Regarding Gov. LePage’s plan to shut Clinical Services (“LePage’s budget would cut off patients with special needs,” Feb. 1):

I am a registered nurse and have worked for Clinical Services for more than 15 years. I have been retired for the past three years.

This clinic serves people whose diagnoses range from mild to profound mental retardation, and it provides far more than dental services for the mentally disabled.

Frequent services provided under IV sedation include much-needed medical services, such as physical exams, blood tests, immunizations, Pap smears, breast exams, endometrial biopsies, skin biopsies, sterile urinalysis, ear wax removal, etc. These services are done at the order and request of the patient’s primary physicians because there is no way they could be performed in their offices.

These patients should be entitled to the same diagnostic procedures available to the rest of us. Without this clinic, dental issues, breast lumps, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, skin cancer and urinary tract infections would go undiagnosed in this population. In addition, immunizations, including flu vaccines, would not be possible.

The generous crew at Clinical Services has even done nail trimming and haircuts that the staff at group homes are not able to do.

This clinic also provides a full range of dental services to both the mentally disabled and folks with mental health diagnoses.

Most of us don’t have a loved one who needs to attend this clinic, but we all share the responsibility. Who said, “A society can be judged by the way it treats its helpless”?

I wonder if Gov. LePage is even aware that it’s not just a dental clinic.

Kathleen Crommie


Pipeline foes can’t back up claims about oil sands crude

Re: “Maine Voices: Tar sands oil in New England: A test of presidential leadership,” Jan. 26:

In their recent op-ed, the Sierra Club and skewed the meaning of President Obama’s inaugural speech to fit their climate change agenda rather than presenting the facts about the oil sands crude that may or may not flow through Maine.

Keystone XL is not an “oil sands pipeline.” It’s an oil pipeline that, along with carrying resources derived from the Canadian oil sands, will also transport 25 percent of its supply from American-produced oil from places like North Dakota and Montana.

External factors, not internal corrosion, caused the pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River. According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, no incident tied to internal corrosion has occurred on a pipeline carrying Canadian crude from 2002 to mid-2012 — not to mention that our pipelines have been transporting oil sands crude to U.S. refineries for decades.

It’s not a new source of energy and mirrors the properties of other heavy crude oils, some of which are even produced here at home.

The authors also describe the Kalamazoo incident as if they have scientific evidence that diluted bitumen (oil sands crude that is filtered and diluted) reacts any differently in water than conventional crudes.

I’d challenge them to find a credible study that corroborates with that notion. Depending on environmental conditions, any crude can mix with materials in the environment and sink. In accordance with both federal and state regulations, pipeline operators must prepare and seek approval for spill response plans before work can even begin.

If these pipeline opponents are merely making Keystone XL and the Portland-Montreal pipeline scapegoats for their off-oil agendas, they should at least present your readership with scientific facts to back up their points. Otherwise, Maine is considering major legislative changes under false pretenses.

John Quinn

executive director, New England Petroleum Council


Collins’ stance on Keystone contradicts her own history

I was appalled to note that Sen. Susan Collins signed a letter along with other U.S. senators urging President Obama to approve the Keystone pipeline.

For one representing a state with more mileage of coastline than California, her support of a filthy, unethical and illegal energy project that will endanger our planet and Maine’s shorelines (and its tax-generating properties) is a galling betrayal of Maine, New England and the world.

And it seems she is also betraying herself, as she co-authored the highly visible Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act, designed to address global warming emissions.

We should say, “Stand for Maine, Senator Collins, or we will all be swimming together in the increasing tides that created a new hole into the New Jersey shoreline in November.” Has she already forgotten? Is fossil fuel money that much more important to her than Maine’s shorelines?

Anne B. Butterfield

Boulder, Colo., and Scarborough

Early learning programs enhance community safety

The recent Maine Voices by business leaders Meredith Strang Burgess, Dana Connors and Bob Moore (“Skilled workers start out as well-educated young Mainers,” Feb. 2) reported some surprising statistics about the current and future skills gap that exists in our Maine work force. What isn’t surprising to me is one of the solutions they offer to this problem — high-quality early learning programs.

As a chief of police, I know one of the best things we can do for our children is ensure that they have opportunities to participate in high-quality early education. As the business leaders point out, it’s great for Maine’s economy today and in the future.

It is also great for the safety of our communities. Why? Because high-quality early learning programs, like Head Start and pre-kindergarten, are some of the best crime-prevention tools we have.

Numerous studies have shown the crime-reduction benefits of quality early education programs. A study in Chicago showed that children who participated in such programs were much less likely to be involved in crime than their peers who did not participate.

Another long-term study, involving a high-quality early education program in Michigan, found that children left out of that program were five times more likely to become chronic lawbreakers by age 27.

High-quality early learning programs are good for the economy and help reduce crime. They are a proven investment in our future.

Michael Sauschuck

chief of police, Portland