On Page 1 of the Maine Sunday Telegram (“As double-dipping grows, so does scrutiny of state pensions,” March 3) was a story about retirees from the state and school districts receiving both state retirement and a tax-supported paycheck.

This story seemed somewhat biased in its subtle implication that once retired — for example, as a public school teacher — one should not, perhaps, augment his or her retirement through any position funded by the state or a school system.

The article mentioned that some who had lost their private-sector retirement resented or envied those state retirees whose retirement is safe and didn’t somehow disappear.

No one who has tragically lost private-sector retirement should resent public-sector retirees who have avoided that fate. They are not the enemy; nor should they be seen as convenient scapegoats.

The “villain” here may well be a private sector-worshipping attitude fostered by some in positions of wealth and power who dearly love pitting working-class people against each other. “Divide and conquer” is the name of that hideous game.

The article in the Telegram stated, “Opinions about double-dipping range from Gov. Paul LePage, who in January referred to these workers as ‘unconscionable’ and ‘absolutely disgusting,’ to Maine Education Association President Lois Kilby-Chesley, who said employees are just collecting benefits earned through years of service.”

I believe that the MEA president’s words are more accurate here than the governor’s, since Mr. LePage was typically contemptuous in his statement about people who “double dip” through, for instance, substitute teaching.

If the state sees a solution in doing away with the state retirement system, or cost-shifting the retirement over to local communities, or simply saying, “Hey, go get your own private-sector retirement,” good luck with that. These are not solutions at all.

Robert Barter


Criticism of UMaine coach overlooks sterling resume

Since someone has questioned Coach Richard Barron’s qualifications in the Maine Sunday Telegram (“Cindy Blodgett’s successor seems to lack qualifications,” Jan. 13), and there has not been further information in that publication (and not many of us “up north” get the Sunday Portland paper), I feel that your readers need to hear the other side of the story:

It is unfortunate that the writer didn’t take a minute to speak with someone close to the team and/or check Coach Barron’s credentials.

A quick Google of his name produces a news release from the University of Maine dated May 11, 2011, stating that, as head coach at Princeton for six years, he took them from a 2-25 record prior to his arrival to an Ivy League title in 2005-’06.

The release also mentions his success as a recruiter, including at Baylor (a team that seems to be doing pretty well).

My wife and I have been UMaine women’s basketball fans since 1983. We have also been Cindy Blodgett fans since her high school days. Cindy is a great person and a great basketball player, but not yet a great coach. Don’t bet against her becoming one!

When Cindy took over the program, it was at a very low point, and after her best efforts, we still had a long way to go. Coach Barron has the tools to take us there.

Don’t be surprised if we someday mention his name in the same sentence as Joanne Palumbo and Sharon Versyp, both of whom brought the program to uncharted heights. Sit back and enjoy the games, because it’s going to be a fun ride.

Larry Willis


Research backs legal pot, but government ignores it

In a recent letter to the editor (“Don’t rush to make pot legal,” March 3), Dr. Robert H. Lenox, a neuroscientist and physician, stated that the state of Maine was premature is consideration about the legalization of marijuana.

Dr. Lenox believes that we need more science regarding marijuana’s effects and more experience with prohibition and legalization.

In 1939, Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, asked Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York, to head a commission to study marijuana. Over a five-year period, the New York Academy of Science conducted research.

In the 1970s, President Nixon appointed former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer to head a commission to study cannabis use. The commission, known as the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, launched 50 research projects. The Shafer commission is considered the largest marijuana study ever done in the U.S.

Both of these commissions, in their final reports, declared that marijuana was not dangerous, not habit-forming and didn’t lead to socially unacceptable behaviors. Both reports recommended that marijuana be legalized. Both reports were dismissed by the government, which then enacted more repressive anti-cannabis laws.

We have had decades of marijuana prohibition, ignoring relevant scientific research. Instead, that prohibition has been based on biased ideology, political machinations and ignorance.

How many thousands of nonviolent and productive citizens have gone to prison and had their lives and that of their families destroyed, based on a continuing lie? Isn’t it time that we admit the wrong done and correct this terrible injustice done to so many?

Jerry Provencher


Republicans pick up tab for Obama’s relief efforts

Why has Obama waited four years to decide it is time to do something for the middle class?

Hoping to get more of the middle-class vote. He’s setting up the Democrats for the next election, but I don’t know why he bothers.

A proverb: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

2013 version: “Give a man a welfare check, a free cellphone with unlimited free minutes, free Internet, cash for his clunker, food stamps, Section 8 housing, free contraceptives, Medicaid, 99 weeks of unemployment, free medicine and he will vote Democratic the rest of his life even after he is dead.”

I just wish the Republican-bashers would realize it is the working Republican footing the bill for all of the above and give them a break.

Times are tough enough for them supporting their own family without taking on another family to boot.

Craig Elliott


Punishing Whistler shows city’s misplaced priorities

The article about The Whistler (“Court order: Walk while you whistle in Portland,” Feb. 24) brought back memories of the ’80s and the Dog Man, Dave Kopel. Dave was driven out of Portland because he had six dogs that he walked all over Portland. It did not matter that the dogs were under voice command and were well behaved.

Then there was my dad. He would walk his dog and play his harmonica. The children of Munjoy Hill loved it and would follow him. My mother was afraid that folks would get the wrong impression, so she made him stop.

Now it is The Whistler.

Apparently, the city of Portland does not tolerate what they consider to be outside the norm. It seems to me that it would be refreshing to hear a young man whistling or an old man playing his harmonica while enjoying the city of Portland, or even a man walking his six well-behaved dogs.

Where did our freedom to be ourselves go?

And why don’t we let the Public Safety Department do better things with their time by keeping the thieves, drug dealers and predators off the streets, rather than being told to arrest a free spirit?

Suzanne D. Byrnes

Steep Falls