Think what the Katahdin region would be today if Maine had rejected Percival Baxter’s gift. Second homes would likely surround our state’s highest mountain. Wilderness jewels such as South Branch Pond and Diacey Pond, places where every-day people go camping, could be gated communities. Some corporation would probably have a permit pending to build a wind turbine farm on Traveler Mountain.

A gift of wilderness, like Pecival Baxter bequeathed to the public, is a rare event that benefits everyone. But today, miracle of miracles, Roxanne Quimby is generously offering 70,000 acres for creation of a North Woods national park next to Baxter State Park. Rejecting her gift would be a tragedy for Maine.

For those who think that Baxter State Park is enough, I can tell you that, based on 40 years of family camping in the park, reserving a lean-to or tent site in summer has become more difficult. Not surprisingly, Baxter is a popular destination. That pressure will only increase as population grows.

Our state would benefit in every way from a North Woods national park. We should accept Roxanne’s gift with a huge thank you.

Lloyd Ferriss

Richmond

Maine higher education lost a friend, Lou Rabineau

On Nov. 21, higher education across the country, College of the Atlantic and Mount Desert Island lost a good friend and champion with the death of Dr. Louis Rabineau.

The third president of College of the Atlantic, Lou began his tenure in 1984, taking the reins of a young institution at a critical time as COA struggled to overcome the fire that devastated the campus on July 25, 1983.

His deep experience in higher education, calm presence, ability to create community, and his infectious optimism about the college’s tremendous potential led to the thriving institution we know today. Simply put, without his leadership and strong partnership with the board of trustees, COA would not have survived.

Lou retired from the college in 1993, but his influence remains strong, not least because our seventh president, Darron Collins, is a COA alumnus who studied and graduated under Lou’s watch.

As we consider the benefits of COA to the Mount Desert Island community, to Maine, and beyond, and as we consider the accomplishments of the students and the faculty of COA, we remember with gratitude and affection the contributions of Lou and his wife, Mona. Their steadfast efforts to create a bright future for the college and their commitment to the quality of life on Mount Desert are a legacy that has truly made a difference to so many.

We are proud to have shared the trust of the COA community with Lou and Mona, and grateful to be beneficiaries of his friendship and counsel.

We will miss him greatly.

Ed Kaelber

Steven Katona

David Hales

former COA presidents

Bar Harbor

Cartoon offended reader, misrepresented Occupy

Last Sunday, I was appalled to find an obscene cartoon in your editorial section. It depicted Uncle Sam with wide shoulders. On one shoulder was a creature with long hair and a longer nose with his pants down and his rear end exposed. He was surrounded by trash and was defecating on Uncle Sam! He carried a sign: “Occupy Wall Street.”

On Sam’s other shoulder was an attractive woman carrying a tea party sign.

You certainly have the right to express your opinions, but you do not have the right to publish obscene materials. For readers who might not know, Webster’s Dictionary defines obscene as “foul; disgusting.” You owe your readers an apology.

For the last half year I’ve been away and have had little information about the world’s state of affairs. I learned that people all over the world have been risking their lives to depose dictators and to demand the right to vote for their leaders. And I learned that the United States no longer has a democratic system of government. Wall Street owns Washington. The rest of the world despises us.

So this letter is also one of gratitude. Thank you for bringing Occupy Wall Street to my attention. I see this as the beginning of a revolution to bring democracy back to the United States. I pray that we can do this without resorting to violence.

Thomas W. Wilson

Troy

Leaders laud democracy abroad, but squelch it here

Throughout the world during the past year, there have been people nonviolently protesting for greater democracy and economic and human rights. The demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East, and the Occupy movements in this country are two obvious examples.

Democracy means that every person may speak up to support government policies that they believe are beneficial and speak just as loudly when they think those policies help only a select few and hurt most others. Civic responsibility means not just being able to speak but doing so.

U.S. political leaders have been quick to support the struggle for democracy in other countries, but they have been silent here when it comes to the Occupy actions. Or have they? There seems to be a coordinated effort to shut down the occupations, maybe by some of the 1 percent and the Department of Homeland Security.

Instead of congratulating and supporting those who are willing to sleep outside in cold weather and interrupt their lives to speak for freedom and democracy for us all, cities including Portland, Bangor and Augusta are trying to discourage or shut down this awakening, this uprising of expectations, this exercise of free speech that will benefit 100 percent in our communities.

If we want the movement for greater democracy to continue to be nonviolent, we can tell city officials to embrace and help these occupations, not try to shut them down. We can ask police and “security” people to treat occupiers nonviolently and with respect, not as lawbreakers. And we can offer our support for these occupations — giving food, holding a sign, and/or joining with others to keep them going as a symbol of our desire for greater democracy.

Larry Dansinger

Monroe

Our government is failing to meet the people’s needs

I have been following a series on TV news regarding the increase in the numbers of homeless people over the past year, particularly children. It was noted that in Florida, school buses are rerouting in order to pick up children at shelters. Some families are living in cars, the children washing up at gas stations. The adults are either looking for work or working for close to minimum wage with no benefits.

I volunteer in a food pantry. I see the need. This is the reality of losing a job, having medical expenses that are overwhelming or trying to feed a family on an unemployment check or less than a living wage.

In the same half hour report there was coverage of an inane debate by presidential hopefuls who are spending millions of dollars on their campaigns. The absurdity of the contrast between this and the story of the desperate poor is all too obvious. Is this the America the Beautiful that we like to hold up as an example to the rest of the world? I think not. Our government is broken. It is not government of the people, by the people and for the people any longer. The Republicans have one agenda — to oust President Obama, and the Democrats haven’t had the courage to really make a difference in people’s lives.

I am angry! The wall that has been built between our representatives and the people they serve has become impenetrable. We need jobs, we need affordable health care, our environment needs attention now and we need educational reform and tax reform, but these issues have become nothing more than debating points in a partisan self-serving stage performance.

Patricia Maurer

Yarmouth