Re: Eric Russell’s story (“Kennebunk list includes many in construction,” Nov. 19) on the perceived connection among half of the alleged clients of the now-infamous alleged prostitute:

As a custom cabinetmaker and moderator of the world’s largest online construction forum, I take umbrage with the misleading headline of Russell’s story.

While I honor and respect what everyone has chosen for their career, the definition of individuals who are actually “in” construction are the ones who actually physically work “on” or “at” a project.

To lump services that provide “for” construction into the category of “in” construction would be as naive and nearsighted as someone saying that a Zumba instructor or a provider of massage services is probably a prostitute.

Russell’s bold and myopic statement that the “construction-related” clientele involved could probably build and sell a house is merely more sensationalized story-telling from someone just trying to fill the empty space on the page.

The only parallels to be gleaned here are that this woman is accused of being a prostitute and these men allegedly were her clients.

Kent Whitten

East Waterboro

Small local firms can meet storm preparation needs

Regarding your article about not being able to get a generator (“Need a generator? Come back later,” Nov. 13). The big box stores might be out, but I do believe that you do not have to look too far in order to find a generator in southern Maine.

I work at Chad Little Outdoor Power, and we, for example, have 88 generators in stock between our two locations (Brunswick and South Portland).

I feel like you’ve done a real disservice to a lot of small local businesses.

There are a lot of advantages to buying something as important as a generator at local power equipment store versus a big box store, such as knowledgeable employees, product recommendations, trained technicians and a servicing warranty center. And we make sure all equipment is assembled, fueled and working before it leaves the store.

Your article does not provide accurate information on buying a generator, and it is shortsighted in regard to where people can turn when they need to prepare for a large storm. This is not the first time this has happened, and it is not limited to this newspaper.

The media in general will run to the big box stores when it comes to talking about storm preparations — it doesn’t seem to matter if it is a large thunderstorm, a snowstorm or a hurricane. The truth of the matter is your local hardware and power equipment stores are much better sources to help you prepare for whatever emergency might come your way.

I haven’t even begun to cover the economic impact of buying from your small local dealer instead of a big box store. I will leave you with this, from a 2004 study by the firm Civic Economics: “When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local community. Spend the same amount at a national chain and it drops to $43.”

So next time you want to write about not being able to buy a generator, or a shovel, fan or air conditioner, please don’t forget the local businesses that keep southern Maine going.

Bethany Courchene


Virtual learning proposals earned bipartisan support

Following up on multiple articles on virtual learning, it’s useful to note that the Legislature has passed several bills in the last two sessions that support online learning and virtual schools, all with bipartisan support.

For example, Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, has sponsored several such bills that were approved:

1. In the 124th Legislature, Sen. Alfond sponsored L.D. 1446, An Act To Create the Maine Online Learning Program. His co-sponsors were Reps. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford; Peter Johnson, R-Greenville; Mary Nelson, D-Falmouth; Leila Percy, D-Phippsburg; Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven; Patricia Sutherland, D-Chapman, and Richard Wagner, D-Lewiston, as well as Sens. Libby Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, and Carol Weston, R-Montville. It was passed as amended June 9, 2009.

2. In the 125th Legislature, Sen. Alfond sponsored L.D. 675, An Act to Establish Multidistrict Online Classes in Maine. His co-sponsors were Reps. Nelson and Wagner as well as Reps. Helen Rankin, D-Hiram, and David Richardson, R-Carmel, and Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth. It was passed as amended Feb. 22, 2012.

3. In the 125th Legislature, Sen. Alfond sponsored L.D. 569, An Act to Support and Encourage the Use of Online Textbooks (Concept Draft). His co-sponsors were Reps. Devin Beliveau, D-Kittery; Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham; Robert Hunt, D-Buxton, and Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, as well as Sens. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond; Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls. It was passed as amended June 6, 2011.

One concern seems to be that out-of-state groups could end up running public charter school education programs in Maine. Passed in June 2011, the public charter school bill, L.D. 1553, included a ban on contracts with such groups.

The exception to this ban for virtual charter schools was included in an amendment introduced by a Democratic legislator on the floor of the House, and was then approved by the House. In a subsequent vote, the Senate approved L.D. 1553 as amended.

A majority of legislators — Democrats, independents and Republicans — have voted to allow new public options, including virtual schools, to address the widespread challenges our students face.

Judith Jones


Why ‘put a gadget on Mars’ when our welfare at stake?

The USA spent $2.5 billion to put a gadget on Mars. Of what value is that to the people of this country?

There is a lot of talk about “controlling” Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Which is more important, the welfare of the American people or a few pictures of Mars?

I urgently express my hope that our congressional delegation can do something to stop this absurdity.

Other issues should be considered:

The outrageous benefits the Congress has voted for itself.

The lack of democracy — what’s so democratic about requiring 60 votes in the Senate to pass a bill?

Even the printing of presidential dollars that no one wants to use.

Please consider these things.

Charles S. Gould