Friday, April 18, 2014
On April 19, I sent a letter to the Maine Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, asking members to take action to provide Maine drivers with a safer and more pleasurable driving experience.
Signs warning motorists to keep to the posted speed limit dot Washington Avenue in Portland in 2010. Speeding is one of the myriad driving infractions that is rampant in Maine, a reader says.
2010 File Photo/Kat Franchino
Speeding is ubiquitous. Running red lights, tailgating, unnecessary passing in breakdown lanes (often near pedestrian crossings), failure to utilize headlights and adjust speed for varying conditions, ignoring and refusing to obey posted speed limits -- all are rampant infractions.
Drivers could take the responsibility to obey the rules of the road, and avoid greater government/law enforcement intervention. It's not too late, but it's got to be one or the other.
Barring those alternatives, throw the book away and let anarchy reign. At least we'd know the score.
There are places where it is almost agony to drive the speed limit, but if you're driving, you obey the law.
Vehicles weigh several tons. They are not bicycles or motorcycles. If drivers are unhappy with posted speed limits, then take action to get the speed limits changed.
I have proposed methods to enforce the laws that would be cost-effective, including using public-service announcements.
Meanwhile, I want a bumper sticker stating: "I'm doing the speed limit. If you don't like the limit, contact the Legislature."
Data in gun story doesn't back misleading headlines
I recently moved back to Maine and looked forward to resubscribing to the Press Herald. I missed it while I was gone. It was always, to me, a fairly balanced news source, untainted by too much sway to either the left of the right.
Apparently, though, something happened while I was gone. You've moved decidedly left, and I'm not talking about your editorial opinions. Rather, the news is slanted.
The story April 19 by Nedra Pickler of The Associated Press was headlined "President, momentum outgunned by the NRA," with the subhead: "The passion of its members foiled new gun-control efforts despite public support and outrage over mass killings."
I read the story and tried very hard to find the data in support of the assertions in those titles. What happened was that a gun control bill was defeated because not enough senators voted for it, plain and simple.
Characterizing it as something engineered by a select few (the National Rifle Association) and accomplished in spite of the supposed majority (public support and outrage) is pure supposition.
If this were on the editorial page, I wouldn't bother to speak up because that is what it is: editorializing.
You have gone beyond the simplicity of reporting the who, what, where and when to formulate the why. You somehow have gotten into the heads and hearts of not only the senators to discern why they voted the way they did, but also the heads of the public to suggest that you know better than we what we are thinking.
This is just one example. There are others.
And please don't mistake this as a diatribe against gun control. It isn't. It is simply an appeal for you to report the facts and resist telling me how I ought to feel and think about those facts. Please.
Wind turbines undermine land values, quality of place
As rural hills and mountaintops in Maine are being rapidly developed by the wind industry, we must give thought to the impacts these projects have on Maine's tourism industry and on local property values.
Below is an excerpt from a letter submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection by Rainer and Gaby Engle of Switzerland, who bought their "American dream getaway" in Lincoln a few years ago.
The DEP is considering granting a permit to First Wind to build an industrial wind facility on mountain ridges overlooking the Downeast Lakes region.
The Engles know first-hand what kind of impact the Rollins wind project has had on the value of lakefront property in the nearby Lincoln Lakes region.
Their well-kept, attractive cabin is just three feet from the water's edge at Upper Pond, and the property has 550 feet of shore frontage.
Once the Rollins project was built, the owners faced 21 turbines -- the sounds and sights of which dominated their lakeside experience. They lost their enjoyment in the property and listed their property for sale.
The Engles state, "We try (sic) to sell our camp since almost 2 years now: but no one is inquiring, since no one wants to see industry. One comes to Maine for nature and recreation. Getting away ..."
What happens when a high-impact industrial facility creates, in essence, a "taking" of our property values -- for some, our only investment?
"Quality of place" is a big selling point in Maine. What happens when the quality of place disappears?
Karen Bessey Pease
Hospital payback deprives poor Mainers of state aid
You and I know that the math in budgets is about as simple as it gets -- addition and subtraction will do. So what is the government's problem?
It appears to have something to do with priorities. The government is stuck on priorities. Perhaps the ordinary citizens in Maine could share their secret priority system.
Our first priority is putting food on the table for our families. With that priority and you face rising costs in food, gas for the car, heat and more, you know there is not enough income.
Ordinary citizens look for ways to increase their income because food on the table is first.
Family is first. There isn't enough money to sustain our families -- a second or third job is required, in part because our hourly wages are lower than other states', requiring us to take more time to produce enough cash to feed our families.
Ordinary citizens sometimes don't pay their debts because they need the money for food. Sometimes they don't pay the mortgage, but pay the car debt because they need a car to get the family to doctors or school.
Family-first budgeters don't understand why the government would choose to pay off a large, mortgage-like hospital debt and allow poor members of Maine's family to go hungry.
It is hard to understand how government chooses a potentially suspect debt (see Time magazine's article "Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us") to pay off, instead of honoring the promised funds for schools.
I know hospitals had agreed to the annual payments and budgeted accordingly.
Where is the honor in choosing to speed up payment to corporations, while lowering promised education payments?
Where is the honor in not increasing the income stream, as is done by poor working families?
It is really simple math. Add income, pay down debt and keep food on the table for families in Maine.
Feiner's writing draws on opinions, not on the facts
It was interesting that Susan Feiner's latest caustic rant ("Women and children last") was on the front page of the Insight section of the Telegram's April 21 edition.
I do wish, in the interest of full disclosure, that you label, in large bold print, her future essays as politically biased opinions, rather than factual reporting on an issue of the day. Obviously, "balance" is not a word in her vocabulary.
Perhaps it might be better, in the interest of objective discussion, to find another contributing author, rather than continuing to provide a forum for someone with obvious disdain for a substantial percentage of the reading public -- that being those holding different points of view.
Robert H. Smith