Having tried my hardest to not respond to the lead story (“Hundreds of Mainers line up for housing assistance“), with pictures, in the Local and State news section of your April 11 edition, I am caving. What is wrong with this picture?

The first, second and fourth people in line for Section 8 housing, having “bravely” stood there all night, are obviously able-bodied men between 20 and 30 years old.

The third in line has physical problems and is on Social Security (whose Social Security number did he get at 14, fresh from Iraq?).

One of the other applicants mentioned took time off from a job to apply for assistance, to try to get ahead of outlay being more than income, to get a fresh start, off the dole.  

“Start” being the operative word. Have the first, second and fourth people in line “started”?

Standing in the cold all night must beat cleaning closed offices, restaurants and schools.

It must be easier than flipping hamburgers, way easier than standing on corners, holding signs during the day, just asking for change or, as my recent hospital stay proved, much better than sitting all night long watching a patient sleep as a companion.

I, like many folks having retired after a lifetime of working, understand that some people need to receive a hand up due to unforeseen circumstances, divorce, illness, layoffs and sometimes just needing to have a breather.

But the young, the healthy and the obviously sturdy can pound the pavement in daylight, instead of standing in line all night for benefits they have yet to earn.

Section 8 was created to help, not to enable.

Wake up, Maine!

Jan Blanchard

Congress Square deserves ‘coordinated design effort’

Congress Square is one of the most important physical spaces in downtown.

It includes the major pedestrian and vehicular intersection of downtown Portland, several buildings of outstanding architectural character (including the Portland Museum of Art and the Hay Building), major cultural venues (State Theatre, two museums and the Arts District) and a park that shows occasional signs of vigor.

But too often Congress Square is considered in fragments and defined by its problems: chaotic and scary traffic, drab building facades and sides, and the park, which is an “attractive nuisance” for off-putting behavior.

So much change will be affecting the square in the near future that now is the time to think of remaking the entire public space as a cultural crossroad and a center of downtown activity.

Under consideration are changes to the Free Street traffic pattern, making traffic two-way on High Street, renovation of the Eastland Hotel, possible redesign of the park and a possible addition to the hotel.

All these proposals reflect the efforts of many Portlanders frustrated with current aspects of the square.

The whole of Congress Square can be looked at as one space rather than as a collection of small problems requiring piecemeal solutions. Such a central and potentially vibrant place with so many likely changes deserves a comprehensive, coordinated design effort.

The Portland Society for Architecture stands ready to play a part in this revisioning of the entirety of Congress Square and its approaches.

We believe other major players are ready to contribute as well in order both to avoid a too-narrow focus on minor parts of the square and to capture the full potential of this vital city location.

Peter Monro
For the Portland Society for Architecture

Governor’s veto unfairly targets county officials

As the Penobscot County register of deeds, I am compelled to submit my comments regarding Gov. LePage’s veto of L.D. 49 (“Maine House votes to override LePage veto, but Senate one vote short,” April 3).

Maine statutes currently require payment of recording fees at the time the document is submitted for recording in the Registry of Deeds.

The Internal Revenue Service is now paying by direct deposit (Automated Clearing House) to our bank account. With the introduction of electronic filing, the e-file companies submit payment by ACH at the end of the day.

L.D. 49 is a bipartisan housekeeping bill that would have brought the law in compliance with current practice.

There is no fiscal note. It does not cost the taxpayer more money, and it does not change the payment procedure for the state, which has had 10 days to pay for more than 25 years.

I am at a loss to understand the governor’s reasoning on vetoing this bill. I offered to explain any parts of registry of deeds procedures that were not familiar. His accusations directed at county government are totally unfounded.

The Maine Registers of Deeds Association is not a political organization. We perform our duties according to Maine law, and when new technology advances, it is our responsibility to make sure that our real estate laws reflect those changes.

My thanks to those legislators who voted to override the veto based on the merits of the legislation rather than the politics of the moment.

The Maine registers of deeds, having been caught up in the net of political bickering, still need a housekeeping bill passed.

Susan F. Bulay
Penobscot County register of deeds
Old Town

Minimum wage discourages inclination to add workers

You almost can’t pay good employees enough. Others you can’t get rid of fast enough. I see minimum wage as an entry-level wage.

Hiring is the single most risky thing I undertake in my business. Will the employee be entitled or engaged? Will they care if the business succeeds so they can succeed, or not?

Don’t forget 11-plus percent workers’ compensation, 7 percent Social Security, 6 percent unemployment insurance and Medicare for close to 30 percent payroll tax.

There are no incentives to stretch and hire unless you can’t live without a position. There are only disincentives. On top of that, if there are any issues, you will have to deal with a hostile labor board.

That is my perception, that is my reality. Do not think for even one second it will not impact my decision to hire four local young people this summer or stretch and hire a fifth.

Arthur Kelly

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