In a Feb. 24 editorial, “Public worker protests show system breakdown,” The Press Herald praises Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and indirectly the billionaire Koch brothers from California who had contributed over $40,000 to help elect him.

These three have led the charge to crush Wisconsin’s public service unions, even though these unions had agreed to Walker’s demands for cuts in benefits and pay. Interestingly, Walker put no such restrictions on the two labor unions that supported him for governor.

Walker had discussed with Republican legislators a plot to plant troublemakers in amongst peaceful protestors in Wisconsin’s capital, but finally chucked this idea, saying that it might hurt him politically if the public found out. He voiced no worry that this plot would endanger people’s lives, or public safety, which as governor he is responsible to maintain.

Walker during his recent election campaign chanted constantly, “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but has sent out thousands of pink slips to public employees. Walker has even curtailed the right of Wisconsin communities to raise local taxes to make up for at least part of the aid to them that he has destroyed.

The Press Herald states that Democrats had fled the state to block Walker’s plans to cap salaries and benefits, but the Press Herald is wrong, because the Democrats had already agreed to the salary and benefit cuts that he had demanded.

The Democrats’ protests were to keep Walker’s (the Kochs’ No. 1 pet poodle) paws off their right to bargain collectively. Luckily, a recent national poll shows that Americans by 60 percent to 40 percent feel that states should not restrict collective bargaining rights of their workers.

It’s too bad that the Koch brothers, and their pet poodles — Gov. Walker, the Wisconsin Republican legislators, and The Portland Press Herald — are opposed to such a basic American right as collective bargaining.

Warden Dilworth

The true nature of the Democratic Party and its legislators are clearly on display for all to see today. Even though they took a shellacking at the polls in November, they refuse to admit defeat.

Running away in Wisconsin like cowards to avoid carrying out their duties to vote and dismissing their oaths of office shows their disregard of the democratic process.

Using the ruse that they are for the working people they are supporting the unions, especially the unions that have ruined our education systems and forced our states into fiscal debt, the unions that protect public employees.

These unions are not for the people, they are partisan supporters of the Democratic Party. It’s union money and support the Demos want, not the care of you and me.

Using union thug-like tactics, they display signs depicting Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin as a Hitler or a Mussolini. One Massachusetts congressman called on his followers to obey this mantra: “Sometimes we need to get out there and get blood on our hands.”

This remark reminded me of Obama in his campaign speeches, “Get in your neighbors’ faces.” So much for civil rhetoric.

The behaviors of the Wisconsin and Indiana legislators shirking their elected duty is in stark contrast to our democratic process, and they should be recalled, impeached and sent home. The teachers who participated by lying about being sick should be fired.

These are the true nature of Democrats. The fact is the Demos lost and they should get over it. The message is out there. We do not want you anymore.

The voting public wants representation, not your union tactics.

Howard Cutler

The legislative maneuver in Wisconsin was not a “victory for democracy, fiscal soundness and common sense” as a March 14 editorial concludes (“Wisconsin GOP hung tough in vital dispute”). It was union-busting pure and simple.

How is democracy celebrated when a vote occurs while the public is essentially locked out? What “fiscal soundness” is strengthened when the vote in Wisconsin had no effect on the state budget and the state’s public pensions have been well-managed and are fully funded anyway? How is common sense advanced by passing tax cuts and then blaming cops, teachers and road crews for the state’s budgetary woes?

Republicans claim that taxes have never been higher and that budgets cannot be balanced on the backs of taxpayers. This is simply not true. In Maine, despite the never-ending hubbub, taxes have actually been falling as a percent of personal income since 1995. Federal taxes as a percent of income have been falling since 1980.

The vote in Wisconsin and proposals elsewhere, including Maine, are about consolidating money and power in fewer well-manicured hands — at the expense of the rights of the people who actually produce the goods and services we all enjoy.

Constance Bloomfield

When Wisconsin passed the bill to deny collective bargaining rights to state employees, they were doing so for the sole purpose of doing away with unions. Unions have traditionally supported Democrats both financially and by working to get voters to the polls. This bill did not save any money for Wisconsin.

The union had already agreed to what amounted to an 8 percent pay cut for employees. This was a bill that had no financial implications that would help balance the budget, as there were not enough legislators present to vote on one that had a financial component.

This bill to deny collective bargaining is union-busting pure and simple. Also not mentioned in your editorial comment is that Gov. Walker gave a huge tax break to Wisconsin’s wealthiest citizens and if he hadn’t done that, he would not have had a problem balancing the budget.

Sheridan Faber

Your editorial regarding Wisconsin’s large and continuous demonstrations against the governor’s appalling attempt to undermine collective bargaining by public employee and teacher unions is both in error and biased.

Overwhelmingly, people not only in Wisconsin, but across the country, favor the right to collective bargaining. You are incorrect to pin the demonstrations on pay cuts, something the unions have agreed to. The governor summarily rejected their offer because he wants to destroy the unions by gutting collective bargaining.

The demonstrations are all about collective bargaining cuts in the bill. That is something the people of Wisconsin do not want and they were marching in droves to stop Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Walker had hoped to sneak this bill through and sign it without getting close scrutiny. Now the people are mad and looking at this scheme with a jaundiced eye.

The bill is 144 pages long and it is filled with a lot more than just deficit reduction. For example, there is a provision to give Gov. Walker sole control of the public utilities in the state and be able to sell them to anyone he wished for any amount he decided. This would be done without a bid process.

And this is just one example of what the conniving governor is up to. It is becoming clearer that this person is not what the people of Wisconsin want. His poll numbers are tanking and he is becoming an embarrassment to the state. Other states watching Wisconsin closely have started dropping the collective bargaining cuts as they can see what it is doing to Walker.

The crisis you refer to in your editorial is Walker’s doing, not the good people of Wisconsin who don’t want their state hijacked by a man with his own agenda.

Donald A. Smart

Vermont taking advantage of cheaper Quebec power 

Several Vermont utilities have just signed long-term contracts with Hydro-Quebec to purchase up to 225 megawatts, nearly entirely (98 percent) generated from hydropower.

They will start in 2012 with a starting price of only 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour. This inexpensive electricity will serve approximately 200,000 homes.

The presidents of Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power said: “We pride ourselves on providing a low-carbon, high-renewable power supply at affordable rates, and this will help us retain a competitive position in the region “

Both acknowledged that the starting price is about 12 percent lower than existing contracts, prompting Cape Cod’s off-shore wind opponents to begin lobbying for a similar 26-year contract at 9 or 10 cents/KwH — considerably less than the 20 cents expected from Cape Wind.

Vermont’s move to Canadian power has been prompted by ongoing community opposition to in-state renewable energy projects. Particularly vexing has been the protracted struggle over scenic value as it relates to wind turbine development.

Just as Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod have struggled over the appropriate visual scale of wind farms, so have the Berkshires in western Massachusetts as well as northward-looking Vermont.

“The Green Mountains are a beautiful part of their heritage and there’s a reluctance to see windmills there,” said a Washington staffer of a Vermont congressman.

Canadian Finance Minister Raymond Bachand credits Quebec’s low energy costs to its thriving “green” economy. The rates Quebecers pay for electricity are lower than almost anywhere else in North America.

Electricity prices in New York and Boston are at least three times higher than in Quebec. In Toronto, the price of electricity is 66 percent higher than in Quebec.

“(Cheap electricity) has played a major role in developing our economy, our regions and our society. It is a source of wealth that we will rely on to pay down our debt,” Bachand said.

Frank J. Heller

Maine Turnpike should be run by state, not by MTA 

Let’s take a good hard look at the Maine Turnpike Authority.

We know it is charged since 1947 with “management” of the Maine Turnpike. We know it has 470 employees and 80 of them make over $80,000 per year. There are 313 toll takers.

Employees are housed in new offices built last year for $18 million. Toll takers are paid more than teachers. All this to look after 106 miles of road!

Contrast that with the Maine Department of Transportation, responsible for 22,000 miles of road. What is going on here?

It is all about collecting money. Tolltakers are expensive and that is why we are moving to E-ZPass, which has created additional spending for electronic collection.

The MTA is screaming for a new tollbooth down in York. Not only because the existing toolbooth is sinking (built on a swamp, we are told) but because they want to put in a 65-mph E-ZPass lane.

The MTA thinks toll dollars come easy and can be spent as it sees fit. It has an attitude that it owns the turnpike, when in reality, it is owned by the citizens of the state of Maine.

MTA would have us believe that it does a better job of maintaining the turnpike than the state does on other Interstate roads. Not true. The MTA has its own fleet of trucks for keeping the turnpike free of snow. This for a 106-mile stretch of road.

Couldn’t the state make more efficient use of these trucks and drivers to maintain all the roads in the state?

Do you notice any difference in highway upkeep when you drive onto I-295 after paying your toll in South Portland? What about going onto Interstate 95 north of the Gardiner toll booth? No, they are both the same.

The state of Maine has an opportunity to save some big money by abolishing the MTA and turning its assets over to MDOT.

Yes, we would have to raise the gasoline tax to make up the loss, but not nearly by the amount of money that it cost us now in tolls plus MTA mismanagement.

As to out-of-staters paying for tolls, don’t forget, out-of-staters have to fill their gas tanks here in the state, too.

William Ambrose
North Yarmouth