The notion that the tragic killing of a deer hunter in Sebago last fall was a “terrible, terrible accident” is ludicrous at best, a disingenuous assault on our intelligence at worst.

Accidents are untoward events over which those involved have no control. Pulling the trigger on a hunting rifle is a conscious, deliberate act — not an accident. Pulling the trigger before positively identifying the target as a deer resulting in the death of a fellow hunter deserves significant jail time.

As a hunter with more than 65 years in the field, I find it inconceivable how anyone with a modicum of intelligence can be so intent on “bagging” a deer that he failed to positively identify the target as a deer before pulling the trigger.

The shooter claims to have seen antlers, not once but twice, before firing the fatal shot. This case tragically proves that seeing antlers is not enough. All of the alleged deer’s head, neck and part of its shoulder should have been clearly visible before the shot was fired. Gross criminal carelessness cost the life of an innocent hunter

I don’t care how bad the shooter claims to feel. He must be kept out of the field forever because he cannot be trusted to act as a responsible, careful, prudent sportsman. He should never be permitted to get another hunting license, and he should have pleaded guilty to manslaughter and taken whatever jail time the court handed down like a man.

M. Roberts Hunt

Falmouth

Special Olympics deserves sports section coverage

The 2012 Special Olympics of Maine Winter Games were held Jan. 29-31 at Sugarloaf Mountain. This is a statewide event where athletes with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, from 11 years old to adults, compete in their respective age categories in alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoe and skating events.

They prepare for the Games just like all other athletes of all ages: by attending scheduled practices in their preferred sport that are run by committed and talented coaches. The Special Olympic athletes are just like all athletes in that they are able, dedicated and competitive.

It puzzles me why all the Special Olympics of Maine Games and the athletes competing in them are not given copy in The Portland Press Herald’s sports section. The coverage of the events is usually assigned to the local section with a customary picture of an athlete along with a simple caption, which is not indicative of the overall athletic competition.

The sports section reports on a variety of competitions from local sporting activities and high school games to professional sports. In all of those venues, there are competitive athletes with various abilities and talents vying to be champions.

It is no different for Special Olympic athletes. Anyone who has gone to a Special Olympics of Maine winter, summer, basketball or swimming tournament has seen athletes who compete against each other to the best of their abilities for first-place medals.

For the next Special Olympics of Maine tournament, along with your photographer, be sure to send a reporter so he can capture the true picture of the competition among some very able, talented and competitive athletes. I will look forward to opening the sports section to read all about it.

Karen Johnson

Cape Elizabeth

East-west highway study raises unanswered questions

In a time of government austerity, why are taxpayers being asked to pay for private projects? This should have been the question that legislators on the Transportation Committee asked before they approved a resolution that would fund a new feasibility study for the fabled east-west highway with $300,000 from the state’s highway fund.

According to Rep. Richard Cebra, Maine taxpayer dollars need to be spent because investors in the proposed road “deserve a study they can have confidence in.”

Really? The proposed toll road will be privately owned. The revenue generated by the toll road will also be private. The prospective investors in the road are private. So why are taxpayers being asked to pay to make these investors more confident their money is safe?

There is no evidence that the road will result in sustainable economic growth for our state, so why are we already being asked to pay into it? In a period of economic recession, when budgets are being cut and the governor insists that we spend even less, it is hypocritical to start sponsoring private ambitions with public funds.

If Peter Vigue, the mastermind behind the newest east-west highway plan, wants to make his investors feel more comfortable, he should pay for the study himself, not ask for a government handout.

Peter McGuire

Freeport

I attended the recent public hearing at the State House held by the Transportation Committee on the issue of whether Maine taxpayers should provide funding for a feasibility study for an east-west highway. I was appalled at the disrespect shown to the citizens who spent their valuable time attending a hearing to protect the Maine they believe in.

After the proponents (legislators, administration, lobbyists and others) took up more than two hours (including a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation), opponents finally were able to be heard. After the opponents began testifying, it became obvious that most of the committee members had already made up their minds and were not interested in comments from the opposition.

Sen. Doug Thomas, the bill’s sponsor, was laughing with the lawmaker to his right during some of the testimony from the opposition; another lawmaker was texting. A few committee members behaved as though their time were being wasted. Committee hearings are the only opportunity the public has to speak on bills, and we should not be made to feel that our time is being wasted.

The Transportation Committee’s hearing procedure should be revamped. If proponents and opponents take turns testifying, committee members will not lose interest in the opponents’ testimony.

Maine citizens should be encouraged to come to Augusta and participate in our democracy. Meetings conducted like this one was will do just the opposite.

David Wood

Hallowell