I was pleased to read in Richard Connor’s Jan. 30 column that MaineToday Media has hired Jonathan Riskind to become the paper’s Washington bureau chief, and that Connor cited May Craig, who served in that position for 50 years as Washington correspondent for the Guy Gannet Newspapers.

She distinguished herself at White House press conferences and “Meet the Press” and always wore a hat and gloves when appearing in public. Her column “Inside Washington” was required reading for any Maine citizen who had an interest in the workings of the federal government.

While she was highly respected for her stories on Sens. Margaret Chase Smith and Edmund S. Muskie, who, like Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, enjoyed national prominence and respect, her columns frequently contained stories about Maine residents in federal positions.

I had the good fortune of meeting Ms. Craig while I was a law student in D.C. and serving on the United States Capitol Police. One of my more pleasurable tasks was to escort Ms. Craig in the evening from her office in the Capitol Building to her residence on Capitol Hill, during which she would share with me stories about the Maine personalities she intended to include in her weekly column.

She was truly a pioneering journalist and I am hopeful that the MaineToday Media’s new Washington correspondent will provide us with the entertaining and in-depth articles that we enjoyed years ago.

Severin M. Beliveau
Preti Flaherty

Readers lobby lawmakers for, and against, bills 

In June 2009, Gov. Baldacci signed a law to screen all high-risk patients for MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) on admission to Maine hospitals.

Maine Quality Forum meetings to define “high-risk” resulted in a study. The study ended June 2010 and the results are tallied, but the public report has not been released. It is way overdue.

A preview of the results validates all of what we have been fighting for in the Maine Legislature for two years. We need improved MRSA prevention in our hospitals and we need it now.

Zero is the only acceptable number of MRSA infections.

MRSA infects around 100,000 patients nationwide every year, and kills around 18,000. These are 2005 Centers for Disease Control numbers, and are considered to be grossly underestimated.

Think about the crowd at the recent Super Bowl and consider that at least that many people are infected with MRSA in hospitals every year in this country.

L.D. 267 would strengthen the current MRSA mandates, extend it to nursing homes, and require public reporting of all hospital acquired MRSA, regular staph infections, C Difficile and VRE (all are dangerous hospital infections).

L.D. 267 will also make it a right for all patients in any health care setting to have a patient advocate of their choice with them 24/7, with few exceptions.

We should not leave our basic rights at the door when we enter a hospital or other health care setting.

All of these measures are important for MRSA prevention and patient safety.

Please ask your senators and representatives to support Rep. Adam Goode and L.D. 267.

Kathy Day, R.N.
Patient Safety and MRSA activist/advocate

I am writing in opposition to L.D. 55, “an act to restore hunting rights in the Katahdin Lake region” recently introduced in the Legislature.

I am a supporter of hunting, just as I support anyone who wants to spend time having fun outside. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine political action committee notwithstanding, hunters are part of what keeps Maine’s wild places free of wind farms, golf courses and new Mardens.

However, I oppose L.D. 55. Former Gov. Percival Baxter was born to a wealthy political Portland family, which might make you assume many things, but never that this Republican, hunter and fisherman might turn out to be one of the first and the few of our state’s leaders to recognize Maine’s assets instead of treating the state like the next Connecticut. And Baxter worked very hard to establish a “sanctuary for wild beasts and birds” around Katahdin.

Baxter did not trust the government to be stewards of this land, which is why he shunned national park status and established the Baxter State Park Authority. L.D. 55 would undermine this arrangement by making the park authority deferential to the state.

Many have already observed that this bill seems more precedent-setting than constructive, and — with all due respect to our lawmakers — I, too, would like the Legislature to leave stewardship of the Katahdin Lake lands and the rest of Baxter State Park to the park authority, if for no other reason than out of respect for an excellent Mainer’s legacy.

Legislators, vote Ought Not to Pass on L.D. 55.

Ethan Bien

Fighting drug abuse takes a whole community’s effort 

Maine’s growing drug problem must be addressed because people and communities are at risk. A focus on struggling kids seeking simple solutions to life’s problems will help push back the darkness of drug abuse and keep Maine’s problem from getting worse.

Because these issues scare us, we might quit the fight, but the human and social costs will only increase. Instead, we can commit to action and share the burden while creating momentum for change.

We can establish community coalitions against substance abuse, while working to eliminate risk factors including the lack of engaging alternatives to substance abuse. These coalitions, comprised of parents, teachers, kids, police, business leaders and clergy, can work to change the conditions that encourage drug abuse.

We can support increased police efforts to stop drug abuse and reinforce their message that drug abuse will not be tolerated and we will never give in to the problems of substance abuse.

We can encourage more involvement in the lives of our children by getting involved at school and engaging in community forums aimed at creating caring communities where kids grow into healthy young people. This can be achieved by funding state and municipal prevention efforts. This investment will yield a return of better-lived lives, fewer substance abuse problems and less crime.

The problem is real but we can have an impact on our children and our communities. Our willingness to see the whole picture and to keep working even when the task seems too big is key. We are strong enough and smart enough to make Maine a place where life really is the way it should be. It will take work and time and a belief in the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Robert Q. Dana

LePage’s environmental policies are short-sighted 

Gov. LePage shows he certainly is “the common man.” He even has similarities to the natives in the Brazilian rain forest. Why?

By siding with developers to remove regulations protecting vernal pools, he demonstrates the same level of environmental comprehension as the forest native.

The native is happy to not burn the forest if he gets some government money instead. But, he says, “if I must choose between the forest and feeding my children, I will burn the forest to feed them.”

Not a surprising answer; but the native does not see the larger picture in which by burning the forest today, he guarantees there will be no forest and no food for his grandchildren!

Gov. LePage has shown us he has no more environmental insight than that native! I certainly hope our Legislature exhibits more insight by blocking this narrow-sighted and uneducated initiative.

What ever happened to “making a fully informed” decision, governor? You’ve done no homework at all on this!

Dwight Swisher