More than $25,000 was spent on “consultant fees” to winnow the huge field of candidates for the position of Portland superintendent of schools to a mere three.

Now we learn that the one candidate willing to be publicly identified has changed jobs three times in the past six years (“Forum introduces one of three finalists for superintendent’s post,” May 16). Isn’t this a red flag? Might she not do the same here in three years if a more lucrative position would appear?

It reminds me of the situation with James Craig, Portland’s former police chief, who (after an expensive, nationwide search) left after two years to become head of police in Cincinnati.

The new chief, Michael Sauschuck, had served as a Portland police officer for many years before being named chief. Did those who hired Craig and saw him leave so quickly learn that promoting from within the ranks can be a good thing?

It boggles my mind that promoting from within is such a foreign concept in many hiring instances. It’s both good for morale and the budget.

Barbara Doughty


New information on BPA points to need for total ban

What’s the worst that can happen if you consume the plastic additive Bisphenol-A? “Some women may have little beards,” Gov. LePage said last year.

This glib dismissal has even less credibility in light of a new National Academy of Sciences study that strengthens the connection between BPA and breast cancer. (BPA has already been linked to learning disabilities and reproductive disorders.)

The gravity of this report stands in stark contrast to the irresponsible and unconcerned manner with which LePage has handled the topic of BPA in consumer products, even refusing to sign the now-law that bans BPA in reusable food containers in Maine.

However, the discovery of BPA in foods with nonreusable packaging makes a total ban on BPA a health imperative and a logical next step.

Companies like Abbott Labs, the producers of Similac baby formula, have already pledged to sell BPA-free products in the United States. Clearly, the argument that a BPA ban would cripple business is without merit.

LePage has run out of excuses for not acting to protect the health interests of Maine’s mothers, children and families. A ban on BPA in all containers should be a top priority.

Benjamin Seel


University administrators rewarded for poor decisions  

Two hundred and eighty-two faculty voted recently on a proposal to declare no confidence in University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman. One hundred ninety-four voted in favor of the no-confidence proposal. Eighty-eight voted against it.

Botman has called the vote a win for her. By that accounting, all losses are really wins.

Take heart, all you losers. You did not really lose the basketball game or the baseball game or the football game or the tennis match. You won. Like the CEOs of failing corporations, you can expect your salaries to increase the faster you fail.

Is it any wonder that nobody seems able to balance a budget?

Richard Pattenaude, as president of USM, overspent by millions of dollars. The trustees sent him up to be the chancellor of the whole system. Most of the questionable administrative hirings were on his watch.

One has to wonder whether the trustees were delusional, too.

L.M. Burke

Long Island

Hotel’s plan for park area will make space livable

With regards to the controversy surrounding the park at High and Congress streets, I feel that the city has taken a step in the right direction, finally.

As a retired city employee who spent my entire career in public safety, I have seen first hand the failure of that park.

With the conversion of the park to an addition of the Eastland Park Hotel, we can finally rid the place of crime and the stale urine smell that permeate it daily.

As for moving the park to another location nearby, great. However, won’t the same failure to manage the current park simply change locations and burden local homeowners and businesses somewhere else?

It’s time to put that area to good use, and it sounds like the owners of the Eastland Park Hotel have found just that in their plan.

Robert Orr


Calling schools ‘failed’ doesn’t jibe with facts

I was once again dismayed to hear that the person whom 38.1 percent of the voters in Maine elected has once again embarrassed 100 percent of Mainers with yet another foolish statement: Maine public schools “have ‘failed miserably’ in the last 20 years” (“Governor points to ‘corrupt’ workers,” April 27).

By what measure? Is it because Maine ranks 43rd in instructors per student? Perhaps it’s because instructional staff in Maine have an average salary (ranking 47th nationally) that is less than an “entry-level” position in state government.

Maybe it’s that the buildings are falling down (our fair state ranks 49th in per capita capital expenditures on education). Maybe it’s that teachers are expected to supply pencils and other basic supplies for their classrooms, as Maine ranks 43rd in per capita expenditures.

Maybe it’s examples like one teacher whose clock stopped working and was told that she needed to supply her own. Is it that the state of technology in many districts is so poor that teachers simply can’t use it as a teaching tool?

Maybe it’s because teachers are asked to use instructional time to have students do fundraising activities to help cover the gaps for supplies that individual teachers can’t afford. Perhaps it’s the one-month period when teachers are required to devote 70 percent of the instructional time to mandated testing.

Or is it because despite these abominable statistics, Maine public schools still manage to rank 15th in overall student achievement? Given this, I find it difficult to understand why Gov. LePage would say Maine public schools are failing. On the contrary, I think we all must agree that Maine public schools are succeeding wildly.

But to be fair, LePage and I do agree on one thing. A Maine public school education failed to instill in him the value of thinking before one speaks.

Scott Tombleson