In response to the proposed Commercial Street development by J. B. Brown & Sons: First of all, I sincerely laud more than 40 citizens of the West End for their participation and discourse in a neighborhood meeting regarding the possible development of J.B. Brown’s office building. Community involvement in development of neighborhoods is integral to our city’s sustainability, and it’s nice to see that citizens are still active with that.

However, the basis of the argument is downright absurd. J.B. Brown owns the property, and the company plans to develop that property within the parameters of the city’s strict height restriction. If the view means that much to West End neighbors, they should buy the land and donate it to the city as a public park.

Objecting to developing this land for the sole purpose of maintaining one’s view of the Fore River is not only selfish on behalf of the citizens, it’s detrimental to the long-term development of Portland.

Commercial Street is ripe to be developed, and office and residential developments would be ideal neighbors to flank the West End. Instead, the site will likely remain vacant, and yet again, an opportunity to land solid jobs in the city will pass by.

Irrational resistance like this seems to be the reason that developers will continue to plague southern Maine with linear urban sprawl instead of building upwards in the city.

J.A. Thomas


Home monitoring could improve life for elderly

At least a partial solution to the funding crisis at DHHS can be found through a combination of technology and good old Maine common sense in the system developed by Dr. Allan Teel of Damariscotta.

Why force the elderly to leave their homes, possessions and pets at a cost of thousands of dollars per month when for a few hundred dollars instead they can be healthier, happier and still contributing to society in their own homes?

Dr. Teel and a small group of dedicated professionals have developed a system of electronic monitoring combined with a small paid staff and numerous volunteers to make sure the elderly are regularly checked on while providing the limited assistance they need and to enable them to still be a part of their society.

This system has been presented to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew personally, but unfortunately the current regulations do not allow DHHS to fund a few hundred dollars a month of proper care in this manner when a warehouse system of lesser care is available at a cost of thousands per month.

It is time for Gov. LePage to change the regulations that force the elderly from their homes at great cost to both them and society. A legislative change is needed and can be achieved if our government is serious about providing proper care at a reasonable price.

Simple demographics will eventually force a change of this type as our elderly population grows and the ability to pay for traditional warehouse care becomes impossible.

Instead of throwing those who can’t pay privately out the door it is time to try the new approach provided by Dr. Teel.

I urge our governor and legislative leaders to contact Dr. Teel at to revisit the system that can save millions for the DHHS while providing improved care for many of the elderly in Maine.

William Fenn


Embrace the world’s instability and enjoy life

America seems more divided than ever, and domestically and worldwide we seem to be, as the song goes, “On the Eve of Destruction.” Industrialized societies, America in particular, seek a tidy world whereby life is wished to unfold in an orderly fashion, and when it doesn’t we are disappointed and stressed to our very core. Untroubled marriages, steady jobs and income, health care for all, a smooth political process, a secure retirement, and oh yes, the proverbial “world peace.” I could obviously go on forever.

Why we fall for such fantasy is a mystery. Study any period of American or world history, going back hundreds or thousands of years, and we find that there is nothing predictable except of course unpredictability, chaos, messy endings and beginnings, political turmoil, wars, pestilence, etc.

“The Wisdom of Insecurity,” by Allan Watts, was written in the 1950s and, believe me, a reading of this compact gem of a book has the power to calm.

It lends credence to the idea that nothing much changes with regard to human behavior and that we would all be far better off if we accepted — but more importantly embraced — life’s insecurities and thereby faced life exactly as it is, not as we would wish it to be. By doing so Watts points out that this approach can actually reduce the stresses of everyday life.

None of this is to suggest that individuals and mankind in general should not try to make the world better in any number of ways — we can see humanity at work everywhere amidst the inhumanity, too. But embracing change and insecurity, while one attempts to work within the system to make things better for ourselves, our families, our nation and the world, is a lesson from this incredible man that I will never forget and that I hope the reader will promptly investigate.

John L. Ross


Praise for president’s recess appointment

Kudos to President Obama for standing up for consumers last week and making a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Since July 21, the CFPB — a centerpiece of the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — had been up and running, but only with partial powers.

It’s the nation’s first federal financial regulator with only one job — protecting consumers, including seniors, students and service members, from unfair financial practices. The president’s action also gives the agency all its powers to protect the public from unfair financial practices, whether by banks or other financial firms, such as payday lenders or credit bureaus.

Wall Street banks had persuaded some senators, including Maine’s own Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to block any nominee unless the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers was first weakened. Their opposition to consumer protection at the behest of powerful special interests is disappointing. Fortunately, the president did his job so the CFPB can do its job.

Ilya Slavinski

U.S. PIRG Federal Field Associate


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