Here in Portland, housing in general can be difficult to find. Securing affordable housing is practically impossible. Homeless Voices for Justice, a grass-roots group I work with, has continually advocated for affordable and accessible housing — fair housing.

I have personally heard Portland referred to as a “no-housing city.” This already dire situation has been made more difficult with the closing of the apartments at the Eastland Park Hotel and is presently being strained as the last of the Eastland tenants move out.

Homeless Voices for Justice does appreciate the workable time frame and compensation packet given to tenants to assist in their moving-out costs and expenses, but the fact remains that the city of Portland lost 52 low-income housing units that it could ill afford to lose.

When affordable units disappear, the city loses. People in need of housing lose. Is the city of Portland’s housing replacement ordinance just a paper tiger?

Now we see that the Eastland wants to eliminate Congress Square Plaza, and the way we hear it, it’s already a done deal. Shame on us for losing both affordable housing and public space and for letting it happen.

Thomas Ptacek, advocate, Homeless Voices for Justice, Preble Street Resource Center, Portland 

Coverage urged of impact of bond freeze on downtowns 

I am concerned by the lack of serious coverage of the full scope of the negative impact of the governor’s actions in taking away the funding for Communities for Maine’s Future.

As I understand it, $3.5 million in bond money was approved and 31 Maine communities worked diligently to gain one of the eventual 11 spots in this wonderful project.

These towns and cities scrambled to raise matching funds. Some needed to develop community master plans in order to gain necessary status to apply, and all communities invested their talent and energy. In short, a lot of hard work went into just developing the applications.

Now the lucky winners are in various states of community development — not just Skowhegan or Norway, but 11 communities that have had the rug pulled out from under them!

Why don’t you ask Colin Woodard to investigate and write a really big story? This is important to our state and to our economy; the impact is huge.

Please try to give this incident the coverage it deserves. My personal interest stems from prior work with several Maine communities when I served on the board of the Main Street Maine program 10 years ago.

Barbara Hager, Portland 

Analysis of reading crisis no example of fine prose 

It is disheartening to read Wendy Gaal’s analysis of the reading crisis in our schools (Another View, “Students, teachers and parents not to blame for reading crisis,” June 21).

I hope we do not try to teach reading by requiring students to read her prose. She could not pass a freshman composition class in any self-respecting college or university.

She writes that an “at-risk group reaches across race, socioeconomic status and family background.” I do not know how a group “reaches” across anything.

Also included in this at-risk group are “middle-class children and children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.” If we didn’t let them eat, would their skills at reading improve?

Then we get the real howler: “Children from language-enriched homes are also among those who are at risk of failure.”

I do not know what a “language-enriched home” is — maybe one that has graffiti in three different languages painted on the walls.

Or maybe it means a home where the parents are literate and talk intelligently and read widely. Pretty clearly, you had better stay away from such a home. It is dangerous.

Continuing to dissect her babble is a waste of time. It would take pages and pages. The Portland Press Herald would perform a public service to scratch all such nonsense from its editorial pages.

L.M. Burke, Long Island 

Community came together during, after submarine fire 

As many of you know, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard experienced a significant fire in the forward compartment of the USS Miami (SSN 755) on May 23.

While we’ve thanked many of you personally, I feel it is important as shipyard commander to take this opportunity to publicly thank all who responded with immediate and unfailing support.

It took determined, and in many cases heroic, efforts from the officers and sailors of the Miami, crew members from the USS Pasadena (SSN 752), Portsmouth Naval Shipyard firefighters and firefighters from the Seacoast region to combat the fire.

The fire proved to be a challenge that required assistance from 22 different firefighting units from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Submarine Base New London, Conn.

The courage and tenacity shown by our regional firefighting teams, partnered with sailors and our trained firefighters, are to be commended.

Entering the unfamiliar confines of a nuclear-powered submarine with minimal visibility while battling a heat-intensive fire, these firefighters were determined to overcome the obstacles before them and bring the fire under control. I was amazed at how well people who never worked together before, in a different and challenging environment, got the job done.

We greatly appreciate the strong support received from our community leaders, state and local partners, and neighboring firefighting companies who assisted us throughout this event.

This once again proves that in a time of crisis, the shipyard family extends beyond our island. Thank you!

Capt. L. Bryant Fuller, commander, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery 

Readers called on to decry mass killings of Syrians 

I write this because I am angry and upset about the killings in the nation of Syria by the government of Syria.

I am both expecting and hoping that many other Mainers are bothered, too. These are murders based upon revenge and differing religious and political views.

Recently I sent a postcard to the Embassy of Syria to protest these actions. Readers of this letter, please do the same. Here is the address:

Embassy of Syria

2215 Wyoming Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

Jeff Schneider, Brunswick


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