Piotti responds to Nickerson’s column

During my time in the Legislature I have tried hard to present information to my constituents objectively. I am an engineer by training, and I try to let the facts reign. Thus, I can get frustrated by the loose treatment of information that invariably occurs in politics, especially during election season.

Last week’s column by Mark Nickerson [“Have you had enough yet?”, page A9] is a case in point. Mark blames his recent increase in property taxes on the Democrats in the Legislature, and more specifically, on me. His argument is that the Democrats passed a budget that includes reductions in funding to municipalities. He points to both reductions in state revenue-sharing and reductions in state aid to education.

There are many problems with what Nickerson says.

First, he is ignoring several factors that contribute to his property tax bill, including municipal spending and the fact that his community recently underwent a revaluation.

Second, he is simply wrong when he says that the current state budget is a Democratic budget. That budget was passed by a bipartisan super-majority. It was developed with considerable input from Republicans on the Appropriations Committee and was supported by all members of Republican leadership and our own Republican Sen. Carol Weston. I was just one of 152 legislators who voted for it.

Third, in talking about state revenue-sharing, Nickerson never mentions that a good chunk of the reduction in payments to municipalities is due to the fact that state revenues have declined. It’s a little known fact that the state of Maine takes in less in total taxes (and fees) now than it did in previous budgets.

Nickerson makes reference to education funding, and of course, it is disappointing that any cuts to education funding had to be made. But a budget is a compromise, and a budget crafted during a severe recession that does not rely on new state taxes requires cuts. I wonder how Nickerson would have balanced the budget in a better way.

But I guess what bothers me most is that Nickerson makes it sound like I don’t care about taxes, when I’ve worked hard in the Legislature to try to relieve the tax burden. As just one example, in 2007 I helped shepherd a bill through the Taxation Committee that would have increased the “Homestead” and “Circuit Breaker” programs to provide significant property tax relief. The bipartisan bill emerged from committee with four out of five Republicans supporting it, but ultimately failed in the Senate.

Later in his column, Nickerson mentions my support for the tax reform plan defeated by voters last June. I understand why many people did not embrace that plan. I’ve readily admitted in this newspaper and elsewhere that the final version of the plan was flawed (though to my mind, still worthy of support).

But can’t opponents of that plan stop misrepresenting it? Nickerson and others continually refer to it as a new tax on 100 items, without ever mentioning that according to Maine Revenue Services the plan would have substantially reduced income taxes for 96 percent of Maine residents and put an additional $54 million into the pockets of Mainers after any new taxes were paid.

Rep. John Piotti



In praise of the plays at Marsh River

I was very distressed to read Jennifer Hill’s review of “Nunsense II” in the Oct. 20 edition of the Journal [“‘Nunsense II’: it’s all relative,” in the A&E section]. It shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is from “the big city” and has very little appreciation of Waldo County and the talent and community support and love we have here.

I saw the play Saturday, Oct. 23, and thought it was one of the best performances this theater in Brooks has ever done. We have a lot of local talent here. I hope The Republican Journal will not ever allow Jennifer to write a theater review ever again. She not only belittled the performers, but the audience as well. We like who we are and what we can do.

Joan Sheldon



‘Stuck in the middle again’

The campaigning for the mid-term elections this year is enough to make a dog laugh. One candidate will give us what the weathermen call M.O.T.S. — more of the same. Another candidate uses cheap, second-rate stunts to get the angry and ignorant vote. Another uses pictures of his opponent with Mr. Potatohead ears on him. And so on and so on.

What are you people, 6 years old? Tell me what you can do for the great state of Maine, not what the other guy has or hasn’t done. These fools who are the brains behind these PACs really need to grow up. Negative ads only work on the party faithful and don’t usually swing anyone to their side.

All I’m asking you to do is think before you just automatically check the box beside the name of the candidate of your party. You do have a choice. Just think about it.

It reminds me of a line from an old rock and roll song. ” Clowns to the left of me, jokers to my right. Here I am, stuck in the middle again.”

Think, please!

Russ Taylor



Give politicians’ pay to the people

I read with interest and some disgust the article in the Bangor Daily News of Oct. 16-17, entitled, “No Increase for ‘11 Social Security.” This was of interest ot me because a few years ago my husband and I became Social Security recipients.

I recently heard of a couple who retired on Social Security and could not live on the monthly SS check, and have taken on jobs. This is fine for those who are physically able to work. It is said that Social Security is a supplement to retirement benefits. What retirement benefits?

My husband paid into Social Security since he was 16 years old, raised a large family without welfare, and retired with a back injured by years of heavy labor as a woodsman, dock worker, sawmill laborer, often working two jobs to keep his family fed and clothed. We manage to survive on Social Security only because of the frugal ways of living in rural Mane, being born following the Great Depression. In our day, nothing was wasted, we used it, re-used it, and found a way to re-use it again.

I am totally amazed at the hypocrisy of our elected politicians, cutting Social Security benefits for those who are barely getting by, while giving themselves huge raises. As for hypocrisy, we lived through eight years of Bush-hating, Bush-bashing hypocrisy. I never could figure out why so much hate.

And now we find that we cannot speak ill of the man who is usurping our national heritage and posing as our leader in the White House. We’ve seen the hypocrisy recently by the bashing of a Republican candidate for governor who speaks his mind. Then we see a picture of his opponent laughingly holding a Bush-bashing poster.

No raise for Social Security recipients for the second time since Social Security adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. Go to the polls and vote. And when you vote, remember who is in office, from the top down to our local politicians. Remember who says that there is no inflation, and give them the opportunity to live on what Social Security recipients live on.

My idea to solve this shortfall is for all of the politicians, from the top to the bottom, to return their huge salaries, raises and the many benefits that they receive, to be given out to those who worked a lifetime to give them their lives of luxury. Another solution is to not give our hard-earned Social Security to anyone who has never paid a cent into it. Let’s put common sense back into government.

Isabel Morse Maresh



Wondering how to vote?

We’ve been sold down the river by both Democrats and Republicans: Clinton’s NAFTA stole our manufacturing base and jobs. Bush’s Fair Trade ensures no livable minimum wage and a slippery slope toward Chinese slave wages. Wars based on Republican lies and Democratic bailouts of banks and big businesses are resulting in higher federal, state and local taxes.

The Pentagon budget devours nearly as much money as all state, county, city and other governmental units spend to run the country! Who profits from that? Multinational corporations and financial institutions which don’t pay taxes in the U.S., but which contribute to political campaigns.

The U.S. economy is in serious trouble. Fewer jobs, stolen retirement income, foreclosures, medical emergency bankruptcies, rising cost of living, homelessness and hunger, kids moving back home are common everywhere. Who is immune?

As the financial system continues to collapse, is this the right time to vote for continued tax breaks for corporations and the very rich? For no Social Security, no Medicare, no minimum wage, no health care, no food stamps, no public housing, no federal jobs programs, no environmental protection, no funding for education, roads, police, fire protection, etc? Would you prefer these and other programs be “privatized” by for-profit corporations with no governmental controls on how much they could charge?

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can now spend unlimited money advertising in campaigns (ensuring complete control of their candidates). These corporations and banks aren’t our neighbors or our friends. Watch the money trail carefully. Weigh their promises against their interests.

This election is not a “contest” between Republicans and Democrats. Jim Hightower says: “Politics isn’t about left versus right; it’s about top versus bottom.” Unfortunately, the top holds all the chips right now. Hold your nose and vote wisely.

Mariah Williams



Monroe man’s thoughts on ‘none of the above’

Thank you for the cartoon in the Oct. 20 edition on voting for “none of the above.” Many of us find that candidates for state and federal offices are not worth voting for. Holding our noses or voting for a “lesser of evils” is not democracy, nor do we get people in office who really try to solve the serious problems we face.

However, if I voted for “none of the above,” my vote wouldn’t count. Our legislators have passed a law that only pre-approved candidates not on the ballot, those who file as write-ins at least 45 days before the election, can have their votes counted. So, if I wanted to vote for “none of the above,” my vote would be tossed in the wastebasket. This is not democracy, either.

Several countries, such as the Ukraine, Spain, France, Greece and Colombia, allow a vote for “none of the above.” If “none” gets enough votes, there is a re-vote or a new set of candidates. Nevada has this also, but “none of the above” is only a protest vote in that state.

What we really need are courageous candidates who won’t just tinker at the edges of social problems but try really new approaches to issues like the economy, our environment, war/peace and other crucial problems. That could be a locally-based economy by taxing all products coming into Maine from away, completely stopping our war-making and intervention in other countries (because we wouldn’t want anyone doing that to us) and a campaign to cut pollution in Maine by half or more through a green-jobs program to double — or triple — insulate every house and building in the state.

But, candidates are afraid to propose real change because they think they won’t get re-elected.

Larry Dansinger



BAHS folks need to band together

This letter is in response to the letters to the editor from Amy Fidel [“More about music and athletics,” Oct. 6 TRJ] and Sierra Ventura [“A musician and athlete weighs in on band issue,” Oct. 13 TRJ].

Instead of vilifying anyone here, how about we look at the whole picture?

I understand that band students have AP classes and many other involvements, as do athletes. So my real question is, why do other bands from other schools seem to always be at home football games? I am not putting football on a “pedestal,” it is just that it has been a tradition at all high schools.

Fidel states that I am a big football fan so that is the reason why I decided to write that first article. She is wrong and right. She is wrong because she assumes that I do not care for other sports as much as football. I am not just a football fan, I am a Belfast Area High School athletics fan. Whether it is soccer, track, cross-country, field hockey, baseball, softball etc, I am cheering my fellow students on. But she was right in the fact that I am, no doubt, a dedicated fan.

This is not about just football, or just the band, or criticizing who said what, this is about tradition, about the community and about the future of the band and athletics.

Are we not all from BAHS? Why don’t we support each other? Keep the tradition of the band coming to the football games and then let’s work together and see if we can get the players to return the favor by attending concerts. If we work together it can be accomplished.

I would like to thank Mr. Cameron and the band for attending the past few home football games. The atmosphere is so much more fun and lively with you all there! You are all greatly appreciated.

All in all, let’s work together, let’s have fun and keep tradition alive.

Devon Drake

BAHS student


Thanks to ‘Fling Into Fall’ participants

Thank to all those who participated in our annual Fling into Fall activities. A special thanks to our sponsors: Angler’s and Baits Motel, Dunkin Donuts, Janie and Joe Plummer, Bangor Savings Bank, Coastal Coffee House, Bluejacket Shipcrafters, Dutch Chevrolet-Buick-Pontiac, Greg’s Auto Sales, Penobscot Books, Mid-Coast Signs, Jerry Rumney, Rollie’s Bar and Grill, Searsport Automotive, Steamboat Mobil, Sundog Energy Systems, the Varney Agency, Tozier’s and Young Funeral Home. These sponsors made the event possible.

Thanks to our participants: scarecrow makers, pumpkin carvers, car show entries, parade entries, cowboy action shooters, crafters and local nonprofits that helped to complete our program providing food, suppers, breakfast etc. We also thank those from our schools who helped with games and window-painting. A special thank-you to the Buddy Hall family for providing fireworks. Last but not least, I thank the members of the committee who were so supportive in making this event a success.

See you next year.

Ralph Harvey, chairman