Re: “Commentary: USM’s past woes shouldn’t limit its future, incoming president says” (April 2):

Driving through downtown’s gantlet of panhandlers makes me wonder how incoming University of Southern Maine President Harvey Kesselman is going to achieve his goal of enrollment stability.

If I am a parent coming with a child for a Portland campus visit, what impression do I get when I see people begging on every corner from Congress Street to Forest Avenue and Marginal Way to Franklin Arterial?

How about the tourist coming to visit from away – does this scene inspire them to return to spend more money as soon as possible?

In a capitalist system largely rigged for the wealthy, there will never be enough living-wage jobs to solve the problem. In response to Depression-era problems, Maine could create a modern version of the Civilian Conservation Corps/Works Project Administration to provide employment for able-bodied people who otherwise cannot access an opportunity to make a living.

For the rest, we should create a safe place where they can do something besides threaten the character and quality of place that are among our most precious assets as a tourism-dominated economy.

Every single one of us knows we can and should be doing a better job of solving the unconscionable problems around us as the wealth gap widens.

Phil Coupe

Cape Elizabeth

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