At a time when small businesses are struggling, I applaud Sen. Olympia Snowe for her efforts to provide more transparency and openness in the regulatory process for small business by demanding the Senate simply have a vote on common-sense reforms.

Regulations can have a crushing effect on my business, and it’s time someone in Washington took a stand for the little guy.

At a time when the size of the federal government has skyrocketed, so to has its regulatory reach. Washington is about to unleash an avalanche of regulations that will impact everything from how I finance and borrow money to run my business to how I provide health care for my employees.

At a time when Washington is looking to its small businesses to grow the economy, legions of regulators threaten to bury small businesses with paperwork and compliance costs, diverting precious time and resources to filling out forms rather than creating jobs.

According to the Small Business Administration, we already pay $1.75 trillion a year to comply with regulations, and there are billions of dollars more in the pipeline yet to come out. The sobering reality for a small business owner is you have to understand and implement these regulations that are handed down by government regulators who never had to meet a payroll.

Now, I am not against regulations. I know wise ones are needed to serve the public good, but is it too much to ask of our regulators to have more transparency as they go through the regulatory process? Is it too much to ask to require them to take into account the full impact of their regulations on small business?

Thank you, Sen. Snowe, for standing up to the Washington bureaucrats for every small business in the state of Maine.

Godfrey Wood

CEO, Portland Regional Chamber


Volunteer keeps recycling a pleasant experience

If you do your recycling in Portland, at the “silver bullets” near Planet Fitness, you have probably seen him.

I am talking about John Ketcham, the man who is often standing in front of the recycling containers, by his shopping cart, which he uses to collect redeemable bottles.

John always has a smile and a friendly hello for recyclers like me. John isn’t paid by any official body, but he nonetheless takes it upon himself to rake and tidy up around the recycling containers, keeping the area relatively neat and clean, and picking up after folks who sometimes make a mess.

In my household, we collect our bottles to give to John because we appreciate what he does and who he is.

John’s initiative and public spirit make the whole recycling experience a little more pleasant, and thus our city a little more liveable.

Thanks, John! You’re a great volunteer!

Susan Reed


Black Point developer has to meet town’s rules

Regarding the Sprague Corp.’s Black Point Park proposal for a 370-car lot, concession stand and privately employed beach management at the pristine north end of Scarborough Beach and an adjacent cornfield, there are nine criteria for special exceptions and seven performance standards that the proposal is supposed to meet to be approved by the Zoning Board in Scarborough.

We are talking about transforming an operating cornfield into a parking lot that spills outdoor recreation over onto an already publicly accessible shoreland zone. Let us not move ancient boundary stones or trespass on a neighbor’s rights, but also let us examine the spirit of the law as we examine the letter of the law.

I thought the amendments to Ordinance 405, made with little disquietude in May 2010, were put in place to help struggling farmers.

There is no undue hardship on the part of the applicant, nor imperative public dependence that justifies the special exception usage of this rural farming zone.

Scarborough’s ZBA public meeting March 31 revealed a number of disputably met criteria that the law says must be met and conformed to as a matter of fact by the Sprague Corp.

These legal criteria encompass a few of the opposers’ main concerns: CO2 emissions, traffic safety concerns in a rural vicinity, police/fire personnel increases for emergency readiness, parking lot stormwater runoff sloping above a protected wetland, shoreland zone beach infrastructure dune vegetation erosion from excessive human foot traffic at high tides, piping plover/least tern wildlife habitat sensitivity, technical beach management techniques by a private corporation that has liability worries, and garbage/noise/waste-disposal/emergency management/nuisance concerns inherent to gatherings of 1,000-plus people.

The Scarborough Land Trust is standing by patiently in the wings in hopes of embracing a more palatable plan for expanded beach access that would conserve the cornfield and wild nature of the beach into perpetuity for all to share the fruits and benefits.

Sam Iler


Don’t worry about coyotes, another threat is worse

Letter writer John Bernard’s concern over coyotes and their impact on Maine’s wildlife (“Coyotes pose threat to deer — and people — across state,” May 7) seems to miss a central point.

There is another non-native, invasive species in Maine that poses a far graver threat to our deer, moose, cottontails, hares and turkeys: homo sapiens.

Rafael Adams

Cape Elizabeth

BP should be punished for taking safety shortcuts

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was disastrous. This one incident caused as much, if not more, harm to the people, the animals and the environment than any other oil spill in America’s history.

The one question that most people ask is: “Where should we place the blame?” There are many possible answers to this question, but the most convincing argument places the blame on the British Petroleum Co.

In the time spent building the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, the company took many shortcuts that were not made apparent to the public even after the spill. The public only knows approximately how much oil was spilled and when and where, but Americans should really take a frank look at the factors that contributed to the blowout.

BP took its biggest shortcuts when they did not follow strict regulations for how to make this oil rig strong and effective because they were over time by almost 30 days and far over budget.

They neglected to properly stabilize the drilling pipe, only using one pipe to funnel the oil out of the well, and they did not perform the one safety procedure that could have alerted them to the danger of a blowout.

There is not much that can be done about this issue now because the damage has already been done. However, the company should have to pay for the rebuilding that needs to take place and take ownership of the destruction it has caused.

This catastrophic blowout should be a warning to other companies about the consequences of shortcuts.

Emeline Speyer Ferguson


If Obama takes the credit, how can he avoid the blame?

I find it interesting that President Obama is being praised for getting Osama bin Laden. It just happened on his watch! The CIA and the military deserve the credit.

I also find it interesting that the story of the prison escape of nearly 500 Taliban fighters a few weeks earlier in Afghanistan has been buried and that Obama is not being held accountable. But it also happened on his watch.

Robert Tanner


Unions were first created to meet workers’ real needs

It was to protect workers who were powerless to protect their own dignity that unions were formed. The defense of such persons is the demand of the Hebrew prophets.

The seasons of Holy Week and Passover have receded, but the prophets’ timeless challenge remains: With humility and kindness, do the caring thing.

Unions were formed for a compassionate, caring purpose. Their formation was made necessary by violence plainly done to people powerless to defend their own dignity, people whose faces speak out from the Maine mural’s art.

They are the faces of lumberjacks, shoemakers, mill workers, others. In another state, a mural would show the blackened faces of coal miners.

Let us, however, beware being narrow or self-righteous. The Hebrew prophets’ ethical challenge, honored by Jews, Christians, Muslims and secular humanists alike, addresses not only corporations today but unions, too.

And, most assuredly, the prophets address religious institutions. And governmental ones. And you and me. Legal or illegal, the governor’s removal of the mural was not, to my mind, a caring thing to do. It was careless.

And some faces on that mural, wherever it may be stored, are weeping.

The Rev. Alfred M. Niese


Isn’t there any liability for giving teens drugs?

There is something about the opposition to L.D 31 (restricting the ability for minors to seek information and receive medication including birth control p.ills without the consent or knowledge of their parents) that I don’t understand. Maybe one of the readers of this column can address it.

Who is legally responsible for these teenagers should one of them become ill or get hurt by taking the pill or any of the medications that they can receive? Birth control pills, as an example, come with a warning that states strokes can occur in a small number of women and blood pressure can become elevated.

Since blood pressure issues don’t often have warning signs, should a patient be rushed to the hospital and medication be administered based on the parents’ knowledge, who’s likely to be held responsible should a mistreatment occur? It isn’t the emergency room staff; they treated the patient based on the parents’ input.

It can’t be the parents, they weren’t made aware that their children are taking medication. If the teenager isn’t alert enough to notify the people treating her, then by default, it must be the persons who supplied her with the pills.

I see from personal experience that when my children or their friends want something, for the most part, they care less about the consequences. There’s a prevailing attitude that “I can get this and they won’t know.”

Medications have consequences, however, and teenagers are least likely to make and keep follow-up appointments. After all, how many of us adults, when feeling great, go to see our doctor? Why would they be any different?

I believe that there is a liability here that needs to be addressed. I realize the health risk of this is small, but what number of children should we consider an “acceptable” risk?

Deborah Bedard