July 27, 2013

Letters to the editor: Rally story parrots 'race-baiting phrases'

Regarding the July 23 article "About 200 rally in Portland in Trayvon Martin's memory":

click image to enlarge

Lado Lodoka of Portland observes a moment of peace for Trayvon Martin at a rally in Monument Square on Monday. Coverage of the event included a misleading description of George Zimmerman, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

How pathetic has the Press Herald become, when it copies race-baiting phrases such as "white" Hispanic when describing George Zimmerman?

It was discovered in his recent trial that the media edited audio of Zimmerman to make him sound racist, Photoshopped images of him to erase any evidence of the wounds he suffered at the hands of Martin and lightened his skin tone to make him appear more white than he is (his mother is Peruvian).

All this was followed by The New York Times referring to him as a "white" Hispanic.

So, I suppose Barack Obama is a "white" African-American ... right?

Now, everyone is screaming about Florida's "stand your ground" statute when, in fact, it was never used as a defense in Zimmerman's trial in the first place.

As for race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al., I get it. They wouldn't have any way to make a buck if they didn't spend every waking moment ginning up racial strife.

I suggest that everyone chill out and respect the memory of Trayvon Martin by striving for a color-blind society where achievement and character stand for something.

Dennis Gervais

Portland

Stalled transportation bond could have done a lot of good

In Augusta, Democrats and Republicans spend a lot of time debating what the best use of taxpayer money is and how much funding various government programs should receive. While it's safe to say we don't always see eye to eye, I think we can all agree that maintaining our roads and bridges should be a top priority.

For that reason, I think the Legislature missed a golden opportunity recently when it declined to act on a $100 million transportation bond.

I am the ranking Republican on the Transportation Committee, and I am a co-sponsor of this bipartisan legislation, which would provide $46 million for Maine highway projects, $30 million for bridges, and the remainder for secondary roads, ports, railroads and airports. Approval of the bond by voters would trigger $154 million in matching federal funds.

Acting on these bonds will have multiple economic benefits. The sooner we get the bond approved by voters, the sooner work can begin on much-needed repairs to our infrastructure, and the sooner we can begin hiring workers for these projects.

Democratic leadership declined to allow the transportation bond bill, L.D. 1095, to come up for a vote during the final day of session. We will now have to wait for the Legislature to convene again, possibly this fall, to take it up again.

In the past, lawmakers have fallen into the bad habit of lumping numerous, unrelated borrowing initiatives into one bond package for voters to approve.

My fear is that the transportation bond will fall victim to this, leaving voters with the unenviable task of having to decide if they want the state to take on all of the other borrowing that would go along with approving the transportation improvements.

When the Legislature comes back into session, we need to pass the transportation bond as a stand-alone bill, and weigh other borrowing proposals on their own merit.

Sen. Ron Collins

R-York

Chiefs best people to speak for police, fire departments

What is behind the recent change in policy behind all Portland Police and Fire Department news releases emanating from City Hall?

Although Portland's spokesperson, Nicole Clegg, seems like an intelligent and articulate person, I question why the police chief and fire chief, who possess the technical and investigative expertise in their fields, are no longer allowed to speak on behalf of their respective public safety departments. This not only is a departure from 200 years of tradition, but must also seem demeaning and insulting to both chiefs.

As a former police administrator and current criminal justice college instructor, I find this policy change both puzzling and unnecessary. Could it be an attempt to stifle police opinion on such matters as Occupy Lincoln Park or reining in the "panhandlers"?

I personally would have more faith in the opinions of the appointed department leaders than the sanitized "politically correct" version of events coming from the mayor's office.

Michael McDonough, M.S.

retired bureau director, Portland Police Department

Cumberland

Electronic devices take away chance to reach out to others

I second Steven Edmondson's letter to the editor (" 'Old schooler' doesn't need social media to enjoy friends," July 22) with regard to social media. I could not have said it any better.

What distresses me the most is the lack of human interaction. When I walk throughout the city of Portland, passing people along the way, I find most are listening to music or on their phone. This gives them the excuse to not even look my way.

I will continue to reach out, however, with a simple "Good morning," or just a "hi." I don't care if I get little or no response.

I'm an old schooler, and I feel human interaction is still the best way to communicate.

Fran Wilson

Portland

Panhandler ban serves only to conceal extent of poverty

What does it say about us as a society that the City Council is banning panhandlers on medians so that those who are fortunate enough not to have to panhandle don't have to see folks who find this necessary?

Let's find alternatives to panhandling that work for those who don't see any other options, as well as for those who prefer empty medians. Trying to make poverty less visible doesn't do anything to solve the problem.

Barbara Thomson

Portland

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