Letters, July 10

Jul 10, 2014

Thanks for 'rounding up'

The Belfast Garden Club would like to thank the Belfast Co-op for including us in their Round Up for Community Program in June.

The program allows shoppers to "round up" their total charge to the nearest dollar, with the difference going to a local non-profit.

​This wonderful program only furthers the Co-op’s mission of being an active supporter of our community and the Garden Club is very grateful for the nearly $300 in donations we received. We encourage everyone to consider "rounding up" the next time you shop at the Co-op!

Corliss C. Davis

Belfast Garden Club

Who is responsible for poor paving job?

I recently wrote the Maine Department of Transportation to decry the very poor state of Route 1 between the center of Camden and Lincolnville. That paving job was done less than a year ago. Yet there are already large worn-away patches and ruts in the road everywhere. The paving job obviously needs fixing. Which, of course, means more expense for taxpayers because the original job was shoddy.

Either the state civil servants responsible for overseeing this work set short-term, low quality specifications for the job or the paving company executed the work poorly — or both. But this much is clear, it is unacceptable to pay for paving work and then repairs when the original work is less than one year old!

Here is the text of a letter dated July 1 that I received from Bradford Foley, Highway Program Manager, Maine Department of Transportation:

“The work, which is known as Light Capital Paving, is applied to about 600 miles annually across the state. It consists of an asphalt placement about 5/8” in depth applied at a rate of 500 tons per mile. It is considered a short term application intended to improve rideability and winter plowing.

The section of Route 1 roadway you have mentioned was part of a 42.12 mile contract that treated various roadways throughout the Knox and Waldo County region. The project was awarded to the Lane Construction Corporation who bid $1,469,044.60 to perform the work. The Department is required to advertise capital improvement projects and award to the lowest responsible and qualified bidder.

The Department has been monitoring the performance of this recent treatment and is working with Lane to determine appropriate remedial actions in order to get a more serviceable project. We expect the work to take place this summer and for the improvements to meet the needs of the traveling public.”

But hold on. What about the taxpaying public? Are we meant to pay a lot for “shortcuts” and then even more for “remedial actions”?

Here’s what I suggest: write to the governor and to your representative. Tell them that we expect quality, lasting work done on our roads — work that doesn't need “remedial actions” and more expense in less than a year’s time! Specifically call on these officials to investigate the award of this Lane Construction Corp. contract in Knox and Waldo counties and then inform us: did Lane Construction under-perform or did the State fail us by setting very poor, short-fix job specifications? Who, after all, is responsible for this poor, poor roadwork that is falling apart in less than one year? And how much more are taxpayers going to have to pay to fix things?

Jim Schlagheck

Camden

Mid-East on the brink

The end of the world is coming all too soon, and we can thank a line of American presidents, plus Congress, for that inevitability.  Oh, and throw in the "free press" as well.

The Islamic "Middle East," the Arabian peninsula in particular, but those influences also now extending throughout much of Africa and south-central Asia as well, is a hot, dry tinder with many small fires already burning, with the entire region ready to explode.  Every opportunity to dampen those fires was missed by both Western democracies as well as the seemingly "moderate" Islamists.

Every president in the 20th century, and most especially now the first of the 21st century, Barack Hussein Obama, has been oblivious to a simple maxim: that a stable democracy is not easily planted and nurtured.  Rather, its seed must be carefully planted and nurtured, including regular feedings and weedings.

Europe learned this the hard way, beginning with the British Isles hundreds of years ago as "English Law" evolved, and then the United States broke away in the 18th century.  By 1789, the French Revolution began, and the rest of Europe quivered in fear as French Jacobins turned their revolution into a horrible, decades long bloodbath.  A century later, multiple European democracies had come and gone as few lasted more than a decade or two, but they did finally take root in many of the western European countries.

Hoping for the same outcome in Islamic countries is an exercise in futility as the current turmoil in Iraq and Syria proves all too well.  Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for democracy to survive in any tyranny including Islamic states where either military or religious zealots hold tyrannical powers.  Nor is there much hope for democracy to evolve in such environments so long as those powers refuse to share governance with the people of their nation.

The United States wisely recognized the importance of continuous involvement with evolving democracies with its "Marshall Plan" after World War II.  Long term involvement including massive financial investments helped western Europe, and eventually eastern Europe, as well as Japan and other Asian countries, to grow into mostly stable democratic and capitalistic societies.  Yet we have failed to successfully do so in most of Africa and central Asia.

It now appears too late to reverse what will likely grow into a horrific religion-based catastrophe that sweeps out of the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia and across the globe. It is likely far too late to prevent that catastrophe and the very real Armageddon to follow.

Yet, maybe, just maybe, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth could save us.  Maybe.  But don't count on hearing it in the news media.

Randall Hofland

Maine State Prison

Warren

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