June 30, 2013

Letters to the editor: Sequester hurts Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels came to Maine in June 1971, when Meals for Me Inc. in Bangor served its first meals after an uphill three-year process of planning and selling.

click image to enlarge

Volunteer Tom O’Connor pulls prepared holiday meals from the oven, where they were heated before being delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients in southern Maine in 2011. A minister who helped bring the program to Maine says he fears for its future.

2011 File Photo/John Ewing

No one had heard of Meals on Wheels, and convincing Mainers was a hard sell. We began with a demonstration grant under Title III of the Older Americans Act.

Because of the difficulty of getting the program off the ground, our goals were modest. We hoped to serve 25 meals a day in the first months and build the program to 75 meals a day by the end of the first year.

We had six community VISTA volunteers canvass Bangor; our plan was based on their reports. We served almost 80 meals a day the first week, due in large part to the awareness created by the VISTA volunteers.

We were told by two public health nurses on the board that we must immediately begin delivering home meals.

We began delivering to homebound seniors after three months, and by the end of the first year we were delivering almost 100 meals a day, five days a week, including all Monday holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only day we were closed was New Year's Day.

During the second year of operation, funding was switched to Title VII of the Older Americans Act. Title VII said only 10 percent of meals could be served in a congregate setting. We successfully argued for a waiver of that rule.

Then President Nixon impounded the money for Title VII. Sen. Bill Hathaway fought successfully to get the funds released before we had to shut down. The Republicans have been trying to stop Meals on Wheels ever since. Their latest tactic is called sequestration.

I am angry about what is happening to Meals on Wheels. It is not the program I started 40-plus years ago. I fear it will disappear completely unless there is concerted grass-roots action to support it.

The Rev. Carleton Gunn

Sanford

Registration fee excludes mainstay of pride parade

The Southern Maine Gay Pride Parade in Portland has always been a wonderful celebration of diversity and acceptance. For years I've had the thrill and honor of riding my Harley with the Dykes on Bikes at the front of the parade.

Women ride from all over the state to lead the parade, rev their engines and wave to all the spectators cheering them on in a spectacular demonstration of gay pride and free speech.

But at the June 15 parade, everything changed when we were turned away by parade organizer Dave Nadeau. He told us that because we hadn't registered and paid the $100 fee, we weren't wanted in the parade.

I tried to reason with him and remind him that all across America, Dykes on Bikes lead gay pride parades. I tried to explain that we're not an official organization; we don't have membership cards, and we don't have an official spokesperson. We've never registered before and we've always led the parade.

I told him that by excluding us he was going against the spirit of gay pride. Since the beginning of the gay pride movement, it's been drag queens and strong, brazen lesbians on bikes who have been the most visible and fearless. To exclude us over something as trivial and shallow as an entry fee is an embarrassment and a travesty.

We're lesbians from all corners of life who ride motorcycles and are proud of our independence and liberty. We show up in ones, twos and threes at gay pride parades across America to create a spectrum of diversity that's heavy in horsepower and strong in heart. And it about broke mine when the parade officials in my beloved town of Portland, Maine, put registration money above gay pride.

Kathy Wilder

Dyke on a Bike

Norridgewock

In the right frame of mind, 'young lady' a compliment

I am writing in response to the Maine Observer column June 23 ("Comments sting, even if they're not meant to"), written by Cheryl Klein, a licensed pastoral counselor in Windham. "Pastoral" in my dictionary denotes "calm, serene and peaceful." I didn't read anything in her guest column that denoted that.

I'm sorry to read that she has a knee problem that handicaps her.

I am 10 years older than Cheryl Klein and also have ongoing health problems for the past few years. My hair went gray decades ago, and I've received many compliments about it.

My health problems consist of loss of most of my vision in one eye and voice dystonia, both of which I get injections for several times a year.

This year I also had to get hearing aids. In spite of my health issues, I'm thankful for what I do have, as many friends have worse health issues.

If someone refers to me as "young lady," I take it as a compliment and hope I portray a "young at heart" spirit. I'm also thankful for the kind, helpful, pleasant people in the world.

Sylvia Armstrong Murphy

Tenants Harbor

P.S. Kudos to Bill Nemitz and Colin Woodard for their great reporting.

Column pinpoints errors in education chief's thinking

"Putting learners first?" by Lee Roberts (June 23) could not have been very pleasant for Education Commissioner Steve Bowen to read.

What Roberts said was that Bowen's "improvement" plan was basically bankrupt, to say the least, and I agree.

Bowen essentially wants to run our education system in Maine like a business. Well, most businesses fail in this nation, Commissioner -- of course, you already knew that.

Well done, Lee Roberts. Well done.

David Bartholomew

Falmouth

Story misconstrues mission of real estate organization

It was with disappointment and disbelief that we read the June 16 article ("The Lobbyist in the Henhouse") on changes at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection under Commissioner Pattie Aho. In our experience, Ms. Aho has always been professional, ethical and diligent.

Furthermore, the article misrepresented the legislative mission of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association. MEREDA's mission is to promote responsible ownership and development of real estate through advocacy and education.

Representing more than 260 commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers, MEREDA consistently advocates for a fair, predictable and efficient process in obtaining approvals to develop and own real estate.

For example, MEREDA secured passage of a law to prohibit municipalities from enacting ordinances that would be applied to projects retroactively, after developers had relied upon and complied with the existing ordinances during the permitting phase.

Applying ordinance changes retroactively would change the rules of the process, costing developers time and money and ultimately deterring economic development across Maine.

This year we supported the enactment of Public Law 2013, Chapter 183, to allow a business with a state site location of development permit to make minor modifications to its project without having to undergo a full review to amend its state permit.

These minor projects will still need to obtain all other applicable federal, state and local permits, and, when the modifications reach a certain size, they will be required to be reviewed for an amended state site law permit.

The new law, which had bipartisan support, does not relax environmental standards, but creates a more business-friendly and economically efficient approach while continuing to uphold Maine's environmental standards.

To help support and stimulate Maine's economy, MEREDA intends to continue to promote responsible real estate ownership and development, including environmental laws and regulations. We are proud of MEREDA's legislative accomplishments in pursuit of our mission.

Drew Sigfridson

MEREDA president

Portland

Gary Vogel

MEREDA Legislative Committee chair

Yarmouth

 

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