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).

click image to enlarge

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

Scarborough

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

Buxton

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

Don't blame the patients for rising health care costs

In response to "Personal responsibility another way to cut entitlement costs" (Another View, Oct. 6):

My husband passed away at the age of 56 due to a bone marrow cancer that had no connection to lifestyle, exercise, weight or smoking. He was a runner and a nonsmoker and had a healthy diet and annual checkups.

He was sick for five years, all of which he worked full time, never collecting long- or short-term disability, and he actually worked until the 10 days just before his death.

I am well aware that the cost of health care needs to be addressed, but feel that we should not penalize all for the unhealthy habits of some.

Why not focus more on the administrators who are paid so well, the inefficiency and waste that go on in our hospitals and the lack of communication among caregivers despite the new mandate for electronic medical records?

There is no easy solution to this matter, but I feel that we should proceed with caution and not deny those full coverage with heart disease, renal disease and cancer that in no way are the result of their "lifestyle."

Margaret Bearor

South Portland

Recollections of 1947 fires err on blazes' casualty rate

In the Insight section of the Oct. 7 Maine Sunday Telegram, the article titled "The week that Maine burned," by Elaine Frederick Killelea, contained several inaccuracies -- one a whopper.

Ms. Killelea, giving her recollections of the week of Oct. 13, 1947, says, "Remarkably, there were no fatalities."

What?

In 1978, Joyce Butler published a well-written and well-documented book titled "Wildfire Loose: The Week Maine Burned."

The narrative begins as of Oct. 3, 1947, and tells how by Oct. 13, woods fires were spreading out of control in drought conditions. However, it was the week of Oct. 20 when the most devastation occurred, and the evacuation of Bar Harbor by sea took place the night of Oct. 23, 1947.

According to Butler's book, there were 15 fatalities, including fire-related accidents and at least one heart attack, which killed a firefighter. I found nine deaths listed by name and circumstance in the book.

Butler's book on the fires of 1947 is a wonderful read, full of heart and facts. It is readily available, and I recommend it.

Janet Joyce

Portland

 

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