Selectboard sets the record straight

Contrary to recent information in the Monroe town news column, the special upcoming town meeting on Aug. 24 is the direct result of a citizen’s initiative, not a request of the selectboard. This special town meeting is being called to vote on an article regarding a moratorium on smart meters.

As of July 20, Central Maine Power had installed smart meters for 92 percent of its customers in Monroe. CMP has issued the following, regarding opting out of having a smart meter at your home (44 households have opted out in Monroe):

“The radio in CMP’s Smart Meters is similar to other common electronics such as wireless Internet systems, laptop computers and baby monitors. Our meters comply with safety and operating standards set by the Federal Communications Commission. Customers who don’t want a standard meter can choose between two non-standard, special options.”

Every voter in Monroe needs to be fully aware of the ramifications of this moratorium. If CMP should choose to dispute a moratorium, there will be legal costs that will affect every taxpayer.

There will be an informational meeting at the Town Office on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. The vote will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Please attend these meetings if at all possible.

It is your town, your tax dollars and your choice.

Jacki Robbins

Holly Emerson

Suzanne Hall

Monroe Selectboard

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Save our democracy now

Almost a year ago, I warned that we were losing our democracy. The latest debt-ceiling debate, resulting plunge in the stock market, and loss of our AAA credit rating show how close we are.

Washington is clearly corrupted and broken, determined to protect the richest 1 percent at all costs. It is unable to make a reasoned, honest effort to promote jobs or solve any of our nation’s dire problems, because of the secret, insidious influence of the super rich.

Today’s politicians, regardless of ideology and professed patriotism, are captives of the obscene amounts of money necessary to get reelected. They no longer work for the people — or even function at all as a government. Therefore, they and the system must go.

Without big money, ordinary constituents mean very little to today’s politicians. They have forgotten that we still have the most important leverage of all — the vote. The only reason vast amounts of money are given to politicians and spent on false campaign ads is to buy their votes and ours.

If we can collectively make clear that no amount of political contributions and deceptive ads can buy our votes, Washington will begin to turn around and work honestly on solving real problems. If we can’t do that soon, our votes are going to mean nothing, and we’ll have no say in the future of our own country. Nobody wants that — except the rich and powerful few.

So this issue is the real common ground that binds all rank-and-file Americans, and it has the biggest payoff — reviving the democratic principles, values and practices that have made this country great. The solution is up to you and me, not the pitiful politicians in Washington, not the trivial news media, not anybody else.

Between now and the election, we must make clear that all lying, obstructionist, hypocritical incumbents must go. Unfortunately, we may have to throw the good out with the bad in order to rectify the system. What can we do?

1.) Fact check, call out and punish all politicians, news media, businesses and other organizations that traffic in lies, half-truths and obstructionism — and reward responsibility — through our voting patterns, media habits and purchasing power.

2.) Reverse the effects of the Supreme Court’s destructive Citizens United decision, allowing corporations to pour unlimited secret funds into our politics.

3.) Demand that government and big business come together immediately to stimulate jobs and our dying economy, instead of bickering over unyielding ideologies.

4.) Tell our politicians how we feel and what we’re going to do about it.

If you really love our country, recognize that it is in big trouble and do something about it right now, before we end up losing it.

David Estey

Belfast

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Citizens arise!

We ought to bring democracy back. After all, our children and grandchildren should have a chance to know the America we thought we knew.

Those of us who grew up during and after World War II expected to be fed, housed, educated, and employed in a country that called itself the land of opportunity. We voted and, when we saw the U.S. taking a wrong turn, we marched and we boycotted and we sang.

That was before 1 percent of our people horded 25 percent of our wealth and balked at paying taxes; before corporations shipped hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas and hid their huge profits in offshore banks; before the big banks robbed the people and, when customers lost their jobs, threw them out of their homes.

We remember a better, more just and democratic America, a country that always needed our help but that always offered hope.

Now some of us are worried. We are meeting to join a national grassroots movement, inspired by MoveOn.org., to restore our democracy. At our first meeting on July 16, we voted to establish a few priorities: end the wars and invest in our own economic recovery; work for a fair tax code, affordable healthcare and housing, and a sustainable environment.

Our second meeting, set for Thursday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Belfast Free Library, will be devoted to creating specific plans. If you are concerned about the fate of our state and our nation, come to the library on the 25th and join us.

Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their country!

Charlotte Herbold

Belfast

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Charter schools and corporate oligarchy

Now that charter schools will be allowed under Maine law, what can we expect from this addition to our educational system?

First, taxpayers will be paying for them and if hedge funds see a profit in them, they will contribute to the costs. Some charter schools are successful because they receive additional financial support from philanthropic organizations — i.e. Bill Gates Foundation and many corporations.

Corporations, such as those owned and operated by the Koch brothers, fund the campaigns of legislators who support them. Busting the teachers’ unions is their first order of business. Financial gains from these schools will be reaped by the sponsors.

Teachers will not benefit and their pay would be much lower than what they receive from teaching in public schools. It’s unlikely these schools would help pay for healthcare or contribute to pension funds for their employees. None of these schools offer tenured positions.

Charter school teachers are expected to work at least nine hours a day, tutoring their students in the evenings and on weekends. The more successful the students and schools, the more lucrative they become to investors.

Second, many of the students who are enrolled in charter schools are selected by lottery or are handpicked by charter officials for their academic potential. The latter method of choosing students will leave the most vulnerable behind in a barely functional and economically depleted public school system. Additionally, many charter schools have overcrowded classes of 23 or more students.

For years corporations have been funding research for most of our colleges and universities. This research helps higher education but these schools are beholden to their corporate donors. It’s a win for corporations because they enjoy the profits from successful research that would have been more costly if they were to conduct it.

Handing our schools over to the private sector allows the corporations and other backers ultimate control over how and what our children are taught — from the books they use to the projects they prepare. How much input will the parents have in this educational process?

Even though we may feel frustrated with the failure of our current educational system, we should not be seduced by the charter alternative. We need to strengthen our current system — get rid of No Child Left Behind — and not transfer our money to a system with so many uncertainties. The evidence that these schools are truly successful has not been adequately established.

Our stagnant economy, high unemployment and the housing crises have moved millions of middle class Americans into poverty. The reality is — no charter school will help the many children who have experienced these losses to learn more effectively. Hungry and homeless children, who are living under the blanket of shame, cannot effectively learn, no matter what schools they attend.

We must realize, it is not just the educational system that is broken in this country but the very core of our democracy, as we shift to a pattern of corporate oligarchy.

Phyllis Coelho

Belfast

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Bothered by ‘knee-jerk’ reaction about USPS

Recently, the United States Postal Service announced a target list of 3,653 offices nationwide under consideration for closure — because of low activity. Of the total, 34 are in Maine. One of our senators, the Honorable Susan Collins, upon learning of these plans, raised objection, citing the obvious fact that closing “rural” offices will save little from the total USPS budget.

A look at the 34 Maine candidates for closure indicates that the USPS has been judicious in its selection criteria. On lines running east/west, nine of these candidates are south of Auburn, 10 (including Sandy Point) lie between Auburn and Orono, 10 more between Orono and Millinocket, and five are north of Millinocket – a distribution that speaks to serious attempts at geographic and population-density balance. (Both Portland and Augusta stand to lose one each, and one island office, in southern Maine, is on the list.)

I, for one, object to what seems a knee-jerk response on Senator Collins’s part. Amid a national debt and spending crisis of unparalleled seriousness, Senator Collins would rather ease the convenience of some few hundred Maine voters!

Perhaps a few of your other readers will wish to express their views to Senator Collins on the priorities of a U.S. Senator from the great state of Maine: reduce the national debt, cut government spending (including that of the quasi-independent USPS) by small amounts and large, and share the burden of such cost-cutting and spending-reduction.

Put another way: Ask not what your Senator can do for you; ask, rather, what your Senator can do for your country!

Frederick Eickelberg

Brooks

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Kudos to ‘county generals’

Waldo County Commisioner Bill Shorey gave me a tour of “Waldo County Gardens.” What a beautiful farm of vegetables. Commissioner Shorey donates his time and energy, which is considerable, as the Ortolanus, that is as manager and purveyor of produce. He works alongside of prisoners incarcerated at the local jail in Belfast. These men do a fine job to give back to the community through their labor as they learn about farming.

Commissioner Shorey has set up a procedure to grow, pick and box the produce, which is used by local food banks, the jail and anyone in need; it is most efficient. The food is produced at about 60 cents a pound and there is enough tonnage grown to fill a dump truck maybe several times. This is impressive. The plants look amazingly healthy.

He also has activities for barbecue with prisoners in the field and plans to have their families come to the garden for a meal and let the children have a pumpkin search. The effort to help people learn and grow their own food and celebrate it on the farm with family is a Maine tradition well worth continuing. I applaud his culture.

This is a wonderful program, which is supported by Sheriff Story. I am impressed to see two county generals work together for the betterment of the community. This is a great benefit for social justice to be commended and appreciated by all of the inhabitants of Waldo County.

We are fortunate to have such a collaboration between Commissioner Shorey and Sheriff Story; may others be inspired.

Patrick Quinn

Winterport

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Trade in your turkey burgers

Some years ago, when I interned at a refuge for farmed animals, a turkey named Fern would back into my lap and demand to be petted. When I’d stop, she’d look over her shoulder beseechingly as if to say, “More, please.”

I remember Fern fondly in the wake of a recent recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey, prompted by the outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella in at least 26 states. If people got a chance to know these interesting and personable birds, I believe they’d balk at eating their ground-up bodies.

On factory farms, turkeys are crammed into hot, fetid warehouses where they never feel the sun or breathe fresh air. These conditions are breeding grounds for pathogens like salmonella. To keep them alive and force abnormally large growth — they can barely walk by the end — turkeys are fed antibiotics, which leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

One person has died and countless others have been sickened by the recent salmonella outbreak. To avoid diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting — and reduce your chances of cancer, heart disease and other diseases — trade your turkey burgers for healthy vegan foods. For recipes and product suggestions, see www.PETA.org.

Jennifer O’Connor

PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.