Another winter storm, and broadcasters are once again streaming the closures and cancellations along the bottom of their screens.

Perhaps they should allow equal time to those businesses that are open. During one storm, a local restaurant contacted the local station and asked them to announce that they would be open. They did. That was very cool.

It’s no wonder that adults are stressed and our younger generation is scared to death of nature the way the weather forecasters can turn a winter nor’easter into a meteorological terrorist attack.

Yes, admittedly, we’ve had some big snowstorms, but screaming into a microphone with the same intensity as for a five-alarm fire, while broadcasting live teetering on a snowbank on the edge of the turnpike, (cue the theme from “Jaws” here) about how we will all perish if we venture out beyond our dooryards — all while hanging for dear life onto the camera tripod, being buffeted by gale force winds and horizontal sleet and snow as a plow goes by — is just a bit much.

Perhaps the media should remind us that a little common sense might come in handy when we look out our windows at the storm and consider our options.

Weather is a fact of life, especially in this area, and it commands respect, not a Chicken Little reaction.

Folks need to stop, pause, think — and if still not sure what to do — ask your parents (or grandparents) whether to “wear a hat.”

While I am writing this, I am listening to a brave embedded journalist broadcasting from Egypt. I have to listen closely so as not to confuse it with recent weather broadcasts.

I suggest while we are checking the weather, drowning our panic with a strong cup of coffee, grabbing our Storm Center gear and readying ourselves to do battle with the snowflakes (you’re going to need a bigger shovel), take a moment to appreciate the fact that we do have a choice, while many others on our planet face the types of storms where they may not.

Johanna Hoffman


What a sad commentary on the ongoing wussification of America, in general, and New Englanders in specific, the editorial about winter is (“Winter’s grip could use a little loosening,” Feb. 4).

After last winter, which ranked as Maine’s third-warmest in more than 100 years and one of its least snowy in many years (Portland received roughly half the snow of a normal winter), the editorial board at the Press Herald apparently has forgotten what a normal winter actually is around here.

This past December was both warmer than normal and less snowy than normal. January was by the tiniest margin (0.3 F.) just barely colder than normal and, admittedly, snowier than average.

As someone who deliberately and happily chose to live in northern New England, I’ve never understood why persons such as the editorial writer even live here if all they’re going to do is complain about what is a completely average Maine winter so far.

Steve McKelvey


State treasurer right to warn about unfunded debt 

I take exception to your editorial criticizing State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin for playing politics with Maine’s debt (“Treasurer should not play politics with debt,” Jan. 28).

You wrote that the problem was created long ago by nameless politicians who promised generous benefits without putting the money aside to pay for them, that the practice ended years ago, and the current problem is a function of the economic downturn.

I heard Bruce speak recently. He provided a sober assessment of the problem. It is greater than the $4.3 billion unfunded liability for the state pension plan that you acknowledge. It includes at least a total of $12.5 billion in state obligations, if you count debts incurred by independent agencies with their own bonding authority.

And that doesn’t include irresponsible fiscal practices at the municipal level. These debts have been worsened by the decisions of recent politicians to spend rather than pay down our debt.

For years, we heard about how the Social Security system was the “third rail” of politics. Politicians couldn’t bring themselves to tell pensioners that we can’t afford the benefits they expect. We don’t hear much about that problem these days. Not because we solved it. We didn’t. We just kicked that can down the road.

We don’t hear about the Social Security problem anymore because it has been overshadowed by other, larger problems, such as the cost of Medicare.

It’s difficult to get people motivated enough to take the medicine necessary to cure what ails our economic system. Bruce is the administration’s point man for this task.

He is sounding the alarm in order to motivate us. He is upbeat about our ability to solve the problem.

But we have to acknowledge it first. That’s why he’s speaking and blogging.

Halsey Frank


The Portland Press Herald apparently does not know how bad the state of Maine’s unfunded liability problem really is. I hate to break it to you, but the current fiscal condition is exactly as State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has indicated.

Yes, a “fiscal tsunami” is indeed in the making. The taxpayers of Maine are the folks who are going to foot the bill. They are entitled to hear the truth for a change.

In the past, the local media were more interested in reporting on crime and not what the state government was up to. My hope is that all issues, concerns and problems within our state government, present and past, become public knowledge.

It is the taxpayers’ right to know. This financial mess is going to get really ugly, so do your job and report the truth. We are Mainers, we can take it, and we can fix it.

John J. Bouchard


Being born here shouldn’t grant automatic citizenship 

Just read about Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s idea to amend the Constitution to prohibit “birthright citizenship.”

What I got out of it was if you aren’t here legally, then your kids get no citizen-related benefits.

This is a great idea. Just think how much money this would save us. Maybe that saved money could go to Social Security or Medicare.

Also, I think if you are here you need to speak English.

Earl Harnden