restaurants

I find your newspaper's reaction to the recent restaurant inspections resulting in the closing and reopening of the Porthole restaurant, the Comedy Connection nightclub and the Harbour's Edge banquet hall to be quite myopic.

Am I to believe that these are the only inspected restaurants in Portland that have failed an inspection?

You have also incited finger pointing between the city of Portland and the restaurants on who is to blame in this situation.

Instead of offering your opinion on the matter, I feel your paper would better serve your subscribers, and restaurant customers, by publishing all inspection results.

(Should you need guidance in this matter, I encourage you and your readers to refer to the Rome, N.Y., Daily Sentinel's published restaurant inspection reports http://www.romesentinel.com/news?newsid=20120907-142214.)

Let the inspectors do their job. Let me decide if I want to patronize a restaurant that fails inspections and does not correct infractions, or one that consistently passes.

Knowing that inspection data will be regularly published (with direct ramifications of patronage, good or bad) may encourage greater compliance with health codes.

Karen J. Yarumian


Help those who have less to make life better for all

This is a country living on greed. The bottom line means more. As the Bible says, "The love of money is the root of all evil." So true!

There are those who say that if you give more to those at the top, it will make life better for those at the bottom and middle.

History has shown that the opposite is true. If you help those in the lower and middle classes improve their lives, life becomes better for all.

It is truly a small world after all, and we are in this together. So, we should help one another, no matter what our race, creed or socioeconomic background, through this thing we call life.

Kathleen McGonagle

Cumberland Foreside

(Continued on page 2)

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