One morning last week, I heard a TV newscaster say the city of Portland is trying to make sure the Occupy Maine people will be warm this winter. Why?

Why is camping being encouraged in a park?

I don’t care what the cause is — motherhood, brotherhood or feeding the elephants.

The city has an obligation to the 99 percent of Portland’s residents who aren’t taking advantage of this loopy, misguided thinking. It’s an affront to those who created Lincoln Park.

As a former Portland resident, I say get them out of there.

Paula Gibbs


It’s a relief to hear that the city’s Health and Recreation Committee has suggested the approval of the sale of raw milk at Portland’s farmers markets — due in part to the commendable efforts of Councilor John Anton, who was a big supporter of getting this issue to pass muster among his erstwhile cohorts.

However, wouldn’t you know that the ordinance didn’t fly without the committee exacting the requisite pound of flesh.

With approval pending a City Council vote (who knows what can happen at that august body’s council of divine wisdom?), the recommendation by committee member Cheryl Leeman includes a warning label being posted at the market that raw milk could be hazardous to one’s health.

This is absurd.

Raw milk is legal to sell anywhere in the state of Maine and widely available at retail stores. What is all the fuss about?

If the city is so adamant about monitoring, perhaps Portland should rebut the statewide law. Does Portland know something that the Department of Agriculture doesn’t?

This is one more example of how Portland wastes its time on misguided missions of governing. Mayor-elect Mike Brennan, I hope you’re going to be the one who might talk some sense into the body of nitwits that has run our city for years.

John Golden


Senators urged to support updated federal toxins law

As a breast cancer survivor, I have learned that there are many things I can do to prevent this terrible disease. I can eat well, get regular exercise and reduce my stress. But some things are out of my control.

Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found more than 212 industrial chemicals in the bodies of most Americans, including many linked to cancer? Pretty scary, right? Can we do anything about this?

Yes! We need our elected officials in Washington, D.C., to protect us from toxic chemicals in everyday products. America’s federal chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, was passed 35 years ago. This law is so weak that it has allowed nearly 80,000 chemicals into consumer products, without proper scientific testing for safety. This is an outrage!

Thirty-five years ago, I had just graduated from college. And yet, since 1976, this law has not been strengthened to address the huge increase in global chemical use and production. Today I’m asking Sens. Snowe and Collins to be our heroes in the U.S. Senate by cosponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847).

This act will modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act and require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of chemicals they put in their products. This in turn will provide the EPA with the information it needs to scientifically test and evaluate chemical safety.

As a cancer survivor and a Mainer, I am counting on Sens. Snowe and Collins to ensure a safer, less toxic society for our children and grandchildren. The bill is currently being worked through committee, and I strongly urge our senators to cosponsor and support this bill.

Judith Wohl


LePage’s past should foster empathy with downtrodden

Mark Swann’s recent Maine Voices column should be required reading for every Maine citizen and especially for all our elected officials (“Myths serve as tool to scapegoat homeless, poor,” Nov. 7).

Gov. LePage, who proudly refers to his own “homeless” background, has expressed little empathy for his present-day constituents who, through no fault of their own, are experiencing similar difficult circumstances. I would urge Gov. LePage to take just one day out of his busy schedule working (as he claims) for the benefit of all the people of Maine, and spend that time with Mark Swann at Preble Street.

Hopefully, he will be reminded of his own roots and end his callous campaign to dismantle our welfare system. Instead of spending time and taxpayer dollars attempting to eliminate the relatively few rotten apples in the bottom of the barrel, we should be reaffirming our full support for the humanitarian endeavors of our unsung heroes — all the Swanns, their staffs and volunteers.

If Gov. LePage chooses to conveniently disregard his own personal history and abandon an unfortunate segment of our society, the myths that Mark Swann so eloquently dispelled in his column will continue to exist in the minds of our governor and his hard-core base of supporters.

Sam Kamin


Critical letter misconstrues columnist’s job description

One of The Press Herald’s loyal subscribers, Henk A. Pols of Cape Elizabeth, wished in a recent letter that Bill Nemitz had been one of the employees who’d taken the paper’s buyout (“Nemitz is a staff reduction he would have applauded,” Nov. 13).

He wrote that he considers Nemitz’s columns “mediocre,” “politically motivated” and “below any standard of decency and objectivity.”

Maybe Mr. Pols doesn’t realize Bill Nemitz is a columnist; I assume columnists are paid to express their opinions, not to be models of objectivity. And even if one disagrees with everything he’s ever written, to call any of Bill Nemitz’s columns “mediocre” or “indecent” is simply absurd.

James Cowie