A gem in your own backyard

As a participant in the Senior Community Service Employment Program, I have had the privilege of being placed as a volunteer at Belfast Community Television.

Belfast Community Television (BCTV-2) is a local, public-access, all-volunteer station providing a media outlet for community organizations, individuals and local businesses to promote their programs, goods and services and announce upcoming events. As an example, the recent airing of the Holiday Shopping Guide showcased local Belfast businesses encouraging Christmas shoppers to buy from downtown merchants.

Topics of programming on BCTV-2 are diverse and eclectic such as health, education, the arts, politics, religion, environmental issues, local high school sports and more. Ned Lightner is the tireless and dedicated program director, who is continually filming, interviewing, editing, traveling, planning and providing coverage of events. He is always seeking out and producing programming to bring the viewer quality shows to inform, educate and entertain — all without commercial interests.

How fortunate we are to live in Belfast, a city that values local, community media, giving a voice to all in true egalitarian fashion.

Check out the website — belfastcommunitytv.org — and see what a gem you have in your own backyard.

Anne Allee



A ‘truly feel-good experience’

On Saturday, Dec. 18, I took part in a wonderful activity at the Belfast Armory, People for People’s filling of more than 1,000 boxes of food for Waldo County families in need.

Two hundred or so volunteers showed up to join the assembly line of boxes, put the food into boxes, take care of the trash and lift the more than 1,000 boxes onto stacks that then would be loaded into trucks. Some of these jobs require just plain old brute strength and are in need of the young and the strong. And, this year, they showed up in force in the form of Coach Brad Cook and his Searsport Viking basketball team members, dressed to work in their team sweat suits. They had smiles on their faces and muscles to spare and were a wonderful example of young people who know the importance of giving back to their community.

If you haven’t participated in the People for People/Waldo CAP sponsored packing of food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, you are missing out on a truly feel-good experience. So many people cheerfully arriving at 6 a.m. in the morning to get a good workout and help those folks in Waldo County who really need it. Thank you to all who put in the effort today. I was honored to be a part of it.

Charlene Knox Farris



Building a better ballot

Have you noticed that we often elect somebody to some office with less than half of the votes cast? Isn’t that not what voting is all about?

It happened in 2000, with Bush, Gore and Nader, and again with LePage, Mitchell and Cutler this year. When you vote for more than two choices, it can happen. Of course the winner is happy.

But is it fair? We’ve been a voting country for a while, but never made a change in the ballot for this situation. OK, with two candidates, one wins and one loses. With three, if one gets most of the total vote, they win. But if no one gets more than half the votes, it’s not clear there’s a winner, because the point of voting is to get the result most people want, who vote. Because otherwise it’s a game of strategy, in which you must limit the field of candidates to win.

The Republicans have been better at limiting their field lately, all the sort of like-minded people staying inside the one party, and they’ve been winning. But it’s a trick, not fair, to just take the highest number of votes in a field of more than two when it’s not really a majority. Some smile behind their hands, and others become cynical and quit voting.

We need a majority/minority decision on each question, and can, with a little change, get one. Let’s design ballots to be more fair, for when there’s more than two candidates running.

Sample ballot [using Election 2010 as a model]:

Part I — Choose one: LePage, Cutler or Mitchell

Part II — If no candidate got a majority in Part I, the candidates with the two highest vote totals shall be in a run-off. Indicate which candidate you prefer in each possible run-off. Choose one on each line:

LePage or Cutler; LePage or Mitchell; Cutler or Mitchell

If needed, Part II kicks in, and the vote counters find a candidate that more than half of voters actually voted for, on the same ballot and on the same day.

Russ Giddings