I will be sad to see “Tracing the Fore” leave its space in the Old Port. It was a smart piece of art and green space.

We will have one fewer interesting thing to view and to talk about when it is gone.

Kathryn Buxton



I would suggest to the Portland Public Art Committee that the public outcry over Portland’s “Tracing the Fore” public art is a perfect example of why they should heed the advice I offered when leaving the committee.

“Tracing the Fore” is what is considered a site-specific public art piece.

This means that the artist designs the art with consideration to its location.

This by itself can result in wonderful and engaging art, but unfortunately, when it involves public art, it also means designing by committee.

Designing art by committee quite often leads to compromising the artist’s original idea. Most artists would not accept this, but professional public art designers expect it and work with the compromises to create something “acceptable.”

All public art projects in Portland are required to involve local residents, businesses and art professionals in this process.

City staff and representatives of any related city departments are involved. A city councilor also sits on the Public Art Committee.

There is also the opportunity for anyone else to get their opinions heard about public art projects at public meetings and presentations. So what “Tracing the Fore” becomes results from the input of all these different parties. But still there is outrage over the finished piece.

After eight years as a member of the Portland Public Art Committee, my parting words were that I thought the committee should concentrate on acquiring existing artwork made by Maine artists for the city’s public art collection. I felt the site-specific process was a boondoggle and did not guarantee a good investment in the city’s art collection.

When acquiring existing artwork, it can be looked at, touched and photographed to see how it would look on the proposed site.

There would be no ambiguousness about the final look. It would still have all the required committees and meetings to give the public input about the selection.

And, most importantly, the cost is much more clearly defined.

Jay York


After reading the article from Nov. 18 (“Panel votes to move artwork”), I just have to respond.

This is another classic example of why I moved my family from Portland 12 years ago: another indulgent and misdirected use of money.

I can’t run my home and business that way, so how can a city? Not to mention that almost nobody likes the piece, least of all the business owners around it.

And now I learn that the art committee wants to relocate it, which would cost Portland taxpayers thousands more.

I thought the discussion was to keep it or scrap it. Who would want it anyway – and, more importantly, who would pay to maintain it?

I suggest the piece be moved to a town near the artist’s home in Massachusetts – if there is a town there that will pay for its removal and reassembly, that is.

It evokes the scenery on Cape Cod, anyway. Perhaps Hyannis will take it?

Robin Tucker

South Portland

Label gene-altered food so consumers can choose


Bruce Stillings’ letter published Nov. 12 (“Genetically modified food is increasing – and it’s safe”) left out one huge fact. All foods sold in Europe have to be labeled as GM so consumers can make informed choices on what they and their children put in their bodies.

In Japan, all GM food is banned from the marketplace, for good reason.

There has been no long-term study (20-year-plus) on the effects of GM food on humans. The fact that a weed-killing gene has been spliced into wheat should give everyone pause when they pick up their next loaf of bread.

What would be the daily recommended amount of weed killer for the diet of the average American?

Michael Doyle



Want to cut federal budget? Begin with money sent abroad


I just heard a news report about politicians debating where to make drastic cuts to balance the federal budget. I heard about taxing us, cutting us, penalizing us and otherwise trying to make life difficult for American citizens; however, I did not hear one single thing about cutting foreign aid.

So, let me get this straight: It’s OK to tax us to death and cut everything, but good grief, let’s not even discuss cutting aid to foreign countries. Let’s not inconvenience our neighbors; let’s not take money away from non-Americans – good heavens, no. That would be asking way too much.

That’s OK, we don’t mind supporting everyone else.

Like Hades, we don’t! Cut foreign aid now. Save money by cutting off the gravy train to every country on the planet. Leave the citizens of this country alone; keep your hands out of our pockets. Take the money out of the pockets of countries that haven’t earned the right to our cash.

Martha Hurd-Call


New START treaty vital, needs support by senators


Dr. Daniel Oppenheim’s recent Maine Voices column in support of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia (“New START needs GOP support to pass,” Nov. 11) makes a compelling argument for ratification. I’d like to stress how crucial Maine’s Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are to achieving ratification during the present lame-duck session of Congress.

As they’ve proven time and time again, if anyone can rise above partisanship, Maine’s senators can. We need them to step up now, express publicly their support for New START, and urge Senate leadership to put ratification on the agenda immediately.

Let’s not allow political horse trading to threaten our national security. The old START treaty expired almost a year ago, and the new one won’t enter into force until ratification succeeds.

Every day the Senate delays a ratification vote is one more day without U.S. inspectors on the ground in Russia. It’s one more day of escalating risk and uncertainty.

The economy is providing us with plenty of risk and uncertainty right now. Why allow an easily resolved diplomatic issue to compound it?

Paul Santomenna

Executive Director, Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility