The Maine Legislature should take charge of the fireworks question. Of course it is stupid to have some towns banning them and some not.

My brother lost an eye with just a small firecracker when he was just a boy.

Fireworks are childish. Left in the hands of professionals, they can be beautiful.

Give the money spent to the soup kitchen instead.

Marie C. Brown


The first time I ever realized the power of the state was when they took away my right to have fireworks.

I was 7 or 8 when this happened in 1947. Now after all these years the state has relented and made fireworks legal for us to have.

The local powers have one by one lined up to take fireworks away again. I’m disappointed in this blanket decision by our town fathers. I think it is short-sighted.

In every town and city, there is a place, a sandpit, a quarry, or a big field or parking lot where a father could take his kids to shoot off bottle rockets, fountains and firecrackers.

Designate this area and let the people have access to have a little fun with their kids. This way, you may keep fireworks off the streets. This is at least one creative way to satisfy both sides in the issue.

If you do nothing but ban fireworks, they will be there anyway, flying all over the place.

John M. Roberts

South Portland

Unemployment crisis prompts calls for action

Wall Street protests and growing media reports show a groundswell of public outrage that will shape the next election. America is in trouble on all fronts.

In their insightful new book, “That Used to Be Us,” Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum detail what’s wrong with America and how to fix it. Five pillars that made this country great are all in decline: public education, infrastructure, immigration, research and development, and regulation. As a nation, we have become dumber, fatter, lazier, older, poorer and unemployed.

We also have allowed a corporate-run government, paid off by the rich, to redirect most of the wealth against the common good. If we don’t reverse this downward spiral, we will be left behind a developing world to face a bleak, painful future.

We are still a great people. We have used our creative diversity and collective will before to defeat insurmountable odds, and we must do so again now. We have a year to find and elect extraordinary, bold leaders who will face reality, tell the truth and show the way. Corrupted, partisan obstructionists must be swept aside. We have to bite the bullet and make the investments and fair sacrifices that will restore our leadership in the world.

It will take all of us to do that. Many groups, like the Wall Street demonstrators and the American Dream Movement, are fighting back. Let’s pay attention and support them any way we can, while we still have a chance to save our country.

David Estey


We are deflating as a nation strong on job security. I am a 25-year-old college graduate in the Bangor area who has waited over a year now to obtain a job that is only seasonal and allots me (maybe) two shifts per week. I need the president’s jobs bill to pass.

My roommate is a 55-year-old woman who has had a job all her life. She has lived in the Bangor area for three years now and has received little to no bites for jobs, and none of those bites amounted to anything. She needs this bill to pass.

My 27-year-old friend who has many years of experience in the automotive industry has been stuck on the same level of employment at the same job for four years. There have been no attempts to promote him or raise his wage to a reasonable rate. He needs this bill to pass.

The American Jobs Act of 2011 would create jobs and help get the economy moving right now with values based on the responsible being awarded, that hard work pays, and everyone in the nation playing on the same field.

Do not allow the personal agendas and petty hang-ups of your congressperson stop the progress we all need to rebuild prosperity in the United States. This act is not an attack on any subgroup of citizens, this is a fair shot at a better tomorrow for everyone.

Whether you are looking for work or better pay, are a business owner trying to make ends meet, or are simply a prosperous worker who believes in the equality of all citizens, you need to promote this message and put people back to work.

Jesse Call


So, Congress has narrowly averted a government shutdown for the second time this year. After the debt ceiling debacle and resulting downgrade of the country’s credit rating, it’s hard to imagine that our elected officials would again lead us so close to the precipice.

Alas, that’s precisely what they did. Even worse, it was a predictable outcome for a government that responds to crisis, but seems incapable of doing much else these days.

It’s no wonder that a recent Gallup poll finds that negativity toward Washington has reached record levels. Eighty-one percent of Americans are now dissatisfied with how their nation is being governed. Right now, I am one of those 81 percent who see American power, influence and prestige slipping away due to an inability to compromise in pursuit of results.

If there is a glimmer of hope for a return to the civil political discourse that gets things done, it resides with the so-called supercommittee that has been charged with identifying solutions to our massive fiscal woes before the end of the year. To me, this group represents the last chance our elected leaders have to prove that they can rise above the fray and do what’s right for the American people.

When the 12 supercommittee members stare across the negotiating table at each other over the coming weeks, I want them to know that Americans’ confidence in their government is on the line. When Congress votes on any deal they might reach, I want my representatives to focus not on how it might be leveraged for next November, but how it can serve as a first step in solidifying our economic security for 50 Novembers to come.

With the eyes of the world upon us, the supercommittee, Congress and the president can deliver the win America so desperately needs right now. If they fail, Americans should exercise their constitutional right and see to it that none of them win in 2012.

John Ross


Poetry finds new audience with Telegram’s exposure

What a celebration it is to see poetry in the Maine Sunday Telegram, as part of Take Heart, the new column organized by our poet laureate, Wes McNair.

As William Carlos Williams wrote, (and Poetry magazine reminds us in its efforts to maintain wide circulation): “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.”

We need poetry to remind us of the potency of language and the powerful potential of verse. In full disclosure, I admit to being one of the poets whose work has appeared in the Sunday paper, as well as a faculty member at University of Maine Augusta, the sponsoring institution.

I have been happily acknowledged by readers all over Maine for my poems, and I have been told that more than 200,000 people read a paper that carries this column.

As a poet with three books from a small, independent Maine press, and a narrow but solid readership, I can say with confidence that the Take Heart column has reached a wider audience than all my books and poetry readings put together.

So I thank Wes McNair for his efforts and The Portland Press Herald for acknowledging the place for poetry in this newspaper and in our lives.

Ellen M. Taylor