September 13, 2012

Letters to the editor: City policy encourages panhandlers

The Portland City Council's seeming embrace of area panhandlers and other assorted vagrants and bums has resulted in their becoming increasingly emboldened in their relentless pursuit of separating area drivers from their money, at nearly every major intersection in town.

click image to enlarge

A woman panhandles from the median at the intersection of St. John Street and Park Avenue in Portland in July.

2012 File Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette

This has led to dangerous traffic situations for area drivers and pedestrians.

For example: On any given day, you'll find panhandlers, aka bums, with signs in hand, standing on all the traffic islands, at the intersections of Franklin Arterial, Marginal Way and Somerset Street by Whole Foods.

Not one or two, mind you. I've seen as many as four to five, each marking his or her own territory, walking up to open windows of drivers trapped by red lights.

Then, when the lights change, and rush hour traffic surges forward, there's always some dolt behind the wheel of a car, handing over some cash, screwing up the commute for everyone else.

These "independent contractors" all seem to know each other. In fact, I've seen them arrive to take over a spot, and greet one another, when a fellow bum leaves. The point being, drivers should be focused on rush hour traffic, not these bums, standing mere inches away from moving vehicles.

Why doesn't the City Council just make it official, and pay these bums a monthly stipend, like San Francisco does? I've been there. Believe me, you don't want Portland to end up like that place.

Time for the City Council to reverse course, and do the right thing, before someone gets injured or killed.

I can just see the lawyer ads for that one.

Dennis Gervais


Turnpike drivers exploited, but nobody seems to care

What is it with the Maine Turnpike Authority? And why does it always get its way when it comes to toll increases?

Putting aside the fact that it has and continues to be completely mismanaged, nobody at the MTA listens to the drivers who use it.

Members of the MTA board spent a portion of this past summer holding public hearings asking us how we felt about more toll increases. The majority of those in attendance said "No!" But that didn't seem to matter. The Maine Turnpike Authority got the increases that it wanted -- including an increase for those of us who thought we'd save money with an E-ZPass!

Now the newest MTA "money-making scheme" is to offer a rebate at the end of every month to drivers who only drive from one specific exit to another! (As if this will last for long!)

So what do Maine drivers do? Absolutely nothing! Prior mismanagement and embezzlement of funds is OK because all of us love to pay for the mistakes of incompetent people.

If we aren't going to hold the Maine Turnpike Authority accountable for anything -- why don't we just turn around and let the MTA members pick our pockets? They're certainly doing that now!

Gary Dixon

Ocean Park

Go the extra mile to support your local public schools

I just completed a note to my local public school administrative district, telling them how Maine does not need charter schools and praising the efforts of the district, when I read in the Maine Sunday Telegram about Skowhegan losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the 2012-2013 to new charter schools ("Charter schools will take bite out of SAD 54 budget," Aug. 26).

The following day, I got a solicitation looking for support of a proposed charter school in my community. 

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