Your front-page story (“Is knotty job undoing principals in Maine?” March 4) about several Maine high school principals leaving their jobs under a variety of circumstances tried to find an answer to a question that may not need be asked: Why the “high rate” of departures?

Dig deep in most of these situations and you will find a consistent theme, no doubt — human beings have a hard time getting along with each other. This is especially true with big egos in high-profile jobs with much at stake.

In Scarborough over the past 40 years, we have had some fantastic principals at Scarborough High School, and we have had some duds.

Jerry Hallett in the 1950s and ’60s was the picture in the dictionary beside the term “old-school style.” Lots of “please” and “thank you” and the three R’s.

Al Juniewicz in the 1970s would say “good morning” to a pile of rocks if you let him. He was “collaborative style of communication” before the term was invented.

Andrew Dolloff in the 1990s and early 2000s was age 35 going on 55. He showed that being a mature adult could actually help a person succeed.

The duds?

Even before the latest local brouhahas involving the four southern Maine principals your story dealt with, SHS experienced:

One principal who insisted on bringing a live animal to the principal’s office now and then (not popular!).

One principal who often favored “drive-around meetings” with one to three staffers in a moving vehicle.

One principal with a K-2 background who often responded to inquiries of protest by asking: “Did you not hear me?”

The Peter Principle, if not invented in the education field, has at least been alive and well in it for a half-century.

Your story took a Christopher Columbus approach to a land discovered long ago.

Dan Warren


Patients should be repaid for inflated hospital fees


The failure of the state of Maine to make prompt payment to Maine hospitals should be rectified by the Legislature and governor this biennium. However, the hospitals should not be the sole beneficiaries of that action.

The inflated fees that private-pay and insured patients paid to Maine hospitals has silently eroded the true toll owed to hospitals.

Some increases in the prices for hospital services have been legitimate, reflecting the increased complexity of medical science and increases in the market-determined costs of labor and goods.

Some increases in the cost of hospital services over that long period undoubtedly have been due to hospitals dealing with the failure of the state of Maine to make timely payments for services rendered by silently augmenting the “natural” rate of medical cost increases.

The Legislature should compromise with Gov. LePage on the funding method to be employed in paying the hospitals the nominally owed amount to ensure the maximal federal pay-in, but it should insist on the following terms:

1. The hospitals would be required to keep a third of the disbursed funds in a reserve account for up to five years.

2. The state would appoint a special master to:

Oversee a forensic audit of hospital charges over the period of withheld state payments to determine what portion of the nearly $500 million should be returned to private-pay and insured parties.

Assess the costs borne by hospitals due to deferred payment.

Set rules for repatriation of overpayments, with special attention to the intertwined interests of carriers, employers and employees.

Exercise oversight responsibility in the repayment of overcharges.

An equitable outcome is due both the hospitals and citizens whose bills were elevated by hospital “adaptive” billing practices.

Mal Carey


Ineffectual senators have lost touch with the people


I am reading the story “Spending plan squeaks through Senate” (March 24), by The Associated Press, with tears running down my face for our overworked senators.

They claim to have “worked” 20 hours straight to come up with a spending deal. Then they voted at 5 a.m. so that they could catch the 7 a.m. flight out of Washington for a two-week break from working so hard on our behalf.

I realize that working more than a week at a time is exhausting for these people, and I would really like to see them put in 20 hours plowing snow, on one day, in the worst winter this country has seen in a while.

How about just working 50 or 60 hours a week at any job that does not pay the outrageous salaries that we, the people, pay them? They take more vacation than our schoolchildren, and the children have a good number of them.

Congress has lost touch with what the American people have to go through just to get by, let alone be able to take one or two weeks of vacation a year.

The Democrats who have control of the Senate and the Republicans who have control of the House need a wake-up call that the American people deserve more work with real results and less time off for the raises that they just voted themselves.

Ralph Newton


Expanding Medicaid will aid those in desperate need


Every day as an advocate for the homeless, I talk with people who are struggling with health issues and have little or no money — people who often end up in the emergency room, receiving costly and inefficient care. More and more people need help, while our governor seeks to cut more and more people from MaineCare.

I believe the Affordable Care Act offers a wonderful opportunity to access federal money to provide more help to people who desperately need it. It is not overly dramatic to say that this is a matter of life and death.

I can’t see any legitimate reason for our governor to be obstructive about this. I hope he will act in a responsible way and put aside whatever ideological differences he has with his opposition and do the right thing.

Jim Devine

Homeless Voices for Justice