Freeport’s plans for a soccer arena on town land, reported Nov. 22 in The Portland Press Herald, are most disturbing (“Plan gives new soccer arena to Freeport”).

The Freeport Town Council apparently intends to subvert the zoning ordinance by leasing the property to the Seacoast United soccer club “for a long term at a nominal rent,” effectively giving away 12 acres of public property to a special interest.

This arrangement does not meet the criteria for municipal use since it would provide little or no benefit to the residents of Freeport, something made clear by the terms of the proposed agreement and Seacoast’s own explanations of their plans.

There will be a public hearing, and anyone who is offended by the potential abuse of authority by town officials, or who just cares about the importance of the planning and zoning process, should attend and weigh in on this execrable proposal.

Ralph Dean


Faith group urges senators to reject torture law shifts

Since 2006, the Maine Council of Churches has joined interfaith partners from across the country, through the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, to educate people of faith in Maine about the religious and ethical issues raised by U.S.-sponsored torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners, and to advocate for an end to U.S.-sponsored torture.

It is such a high priority for us that our executive director, the Rev. Jill Saxby, sits on the board of NRCAT.

Why is torture still a moral issue?

Because telling the truth about what happened is the first step toward ensuring that it never happens again.

Because the prophetic religious voice must be heard on behalf of the dignity of all.

Because President Obama’s executive order prohibiting torture, while a good first step, can be undone at any time.

And that time is now.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would create a new classified list of secret interrogation practices. This amendment would abandon the Army Field Manual standard — the standard that ended torture — and could potentially allow for secret use of torture.

Please join us in opposing this amendment (SA 1068), which may be voted on as soon as this week. Please call or email Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and let them know that we remain opposed to torture. Call the White House and ask the president to veto this bill if it should become law.

Torture is still a moral issue, and our voices must still be heard.

Leslie Manning

president, Maine Council of Churches


Refugee leader appreciates help overcoming barriers

I am a community leader working with refugee and asylee communities in Portland.

The process of navigating the systems in America is difficult and challenging at best. We are very fortunate to have people like Dd Swan working with us to help our communities overcome the barriers to receiving adequate health care, and basic needs like food and shelter (Maine Voices, Nov. 10, “Immigrant leaders can offer wisdom in solving problems”).

Her words describe the real experiences of refugees and people seeking asylum. It is my hope that people reading these words gain a better understanding of the needs of our communities and recognize the importance of working with community leaders to address these needs.

It is only through understanding, recognition and working together that positive change can be made.

Mohamud Barre


Put a stop to ethanol use before more ill effects arise

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seems to be bent on continuous new laws for alternative energy no matter what. Whether it bankrupts our country or not. Whether it leads to world famine or not.

Growing food for burning, which is what they are doing in producing ethanol, can never be justified.

Here are the facts about ethanol:

A 10 percent addition of ethanol per gallon of gas results in less efficiency than a straight gallon of gas, and due to the refining process, it results in more total pollution than if we were burning straight gasoline

Ethanol corrodes gas tanks by extracting water from the gas and depositing it at the bottom of the tank.

Ethanol causes so much damage to some motors, its use voids the manufacturer’s warranty.

Ethanol, a product of corn, is subsidized by the government, therefore is a cost to the taxpayer.

Government subsidies motivate the agricultural industry to not grow other produce, and to grow more corn for ethanol than for food. Profits are greater that way.

As a result, because corn is important as feed for livestock, and as a food additive, and because there is less other produce available, all food costs go up, including the cost of meat and poultry.

Ethanol production is one of the major causes of high food prices and shortages all over the world.

The ethanol content of gas may soon be increased from 10 percent to 15 percent, a 50 percent increase, resulting in even more pollution, less efficiency per gallon of gas and higher food costs.

Call your congressman or -woman and senator to put a stop to this madness before you can’t afford to feed yourself or your family.

Barbara Goodwin