No benefit

As a long-time subscriber, a believer in the power of the free press, and someone thankful for the existence of our small-town paper, I am nonetheless appalled that you saw fit to publish Donald Violette's two-column rant, "Wrong to Redefine Marriage." Not only is it completely irrelevant to current events — the same-sex equality ship has sailed, finally, and in waters of reason and compassion — but the letter is hateful conspiracy-mongering, pure and simple.

And it's not just hateful against the LGBTQ community (though it certainly is that): Violette compares Jesuits to "the devil," uses thinly veiled anti-Semitic references, and makes the misogynist case that women "must submit" to their husbands.

I am glad that The Republican Journal publishes letters that represent the diverse opinions of our region. But I do not see how our community benefits from reading the extended diatribe of a religious fundamentalist intent on demeaning wide segments of his fellow Waldo County/American neighbors. Especially in these divided times, such sentiments only generate more vitriol.

A. Bywater


Swan Lake Avenue safety

I have lived on Swan Lake Avenue for almost 40 years. I have walked, ridden a bike, pushed a baby stroller and walked with small children and adults. The traffic back then was low and the trucks were few and far between. Now, though, there are many more trucks and automobiles that make it dangerous to even cross the road to get my mail.

Both sides of the road are narrow with wash-outs, rocks or broken pavement, making it hard to stay off the pavement when trying to take a stroll. You have to be careful not to turn an ankle or fall into a ditch, or trip. Pushing a baby stroller or riding a bike is even more terrifying.

If you are going around any corners, walking toward traffic going north, the sides of the road are so narrow in some places you have to walk in the road or on the side of a steep hill or in a deep, wet ditch.

The area from Back Searsport Road up around that corner, which I walk often, is sometimes terrifying when two large dump trucks meet right beside you at 45 mph.

I am really concerned about pulling out of any of the three driveways along that strip. You can't see far enough to the north to pull out safely. On several occasions, the traffic coming from the north speeding around the corner slammed on their brakes, leaving rubber on the pavement, no matter how fast I pull out into traffic, not seeing them. (They are coming too fast. ) Or you have to put the car in reverse and back up quickly to keep from getting hit.

I was quite happy to see Jessica F. from the neighborhood come around getting names for a petition to get some basic safety issues changed here on the avenue.

I feel it is needed, for everyone's safety that lives on Swan Lake Avenue that the road should have an ample amount of space to walk, push strollers and ride safely.

I feel the road should be widened, and paved to the ditch on both sides, giving the space needed to enjoy a good walk or push a baby stroller from Route 1 to the boat landing at upper Mason Pond, at least, and the speed limit could be 35 mph, not 45 mph as it is.

Nobody should have to be terrified to take a walk or get their mail!

It’s a shame that we live in this beautiful part of Belfast and we don’t feel safe just walking along the road and taking in the beauty because of these issues. Thank you.

Janet Whitney


Stop littering

Two weeks ago I cleaned a roadside ditch on Outer High Street in Belfast just past the Upper Bridge parking lot. On about 300 feet of one side of the road I picked up trash and filled two overstuffed garbage bags. Ninety percent of it comes from our fast-food and convenience stores. Bags, wrappers, cups, hundreds of nips, straws, cans, cigarette packs, bottles, pizza boxes, cup lids, fish bait, I did not bother with the butts, and an assortment of lottery tickets, booze bottles, and assorted other stuff.

The trash is all local. Every brand is well represented. This is being thrown out of cars by our neighbors and families. And because winter is long, the stuff piles up. Ten to 20 people throwing something out every other day for five months will cover a roadside in garbage.

There isn’t one solution. I wish there was. The litterers should just stop, but they won’t do it easily. For some reason they don’t want the stuff in the car. But we can call them on it if we see them do it. We can teach kids not to litter. We can enforce littering laws, but it isn’t easy: People don’t litter when a police car is following. If they did there would be a lot less litter.

We can encourage community cleanups and even organize them. Again: nearly all this stuff comes from a very small amount of fast-food and convenience stores. We can ask for the stores and food places which many of us, like me, love and support on a daily basis to help be part of the solution. I have had people tell me: “The stores and restaurants have no responsibility.” I disagree with that sentiment deeply. I urge you to go clean up 100 feet of road and see what you find. The stores, and also the community, individuals, law enforcement, friends and family all have a share of the responsibility.

Obviously the people littering are 100-percent responsible, but that still leaves us with a road full of garbage to pick up. We should all be able to agree there’s too much garbage on the roads and we should all do something to clean it up and help put a stop to it.

For less trash,

Mike Hurley


Republican health care bill

House Republicans have passed a bill, the so-called American Health Care Act. The Republicans passed this bill with no review or input from Democrats or Independents. The details were worked out behind closed doors by House Republicans and the president. No input from any organizations having anything to do with health care; no public hearings; no analysis of the economic or social impact. Republicans now own this bill.

Included with these Republicans is our representative, Bruce Poliquin, who voted in the affirmative. The earlier, and much more generous, Republican plan was reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that 24 million people would lose insurance. Premiums would go down for some, but others would see extreme increases, particularly the elderly, who could pay five times the amount paid by young.

The other greatest impact would be on low-income people, who will receive reduced subsidies in the form of tax credits. Both of these groups, the elderly and lower-income people are over-represented in the second district. These CBO figures do not take into consideration the relaxation of pre-existing condition rules under the current act.

The Republicans own this bill. Rep. Poliquin owns this bill. They will be reminded of that at election time.

Tony Kulik


Bruce folded

So, last week, Bruce Poliquin voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and replace it with the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare).

According to credible sources like Congress's own Budget Office, the AMA, AARP, American Cancer Society, American Hospital Association, and others, the effect of Trumpcare is that health insurance will be far more expensive for millions of Americans and unavailable to millions of other Americans, especially the elderly, women, children, veterans, the poor and needy, victims of rape and domestic abuse, and anyone with a pre-existing condition. On the other hand, Trumpcare will make possible thousands of dollars in tax relief for millionaires like Bruce Poliquin.

Congressman Poliquin knows that Trumpcare stinks. On his website, he says so: "I expect the U.S. Senate to make further changes … and I welcome those changes." But if Bruce knew Trumpcare needed changes, why didn't he make them himself? Why does he ask Susan Collins and Angus King to do his work for him? Is Bruce afraid of Donald Trump? Has Bruce forgotten he works for us? Anyway, the Senate says the bill Bruce has sent them is not fixable; they say they are going to have to start from scratch.

In the meantime, the admitted issues afflicting the Affordable Care Act remain unaddressed, and we have to live with them, while Bruce and his colleagues (all of whom are our employees, let's remember) continue to enjoy a generous health insurance plan (so-called DC Health Link) for which we taxpayers pay 72 percent of their premiums. No wonder none of them is in any hurry to do the right thing.

Do I sound annoyed? You bet I am. Bruce endlessly makes much ado about his appointment to the Veterans Affairs Committee, but, last week, when he had a real chance to muster even just a hint of the extraordinary courage exhibited every day in the field by every beneficiary of that committee, courage that guarantees the liberty Bruce and all the rest of us enjoy every day, Bruce folded.

All I can say to Bruce Poliquin is: See you at the polls.

Francis Sinclaire


Local women to walk Camino de Santiago

Prompted and planned by Maine native Peggy Stout, she and her daughter-in-law Jodie McConnell Stout, Theresa Kirby, Lillian Starrett and two other Waldo Countians are going to Spain in May to walk the Camino de Santiago. Additionally, an Appalachian Trail hiker friend, Brigid Demand from Connecticut, and Peggy’s cousin from Scotland, Fiona Talcott, will join them on the journey.

The famous Camino de Santiago is often seen as a religious pilgrimage which dates back to Christ and the Apostle, James. In 44 AD, James had been on the Iberian Peninsula preaching and, after returning to Jerusalem, was beheaded by King Herod. St. James’ body rests in the cathedral. In English, "The Way of Saint James" is the pilgrimage to that Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.

Today, people from all over the world embark on the 500-mile journey, which begins in the French Pyrenees Mountains and traverses most of the trail in Spain. Some do this for religious reasons, some for health issues, or some simply for hiking/biking a beautiful section of Spain.

The group from Waldo County will fly to Madrid, take a train to Leon and begin there to complete about 200 miles of the road (Camino). The ladies will stay in the hostels along the way and provide for their own meals. All of these tough women are currently preparing by extensive walking and carrying backpacks.

At a time earlier, Peggy, who grew up in Stockton Springs and attended Searsport High School, completed the entire Appalachian Trail and has written about her experience in the book,”Letters From The Trail,” which is still in book stores in Maine. In light of her hiking experience, this trip will be like a walk in the park.

Marty Stout


Environmental Destruction Agency?

Lamar Smith of Texas, who heads the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has successfully commandeered a bill out of committee that is intended to replace half the EPA’s Science Advisory Board with industry insiders.

This board, which currently has 18 academic research scientists, was established nearly 40 years and five presidents ago. Its purpose has always been to apply rigorous scientific research to addressing issues such as oil spill cleanups, leaking underground fuel tanks, and bark beetle infestations decimating Western forests. (The beetle infestation has been conclusively linked to the effects of climate change.)

But now nine of these board members will be replaced by industry insiders, just to provide “fair and balanced” input when making recommendations for environmental actions.

In addition, the Department of the Interior has now been tasked with reviewing and possibly eliminating over 200 advisory boards and committees which weigh in on federal land management decisions — whether to open up more federal land to mining, drilling, logging and other extractive industries. Mining and drilling would be allowed in national parks and the goal is to remove all regulations that unnecessarily obstruct delivery of energy resources. Methane leaks would no longer be monitored and the intentional flaring of natural gas would be allowed to continue. The entire Atlantic Coast might be open to oil drilling. Anything related to climate change mitigation is likely to be eliminated.

As a final insult to injury brought to us by the Trump administration, the EPA has just deleted its climate science site for kids.

On Earth Day (April 22) this year, Mr. Trump said "Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.”

Book burning may be next. Galileo, dead nearly half a millenium, would spin in his grave.

Beverly Roxby