Piotti responds to tax-reform critic

Mr. [Richard] Lenfest’s recent column (“What tax-reform proponents don’t want you to know about taxes,” May 26 TRJ) refers to what he calls a “misrepresentation” about meals and lodging taxes in New Hampshire, that he feels drove the Maine Legislature to enact the tax reform law that appears on the June 8 ballot as Question 1. I’m not sure what he is saying. The facts here are fairly clear, as I reported in a recent column. The meals and lodging tax in both New Hampshire and Vermont is 9 percent. In Maine, that tax will go from 7 percent to 8.5 percent under the new law.

One of many goals of the new tax law is to lower the tax burden on Maine residents by raising certain taxes paid in part by non-residents (including the meals and lodging tax) and providing the benefits back to Mainers through reduced income taxes.

Mr. Lenfest also questions how more than 95 percent of Mainers can see an income tax cut under the new law, claiming that “Piotti’s numbers just don’t add up.” First, they are not my numbers, but accurate figures from Maine Revenues Services. Second, Mr. Lenfest is misreading how the new law works.

Under the new law, the vast majority of Mainers will pay an effective tax rate that is less than 6.5 percent, just as the majority of Mainers now pay an effective tax rate that is less than 8.5 percent. The bottom line is that more than 95 percent of Mainers will see their effective tax rate fall.

Much of Mr. Lenfest’s commentary is about how New Hampshire has a superior tax code to Maine. Having studied New Hampshire’s tax system in detail, I would agree that Maine can learn some things from New Hampshire. (Indeed, having higher meals and lodging taxes and lower income taxes is one such lesson.)

But I don’t want anyone to think that New Hampshire is heaven. Contrary to popular belief, New Hampshire charges taxes on several categories of income. It also applies a special Business Enterprise Tax and both state and local property taxes (that total much higher than Maine’s).

Yes, Maine needs to make changes to its tax code. The new law is a small step in the right direction. A “No” vote on Question 1 will enable this important law to go into effect.

Rep. John Piotti

Unity

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Build another bridge

Why, after all these years, is there but one bridge to cross the Penobscot River between Bucksport and Bangor? I was involved in that mess yesterday [May 28]. By the time I had driven all the way to Brewer the bridge was back open. There didn’t seem to be anywhere to wait and see or information as to when it might reopen — a lot of wasted fuel and time. Some jerk, I’m sure, ruined the first part of [vacation for] many tourists and campers I encountered on my detour (and very unhappy ones, I might add). I guess that is the way life is today. So, let’s think [of] another bridge, say, in Winterport. Please.

Virgil Fowles Jr.

Brooks

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Differs with Don Violette

This is a response to Donald Violette’s letter in the May 5 issue of the Republican Journal. I am a 14-year-old freshman at Islesboro Central School, and I have been reading and guffawing at the absurdity of Mr. Violette’s letters for at least five years. I have also been responding to them, and I hope that this is the first response that is published.

Although it may not be my place to judge, I hope that I never end up in a relationship with a man who doesn’t respect me as a fellow human, someone who believes that “the woman was created to be a helper to the man; not rule over him.”

I believe, Mr. Violette, that you are out of your “proper place” by spreading lies about religious “facts” that are unprovable, and slander about our president and government. After reading the letter many times, I still can’t figure out why Communism was sloppily thrown into the otherwise religious and nonsensical letter.

You instructed the reader to go to certain verses in the Bible for “proof” of your argument that, “It is a sin worthy of eternal death to be arrogant, to be out of one’s proper place, or to engage in any type of sex outside of marriage.” I did just that and found nothing but words “spoken” by a “God” who is presumed to be all-knowing, despite the fact that there is no reason for a logical, thinking person to even believe that “He” exists.

How is it impossible to believe that the Bible is just “a pack of lies … a flawed book on morals and future judgment”? What type of questioning individual says that it’s not? Could it not just be another piece of fiction with multitudes of followers — no different than “Harry Potter” or “Twilight”? I believe so. I, Mr. Violette, dare call Jesus Christ “a complete fraud.”

I have no issue with you, my grandmother, or my friend believing in Him or the Bible, but to use Him, the epitome of love and acceptance, to promote your close-minded beliefs seems utterly sacrilegious to me.

Davis Boardman

Islesboro

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Is ‘hate speech’ the truth?

This is a response to Donald Violette’s May 5 letter (“Is the truth ‘hate speech’?”), in which he wrote a rebuttal to Ms. Gina Cressey’s criticism of The Republican Journal for publishing one of his previous works (“Discrimination: A great need,” April 7 TRJ).

Mr. Violette begins his rebuttal by tying religion into the foundation of the United States. While this may have some historical accuracy, I would not go as far as to say that if not for the Bible and Bible-believing Christians, the United States would be “like Haiti, Saudi Arabia, or Cuba.”

In my opinion, when individuals try to base their political ideals on religion, in many cases, it is a telltale sign of a mis-opinionated person who warps religious beliefs to create a false sense of originality.

While I have no religious preference and absolutely no problem with religion itself, I do have a problem when religion creates turmoil within the world.

I also have a problem with the fact that a small group of religious individuals believe that all “nonbelievers” are, without a doubt, 100 percent sure of ending up in hell. I have a problem with the fact that these types of ideas of religion have led to the creation of thoughts such as “a large aspect of Christianity involves preaching the word of God, reproving the works of darkness and speaking the truth in love.”

Speaking of love, I am disturbed by some of Mr. Violette’s comments on women. Being a heterosexual 18-year-old male who has recently joined the United States Army and hopelessly fallen for his high school girlfriend, I can’t say that I have a tremendous amount of experience in love, but I can say that I do have enough experience of love to know that some of the comments regarding women in “Is the truth ‘hate speech’?” are absurd.

How can an American man, or any man, for that matter, say things such as “Virtually all the founders of America believed women were most free and happy when in their God-appointed place at home and in subjection to their husbands.”?

How could someone who has looked into a woman’s eyes and felt completely vulnerable be as ignorant as to say that a hate-monger is someone who “…pushes to take away rights from men by giving women rights forbidden by God…”?

It is not the man’s job to control his partner. It is not his job to put her down, but rather to raise her up. And it is certainly not his job to create a twisted religious belief that women are subservient to men. It is, however, his job to be happy knowing that she is happy, regardless of how she chooses to live her life.

This may be a little unorthodox, but I have chosen to end my rebuttal with a quote from the 2001 adaptation of world-renowned economist and mathematician, John Forbes Nash Jr.’s life, “A Beautiful Mind”, in which Russell Crowe (portraying Nash) is quoted saying:

“I have made the most important discovery of my career… The most important discovery of my life… It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found…”

Holden Rogers

Islesboro

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A great city manager

I have always thought of city managers as rather unimaginative individuals, clutching binders full of financial statistics, sitting on the sidelines of more philosophical discussions at town or city council meetings.

We in Belfast are truly fortunate to have in Joe Slocum a person who demonstrates both financial expertise and an exceptional understanding of the city’s heritage. Writing in respectful images, he reminds us of Belfast’s working past, such as his recent remarks in the Bangor Daily News [article] on the last chicken farm in Waldo County.

I sincerely hope both the City Council and the residents of Belfast will value Mr. Slocum’s wisdom, and when hiring a director of development insist on getting someone who can work with Joe and others in using the best of the past to build an authentic community — one that respects and incorporates many perspectives and contributions.

Joanne Boynton

Belfast

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Harmon would do well in Augusta

Friends and neighbors in Waldo County, I urge you to vote for Ryan Harmon as the Republican candidate for State Representative for District 45 (Burnham, Unity, Troy, Thorndike, Montville, Freedom, Knox and Palermo).

Ryan will work hard to ensure that he represents you well in Augusta. We live in difficult times here in Maine. We need to elect a fresh voice who is willing to speak up and make changes to the status quo. We need to elect someone who will work to improve the quality of life here in Maine so that our children will be able to raise their own families here.

Ryan Harmon will work to achieve such goals and he will represent us with knowledge and integrity. Whether on the athletic field with my children, at local civic events, or other town-sponsored activities, Ryan is always willing to make the extra effort to hear citizens’ concerns and to do something about them.

Ryan appreciates civic responsibility and he believes that government needs to spend its money more efficiently before asking for more. Ryan wants Maine to be a place where our children will have the opportunity to find competitive employment and be able to raise their own families without an overwhelming tax burden.

He truly cares about our young people. Having watched Ryan coach for the Palermo Youth Activities organization, I have been impressed by his concern for our community’s children, and his desire to teach them to be strong, independent and thoughtful. Ryan will take those values to Augusta with him.

Most importantly, please take time to vote on June 8. If you want Maine to be a place our children will be proud to call home, vote for Ryan Harmon. He truly envisions “a new direction for Maine.”

Deann Porter

Palermo

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Jacobson’s the guy for gov

I am writing to ask for your vote for Matt Jacobson on June 8. In my humble opinion, he is the very best choice for governor that Maine has seen in years. I have met Matt and can say he is exactly what we need. His leadership will move Maine from the bottom rung of the economic ladder to the top of world-class competition.

His vision for Maine includes lowering electricity costs so that businesses will be willing to move here. Did you know that we pay more for electricity than much of the rest of the country does? Why is that?

Matt learned about leadership in the U.S. Naval Academy, and then by flying C130s during the Cold War for President [Ronald] Regan; he taught leadership along with flying skills at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Ask Matt what it was like flying over Russia and seeing antiaircraft missiles trained directly at his aircraft. Ask him what it takes to be a solid, decision-making leader.

Matt has run two railroads and has the experience of working with unions (14, at one time) and knows what it takes to negotiate in order to accomplish good things for people in need.

Matt is the CEO of Maine & Co.; a small non-rofit business that has brought athenahealth to Belfast, a wood pellet plant to Burnham and Plum Choice to Scarborough. He has brought upwards of 2,000 jobs to Maine. He knows what these and other companies need in order to relocate here.

A friend of mine familiar with corporate dealings said, “He is the only one with a legitimate strategy for creating and maintaining companies.” Matt has done this for a living. He knows what businesses want and need.

I invite you to read his “Jacobson Plan for Maine,” the 10 biggest issues that need to be remedied and his ideas on how he plans to accomplish just that. Go to his Web site, Jacobsonforgovernor.com, click on issues. You can also ask him questions; he Twitters and Facebooks. He does it all!

Matt Jacobson is not a lawyer; he is not a government retread. He is running because, “It’s the right thing to do.” He is a breath of fresh air who, when asked a question, looks you in the eye, answers the question and stirs you to your soul with his sincerity. Thank you for your vote on June 8.

Linda R. Hoeschle

Searsport

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Giles supports Jacobson

I encourage Republicans to vote for Matt Jacobson for governor on June 8. Jobs and the economy are key issues in the 2010 elections. I believe that Matt Jacobson has the best plan for creating jobs, improving our economy, and bringing greater opportunities to Maine.

What do I know about Matt? Matt is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds an MBA from Chapman University. He is a veteran, having served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Matt and his wife, Dr. Kate McQuillen, live in Cumberland with their two children.

Matt has said that this campaign is about jobs. As the president and CEO of Maine & Company, Matt recruited several firms to Maine that have created an estimated 1,500 new jobs. These businesses include: athenahealth in Belfast, Boston Financial Data Services in Rockland and NotifyMD in Winthrop.

During the recession, Maine has lost approximately 30,000 jobs. We need Matt as our next governor because he has a proven track record of creating quality jobs. Matt’s 10-point Jacobson Plan will lead our state in a new direction by making jobs, families and communities his top priorities. You can learn more about Matt’s plan at: jacobsonforgovernor.com.

On June 8, please cast your vote for Matt Jacobson. He has successfully served his country, run major businesses and attracted jobs to Maine. Choose opportunity. Choose Matt Jacobson.

Rep. Jayne Crosby Giles

Belfast

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Seeing clearly

Remember “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff? Well, that’s what is happening all over America. We are seeing clearly that the promise of Obama and the Democrats was just campaign talk designed to cloud our minds while they schemed to pay off their indigent supporters by redistributing the rewards earned by those who work and given to those who watch television instead.

Proof of this is seen in a USA Today analysis of government data. [The article states,] “Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year. At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.” Democrats are happy with this, but might deny it if they were asked.

The genius of the Democrats’ scheme was to have an African-American as the front man. Everyone knows that you can’t seriously criticize a black President without being hammered by swarms of PC police. If Barack were white, he would be treated more honestly. A white president that handled the oil spill by telling BP that he had a boot on their neck and then waiting five days to wake up to the issue would have been seen as incompetent and an angry press would have landed on him like a duck on a spring bug.

Do you think for a second that that awful man George Bush would be waiting around threatening lawsuits and tax increases on oil? No, he would have brought the full force of American ingenuity to the problem and, with BP’s help, it would have been solved by now. But instead of a doer, we have a talker who, at this writing, is trying to take credit for BP’s plan to stuff the hole with mud before it succeeds or fails.

But we are waking up and if you listen carefully you’ll hear America humming “I Can See Clearly Now.”

David Huck

Swan Lake

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Amon Vaughan’s family says thanks

The family of Amon Vaughan would like to give their heartfelt thanks to everyone who showed their support at the Amon Vaughan Memorial Scholarship Fund Dinner. We had an overwhelming turnout at our first scholarship dinner.

We would like to give special thanks to the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department, Hope Fire Department, Union Fire Department, Lincolnville Fire Department, Camden Fire Department and Rescue Team, Appleton Village School, Weaver’s Bakery, Borealis Breads, The Badger Café, Lucinda Russ, the Russo Family, and the Keller Family. We appreciate your contributions.

We also had many beautiful desserts donated for the auction by family and friends and would like to say thank you for the time invested in making them. We look forward to giving out this year’s scholarship in memory of Amon and thank all of you for making it happen. This is a great way to honor Amon’s memory. We look forward to next year’s scholarship dinner. Thank you.

The family of Amon Vaughan

Question 5 will leverage needed funds

On June 8 the citizens of Maine will have the opportunity to vote on bond issues. Referendum Question 5 includes $10,250,000 to support public water and wastewater system improvements and to assist farmers in developing water sources. These funds will be matched by $33,250,000 in federal and other funds.

Passage of this bond issue is necessary for Maine to receive federal grants for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund. This fund is used by public water and wastewater systems to finance needed capital improvements.

The Winterport Water District has been a recipient of both the Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Funds. Interest rates on these funds are substantially lower than those of standard financial institutions. In 2006 the WWD received Drinking Water State Revolving funding in the amount of $444,000 at an interest rate of 1.58 percent to install a new well and construct a pumping station to replace antiquated and failing facilities.

In 2006 the district received a $130,000 loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to install manholes into its sewage collection system to facilitate repairs to its system. The interest rate for this funding was 1.86 percent, In 2002 the WWD received a loan of $694,602 with an interest rate of 2.25 percent to perform a Main Street sewer line upgrade.

Water and wastewater systems throughout the state, including the Winterport Water District, are facing many challenges. We are striving to replace aging system components, and improve treatment facilities. It takes money to do these things. The State Revolving Fund allows more work to be done, while minimizing the impact on water and sewer system ratepayers.

Maine needs the $10,250,000 that is included in Referendum Question 5 in order to receive the $33,250,000 in federal funds. We need to continue to invest in public health and to protect our natural resources. We are all stewards of the environment and we need your help to protect it.

Vote yes on Referendum Question 5.

Steven Long, Chairman Board of Trustees

Steven Lane, Superintendent
Winterport Water District