Arranged marriages rarely work, thus the case of Regional School Unit 5: Freeport, Durham and Pownal. Forced together by the previous governor with a promise of saving money and better programming for kids, nothing could be further from the truth.

My family and I moved to Freeport because of the close community and excellent education. Since the forming of RSU 5, we have witnessed class crowding and what seems to be a systematic watering-down of program offerings. Every time there is a budget vote, Freeport votes “yes” and Durham and Pownal vote “no.”

The school board’s mission is to advocate for students in providing the best education possible. This cannot be done when all our partners (and I use this term loosely) want to do is to to make cuts. Every cut that is made has significant impact for years to come on students and their future.

It is imperative that we provide students with the tools that they need in order to, not just survive, but to thrive in a global world and economy.

The value systems of these towns are simply not aligned; in the end, the old saying, “We didn’t have that when I was young and I did just fine,” doesn’t make sense because we live in a different world now.

Freeport needs to take back local control and what is rightfully theirs: to provide our kids with the education that we believe they deserve, which is based upon innovation, small classes, updated facilities and, most importantly, critical and progressive thinkers on the school board who are able to make and implement wise choices for our kids.

Arranged marriages are outdated, and so are our partners. Freeport needs to have the courage to move on.

Robin Monahan


Nemitz column’s assessment of Cohen’s role stirs debate

Seldom do I agree with Bill Nemitz’s columns, but I must commend him for his Dec. 6 column about the politics of the civic center (“In civic center smackdown, trust the trustees”).

The decision-making about whether to renegotiate with the Portland Pirates should be left entirely with the civic center’s board of trustees.

It is clear that board Chairman Neal Pratt is looking out for the taxpayers who voted for the renovations to the civic center. The Pirates’ owner is exceptionally greedy in his demands of the center.

I definitely believe that Jim Cohen, who is a lawyer for the Pirates and chairman of the board of directors of the Portland Regional Chamber, is totally out of line to request a meeting with the Pirates. There are many events and venues that can more profitably replace the Pirates at the civic center.

Thank you, Bill Nemitz, for revealing the politics that would have remained unknown without your column.

Fernand Larochelle


I read Bill Nemitz’s column regarding the ongoing dispute between the Cumberland County Civic Center trustees and the Portland Pirates and was dismayed by the characterization of former Portland Mayor Jim Cohen.

The column implies an improper relationship because Jim serves in a volunteer role as chairman of the Portland Regional Chamber while professionally as an attorney representing the Pirates.

I’ve known Jim for nearly two decades and know him to be a man of great integrity. I am proud to serve alongside him as volunteer vice chair of the chamber’s board.

During discussions of the issue, Jim has been careful to recuse himself from the chamber’s deliberation and decision-making. Portland is a small community and many of us – by necessity, it would seem – wear many hats.

It was a cute line by Mr. Nemitz that there should be a penalty for “too many Jim Cohens on the ice.” The truth is, we have too few Jim Cohens.

Michael Bourque


Study part of LePage search for fodder for re-election bid

Gov. LePage’s having decided to “study” welfare reform issues, his contract with a research firm sympathetic to his views should surprise no one.

The governor has told us previously that he is committed to objectivity; that is, as long as his “objectivity” supports his already formed opinions. (Remember bisphenol A – that nasty stuff in plastic bottles?) If not, the governor would argue, it must be all lies.

Does the governor expect us to believe that his expenditure of nearly $1 million in public funds is anything but an effort to promote his re-election bid?

I can understand why, for the purpose of getting re-elected, he may want to seek “facts” to justify that the direction he is taking the state in is the correct one. But to suggest that he is engaging in this exercise to enlighten policymaking, and to expect us to believe that, is insulting.

If the results of the research were to show that the governor’s policies were not effective, would he change the direction of his administration and embrace issues like Medicaid expansion (which, by the way, is not welfare; it’s health insurance)? I think not.

Linda Hjortland


Action by MDOT needed to advance commuter rail

We are responding to your Nov. 29 editorial (“Our View: Commuter rail could be game-changer for Maine”).

Commuter rail would be a game-changer for Maine. Investment in 21st-century transportation infrastructure that provides transportation choices like public transit and rail will not only create jobs but also will cut global warming pollution and reduce our dependence on oil.

Livable communities in which people can walk, bike or take transit to their destinations must be a key part of Maine’s transportation reform and economic development efforts. They are the communities of choice for younger and elder citizens.

Promoting commuter rail from Portland to the Lewiston-Auburn area via the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, as passed by the Legislature in June, is a great beginning. The Maine Department of Transportation already has engineering and environmental data for the reconstruction of the state-owned railroad, and has been directed to follow through with the preliminary planning.

Ridership of the Downeaster is three times the projected original number. Imagine what ridership would be between our two largest population centers!

It’s time for the Maine DOT to give commuter rail the light of day by issuing the “request for proposal” asked for by the bipartisan vote of the Legislature. Make your voices heard.

Becky Bartovics

co-chair, Sierra Club Maine North Haven

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