Letters, April 23, 2015

Apr 23, 2015

Spectrum says thank you

On behalf of the Local Advisory Council at the Waldo Community Center of Spectrum Generations, thank you for all the support from area businesses and individuals who gave so generously to our 2015 auction. We know you have requests almost daily to give to various benefits and activities in our area and you always come through. We are truly blessed in this community.

Our auctioneer, Donna, did a great job — thank you! To all those who follow the auction, we hope to see you next year. To the following who donated, we can’t thank you enough:

Unity House of Pizza, Dunkin Donuts, Searsport Automotive, Belfast Vet Hospital, B&M Market — Belmont, 4Points BBQ & Blues House, MacLeod Furniture, Hamilton Marine, Art’s Canvas, Loyal Bisquit Co., Bobbi’s Barber & Beauty, Pizza Hut, Totman Enterprises, Tea Maineia, Dutch Chevrolet, McDonalds, T & T Nails Spa, Barbara Cook Massage, Marsh River Co-op, Andy’s Auto, New Wave Salon, Holmes Florist & Greenhouse, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, Red’s Automotive, Arpel’s Hair & Tanning, Wicked Clean Carwash, Rollies, Sunoco, Belfast Co-op, Greg’s Auto, Ocean’s Edge Restaurant, Waldo County YMCA, Curl Up and Dye, Perry’s Nut House, Maine Farmland Trust, Alexia’s Pizza, Courier Publications, Belfast Variety, Searsport Antique Mall, Angler's, Swan Lake Grocery, Aunt Judy’s Uniforms, Young’s Lobster Pound, DQ, Ming’s Chinese Restaurant, Bay Area Fitness, Tozier’s Market, Jack’s Grocery, Eat More Cheese, Dino’s Pizza, All Play Family Center, Consumer’s Fuel Co., Maine Fuels, Foster Pet Store, Brick House, Penobscot Marine Museum, Hersey Eye Care, Griffin’s Other Place, Winterport Furniture, Stone Fox Creamery, Col. James K. Pennell and Dodi Jalbert.

The money generated will benefit Meals On Wheels, Adult DayBreak and other senior programs. Thank you all.

Sandra Otis-Anderson, Local Advisory Council

Allison Wood, Waldo County Community Center

Bad bill for needy families

Recently there has been a bill proposed to integrate the state's General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. This bill, LD 368, is a bad idea. It will end up hurting the most vulnerable population, our children and their families.

TANF is a program to help children and their parents while the family works toward becoming self-supporting. The TANF program has been useful for these families to help ensure their basic needs, such as rent, housing supplies, diapers, wipes, etc., are paid for until a plan is in place for the family to become self-supporting.

While the family receives TANF benefits, they are encouraged to become self-supporting. They are encouraged to find work or apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. However, many families are faced with multiple barriers to finding work that can support the family and many will be denied SSI or SSDI benefits.

In this case, if the family loses TANF benefits before they are able to support themselves, they are at risk for losing their home, not having enough food, and running out of the bare necessities like diapers, wipes, soap, toilet paper and other household products. This is when families would be referred to General Assistance.

General Assistance is a program, administered through municipalities, that purchases basic necessities for individuals who are without means to pay for such services. Many families who have lost TANF benefits, but are still not self-supporting, may require General Assistance from the town to get by and keep the family safe.

The proposal, LD 368, to integrate the state's General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, greatly worries me. This proposal states that a person who has exhausted the 60-month lifetime limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits is ineligible to receive municipal General Assistance benefits.

This means that families who lost their TANF benefits would no longer have a last resort for help in desperate situations.

My greatest concern is that families with young children are not going to have resources to stay safe. Families are struggling even on TANF. Families are faced with barriers that prevent them from “getting ahead.” So to me, preventing families from using the last resort of General Assistance, after they have already lost TANF, is like cutting the strings on a parachute after they had to jump from a falling plane.

General Assistance is a resource for anyone experiencing financial hardships and should be there for our most vulnerable population, young children and their families!

For these reasons I strongly urge you to reject the proposed bill, An Act to Integrate the State's General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs, and keep the General Assistance program as it is, a last resort resource and a safety net for all of us!

Diana Brown, BSW

Jackson

Just provide service to all

Tom Seymour in his Conservative to the Core column published in the April 9th edition of the Republican Journal expressed that he couldn't understand why anyone would want to do business with anyone that doesn't want to do business with him. In his hypothetical, a liberal would refuse to do business with him because he is a conservative Christian. I think he's pretty safe from discrimination from liberals but if it were to happen, he would just do business somewhere else.

With all due respect to this white gentleman, he is not in one of the classes of people that suffer discrimination. I suggest that we change his status to "young black male" and I doubt that he would be content to just accept that someone refused him service because of his race.  Today, even in a conservative state like Maine, people in public service jobs who don't like black people put their racism on hold and do their job.

After many years of lies and hatred, gay people have finally begun to be given dignity and the right to be treated like fellow citizens and human beings. Discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation is simply wrong and now illegal. Further, I see nothing in the teachings of Jesus Christ that forbids us from doing good to sinners; in fact it would appear quite the opposite. No one is being asked to commit a homosexual act, just to provide their service to all without discrimination.

Robert Richard

Belfast

Reichard makes sense

Because many of the columnists seemed to me to write silly and unimportant columns, and because the Bangor paper covers many important Belfast and Waldo County events, but especially because of the recent extreme right-wing rantings of Tom Seymour, I recently decided to drop my Republican Journal subscription.

Then I read a couple of Lawrence Reichard's Bricks and Mortars columns, which I greatly enjoyed. He made so much sense I immediately resubscribed to the Journal for another year. I certainly hope you will continue to carry his column, and the more often the better, as it alone is worth the cost of the Journal.

Dave Hills

Northeast Harbor

Editor's note: Lawrence Reichard is currently traveling. We expect his column to resume when he returns.

Ranked choice voting

Maine voters want more democratic, more representative elections that produce moderate candidates who can advocate for the best ideas from both parties. Ranked choice voting would empower voters with more meaningful choices and have a moderating influence on the candidates who could no longer afford to run "slash and burn" style campaigns to win election.

To voters concerned about partisanship: Ranked choice voting does not benefit one party over another. It would act as a check and balance and force both parties to strengthen their appeal and field candidates capable of harnessing a broad base of support to win elections.

To voters concerned about "confusion at the polls": According to exit polls, 94 percent of voters in Portland's last mayoral race said that the ranked choice ballot was easy to understand.

To voters concerned about cost: Ranked choice voting is the most cost-effective solution to ensure majority winners, eliminate "spoilers" and reduce negative advertising, saving taxpayers millions of dollars over holding actual runoff elections.

To voters concerned about "the timing" of this referendum: Ranked choice voting is a nonpartisan reform that has been percolating in Maine for over a decade. In fact, bipartisan legislation to enact ranked choice voting was first introduced in the Maine Legislature in 2001.

This is common sense, non-partisan reform. I urge my fellow Mainers to consider supporting the referendum for ranked choice voting when it appears on the ballot in November 2016.

Jane Sanford

Belfast

Universe, Solar System, Sun, Earth, Life

Cutting through all the conflicts dividing them, Homo Sapiens agree on once central proposition: We are not animals. We are special and the specialness gives us the right to rule the other life and non-living matrix in which it thrives as we choose.

But the reality is that we are not in charge. The web of life (life support system) is in charge. We live at the pleasure of this web, can only destroy it, are in no way essential to it.

The tiniest particle of life is just as important in its functioning as is humankind. Further, we cannot continue our lives without protecting all life. There is no "sustainability" without sustaining the whole complex of life. Humans cannot survive with only their own few chosen species; humans cannot choose! The wholeness of life has already chosen. We either learn to recognize this and adjust our patterns accordingly (in line with the workings of the life support system) or we bring the whole structure down on our heads.

Betsy Duncan

Monroe

Comments (1)
Posted by: MARY JEAN CROWE | Apr 26, 2015 07:57

Thank you to Robert Richard and Dave Hills for their letters regarding Tom Seymour's mean-spirited, divisive and simplistic rants. I have posted here, and contacted the editor privately to voice these same sentiments.  I too, recently renewed my subscription to TRJ, but quite reluctantly, agreeing with both Mr. Richard and Mr. Hills that the weekly "silly and unimportant columns" are only outweighed by Lawrence Reichard's "Bricks & Mortar" column.  I will be looking carefully over the year for the level of intelligent writing and depth of argument that Mr. Reichard offers before I renew again.

And, I very glad to see that Ethan Andrews is writing once more for TRJ- a step in the right direction that I hope will become the norm, and not the exception, as it currently is.  I want to support TRJ, but will need much more substance in the future to continue to do so.



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