Mudslinging over bridge uncalled for

In a column (March 15) arguing against building a new bridge to replace the rusting Frank J. Wood Bridge, John Graham throws mud on three people who have served this community well: Cory King, executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce; Bruce Van Note, commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation; and John Shattuck, retired director of Economic and Community Development for Topsham. I’ve had dealings with all three and want to attest that they are hard-working, constructive citizens of intelligence and integrity. They deserve our appreciation and our thanks, not Mr. Graham’s calumny.

Douglas C. Bennett,
Topsham

Support paid medical leave

If Maine is truly “open for business,” as our state welcome sign used to say, we need to do all we can to support business at the most basic level — its workers. Increasingly, young Mainers express interest in staying here in Maine, living, working and raising families in a less high-pressure, congested and fast-paced environment than many places today. Public policy needs to support this desire among our worker population now more than ever, as the number of workers remains stubbornly low in our state.

Paid family and medical leave, as proposed by L.D. 738 is one such effort. If you are a 20- or 30-something-year-old worker, you’re likely to have both children and parents who might require your full attention for a short period due to an illness or accident. If you are a 40- or 50-something-year-old worker, you might find yourself with a frightening cancer diagnosis requiring aggressive treatment that will keep you out of work for days if not weeks. If you are a 60- or 70-something-year-old worker, waiting eagerly for the day your retirement plan affords you the chance to quit work, you might find yourself called to stay temporarily with a grandchild while your own child undergoes treatment for an illness or accident. But none of you can afford to take time off without pay.

Paid medical and family leave is for everyone — all ages, all workers — and it will make all businesses more appealing to workers here in Maine. As you read concerns about increase costs for employers and employees, remember the hidden costs of life-changing events that can be mitigated by the security of a few weeks paid leave. It’s the right thing to do — for Mainers and for business in Maine. Please urge your legislators to support L.D. 738.

Betsy Williams,
Brunswick

Advertisement

Standing with and for asylum-seekers

I agree with Brunswick school superintendent Phil Potenziano who recently said, “We’re excited to have these (new Mainer) students and families come into our communities and become residents here in Brunswick. It’s a privilege.” It is no easy task to restart your life thousands of miles from home, not speaking the language, not knowing anyone, and with little more than the clothes on your back.

Many of the families have experienced traumatic experiences getting here and once arrived are negatively impacted by state and federal policies requiring long waiting periods before they can work. Like immigrants before them, the 21 century new Mainers come with a wide range of skills and are highly motivated to enter the workforce and achieve financial independence.

Our communities have been generous with their time, money and friendship and a growing network of nonprofits are meeting critical needs including health care connections, language learning, cultural education and career planning. In Washington, Congresswoman Pingree has reintroduced legislation to shorten the asylum seeker work authorization waiting period and eliminate the two-year renewal requirement. In Maine a bipartisan coalition has submitted a resolution directing the Department of Labor to request a federal waiver to allow presumptive work eligibility for asylum-seekers.

These policy changes would significantly improve the quality of life for asylum-seekers and the communities where they will fill vacancies and contribute to the tax base. Let your elected representatives know that you support these measures.

Joanne Rosenthal,
Brunswick