Letters, Dec. 20

Dec 20, 2012

The time to talk about guns is now

When a 20-year-old man opened fire inside of an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, I was about an hour away, studying for a psychology final that I would be taking the next day. In the coffee shop I was in I heard some murmurs about a shooting that had taken place, but I didn’t think about it very much, and kept on studying. When someone I knew told me a few more of the details I took a moment to shake my head and reflect, but I was too engrossed in my work and brushed it of like it was just another shooting, the kind that’s in the news every couple months now. Eventually, I decided to open my laptop and read the news for myself, and discovered that the shooter was the same age as me, and that 20 kids had died, and their teachers, too.

Growing up in Maine, I always had a complicated relationship with guns. I was exposed to them early on, and in a way that treated them like what they are: tools that humans use to provide systematic ease to the process of killing another living being. I was also taught that if used correctly they can be very safe mechanisms, which offer their users recreation, safety and much more.

I grew up in a place where hunter orange clothing and dead bucks in the back of pickup trucks were regularities, and even went hunting once or twice myself. I also grew up a dedicated student of the social sciences, reading every day the constant news about murders, about the statistics on gun violence, and the arguments made both in favor of and against gun control. The issue of guns is one I’ve always been torn about, and that’s because it’s so layered.

The fact is, no one has the right answer on guns. Each side has some convincing statements and the figures to back them, and they also say some other stuff that I’ll never be able to support. But it is unacceptable for us to let this event pass us by and to continue saying, “Now isn’t the time the talk about guns.” A lot of people out there are mourning, and I’ve been mourning too. No matter what I do, I can’t get those kids out of my head. I can’t stop reading the news stories being released hour after hour, and every time I do I try so hard not to cry for them. But I think about what their lives will really mean if they’re overshadowed by another shooting that happens in two weeks. Or if we don’t take this opportunity to have real discussions about stopping the irresponsible use of guns, and about making it easier for anyone who needs mental health resources to use them if they feel like they need to.

Being a college student, I’m afforded a lot of time to dream about the future. Sometimes I think about the day when I have my first child, and what that will be like. I fantasize about putting the kids in the car and taking them to the park. When we’re there I’ll push them on the swing, and teach them about the world. This dream has never included having to wear a concealed weapon in order to feel safe while we’re there, and I don’t ever want it to. I don’t want the world I bring my children into to be one where they have to walk past an armed security guard on their first day of school. I don’t want them to live in a world of fear, like the one I feel like we’re being pulled into.

It’s true that we live in a country where people have been given the right to own guns, and I support their right to do so. But we were also endowed with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every moment of my life I’m thankful because of that. I want my children to live in a world that allows them to be thankful for those rights too, and it’s time to talk about the way we make sure that happens, whatever the costs might be.

Kyle Smith

Belfast

The real killer in school shootings

Ban this — psychotropic drugs, linked to these school shootings — and stop using the deaths of innocent children to push your political agenda: Gun control.

The politicians were front-and-center in the first hours of the Newtown school tragedy, already pushing their gun control agenda while those little bodies were still in the school. Despicable.

Shame. You know these drugs are the common link and have known it for decades. But you keep silent. We know that there's a revolving door between the politicians and the big drug companies and the legal drug pushers. We know that much is overlooked because of the big money and legal power. But there is a limit to what can be humanly condoned, and it has been crossed.

"Never let a good crisis go to waste"? Yes, we know the mantra. But this evil condoning of these drugs has been going on for many, many years.

Look at yourself in the mirror, if you can, and ask: "Is this one tragedy too far for looking the other way on the real cause?"

Yes, evil exists — in the halls of government (and citizens, too busy watching "Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" to educate themselves...They (you?) are guilty too).

I was researching/writing/talking about the devastation caused by these drugs, particularly to our children, and the link to the violence, over a decade ago. No one was interested.

Contact your representatives and demand to know why they sanction the continued use of these when the results are known and documented. Maybe skip just one episode of your favorite inane TV program and educate yourself. Start with these three clips:

Below: this was reported in 2002!

On YouTube, search: "FOX school shootings" and scroll down to "school shootings"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S-7aNPf33A.

On Google, search: "FOX News: School shootings: Caused by Teens on Anti-depressants"

http://vaccineliberationarmy.com/fox-news-school-shootings-caused-by-teens-on-anti-depressants/.

For chart: http://www.ssristories.com/ and scroll down to list and click on school shootings/incidents

http://www.ssristories.com/index.php?p=school.

Then there's the tens of thousands of deaths by suicide, even with very young children, and murders.

Ban killer drugs, not guns. These drugs have never even been tested for safety on kids. But the thousands of devastating, destructive and deadly results have been documented for decades. How many hundreds more innocents must die before this is stopped? Billions a year are made by the drug companies and those tied to them or paid off by them. When do we stand up and shout: "No more"?

I wonder how many of you will actually even take the time to go to one of these links.

But I do know it won't be many, sadly. And if some of you are thinking: "Well, this is just the opinion of a gun-loving conservative — you might want to check out Michael Moore's — the liberal darling's — take on it. (Never thought I'd be agreeing with that bloke on anything.)

Just go to YouTube and search: "Michael Moore Admits Big Pharma to blame for school shootings."

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt

Morrill

In defense of guns

Due to the horrific incident that occurred last week at a Connecticut elementary school I felt it necessary to speak out on the issue of firearms control. I am sure that there have already been many knee jerk reactions calling for the disarming of all citizens. So I ask as a law-biding gun owner that you be careful in your response to this horrible incident.

I direct my comments to those who feel that our country would be safer if the private citizen was disarmed. You know of course that there is true evil in our world. You should also know that disarming the public will do nothing to eliminate the presence of this evil.

You know or should know that there are mentally challenged people who respond to stresses in their lives in unacceptable ways, sometimes with violence. You should also know that these problems have existed since Adam. The majority of firearms owners are in fact law-biding citizens who present no threat to any of us.

In fact the presence of an armed citizen has on many occasions prevented or reduced crime. The police cannot be everywhere. In fact we don’t want them everywhere. Many times the police presence comes only after an incident has occurred.

We are one of the few countries in the free world that allows the law-biding citizen the right to keep and bear arms. That right, as granted by our fore fathers in the Second Amendment to our Constitution, should be viewed as sacred. Its importance is only surpassed by our right of free speech.

Our government was formed by revolutionaries, by a people who viewed their own Government as oppressive. They did not give us the second amendment for personal defense, nor for hunting. They gave it to us so that we the people would always have the ability to defend ourselves against a Government that failed its people.

You do not have to look very far to see governments that abuse their own populous. North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Syria and China, are only a few that instantly come to mind. Power corrupts and we all know about absolute power. Could it be that the presence of an armed public has prevented these evils from taking place in our country?

During World War II the Japanese wanted to invade the U.S. One of the comments made in opposition to that idea was, and I paraphrase, “There will be a gun behind every blade of grass.” This I believe is another reason to defend with all our might the second amendment.

Let’s not base decisions on the lowest common denominator. Evil does not come from the many, it comes from the few. It should also be noted that in the past few years there have been a number of violent attacks on school children in China. The weapon? A knife. Be careful what you support, it could come back and bite us all.

Leo Mazerall

Stockton Springs

Honored

The Belfast Chapter of the National Honor Society would like to thank members of the community who gave so freely towards our annual fundraiser. The donations received have allowed us to meet our fundraising needs with this one event.  The money that we raise from our raffle will help to cover the costs of our annual induction, a scholarship for one of our NHS members, and a gift to the school.

We specifically would like to thank the following community members: Hannaford, Front Street Shipyard, Dr. Michelle Morrow, Dutch Eye Care, Floral Creations, The Drinkwater Family, Sherman Williams, Dutch Chevrolet, WCGH, The Njaas, Dena & Steve Hanscom, Gert Lapham, Colonial Theatre, CO-OP, AK & S Drywall, Inc., Purple Baboon, Beyond the Sea, Debra Pickering,  SUP ME, Nancy's Sewing Center, Green Tree Coffee & Tea, Camden National Bank, Jen Marlow, City Drawers, Jon Clapp, Armor and Cathy Neilson, Quirk Mercury of Belfast, Danielle Black, Swan Lake Grocery, The Chocolate Drop, The Bielenberg family, Maine Development Associates and Grant Richards.

Molly Ross

Pamela Lynam

Co-advisers, National Honor Society

Thoughts on gun control

Due to the horrific incident that occurred last week at a Connecticut elementary school, I felt it necessary to speak out on the issue of firearms control.

I am sure that there have already been many knee-jerk reactions calling for the disarming of all citizens. So I ask, as a law-biding gun owner, that you be careful in your response to this horrible incident. I direct my comments to those who feel that our country would be safer if the private citizen were disarmed. You know, of course, that there is true evil in our world. You should also know that disarming the public will do nothing to eliminate the presence of this evil. You know or should know that there are mentally challenged people who respond to stresses in their lives in unacceptable ways, sometimes with violence.

You should also know that these problems have existed since Adam. The majority of firearms owners are, in fact, law-biding citizens who present no threat to any of us. In fact, the presence of an armed citizen has on many occasions prevented or reduced crime. The police cannot be everywhere. In fact, we don’t want them everywhere.

Many times the police presence comes only after an incident has occurred. We are one of the few countries in the free world that allows the law-biding citizen the right to keep and bear arms. That right, as granted by our forefathers in the Second Amendment to our Constitution, should be viewed as sacred. Its importance is only surpassed by our right of free speech.

Our government was formed by revolutionaries, by a people who viewed their own government as oppressive. They did not give us the Second Amendment for personal defense, nor for hunting. They gave it to us so that we, the people, would always have the ability to defend ourselves against a government that failed its people. You do not have to look very far to see governments that abuse their own populus. North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Syria and China are only a few that instantly come to mind. Power corrupts, and we all know about absolute power. Could it be that the presence of an armed public has prevented these evils from taking place in our country?

During World War II, the Japanese wanted to invade the U.S. One of the comments made in opposition to that idea was, and I paraphrase, “There will be a gun behind every blade of grass." This, I believe, is another reason to defend with all our might the Second Amendment.

Let’s not base decisions on the lowest common denominator. Evil does not come from the many, it comes from the few. It should also be noted that in the past few years there have been a number of violent attacks on school children in China. The weapon? A knife. Be careful what you support, it could come back and bite us all.

Leo Mazerall
Stockton Springs

Silver tea sparkles

I wish to thank all of the people involved with the very successful Waldo County General Hospital Aid Silver Tea held on Dec. 12. The aid raised $1,596 in donations and $1,784 from raffle sales to benefit the hospital.

A special thank-you to our hosts, Larry Marshall and Rosemarie Cyr, for allowing us to welcome the community to an afternoon tea in their beautifully restored bed and breakfast, The Alden House Inn, which was built in 1840 for Belfast attorney Hiram Alden.

Randy Doak provided photographs of the wedding of his parents, George Doak and Shirley English, at the house in 1948, which were on display. The refreshment team did a wonderful job under the direction of Geary Tibbetts. Thank you to all Aid members who contributed food, poured tea or coffee, acted as room hosts or greeted people at the front door.

Raffle winners of gift cards were: Barry Way, Barbara Grass and Sandy Gordon. I truly appreciate all of the community members who joined us for refreshments and conversation in celebration of our community and the upcoming holiday season.

Phyllis Gaul

President

Waldo County General Hospital Aid

Save the post office

I am writing to the editor because the town of Liberty doesn’t have a column in the Sports and Community Section of the Republican Journal. Many in the town of Liberty don’t realize that the post office is fighting for its life. They will receive a survey in the mail asking what they want to do. They do not realize the importance of this survey. The results will be disclosed at a meeting at the Liberty Post Office on Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.

There will also be a question-and-answer period of how the results will impact the residents of Liberty. I implore the people of Liberty to answer their survey and be there for the meeting. This is our town, and we need to let the postal authorities know that we want the post office. My husband used to say that he handled the big decisions like if we went to war, who we voted for for president and how the government was run; I handled the small problems like where we lived, what schools the children attended, what vehicle we purchased, etc. This might fall under his reign, but he is no longer among us so I am answering it.

Sylvia Sim

Liberty

Giving thanks

All of us at BCOPE want to thank everyone at Waldo County General Hospital, especially Andrea Walker, for their generosity to our students. Your kindness at this time of year goes a long way toward helping our students stay warmer, happier, and healthier — all which assists them toward success in school and in their daily lives.

Again, our sincerest thanks.

BCOPE staff and students

Connect the dots

I was privileged to speak on Thursday, Nov. 29, at the public hearings in Searsport regarding DCP's proposal for an LPG mega-tank. I am a member of Thanks But No Tank, but spoke as part of the business panel to address specific concerns about the risks to the local economy and my particular business, Pumpkin Patch Antiques, if this proposal went forward.

I am not repeating those concerns here, but am restating and emphasizing the points I made as the former chair of the Comprehensive Planning Committee from 2000-2006, during which time we wrote the plan, defined the districts and, after approval by the residents at an annual town meeting, we wrote the land use ordinances that are in effect today.

The Industrial District, section K, page 8, describes the location of the district and gives a general definition of what an industrial district is intended for, i.e. “to accommodate industrial and large commercial development.” Uses are to be permitted or prohibited “because of their potential impact on the community.” It continues by stating that “the permitted use will include light industry, manufacturing, warehousing, storage, wholesaling, and similar uses of equivalent impact.” It's my emphasis applied to the words.

It's very important to hold the permitted uses in mind as you read DCP's Application For Site Plan Approval, page 13, under “Land Use Standards,” where they state that they conform with Searsport's Comprehensive Plan because the Industrial District is intended for “industrial and large commercial development,” and they do not mention the actual permitted uses which are specified by language we chose carefully in order to protect the community and to promote appropriate development. They simply chose the sentence that fit their purposes and ignored the rest.

It was also very revealing to hear one of their lawyers, Kelly Boden, say that DCP immediately saw a need for changes to be made to the ordinances (read our ordinances) to accommodate their plans for a mega-tank. At an earlier meeting, she claimed authorship of the proposed ordinance height change that was voted on at the March 2011 town meeting, a proposal that was introduced by a current Planning Board member as his own “suggestion.” And then any discussion of whether or not this change would open the door to a large tank facility was banned by the moderator, without the public being made aware of the method by which to protest this decision.

Hmmmm?

Let's sum up: DCP comes to town two years ago. Their application “mistakenly” claims compliance with our comp plan. Ordinance changes are written by their attorney, introduced by a Planning Board member. Discussion of the tank banned at town meeting.

Can we connect the dots?

Phyllis W. Sommer

Searsport

Resents outsider comment

The last thing we need here in Searsport/Stockton is an irrational letter to the editor from some obviously hypocritical NIMBY from Freedom.

No doubt Ms. Brugger rails against climate change, clamors to see an end to our addiction to fossil fuels, yet is also dead-set against alternative energies... especially if that energy source bothers someone, even in a smallest way. (They are, indeed, large, and they do go "thrum-thrum" occasionally.) I have visited the Freedom site(and others) several times, and have never heard a sound.

The cure for climate change will adversely affect us all, such as rational oil and gas or paying a carbon tax. So, how about a little less whining?

One would have to question the sanity of someone who compares a quiet, clean electric generator that burns only free wind to a dangerous, hazardous fossil fuel storage tank that, in the event of the worst case accident, could blow up 6,000 people and two or three towns.

The similarity is a delusion, and so is any comparison between the companies behind the projects.

My opinion is that this letter writer is just a drama queen strutting her stuff.

R. Small

Stockton Springs

Offers tax reform proposal

Let me be really blunt here — we need to kill the tax code as we now know it today, but do so by well-crafted amendments to the Constitution, or even a new Constitution altogether. Politicians and bureaucrats cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of ordinary Americans. They are too easily corrupted by money and their own self-interest. And that deeply wounds the economy.

High taxes are destructive to economic activity. A simple and very concise flat income tax system is essential, with its very limited tax range set by the amendment to between 10 and 25 percent. Let the Federal Reserve alter that core rate by up to 10 percent of the rate set by Congress, but with at least  half of any increase dedicated to paying down any debt.

Allow only very limited income tax deductions for everyone — individuals and businesses alike. No more loopholes or tax schemes, and no marriage penalty: every adult individual is taxed the same. Base the core individual deductions on the national poverty income amount. Every adult taxpayer gets one such deduction, while a second one accrues from investments by the taxpayer into special savings accounts, general savings, primary home mortgage interest, and for dependents, but no more than that same poverty income setting. Finally, after deducting those and any other deductions allowed from the gross income, up to 10 percent of the adjusted (net) income could be deducted, based upon qualified contributions to charitable institutions.

All very simple. No more tax lawyers or CPAs required. Shred the IRS down as well.

Replace Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with dedicated personal savings accounts for retirement and health care, plus create a universal health maintenance system run by the states for their citizens. Each citizen would, from birth, accrue annual payments to their personal retirement and health care savings accounts via per-capita distributions form federal trust funds fed by a tiny 1 percent universal financial transactions tax. No more "payroll" taxes. Congress could still supplement those payments from the general fund by income and other taxes, but Congress could not alter nor penalize payments from the trust funds to their beneficiaries.

A national sales tax could also be implemented, offering traditional exemptions for businesses, charities and government agencies. But it should be limited to no more than five percent for the federal government, or a 10 percent joint sales tax for both federal and state purposes. For interstate sales, that could be divvied to both states. but it should be a plain sales tax, and not a "value-added" tax. Let business income taxes serve that purpose.

Duties, tariffs, excise taxes and other federal fees would continue to exist, and like any sales tax, feed into the general fund, over which Congress  has complete discretion for spending. But the tiny financial transactions tax must only go to predetermined trust funds, and then be distributed as also preset by amendment to the Constitution.

The power of all this — multiple low-rate taxes — to expand current economic activity while also improving the lives of all Americans can only be proven by total implementation of all those programs and policies. But it isn't so hard to figure it out on your own how high taxes kill your own spending power, and thus also for those around you. Think about it.

Randall Hofland

Maine State Prison

Warren

Farris' testimony

Following the printing of a letter to the editor in your newspaper last week that referred to my testimony at the recent Searsport Planning board public hearings on DCP Midstream's application, i have been asked to share my comments with the general public.

My name is Charlene Knox Farris. I am a native of Searsport, a longtime teacher at the Searsport Elementary School and Searsport's town historian.

"To endanger a large city population is too great a risk. Searsport has the necessary shipping facilities. It is far away from any large city. If the worst happens, it would happen to a comparative few in this small town."

No, those are not the words of Conoco Philips, Spectra Energy or DCP Midstream. Instead, they are words that appeared in a news article published in the Boston Globe in 1945, at the end of World War II. The article continues:

"Partly, it may be said, through good luck, and largely through the care and skill of the men of the chemical Warfare Service, Searsport successfully faced destruction to serve as a port of embarkation, shipping a vast supply of chemical ammunition and toxic gas during World War II. Here this  highly dangerous material was assembled and packed for overseas shipment without serious injury or accident. With such a large quantity being handled, almost anything could have happened."

The ammunition which was to be shipped across the Atlantic to U.S. forces and [our] allies was shipped to the Searsport docks by train. My grandfather, Alvin Knox, was the stationmaster then — a very nerve-wracking job.

The town of Searsport has already been asked to sacrifice its safety due to our small population and deep harbor. We did it during World War II, and we did it well. In my opinion, Searsport should not be asked to put its safety at risk again unless the reason is equally compelling.

And if you asked my grandfather Knox, he wold agree, only  he would not be nearly as polite about it!

Charlene Knox Farris

Searsport

A story of Christmas kindness

On Monday I was fired by my employer of almost 12 years to cut expenses and increase profitability. On Thursday my daughter was due to have surgery. On Wednesday night, my septic tank backed up into my basement and into the shower my daughter was about to use. But this letter is not about me, it’s about Superior Restoration and Interstate Septic.

Because on Thursday morning, very early, when the engineer from Interstate arrived to dig with such care in our vegetable beds for the septic tank’s inspection cap, his main concern was for my daughter and her operation. And when the team from Superior Restoration arrived to clean up the mess, their main concern was to get the shower usable so my daughter could take the shower prescribed by the hospital before the operation, the one she’d been trying to take the night before…

Then, when I told Dave, Superior’s boss, who is an old friend, that I had been fired on Monday, he commiserated, shook his head, took 10 steps towards his van, turned and said: “Consider this my Christmas present to you.” Half an hour later Dave called again to let us know that he had spoken to Interstate and they had also waived their bill. “Just bake us some cookies.”

I don’t know exactly how much the bills would have been, but this generosity saved us a substantial amount of money at a time when we can least afford it. I don’t know a better story to restore your faith in the human spirit, nor a better argument to buy local.

P.S. The operation went fine. Going to Waldo County General is like going to family, complete with eccentric uncles, kindly aunts, laughing cousins. We’ve rarely felt better cared for.

Paul Hodgson

Camden

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