December 15, 2012

Letters to the editor: Performance hall would be blot on Hill

I could not help but react viscerally to the photo ("'Fascist' or elegant? Proposed Portland arts venue draws mixed reaction," Dec. 6) of the rendering of the Munjoy Hill "modern performance hall" proposed by the Friends of the St. Lawrence (clearly a misnomer).

This architect’s rendering shows a 450-plus-seat performance hall proposed for the site of the former St. Lawrence Church sanctuary and bell tower in Portland. After seeing the proposed design, a reader says he had the impulse to look up the word “monstrosity.”

Contributed photo

My first thought was a flash-forward to the year 2050. Two young "Hillites" look at the structure and one says to the other: "What the heck (expletive replaced) were they thinking?"

My second thought was to run to my Merriam-Webster's and look up the word "monstrosity."

My dad was born on Kellogg Street, and my grandfather's first grocery was on the Hill. I have always had an affection for Munjoy Hill, and I am pleased to feel its pulse each time I begin its ascent.

The small-business reclamation, the charm and the hard work of the cross-generational populace of Munjoy Hill deserve better. Please take it back to the drawing board.

Stephen T. Russell

South Portland

No good reason for delay in shortfall announcement

I am disturbed by the timing of the revelation of the $100 million shortfall in the MaineCare system by Commissioner Mary Mayhew of the LePage administration ("Maine DHHS facing $100 million shortfall," Nov. 29). It seems clearly intended to pressure the incoming Maine House and Senate to cut more services in line with Gov. LePage's agenda.

When LePage took office, there was a contract for some MaineCare services to be case managed, which he canceled, saying the work could be done for less "in house." There were also plans and staff in place to address the costs by implementing managed care principles within MaineCare. LePage ended that process as well.

Both of these programs could have cut MaineCare spending effectively without disenrolling Mainers who need these services. I believe these actions are at least partially responsible for the current cost overruns. I firmly believe we can spend less and care for all the current enrollees, if we spend smarter.

This administration replaced dedicated, capable, professional staff with inexperienced staff with questionable qualifications, and that, too, has contributed to the current cost overruns. It was his staff, for example, who cost the state by paying benefits for 19,000 Mainers who were not qualified to receive benefits.

The LePage administration should stop blaming people who find themselves needing these services and start effectively managing MaineCare.

Margie Schoeller, M.D.

Portland

A recent announcement stunned legislators into silence to the point of not asking any questions when Commissioner Mary Mayhew told them that the Department of Health and Human Services budget was going to suffer a $100 million shortfall.

I am stunned by this revelation also. I find it incomprehensible that no one was aware of this issue before now. I can think of only two reasons for it.

First, this was a politically motivated gambit coming barely a month after the elections to provide more support for the governor to demand more cuts in the DHHS budget -- or second, Mayhew is incredibly and abysmally incompetent and should not hold the position she does.

Warner Price

Harpswell

Mainers must stand firm against graffiti's message

Once again, a community in Maine has been the victim of a crime of hate and ignorance to which we all must respond.

The Press Herald's report of swastikas and other hateful graffiti left on the walls of Greely Middle School in Cumberland ("Graffiti, swastikas spray-painted on Cumberland school," Dec. 4) reminds us that in a free society such as ours, "some are guilty, but all are responsible," to quote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

If those who left the graffiti did so out of hate, we must respond quickly and forcefully to let them know that hate is not welcome in Maine. If some of us might want to shrug it off as the work of ignorance, we must use this as a teaching moment, to educate them as to the historical meaning of this symbol.

We at the Hate Crimes Response Project of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, along with all Mainers of good will, stand with the students, teachers and parents of Greely Middle School, and the people of Cumberland, in rejecting both hate and ignorance.

Rabbi Hillel Katzir

director, Hate Crimes Response Project of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine

Auburn

Time for DA to streamline the trials of alleged 'johns'

Enough, enough, enough, enough. Could we not have Justice Nancy Mills, prosecutor Kathryn Slattery and prosecutor Justine McGettigan meet privately in judges' chambers and strategize the trials of the 150 men who have been arrested or are going to be arrested for allegedly patronizing a prostitute?

It seems like Justice Mills could have all the warrants served and continue all cases for two consecutive Saturday mornings. Seventy-five or so men appearing in court, each approaching the bench, a guilty or not guilty plea taken, a fine given.

The men could then go to the clerk's office, pay the fine and case closed. Mills could clear the docket in a month. Then they could concentrate on the trials of Alexis Wright and Mark Strong Sr.

By doing this, the publicity would be at a minimum and the citizens of Maine would not be so embarrassed. Please, police, prosecutors and judge, do something for this to go away.

Edward Stawecki

retired Hartford, Conn., police detective and retired Connecticut state bail commissioner Old Orchard Beach

'Spin machine' exaggerates impact of increase in taxes

The Republican spin machine suggests that raising taxes on small-business owners making more than $250,000 per year will hurt the economy.

While an overwhelming majority of small-business owners earn less than that, the few who would be affected might consider avoiding the tax hike by limiting their pay to $249,999. They could then use the difference to reinvest in their own businesses, thereby promoting growth and creating jobs.

Granted, they would have to squeak by on less than a quarter million dollars a year, and that's a hardship -- just ask anybody.

Paul Sarvis

Portland

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