February 4, 2013

Letters to the editor: State must hold contractors accountable

Several articles were published recently about Daniel Tucci, a Portland "handyman" being sued by the state for allegedly engaging in repeated instances of unfinished, faulty or low-quality home repair contracting work ("Witnesses: Portland handyman pressured, bilked us," Jan. 23; "Portland handyman testifies in own defense," Jan. 24).

click image to enlarge

Daniel Tucci appears at his trial Jan. 23 for allegedly overcharging and underdelivering on fix-it jobs, refinishing projects and major renovations. Requiring home construction and repair contractors to have a license would let the state “permanently remove the really bad actors from the marketplace,” a reader says.

2013 File Photo/John Ewing

The state is bringing its case on behalf of 13 people who paid Tucci a total of $235,656 for home repair work they allege was inadequate, unsatisfactory or incomplete.

I commend the state for bringing this action against someone they believe repeatedly cheated people out of their money. The problem with the case, however, is that without a law requiring home repair contractors to be licensed, there is little the state can do to stop them from continuing to engage in this behavior.

Even if the court orders Tucci to stop offering home repair work, such an order would be difficult to enforce without a license that could be revoked.

Maine has debated this issue for years but, unlike many other states, we have never chosen to require that home construction or repair contractors be licensed. This is a mistake that, as this case illustrates, continues to cost homeowners hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars a year.

Consumers can certainly sue a home construction or repair contractor for faulty work, but there is currently no mechanism for the state to permanently remove the really bad actors from the marketplace.

A license that could be revoked would provide that mechanism, and it would serve to protect consumers from the health, safety and financial risks posed by faulty home construction or repair practices.

The Legislature should take up this issue again this session and pass a law requiring home construction and repair contractors to be licensed and bonded.

Patrick Norton

Freeport 

Ignored or derided, mentally disabled deserve much better

Recently, it was revealed that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the LePage administration were being sued for not providing required services to the mentally challenged on a waiting list ("Lawsuit targets LePage in defense of mentally impaired," Jan. 29).

I am not supportive of most of LePage's initiatives, but in fairness, this is a matter that has stood under a number of administrations. It reflects political priorities rather than party. And it is a disgraceful failure of the state to help its most deserving citizens.

The online comments that followed the story reflected that. There were those who were truly shocked and disgusted with the matter. There were those who were supportive only because it was LePage who had egg on his face. The most disgusting were from those who have absolutely no knowledge of the disabled and consider them expendable.

As the father of a disabled adult son, I can no longer be silent while people make uninformed comments about these wonderful human beings.

There are many families in this state that work tirelessly to give their family member a good life. Many live daily in fear of what happens to the child when they are too old or sick to care for them, let alone if they pass on.

A society is judged by how it treats its children, its disabled, its elderly and its sick. How will we be judged when the roll is called?

All mentally disabled citizens deserve the support and care they need. Cutting one part of a budget while funding the other to avoid a lawsuit is not solving a problem. The waiting list needs to be cleared as soon as possible and vital services retained for these people.

(Continued on page 2)

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