Bill Nemitz in a recent column wrote about elderly drivers (Jan. 26, “When must elderly drivers give up the keys?”).

In Maine the car is key to our independence. Most of us do not have good public transportation options.

Unfortunately, men outlive their ability to drive by six years and women by 10 years. Seniors and adult children must plan on this eventuality.

Road Safe Senior Project researchers found that 6 percent of older adults who are still driving have medical conditions that put them at risk for a motor vehicle crash and 12 percent have conditions that preclude driving. It is concerning that nearly one in five older adults has a major deficit that could affect the ability to drive safely.

ITNPortland is a nonprofit which provides rides for seniors 65 and older as well as for visually impaired adults 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any purpose. We use private cars and charge affordable fees.

We provide rides anywhere within 15 miles of Portland. We encourage seniors to self-assess their driving skills for their own and others’ safety on the roads. Adult children should encourage this self-assessment for their parents, grandparents and other relatives.

Introducing ITNPortland rides early before one must take the keys away from them is the best approach.

When you decide to give up the car, we will accept your car in trade for ride credits. These car trades help us maintain a fleet of good quality cars.

To supplement our paid driver staff, we seek volunteer drivers to help us keep our fees affordable. If you have a good driving record and you seek a good volunteer opportunity, contact us. We accept whatever schedule is convenient for you.

If you are a senior and you admit your driving skills are not what they used to be, contact us at or at 207-854-0505.

Bob Dunfey

Executive Director, ITNPortland


One more tribute for the late Sargent Shriver

Your fine editorial and the moving piece by Harold Pachios (Jan. 21) about Sargent Shriver brought back to me some wonderful memories more than 45 years old. I was privileged to have worked at the War on Poverty office, serving both as special assistant to the deputy director and a member of Mr. Shriver’s senior staff.

In all my years in Washington, working both in the congressional and executive branches and the private sector, never did I come across any high-level appointee who combined authority, capability, generosity and kindness in the measure of Sarge Shriver.

His compassion for the poor, his ability to inspire his staff, his persuasive capacity to lure all the right — and important — people to share his mission at the Office of Economic Opportunity, were unmatched.

Sarge and my time with the War on Poverty moved me to keep working on programs for the poor in the years after I left Washington.

Two special memories:

When Mr. Shriver was making his brief, unsuccessful try at the presidency in the ’70s, he showed up one day at my office in Concord, N.H., trailed by a substantial chunk of the press corps.

He bounded up the steps, all smiles, yelling out, “Where’s Norm?” This nation lost a grand opportunity when he did not become president.

The day I left the War on Poverty, to move on to another position, I came into my office to find a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk.

With it was a letter with “a personal word of thanks for all you’ve done to help us over many of the difficult hurdles here…” It was signed “Sarge Shriver,” and remains to this day one of my most treasured possessions.

Norman Abelson


‘Victory’ on computer suit hardly seems complete

The article titled “Maine to collect $410,000 in suit over excess profits” (Jan. 11) stated the state recovered excess charges from a computer supplier, CBE Holdings. The state indicated this was a victory.

Rather, this seems to be yet another example of bureaucratic ineffectiveness in Augusta. First, this overcharge of $410,000 was on a total contract of about $12 million to $15 million. Who authorized these payments and have they been held accountable? Why did it take five years to find this overcharge? Wasn’t this contract audited?

The article notes, “The State continues to honor its contract and buy computers from CBE.” Why on Earth would they continue to do that?

I have experience with state/municipal purchasing, particularly of computers. This appears to be a material breach of contract. It should have resulted in contract cancellation. In many contracts, the vendor at fault would then be obligated to pay the state any additional costs it incurred for future purchases. Did this contract have a performance bond? If so, it could have been called. If not, why not?

In many cases, states purchase their computers directly from manufacturers, either based on federal government (GSA) pricing or a negotiated price or other competitive basis. Why involve a middle-man like CBE, paying a premium over manufacturers’ prices?

This should never have gone to court. Considering this a victory for the state is even worse. The state will get back the overcharges and attorney’s fees.

The state does not receive interest on the overcharges; there is apparently neither penalty nor damages to be paid by CBE; CBE keeps most of the overcharges for another year without interest.

Worst of all, who got hurt by this overcharge? It was probably the schools and towns who were overcharged by $410,000 or bought fewer computers for schoolchildren.

Allan Brockman


Easy to ‘strike right note’ when only fans interviewed

A following-morning front-pagenews item in your paper reporting on the State of the Union address was boldly introduced by the headline, “President’s speech strikes the right note with Mainers.”

That grabbed my attention. Many Mainers, myself included, heard in the president’s remarks more than just a few clinkering sour notes.

Then, reading into the item, I discovered (but was not surprised) that the headline’s conclusion was based almost entirely on interviews with members of Organizing for America, “a volunteer organization that holds such events” — in this case at the Ri-Ra Pub on Portland’s waterfront — “to strengthen the Democratic Party.”

Enough said.

Charles Packard