Letters, Feb. 20

Feb 21, 2020

Vote no on 1

As health care providers in our schools and community in Knox and Waldo counties, we urge you to vote “No on 1 to Protect Maine’s Children” in the upcoming pubic referendum March 3. A vote of  “No" will uphold the new Maine vaccine law, LD 798, which will allow only medical exemptions for required vaccines for attendance at school.

School vaccination requirements exist to ensure that students are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. The breakdown of herd/community immunity can happen when there are opt-outs for non-medical reasons. High rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions (philosophical or religious) put children and other vulnerable people, including infants, pregnant women and individuals who are immuno-suppressed because of transplants or chemotherapy, at risk for contracting deadly diseases. These illnesses, which include measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and meningitis, are all preventable through vaccination.

In an age where rumors of frightening effects of vaccines abound and vaccination rates continue to decline, even more frightening are the stories of innocent children and young people who have suffered needlessly from a disease that could have easily been prevented with a vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the impact of vaccines in reducing and eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases has been one of the great public health achievements in the United States.

In response to those who ask about “parents' right to choose,” exercising a choice to not vaccinate a child is dangerous. It is a choice that jeopardizes the health of the child, other children and their families, and the community. Every child in Maine has the right to receive an education in a safe and protected environment, and that includes protection from dangerous communicable diseases that are preventable through immunization.

For the health and safety of our children and all people of Maine, nearly 50 leading state organizations on the front lines of health care and community health have joined together to say “Vote No on 1 and Protect Maine’s Children.”

Dr. Peter Vickerman

Dr. Ada Winkes

Dr. Bill Stephenson

Dr. Margaret Kloby

Dr. Josephy Anderson

Dr. Jan Gorton

Rachel Wilcox, PNP

Sandy Fuller, RN, School Nurse

Alicen Heintzman, RN, School Nurse

Amy Beckett, RN, School Nurse

Emily McDermott, RN, School Nurse

Monica Furrow, RN, School Nurse

Emily Wesson, RN, School Nurse

Janis Hogan, RN, School Nurse

Meghan Fitzpatrick, RN, School Nurse

Gretchen Kuhn, RN, School Nurse

Ilmi Carter, RN, School Nurse

Laura Stewart, RN, School Nurse

Heidi Piersiak, RN, School Nurse

Shannon Robbins, RN, School Nurse

Vote to repeal

In 2019 Maine’s Legislature voted to remove the ability of parents to decline the administration of measles and other immunizations to their children on the basis of philosophical or religious belief, and directed the Department of Education to deny public school attendance to children who are unimmunized unless they have a medical exemption. On March 3, the voters of Maine will vote to uphold or repeal this law. I urge its repeal. I urge repeal because it uses a sledgehammer to solve a non-problem.

As a Maine family physician in Belfast from 1977 to 2017, I saw no cases of measles; zero. Of more importance, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control, in the year 2017 a grand total of one Maine resident had measles, none in 2018 and one in 2019. Despite measles’ high infectivity rate, immunization rates were high enough that there were no secondary cases. My medical experience and CDC statistics concur; Maine’s measles immunization program should be considered very successful.

To my eye, the arguments on both sides of this debate are more about emotions and symbols than facts. On the one hand, I believe that immunizations are safe and effective, but many folks — often rightly in my experience — are suspicious of medical and technological solutions to their problems. On the other hand, we don’t have a measles problem in Maine, but public health and medical professionals are outraged that folks should reject medicine’s refined, 21st century, methods.

Medical ethics includes respecting the patient’s autonomy. Good law should require very good reasons to remove the rights of individuals and families. Public health and medical professionals should continue to educate the public about immunizations. But let us not use fear-mongering, oppressive laws and removal of rights in order to accomplish something of minimal value. Vote to repeal.

Dr. David Thanhauser


Voting yes on 1

I am a grandmother of 18 children and very disturbed over referendum Question 1. The new law it addresses wants all children to be vaccinated, whether parents want them to be or not.

If this new law stands, it will mean you, parents, will lose control of what goes into your child or children's bodies. Do you like that?

If this new law stands and you don't vaccinate your child, you will not have the privilege to let them attend a public school or a private school. Think about it.

If this law stands, this is one step closer to losing full control in your family. Do you want that?

Don't be fooled, this won't be the last thing the government will try to enforce upon the family. Little by little is what happens.

Whether you agree with me or not, and I am not writing to make trouble, just to say, you will lose part of the control of your family.

This is the United States of America, land of the free. It is the land to be proud of. We can speak our minds, free press, choose any church to attend, free to bear arms.

We are privileged people. Let's keep it that way, especially in our own little families.

I am voting yes on 1.

Sandra Bonin


With Mitt

I'm with Mitt.

I'm with Reade Brower.

Art Shea


Full disclosure

Twenty years ago, when then-Bangor Daily News reporter Emmet Meara wrote a remembrance of our mutual friend Pete Coffey of Owls Head, Meara talked about Coffey's alleged demon alcohol.

When I asked Meara how he could put such a thing in an obituary, he said to me, "How could I not?"

The question now, after Meara has published his own obituary following his passing, is why he never once mentioned Nancy Griffin of Thomaston, the mother of his three wonderful daughters.

Village Soup as well as the Bangor paper ran versions of Meara's obituary, excerpting from his own creation.

None mentioned Griffin, a great mother and accomplished journalist who with Meara made a home for decades.

Though their marriage later faltered, no one — including Meara — should forget or ignore the miracles it produced.

Meara would expect no less than setting the record straight.

Ted Cohen

Ex-bureau chief - Portland Press Herald


Thanks, Herbig

Sen. Erin Herbig, I'd like to thank you for your vision and some of the actions taken to date. The entire state of Maine will benefit from LD 2021, which will provide funding for broadband internet infrastructure. This is a benefit to farming, education and both small and large businesses, just to name a few.

Your work with and for the elderly as chair of the Aging Caucus is very much appreciated.

The bill you introduced to attract and retain volunteer firefighters is so needed.

Lastly, your involvement in the bill for victims of sexual assault is so important.

Thank you for your dedication and the service you provide the people of the state of Maine. I look forward to more of this kind of energy.

Catherine A. Heberer


Shout-out to the post office

A few remarks half-way through Randall Poulton’s 2/13/20 op ed entitled “Who is Mayor Pete?” prompt me to write to defend government programs that actually are needed, since the private sector does not and would not provide these services to our society.

The Post Office is not FedEx or UPS. Those for-profit organizations deliver their packages on their own terms, and at a significant cost to the customer. For Christmas 2018, I shipped gifts to family around the country and it cost me hundreds of dollars with one of those companies. This past Christmas, I paid half that amount for prompt delivery through the post office. And the post office delivers our letters for 55 cents to anywhere you desire. UPS or FedEx?

While I’m on the topic, charter schools serving select pupils in select locations are not equivalent to the vast system of public schools across America. Both systems have problems and successes. But to say that we could depend on charters to educate our nation is silly. Also, who provides a more affordable quality education, public or private colleges? Not even close!

Please spare me the bad analogies between our public institutions and these selective private for-profit companies. Good for them to cherry-pick and make a profit doing so. Just don’t mistake that for public service for the communal good!

Steve Ryan


Time to move on

Last week at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, the Department of Environmental Protection heard live testimony about the Nordic Aquafarms proposal.  I sat there for three days watching and listening as professionals took the stand and gave testimony to different aspects of the project.

The expertise of the Nordic Aquafarms testifiers was impressive, to say the least. They were honest, forthright, incredibly informed, and very patient. The questions from the DEP were well thought-out and were asked for the purpose of clarification and information gathering.

On the other hand, the intervenors who were in opposition to Nordic Aquafarms did their best to discredit and exaggerate anything they could to make it look as if Nordic would be detrimental to the environment and to Belfast. In my opinion, their expert testifiers said nothing to make anyone believe that Nordic did not know what they were doing. Some of them were downright embarrassing in their presentation. I don’t know how anyone could have sat there and watched these proceedings and not come away feeling positive and excited about what this project will bring to Belfast.

Jane Earley’s opinion piece in last week’s Republican Journal is an excellent example of someone who is personally opposed to Nordic Aquafarms but bases her reasons on articles having nothing at all to do with Nordic. From the information in these articles about aquaculture in general, she concludes that Nordic does not have the financial ability to succeed and is not being an environmental steward.

Those who continue to attempt to smear this company in any way they can are doing so for their own personal agendas, including professional and monetary gain.

It is time to move on from cherry-picking facts and figures out of what Nordic states and using those facts and figures in isolation to scare and dismay the public. It is time to move on and let go of the smearing, the hate and the misinformation that a small group of oppositionists have promulgated for two years. It is time to stop demonizing government agencies and accusing them of a nefarious agenda. It is time to stop spreading unfounded fear of an apocalypse looming outside our door that will sully our waters to such an extent that recreation and ocean based livelihoods will be doomed.

It is time to look ahead. It is time to support this phenomenal opportunity that Nordic Aquafarms is offering to Belfast, the Midcoast, Maine and the future.

Diane Braybrook


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