Kudos to the man who left the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club rather than be forced to join the National Rifle Association. He objects to some of the NRA’s extreme beliefs.

The NRA hasn’t always been the fanatical organization it is today. Originally, the goal was to improve marksmanship. Over the years, the organization supported gun control, including endorsing the Gun Control Act of 1968, and paid little attention to the Second Amendment until the 1970s.

Sadly, today the NRA raises money with a never-ending line of conspiracy theories and paranoid rhetoric. When bills came before the Maine Legislature that would have required a criminal background check on all gun sales, including at gun shows, the NRA sent out an email alert crying these bills would effectively dismantle gun shows as well as ban the private sale of firearms in Maine. Of course, the bills would do neither. One need only look at other states with similar legislation to see that.

Attempts to have a serious discussion on the problem of gun violence in this country are consistently undermined when the NRA objects to every hint of gun regulations and constantly bullies and threatens legislators to keep them from voting for stronger gun laws.

The president of the Spurwink Gun Club defended the mandatory membership, saying the NRA offers grants to clubs where 100 percent are members. But in 2010 the NRA began requiring many of these grants be spent at the NRA’s own online merchandise center.

Constant nurturing of a crisis atmosphere, mandatory NRA membership, grant money only good at NRA store? Well, they have to come up with some way to be able to pay Vice President Wayne LaPierre his $1.281 million yearly salary.

Cathie Whittenburg,

States United to Prevent Gun Violence



Gov. LePage gets some support from readers

While campaigning for governor, Paul LePage’s message was very clear. Based on that message, a plurality of us elected him. Now that he is trying to deliver, he is being blocked at every turn. Where are all the supporters who wanted him to straighten out the fiscal mess we are in?

Mary Nelson


While reading The Portland Press Herald opinion page on Jan. 3, I once again saw the very worst photo of our governor. Is this the only photo of the governor which you have in your files? If it is, I will gladly request a new one from his office and bring it to you. I hope your readers see this as a ridiculous, blatant, negative undermining of our governor.

Loretta Dyer


Attacks on unemployment benefits victimize workers

As Maine’s economy continues to fall well short of meeting the needs of working people, our elected representatives have begun another challenging legislative session in Augusta. While much of the focus has understandably been on proposed cuts in health care to our most vulnerable citizens, the unemployed are also at risk of being targeted by Gov. LePage and his allies.

With more than five jobless workers for every job opening in our state, Gov. LePage recently suggested that some people aren’t working simply because Maine is paying too much in unemployment benefits. Such loose talk is insulting, cruel and just plain wrong.

The average weekly unemployment benefit of $271 before taxes is well below the poverty line for most families. Those benefits barely keep food on the table of many of the less-fortunate men, women and children in our communities.

Maine people want to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. The suggestion that these meager unemployment benefits provide a disincentive to job seekers shows once again that our governor is completely out of touch with reality.

Gov. LePage has also suggested penalizing laid-off workers for having earned vacation time by turning back a recently-passed law that eliminated the extra delay in receiving their unemployment benefits. Laid-off workers earned that money and they often need it to pay their bills.

It’s also bad economic policy to suggest shrinking or eliminating unemployment benefits. Those dollars aren’t saved or invested. Unemployed workers spend them right away at local businesses, helping to create or maintain jobs while propping up our local economies.

Maine’s unemployment compensation program is on a sound financial footing. The Legislature should push back against any efforts to cut benefits to jobless workers. It’s time for us to stop further victimizing the victims of the economic downturn.

Matthew Beck

South Portland

Former Portland High principal touched many lives

As Portland residents take stock at the end of another year, Jason Singer’s Dec. 27 article about former Portland High School principal Mike Johnson and PATHS reassures us that there are still great people left in Maine fighting the good fights.

My family (with one Portland High graduate in college and one PHSer studying abroad) is one family among many lucky enough to have been taught, influenced, guided, supported and inspired by Michael Johnson.

Mr. Johnson’s unceremonious reassignment last year took the legs out from under many Portland High families. Nobody could have blamed him if he had just cashed it in.

Of course, Mr. Johnson just kept his mouth shut, “took it,” and started in at the place to which he was sent. He must have known even then that there is a whole new population of wonderful, motivated kids, many of whom uninformed folks were only too ready to write off. They will excel and prosper with Mr. Johnson on their side.

We also shouldn’t forget the ones who might backslide or make bad decisions if he wasn’t there for all of them every morning. Those who know him can almost hear Mike bellow, “Not so fast! Not so fast!” if someone tries to overlook one of his kids or his programs.

Twelve years from now, long after district administrators and committee members have moved on, just that many more families will still be writing new year’s cards and emails to Mike Johnson blessing him, thanking him, and keeping him posted on all of the wonderful places he helped them go.

William Fogel


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