It is sad and almost embarrassing that a university would recommend such an extreme and inhumane measure as the wholesale killing of feral cat colonies (Dec. 1, “Nature study calls for killing feral cats”).

For one thing, not all feral cats are a problem. They become a problem when colonies grow, which happens when their numbers are not controlled. In some cases — for example, areas with high rodent populations (barns) — a feral cat colony can be helpful if its numbers are controlled.

Numbers also can be controlled by spaying and neutering. This is as effective, and certainly more humane, than attempting to kill them off. In fact, there are individuals, as well as groups of volunteers such as Friends of Feral Felines, who trap and neuter feral cat colonies. Some of these cats can even be socialized and adopted out as family pets.

A true long-term solution can only be achieved through education and the cooperation of cat owners. Unspayed or unneutered pets, either abandoned or allowed to roam free, are the cause of the problem.

The propagation of feral cat colonies will continue until pet owners change their thinking and actions. Reducing the number of cats entering the feral population, along with a spay-neuter program for both feral and domestic cats, is the real answer.

Sylvia S. Sullivan



Time to bench city’s public art committee 

OK, so the brain trust that calls itself the “Portland Public Art Committee” has struck again. It has found bench proposals are too utilitarian, and not artistic and exciting enough?

Excuse me, but isn’t this the same elitist group that brought us the cow-grazing field in the middle of downtown on Fore Street? The same panel that gave us the ever-popular military-influenced camo patterns for the oil tanks? And, oh yes, who could forget the campaign they waged against the donation of a bronze statue of a family attending a Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Field. Much too boring and pedestrian, as far as they were concerned.

While the committee has been chosen as the arbiter of good taste for Portland, a decision I am sure many regret, they again have illustrated that they take themselves much to seriously and lack any common sense.

They have clearly failed their assignment thrice and are about to commit another unforced error.


Lets not make this harder than it is. If you need some inspiration, take a spin up Route 1 to Boothbay and the Maine Botanical Gardens. There, my friends, you will see esthetically pleasing benches that are not only functional but fit in beautifully with the landscape.

Who knows? You may be able to save a few dollars along the way and make use of some renewable resources.

James E. Brown Jr.


Bill to aid 9/11 responders unfairly blocked by GOP 

I am deeply disappointed by the recent votes of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe on H.R. 847 (the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010).


In no uncertain terms they voted against America’s heroes, the 9/11 responders, who suffered injuries, illness and death helping victims of terrorism.

Both of our senators voted against ending debate and against bringing the bill to a vote. The bill would make up to $7.4 billion available for improved health care for 9/11 responders, using funds made available by closing a tax loophole on foreign corporations operating in the United States.

Republican senators stood in unity against ending debate on the bill (and bringing it to a vote) until the extension of the Bush tax cuts was passed. Rather than making the obvious, moral decision to provide permanent funding for the health care of America’s heroes, our senators put politics and tax cuts for wealthy Americans ahead of 9/11 responders.

The fact that Democrats were just two votes shy of the 60 needed to bring the bill to a vote makes the opposition of Maine’s senators that much more appalling.

I’m also disappointed by the fact that I could not find any reference to the vote on The Portland Press Herald’s web site. This is not a partisan bill. This is a patriotic bill that should have been passed back in July when it was first brought to a vote in the House.

I urge all Mainers to call or write their senators in support of this no-brainer bill to take care of our American heroes. It’s the absolute least we can do for those who risked their health and their lives on 9/11.


Derek Cummings


Sens. Collins and Snowe did the right thing on DADT, but what about 9/11 first responders?

The James Zadroga bill would have created a fund to help cover the health care costs of hundreds of 9/11 first responders who, 10 years later, are suffering from terminal cancers and other serious illnesses, and the medical bills that go along with them. Many have already died.

This fund would be paid for by closing a corporate tax loophole.

If you recall, after 9/11 the Environmental Protection Agency was pressured by the Bush administration to declare the air around ground zero safe to breathe, when their scientific studies told them the exact opposite. It was, in fact, toxic. As was the case many times back then, we were all lied to.


Now the same people who demagogued 9/11 and made it their battle cry for the last decade have turned their backs on these ordinary, hard-working men and women and their families. Even now, after they’ve gotten their tax cuts extended for millionaires and billionaires, they cannot throw these most deserving people a bone at Christmas for fear of giving the other party a “victory” and whining about getting home for Christmas.

This shouldn’t be a political/partisan issue, but it is. Had our Maine senators voted in favor of this bill, it would have passed. I urge all to contact the senators who voted “nay” on this bill (all are Republicans except for Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had to vote with the prevailing side if he wanted to bring it up again) and ask them to do the right thing and vote to pass this bill.

Bruce Maasbyll

South Portland

If our society is failing, sooner or later it will end 

This letter contains no advice or possible solution to the many ills we see about us.


I can’t speak for other countries, but concerning my own country, I see the American people living in a fantasy land — and in a perverse way, enjoying it.

Day after day, radio talk show hosts complain about this or that while laying the blame on others for our problems. Many are very successful, reaping big profits for themselves and their advertisers.

It is my impression that despite our many problems, people seem convinced that we will somehow muddle through, that here in New England we will always have the Red Sox and the Patriots to root for.

No one can foresee the future — including me — but I believe there is a real possibility that all could come crashing down before too long — and it won’t be pretty.

As an amateur historian, I know about the fall of the Roman Empire.

Lee Kemble



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